The Night Sky On The Summit, And ‘What We Do For Fun’
2018-09-18 05:28:45.000 – Christopher Hohman, Weather Observer/Staff Meteorologist
What a beautiful week of weather we’ve had here on the summit. That is, if you think clear conditions constitute ‘beautiful conditions.’ Personally I love being in the clouds, with high velocity winds whipping around the summit. Regardless though, we had a lot of sun this week, and subsequently very warm temperatures. We tied and broke daily record highs on two days, which was something we were thinking, might happen during our weekly Wednesday shift changes. Overall I’m happy with the weather we got to see this shift, but I’m definitely ready for the snow and fast winds coming within the next few weeks!
I thought I would spend this blog going a little more in depth on a few questions we got during some of our facebook live events. One of them really intrigued me: “Besides the weather, what kind of things do you get to see at night? How dark is the sky?”
The night sky here is easily the darkest I have ever experienced in my life. I’ve been to Cherry Springs State park in Pennsylvania, and the night just doesn’t get as dark as up here. For those of you who don’t know what that place is, it is a state park that is notorious for having some of the darkest night skies in the United States. This photo is exaggerated, Zach used a 15-second exposure to capture it, however this will give you an idea how dark the sky can get (That’s me by the way):
I normally see at least one shooting star if we’re in the clear, and there is no moon. If you stand out there for five minutes, I would say you’re almost guaranteed to see a shooter. The whole shift stargazed earlier in the week for about 20 minutes, and we probably saw around 5-10 shooting stars. One of them was so bright we were sure it was going to be on the news, but alas, it sadly was not.
The most interesting part of the night to me though, is watching the constellations rise and set at different times throughout my shifts. When most people look into the night sky, it’s only for a few minutes about an hour or so after the sun goes down. Me though, I watch the entire night sky move and change from sunrise to sunset. You really start to notice a lot when you do that every hour for an entire week. I knew a decent amount of constellations when I started this job, but there have been countless times where I think to myself, “Those grouping of stars look kind of bright and form an interesting shape, I be that’s a constellation.” I’ll head inside to check, and sure enough 9 times out of 10 I found some random constellation I never knew existed. For example I was admiring Orion (Yes, the classic winter constellation is rising at around 4:00 a.m. right now. Winter is coming folks…) and noticed a grouping of stars to the left of him. I present to you, Monoceros:
Another question asked was, “What do you guys do for fun up there?” When I first heard this question, I was actually slightly surprised. We aren’t normally asked that; I mean most of the questions we get revolve around our jobs or Marty (Mostly Marty). Relaxing after a shift is incredibly important. We’re always keeping our eyes on the weather, and doing everything we can to produce to best observations. Therefore, decompressing after 12 hours of constant work is big for us up here. We don’t get that much of it, we normally only have 2-3 hours of true down time on any given day.
A popular thing to do amongst shifts is to watch TV on the various streaming services we have up here (Classic Netflix, Hulu). If the weather is nice, sometimes one of us will go for a quick hike. Some of our favorites are heading to Clay, or taking a walk to the Alpine Garden.
On our shift, we always try to play some kind of board game with one another. Ian has literally HUNDREDS of board games at his house. He used to work at a board game café! Seriously, if you have some obscure board game that no one knows about, chances are Ian’s played it a million times. He graciously brings a few games up from his own collection just about every week for us to try out. This week we played a lot of “Ticket To Ride.” Pretty fun. Definitely worth the money if you ever see it at a toy store…
Last night we took a break from the games and had a paint night lead by our Museum Attendant Tessa! She had us try our hand at painting her own original: a painting of Marty, with Mount Washington and the Observatory in the background. Check out how amazing Tessa’s came out!
Thank you so much for reading my blog! Hope you found it fun and informative. Feel free to message us if you have any questions on anything mentioned above. Thanks again, and have a wonderful day!
Christopher Hohman, Weather Observer/Staff Meteorologist