Below are some pictures of the night sky at McDonald taken by one of our participants, Leslie Howell, a science teacher from the Ft. Worth area. If you look at the large versions of the images (click on an image to enlarge it), you can see both the colors of the stars and their trails, created as the Earth rotates about its axis. You can also see the Milky Way, the band of starlight caused by the billions of stars in our own galaxy. The picture with a telescope dome is of the Harlan J. Smith 2.7-meter telescope; the yellow glow on the lower parts of the dome is a reflection of the rising gibbous moon. In this picture, you'll notice that the star trails are wider on the right of the image than on the left. That's because the North Pole is behind the dome, and stars further from the pole have to make larger arcs to circle the pole.
Alas, although the weather has been great, we've had no end of problems with computers. We are trying to perform an activity where the teachers measure the brightnesses and colors of stars in star clusters; we've done this activity for many years and thought we finally had all the wrinkles ironed out. Unfortunately, we are having buggy problems with the computer program we use to analyze the data, bugs we've never seen before. And, worse, the bugs are intermittant, and don't affect everyone. So, the teachers are getting pretty frustrated with the activity. Tonight I need to try and smooth things over, and I'm still debating how to do that.