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

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