24 October 2009 (Saturday) - AstroBash

To Argos to get “Daddies Little Angel TM ” the chair she’s been asking for. And then to Tesco for petrol, where I did something I’ve never done before. I reset the car’s fuel consumption gadget. Normally after refuelling it thinks the car has a range of 439 miles until it needs petrol. Now it thinks the range is 516 miles. I just hope I don’t run out of petrol sixty miles sooner than I’m expecting.

To Woodchurch for AstroBash. I had this idea that if I got there for 11am I’d be one of the first ones to arrive, and could help with the setting up. When I turned up, there were a dozen people already in the throes of getting ready. I was able to help with fetching and carrying tables around, and with putting out chairs, and generally getting in people’s way. I then spent ten minutes winding the children up. “No – your daddy hasn’t got to get the planetarium – I just saw him in the pub.” Oh, such fun.

And then the dalek man arrived. One of the members of a nearby astronomy club had made his very own dalek, and brought it along for the day. Would anyone be good enough to sit inside it and operate it for a while? Hmmm… Let me think about that one. Oh, it was brilliant. Sitting inside I could move the thing all over the place, and operate the eye stalk and the plunger. I even had a tin of smoke I could spray out of the exterminator. You can see the video on Facebook. Mind you, it soon got rather hot inside the dalek, to say nothing of being a tad claustrophobic.

I eventually emerged from the dalek to find Lyn had arrived with the bouncy castle, and so we put that up. In the rain. I must admit to being somewhat miffed about the weather. People had put in loads of effort for the day. Me – I’d not done much, really. I’d printed some flyers, got a hand stamp and some raffle tickets, and volunteered to generally dogsbody as required. But others had spent weeks in preparation. The weather looked set to spoil the day. The event formally opened at 2pm, and by 2.30pm we’d only had nine paying punters. So I got myself an ice cream, and I made a conscious decision. The rain was beyond my control, but my attitude to the rain wasn’t. I could sulk, or I could make the most of the day.

Astrobash was a really good event, with loads on offer. The raffle was excellent, with quality prizes - telescopes, books signed by Sir Patrick Moore, and really good airfix kits. There was rocket making and planet painting for the kiddies. There was a stall selling bits of astronomical kit. There was a jam stall with profits going to the club. There was a telescope display. There was a lunar module lander simulator. We had the use of the University’s planetarium with twenty minute presentations going on at intervals all afternoon. Outside we had stomp-rockets, a bouncy castle, and we’d even managed to be able to intercept and decode the signal from orbiting weather satellites. And there were talks from expert speakers (including me – I’m an expert!!)

And as the data from the weather satellites predicted, as the afternoon wore on, the weather got better. By the time I got to my fourth ice cream the rain had stopped, and the hall was rather crowded with people. As always at the astro club, I hawked the raffle noisily. I had to be noisy – AstroBash was a very noisy place. When the time came for my talk I was grateful for the P.A. system. Normally when I speak at the astro club, it’s in a darkened hall and everyone is listening. Today I was speaking with everything going on around me, and it took a while to capture everyone’s attention. I had been given twenty minutes. I went on too long, but I think the punters enjoyed the show.

We called the raffle, and then set up telescopes outside. We were able to see the moon and some stars through breaks in the cloud. And, as always I then helped with the tidying away. There are those members of the club who are far more knowledgeable about telescopy-things than I am, and they are far better employed talking to the “normal people” than I would be. The planetarium had to be returned to the University in Canterbury that night, so I loaded up the car and set off. That was a job that wouldn’t take long. Or so I thought. I rather suspected everyone would have packed up by the time I finished that job, but I drove back to Woodchurch just in case. As I suspected, everyone had gone. Oh well – I knew they would be gone anyway….

You can see the photos here. Same time next year…?

No comments:

Post a Comment