A Dampened but Spirited Affair: Blackheath Observing Event – 11 November 2023
Despite the misty veil that the London skies draped over us, the Blackheath observing event on Saturday night was far from a washout.
Craftsmanship Meets Cosmos
Les brought his DIY prowess to the field with a homemade binocular parallelogram mount that proved not just a conversation starter but a sky-sweeping success. His setup allowed for a neck-friendly gazing experience and became the evening’s unexpected star attraction.
Jupiter Steals the Show Again
Mark’s Newtonian telescope gave us a front-row seat to Jupiter’s grandeur, showcasing the Great Red Spot and a line-up of the Galilean moons. All four of Jupiter’s largest moons graced us with their presence. Observers could even discern Ganymede’s hefty size, making it clear why it’s the solar system's heavyweight moon.
Planetary Popularity Contest
Tej’s telescope might as well have had a ‘fast track’ sign next to it, with queues reminiscent of a theme park ride. His scope offered a hitlist of planetary wonders - from Jupiter’s bands to Saturn’s rings, and even the distant Uranus and Neptune.
Galactic Ambitions Amidst Gathering Gloom
Richard and I, each with our own robotic scopes, focused on the M33 Triangulum Galaxy. Very tricky conditions to image this object, but we both managed to capture views of the spiral arms of this beautiful object, which proved to be a real hit with our visitors.
A Notable Turnout
Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, we had an impressive turnout of 30-40 visitors, who came equipped with enthusiasm. Their presence and interest made the event a memorable one, regardless of the weather’s whims.
Moisture Calls Time
The real spoiler of the night was the heavy air moisture, turning our starry soiree into a soggy one. With high clouds rolling in, we had to pack up earlier than we’d have liked, bidding a premature farewell to the night sky.
We may have had to retreat early, but our spirits remain undampened. We’re already setting our sights on the next Blackheath Observing Event on 9 December. Here’s hoping for drier conditions and even more celestial spectacles.
For those who joined us, thank you, in particular our wonderful volunteers. Until the next time, keep your telescopes dry and your eyes on the sky.