I finally got to do the model rocket launch and stargazing event that I’d been trying to make happen for over a year with the church youth group. We didn’t have a large turnout (six kids; we had as many adults with me, Mom, the two ladies who oversee the youth group, and the couple who hosted us), but everyone seemed to have fun; I certainly did.
I shot off an even dozen rockets (well, nine, with three of them flying twice). The first damaged a fin on landing, and precluded using it again that session (I’d planned to use up some other old engines with it). I had a new boost glider which was unsuccessful at gliding (it augered in both flights, but while it corkscrewed on the way up, at least it didn’t shed a wing, or break when it hit the ground; and now I have some idea of how to try to fix the glide). A tiny rocket I had shed its drogue streamer and dented the mouth of the body tube where the nose cone goes in a little.
Other than that, everything flew pretty well. I had a tumble-recovery model which had gone up and down like a dart and broke a fin a couple years ago. I’d modified it to kick back but retain the expended engine to try to destabilize it, and the modification worked exactly as advertised; nothing broken. My ancient (actually, most of what I have is either late-'70s-to-early-'80s or made from parts thereof) Centuri Centurion went up slow and graceful as usual, and I caught it on the way down (on a second flight with a more powerful engine, it drifted just outside the yard into the corn).
I flew three other parachute models (I caught two of them; the other went into the corn (but easily located)) including a 1/35th scale model of a Mercury Redstone (I caught both pieces of that one, and they both landed in the yard this time). Perhaps the star of the show was a pop-pod boost glider. It had displayed an undesirable flight characteristic the previous time, and I’d modified it to try to correct it (successfully, as it turned out). I flew it first with an A-series engine; the pod and nose cone (on separate streamers) separated cleanly, and after a few whipstalls, the glider still had a little altitude to settle into a glide. I repeated it with a B-series engine, and it got a good deal more altitude, separated cleanly, and the glider did a lot more graceful gliding (lots of hang time) before landing in the weeds (but easily recovered).
Then I put away the rockets and broke out the telescopes. There had been plenty of clouds during the day, and it was still kind of hazy that evening (there were still a few cirrus clouds about). But it was clear enough that I was able to show everyone both Jupiter (with three of its Galilean moons) and Saturn (its rings are at a great angle for viewing) in all their splendor. I was also able to show what I think was the Lagoon nebula (not sure, because the hazy sky and light on the horizon didn’t reveal much of the nebulosity (it was definitely a nebula, with a bunch of stars in and amongst it)).
It was an exhausting but enjoyable experience for me, and I pray an edifying one for the kids.