7 March 2011 (Monday) - Stargazing in Folkestone

On Friday I scraped ice off the car before going to work. I did so again today. Work was dull, but was livened up by news from home. “Daddies Little Angel TMhas had more university offers. And then I had a text from Stevey. The weather forecast was for a clear night – did I fancy a spot of telescoping this evening?

Stevey had also put a message on the astro club’s Facebook page, and straight after work, me Stevey and the Rear Admiral set up on the East Cliff at Folkestone, just above the Warren. Whilst it wasn’t the best place for practical astronomy that I’ve been to, it was far from the worst. Once our scopes were all set, we turned them onto the crescent moon which was clearly visible over the rooftops. Really pretty. I then turned the scope to the nebula in Orion’s belt, and amazed myself that I managed to find it.

Steve & Andy arrived and set up scope, as did Jason, and Stevey had a go at my scope’s “Go-To” function. With a little help from the Rear Admiral he puzzled out how to work it. It’s (relatively) simple: you set the telescope up so’s it’s level – it comes with a spirit level – and you tell it where in the world you are, and what the time and date is. You then point it at two stars, and tell it what the stars are. Ideally the two stars should be on opposite sides of the sky. And then that’s it. You then tell it what you want to look at, and the telescope then points itself at our chosen target, and tracks it as it slowly moves across the sky.
We had a look at the crab nebula, the Pleiades, various Messier objects, and at the evening was drawing on we turned our attention to Saturn. The Rear Admiral found Saturn by use of skill and expertise with his scope. I used the “Go-To” function. It was easier.

I’m reliably informed that the list of objects we saw was (with varying degrees of success) M66, M65, M67, M48, M50, M93, NGC2362, M41, M3, M13, M42 (the great nebula in Orion), M33, M1 (Crab Nebula) M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) M44, NGC2903, Saturn and the beautiful waxing crescent moon with earth shine. It was a shame I’ve got to be up for work tomorrow morning – I could have stayed out much longer, but it was getting cold.

I was really pleased with my new telescope. This was the first time I’d used the thing properly. I would have been happy just being able to look at things though it. Having the “Go-To” function up and running was a definite bonus.
We must go again soon so’s I can try to photograph things properly, rather than sticking my camera up to the eyepiece.

The next time the weather’s looking good we’ll put another message on the astro club’s Facebook page and see what response we get. I’ve half a mind to put together a two-minute presentation for the next meeting of the astro club showing what we did tonight to see if we can’t drum up support for future impromptu stargazing sessions…

1 comment:

  1. As you probably read on my blog, I think your scope's brilliant, I look forward to another observing evening. Woodchurch has a pub!