The sky had a thin covering of milky clouds all day. I had, however, announced a daytime Observatory open house and nighttime stargazing session for Alumni Day and I had to honor my commitment. The daytime open house solar viewing session didn't do much. We had 12 visitors between 9 AM and Noon and we didn't look at the Sun — the clouds made for an indistinct solar disk and the Sun itself was a blank showing no sunspots at all. Visitors, however, did seem to enjoy seeing the telescope and talking about it and the Observatory. The adult daughter of a former Observatory director stopped by with her dog and recollected spending many pleasant nights under the dome with her father. Time passed quickly. I closed up and headed home at Noon.
The evening saw a somewhat thinner cloud layer. It was, however, in evidence. I headed to the Observatory knowing that people would see stars overhead and wonder why we weren't open for the evening if I didn't show up. I knew that whatever we might look at would run the risk of being quite unimpressive. As darkness fell more and more stars appeared but, as expected, close examination with telescope and binoculars revealed the filtering effect of those, now invisible, high clouds. Then the people started arriving. The Observatory dome was full of visitors before Jupiter rose above the trees. Still they waited patiently and expectantly as the bright planet inched its way into visibility. The view was not very distinct but, with patience, we could just make out Jupiter's two major cloud bands. The Galilean moons shown like golden stars in a pattern to the left of the planet. By the time the evening finished at 11 PM –with a man and his two young daughters, all on bicycles– we had entertained 36 nighttime visitors. Even though Jupiter was all we could view on this night of murky skies, our guests left apparently happy and impressed. People still love the starry realm and it's a pleasure to share it with them.