Greenbank Star Quest 2023 Experiences Rainy Setback

Despite Inclement Weather, Astronomers and Stargazers Find Joy and Inspiration Amidst the Rain

By Jonathan Eggleston for RealWV,

The eagerly anticipated Greenbank Star Quest 2023 (a celestial extravaganza hosted annually at the Greenbank Observatory), encountered unexpected rainfall, dampening the hopes of many attendees. Nevertheless, the event proved that the spirit of exploration and fascination with the cosmos could not be washed away, as both amateur astronomers and seasoned professionals made the most of the situation.

Photo by Jonathan Eggleston for RealWV.

The four-day event, known for its spectacular stargazing opportunities and captivating talks by esteemed scientists, started with much anticipation. Enthusiastic stargazers from all walks of life gathered in the picturesque surroundings of the Greenbank Observatory, nestled amongst the tranquil West Virginia mountains. However, Mother Nature had other plans in store, as a weather system moved in, unleashing consistent showers and occasional thunder that persisted throughout the event.

Photo by Jonathan Eggleston for RealWV.

Undeterred by the downpour, attendees were determined to make the most of their time at the Observatory. Armed with umbrellas, raincoats, and an unwavering spirit of adventure, they eagerly explored the many educational exhibits and engaging workshops offered indoors. From interactive presentations on the mysteries of the universe to hands-on experiments showcasing the latest advancements in astronomy, participants immersed themselves in a world of cosmic knowledge, undeterred by the raindrops cascading outside.

While the celestial observation sessions scheduled for each evening had to be put on hold due to the weather conditions, the attendees’ spirits remained undampened! They embraced the opportunity to socialize and share their enthusiasm for the cosmos, fostering a sense of camaraderie and community even in the face of a total rain out.

Photo by Jonathan Eggleston for RealWV.

Seasoned astronomers and astrophotography enthusiasts generously shared their expertise, sparking lively conversations and inspiring others to explore the wonders of the universe.

I tried capturing some of the most inspiring moments of the event. Among the images were these stunning views of the GBT, the surrounding landscape, and the ethereal dance of the fireflies as they added their vibrant glow to the scene. These images serve as a testament to the perseverance and unwavering passion of those who refused to let the weather dampen their astronomical ambitions.
I have also included a few images I captured at last years Star Quest as well to show what these skies can truly look like under a blanket of stars.

Photo by Jonathan Eggleston for RealWV.

While the rain certainly posed some difficulties, the subdued lighting and cloud cover added a unique atmosphere to the scene. It was an unforgettable experience capturing the elusive beauty of the Greenbank Observatory amidst the rain-soaked landscape. These photographs represent the resilience of the human spirit and our eternal fascination with the cosmos.

The Greenbank Star Quest 2023, despite facing a significant setback, will be remembered as a testament to the unwavering spirit of those who pursue the stars. The rain may have obscured the night sky, but it could not dampen the shared enthusiasm, knowledge, and sense of wonder that permeated the event.

Members of the Central Appalachian Astronomy Club, (CAAC) standing around Mr. Eddie Zelenick’s New 20 inch Dobsonian telescope after a total rainout. Photo by Jonathan Eggleston, RealWV.

I was even able to take a 40ft Radio Dish Operators class as an introduction into Radio Astronomy and was an awesome experience! I am now a certified Radio Astronomer that can listen in on the soft whispers of the Universe any time I want. Thanks, Greenbank! 

As others departed from the Observatory, their hearts filled with memories of laughter, shared discoveries, and dreams that stretched beyond the confines of planet Earth. I left with a renewed commitment to continue my exploration of the cosmos as I eagerly await for future opportunities to connect with the stars.

Make sure you guys go and check out the incredible Greenbank Observatory to witness some of the unfathomable beauty hidden within the vast expanse of the universe.

Big thanks to all of the Greenbank Observatory staff, as well as the CAAC and all of the speakers, attendees and friends who helped to make an incredible event happen regardless of the situation!

I will forever cherish this memory and can’t wait till next year!

The beautiful Milky Way captured during last year’s Star Quest. A total of 16 separate tracked panels were stitched together to bring out more detail in the Milky Way and catch the entire arch across the sky. Photo by Jonathan Eggleston for RealWV.

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