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Our trip to LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) last September was so much fun that several people asked if we could do it again, but make a weekend of it to avoid the one-day gallop to Richland that we had last year. Others suggest we have a star party on the LIGO grounds and invite the LIGO employees to join us. We have been working on these ideas with both LIGO-Hanford and the TriCities Astronomy Club (TCAC) to organize this event and it looks like things are coming along nicely.
First, we can arrange a private tour of LIGO if we have a party of at least fifteen people, which I am pretty sure we can produce.
We also have the enthusiastic support of LIGO to have a joint RCA-TCAC star party on the LIGO parking lot on Saturday night. According to TCAC, the temperatures should be moderate, the wind not a problem, little dust, few critters, and not much sky-glow depending on one’s tolerance.
For lodging, we have reserved some of the RV and tent camping sites at Horn Rapids County Park campground. It’s just six miles from LIGO, and there are other lodging choices in the area.
I’m very pleased at how this trip is coming together. The local astronomy club has been friendly and welcoming, the outreach person at LIGO has been great, and even the park rangers have answered my telephone calls and given us positive responses. I feel another good trip coming on, and perhaps the beginning of a beautiful friendship with TriCities Astronomy Club.
Watch for a WuFoo survey that I will send out soon to gauge our level of interest.