Star Parties

First National Forest Star Party ,report, 17-19/11/2017

Beehive woodland lakes campsite , Rosliston.

Splendid weekend at the first of these events. We were very lucky with the weather and wonderful Rosliston campsite.

Friday night we had an all nighter , but transparency was poor , Sunday night and gaps in the cloud showed a lot of black sky. This morning from 1.30 until 5.30 we had glorious sky and made the most of it. Using goto and a Dob (Steve) we wound our way around the sights. There were a number that Paul and Sean had never seen. It was a delight to get the right field of view / filter so that we could enjoy the views.

Paul got M33 in his TAL 100, well pleased. The Milky Way was evident and we started off with a lovely Eastern Veil. Moving to get the binary 52 Cygnus and then up to the fast moving “Piazzi’s flying double” of 61 Cygni.

Friday. Globular clusters, a sparkling M5 in Serpens Caput. M15 off Enif and a lovely M2 in Aquarius. Steve was busy resolving this in a 2″ep. We revisited NGC 2419 few times over the weekend to get the glimmer.

Planetary nebulae. NGC 7662, the blue snowball in Andromeda. A surprise for Paul and a bright NGC 40, the “Bow tie “. NGC 6543 ,The “Cats eye” of Draco, we returned to Draco for some spectacular binaries. The “Eskimo” blasted up to x200 to give the hood and the central white dwarf.

We could see Cancer by eye and later the many stars between constellations. Open clusters, Steve was pleased with NGC 2301 , “Hagrids Dragon”, we stayed in Monoceros for the Xmas tree and the cluster (NGC 2244) to the rosette ( filtered)NGC 2237. Orion gave NGC 1981 and the “37 ” cluster, NGC 2169. Sigma Orionis was good , but better on Sunday morning , as was splitting the elusive Tegmine.

The view of M50 in Monoceros was just awesome. A real jewel.

We were treated to Sean’s pineapple Ethos in the C6r, we felt dwarfed by the set up,but the view of Bodes was remarkable.Lepus was just above the trees behind us, Hind’s Crimson just about there.

The site is open with near 360 views if you sit on your own in the middle ! We returned to Draco to get 39 Draconis,16-17 Draconis, μ (Αrakis), Psi and 40-41. Three of us frac devotees were in agreement over the contrast given compared to the Dob. A lot of banter ensued.

There much much much more, it was a long session , hopping between scopes and a lot was learnt . There was either ” what would you like see ?” Or ” wow, you must see this !” Room 101 got filled with non desirable celebrities, we ended up creased up , hardly being able to put forward the likes of Russell Brand (winner) and Craig David( close second). Seb Coe was a late runner, pipped at the post by Gary Barlow.

Saturday night. Set up and watched the clouds flow set up/ upset. Room 101 expanded, Titchmarsh and Milliband being allowed in.

Sunday morning in the tent and temperatures plummeted, frostio ! Sticking my head out , there was Steve nudging his Dob under a very dark impressive sky, hurrah ! Leo was high and we had a fair show of the Leonid aftershower including a trail and two that followed each other.we got 2 of the Triplet in the Dob, managing M105, 95 and 96 in the belly hugging group.

We spent a lot of time just looking at the sky,star hopping was quite easy. M38 showed up by eye. I searched for NGC 2169 , near five minutes in the Dob,then took Steve over and pressed goto. It was a tad faster , but without the thrill of the hunt ( plus frustration) . Dobs nearly went in room 101, beaten by Anne Robinson.

Taurus was full of stars, a sleep walking Sean passed us pointing out the number of stars above the Hyades.Paul slept on in the pod , we didn’t think that Karen would like us knocking the door at 1.30 ( that’s am!) he did say that he looked out at 4.30 and it was very dark, come on down that man !

We did a tour of some of Caroline Herschel’s findings , the “Rose” and the beautiful NGC 225 ( “sail boat”) . One that I recalled was the “Dancing Man ” cluster ,its in two halves, the runner being NGC 1528. NGC 1502 looked like it’s name (“Jolly Roger”) at that end of Kemble’s cascade, NGC 1502, the “Blue Oyster” popped in and out of direct vision.

M1 looked cracking , Steve the hopper found it straight away .NGC 1647and 1746 were pleasing.

Oh my goodness, UMa and a super view of the eyed M97. With a dull M108 ( we compared that to the non Messier contender. NGC 2903). Steve found Bodes in his 82 degree ES and we agreed it was one of the best of views.

Getting into CNv,M51, M94,M63 and M106. Steve was pleased to easily find M3 and resolve it in 2″ grenades. Vega was up and I got M13 in the Keystone along the line to Arcturus.Mars surprised us with a clean red disc in the frac, very cool.
We swept into Virgo ,catching a few brighter galaxies from Denebola, a spring preview. Again, there was so much more, with surprises and views to linger over.A very worthwhile and fascinating star party .

Special thanks to Lee arrived to expertly adjust and fix things ( not mentioning one mount here !) If you feel like a star party ,holding it or going,don’t hesitate.
Clear skies !
Nick

Solarsphere 2017 August 11th-14th

Hi Folks

Just a reminder that Solarsphere is on again in August

Dave and I went last year, and we’re going again this year. It’s a great weekend of music and hopefully dark, clear skies (ideal for an All Sky Camera)

Penmaenau Farm is located next door to The Royal Welsh Show Ground on A470 approx 2 miles out of Builth Wells on the opposite side of the river to the town of Builth. Site address is:-

LD2 3RD
Llanelwedd, Builth Wells, UK

Penm

Here’s the website http://www.solarsphere.events/

Cheers

ilth

Astrocamp Star Party – Brecon Beacons 22nd -25th March 2017

**** SORRY – CANCEL THIS – I just realised I can’t go that weekend. Oops ********

 

Hi Folks

 

I’m considering going to the Astrocamp Star party in the Brecon Beacons (22nd– 25th March). Is anyone else going , or does anyone fancy it?

http://astrocamp.awesomeastronomy.com/

Reply direct to me if you like

Cheers

Ed Mann

07802 350187

ed.mann@btinternet.com

Report on The Peak District Star Party

Peak District Star Party – Riverdale Campsite

Saturday 25th March 2017  

7pm to 11pm   No moon

M51 (The Whirlpool Galaxy) and NGC 5195  

It’s been my ambition for 20 years to see the spiral arms of a galaxy, and I finally got the opportunity to take my 16 inch Dob to a dark sky site last Saturday.  Shortly after arriving I asked a guy with a big Dob which galaxy is the best bet.  As I suspected, the answer he gave was M51.

I trained my scope on M51, and as usual, I could see this galaxy plus the fainter galaxy, NGC 5195 underneath.  Where I live, in town, I can see the bright core of M51, and the dimmer outer regions, but I can’t see any detail.  I was very much hoping things would be different in the Peak District.

By mid-evening I could see that the outer region definitely looked brighter in some places than in others.  I found that 150x magnification showed more detail than lower magnification.  As I moved away from the core, downwards and to the right, there was quite a dark area, then a brighter area as I moved further way from the core.  But I couldn’t piece the lighter and darker areas into a spiral.  By 10.30, however, I was confident I could see at least a little piece of a spiral.  The most obvious part started on the right of the core then swept down and round to the left underneath the core.  There was also a hint of one on the opposite side.  I decided that if I could work out from my own observations which way the spiral arms went round, then I would conclude I’d really seen them.  After finding some sketches on the internet when I got home I decided that this in fact was the case, so I’m counting the expedition as a success.

Other targets

As you might imagine, most other things looked a little more impressive, particularly M3, the globular star cluster just above Bootes in Canes Venatici.  The most noticeable difference was the Owl Nebula.  In the past I’ve only been able to see this using a light pollution filter, but it was clearly visible through the main scope without a filter in the darker sky.  I still couldn’t see the eyes though.  Unfortunately I could still only see the usual four galaxies in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster, M84, M86, NGC 4338 and 4435.  Maybe I’d have seen more on another night or if I’d stopped latter.

22 inch Dob and 13mm Ethos eyepiece

I had a look at M51 through an 18 inch Dob, and then a 22 inch Dob.  I could see a bit more detail in each, but not masses more.  It’s the same when moving from a 10 inch to a 16 inch.  There’s a worthwhile improvement in what you see, but not as much as you might expect.

Interestingly, both guys were using 13mm Ethos eyepieces, which would give them around 150x magnification.  The opportunity to look through a really big Dob and an Ethos eyepiece made the trip doubly worthwhile.  I have to say though, that I wasn’t sufficiently awed by the 100 degree apparent field of view that I’m going to buy one.  Nor would a larger telescope be practical given how I store and transport my scope.

The one thing missing

The one thing missing from this event was the car loads of locals who’d travelled up to see the wonders of the universe and take advantage of the clear sky and fabulous telescopes.  There weren’t any regular campers who wanted a look either.  I did, however, notice that the campsite bar and café were jam packed with people.  Shame.  At least some people benefitted from the experience.  I enjoyed myself.  Even my girlfriend said she enjoyed the evening.  Praise indeed!

David Geary

DIY Peak Star Party , Rivendale campsite from 24th March 2017.

It was great to see over 20 turn up ,in particular friendly faces from our club.

We had glorious weather with a stiff breeze on Friday. There was a sky full of contrails, which melted into some milkiness after that . Static homes provided security lighting now and again. But it quietened down later on. Those pitches to the rear having the darkest views.
Of particular interest were the Monster Dob Mob Dobs . The views of the spiral arms of M51 will stay with me .M13 filled the fov, as did M92. The galaxies showed so much interesting structure .
Even with my 10″ (sob)Dob, I caught the “Whale” galaxy and both Leo groups, including the lovely Triplet. Both Canes Venatici and Coma Berenices provided multi views of galaxies, before diving off into Virgo.

We managed both comets, 41P Tuttle at the top of UMa( some confusion there !) and V12 Johnson, faint in the club of Hercules.
It was a delight to catch an observable “Intergalactic Wanderer” ,NGC 2419 in Lynx. The hook of stars pointing to this most distant of globulars. Other Messier’s were soon toured, M3 giving super resolution. For a few folk it was the first view of some targets. There were some joyous grins, might have been drink or wind chill !
Saturday night excelled and gave a calm and clearer scene until later ,when mushy haze crept in. During the day it was very special to be able to observe Solar proms from a variety of set ups. A lot of activity up there and down here. Many thanks for sharing your setups and time, very much appreciated by all.

Phew, no mention of binaries (yet). I did nudge a few in the direction of Tegmine ! 
Hoping that we can find a darker site somewhere in that area. For those who fancy a couple of nights, it’s lovely. Make sure you book as far away from the statics as you can ! Nick.