The All-Arizona Star Party was once again held in Arizona City, midway between Tucson and Phoenix in a site so remote that half the residents have drawn jury duty for the Simpson Trial.
The site was basically a wide spot in a dry wash with periodic wind gusts engulfing the observers in dust, coating mirrors with dirt and smearing stars into comet-like blobs. Nevertheless, we managed to get some good observing in between dust storms, thanks particularly to Astronomy Club Members Adam Block and Carl Hergenrother who consistently sought out and found deep sky objects. We serendipitously observed two incredible events. Heather McFarland found a geosynchronous satellite just by swinging the telescope around, scanning the Milky Way for nebulous objects. The satellite was flashing with about a one-second period, certainly strange behavior for an object meant to always point at a single point on the Earth. An expert (who wishes to remain anonymous) checked the location with satellite databases and concluded that the object most probably belongs to the Dept. of Defense. I have already contacted TV's "The X-Files" to sell my story.
The next surprise was a brilliant meteor streaking across the entire sky, leaving a trial visible for over a minute and also leaving our gaping mouths filled with more dust.
The evening was disrupted when some night-blind observer, in a futile attempt to leave, drove his Aerostar off of a two-foot ledge into the wash. A team of observers graciously gave up their night vision to help him out, pushing him in deeper so he could wait for monsoon season floods to carry him home. Luckily, our group was able to make it home with out any serious mishaps. All in all, it was not a total WASH out but next year, hopefully, the East Valley Astronomy Club of Phoenix can chose a better site for this event. It proves, once again that a star party is always fun despite wind, dust, and cold. And, hey, I guess it adds to the excitement! Guy McArthur