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  • Writer's pictureMike Meynell

Wind, Wonders, and Whirling Telescopes: Blackheath Observing Event – 10 December 2023

When the Wind Blows

The night was clear, the stars were out, but so was the wind. Our recent Blackheath Observing Event was a tale of two forces: the relentless wind and our unwavering astronomical enthusiasm. In an epic battle against gusty adversaries, our telescopes swayed more than they focused, and our astronomers held their ground firmer than their tripods.

Setting up scopes at the start of the evening

Asterisms and Elusive Stars

Tony, defying the wind with his binoculars, brought the "Cheshire Cat" asterism in Auriga into view, offering a cosmic smile that seemed to mock the turbulent conditions. Meanwhile, Mark, in a feat of astronomical dexterity, managed to give attendees a rare glimpse of Rigel B – a sighting as elusive as a calm moment that evening.

Jovian Joys and Shooting Stars

Jupiter, undeterred by the Earthly breeze, flaunted its Great Red Spot and lined up its four Galilean Moons for us, like ducks in a row bracing against the wind. And I, eyes on the sky, was rewarded with the sight of a couple of early Geminid meteors, streaking through the gusty air.

All scopes point to Jupiter

A Windy Challenge with the Smart Telescope

My venture to capture the night's beauty with my Smart Telescope turned into a dance with the wind. Each 10-second exposure battled gusts, resulting in a unique set of 'wind-painted' images!

The Pleiades as you've never seen them before - a wobbly mess due to the wind!

A Heartfelt Thanks to Our Stalwarts

In these blustery conditions, our heartfelt thanks go out to our volunteers – Matt, Phil, Alec, Mike, Tony, Mark, and Les – who braved the wind's tantrums. Without their dedication and steady hands, the evening would have been less about astronomy and more about chasing equipment across Blackheath!

Wrapping Up with a Gust

We wrapped up the event earlier than planned, as even the most enthusiastic astronomers among us recognized that sometimes, nature has its own ideas about observing conditions. But it wasn’t all for nothing – we had our share of interstellar victories and a good dose of laughter wrestling with the wind.

Until the next time (13 January, with “back-up” nights of 14/20/21 January), we hope for calmer conditions, but rest assured, whatever the weather, we'll be there with our scopes and smiles, ready for whatever the universe throws our way.

Pictures from the Event (by Mike Meynell and Phil Benson):


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