Astronomy Day 2008
With Friday night so overcast that even the Moon didn't shine through it was a relief to see a clear sky all day.
A few eager people were waiting when we arrived at about 5:45 to start setting up but they didn't have to wait long. That's one of the good features of having Dobsonian mounted telescopes - plonk them down and you're ready to go!
Laine was able to start with Mars and Saturn, Jarad and Robyn targeted the Moon and I set another of my telescopes on M42 - the nebula in Orion.
Through the night we were able to show:-
We had just over 100 people brave the cool night and take the opportunity to look through each of the telescopes.
- PLANETS - Mars, Saturn, the region where Pluto is, (unfortunately Jupiter rose too late in the night)
- NEBULAE - M42 the nebula in Orion, NGC 2070 the Tarantula nebula, NGC 3372 the nebula in Carina
- STAR CLUSTERS - NGC 5139 Omega Centauri, 47 Tuc , NGC 4755 the Jewell Box cluster
- GALAXIES - our neighbours the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. We also tried for M83 Southern Pinwheel Galaxy and M104 Sombrero Galaxy but there was too much light pollution.
It was great to see a lot of international students from the USQ have a look in more detail at a night sky that they never see at home.
Lots of questions were asked and I hope we managed to answer most of them.
I'd like to mention that I was misquoted, in the newspaper article shown to the right, for the starting year of Astronomy Day - I had actually said on the phone that it was started in 1973.
That small error aside, I am very grateful for the support that The Chronicle has given me. They are happy to place a small article or date claimer in a relevant paper for me free of any charge - and sometimes even calling me for a quick telephone interview for an article I hadn't even asked for (such as happened for tonight's Astronomy Day viewing).
Of course these nights wouldn't be as good without the help I get from other eager astronomers, who share their time and telescopes so that you can veiw some of the wonders of our night sky.