Well, it certainly was not plain sailing and the first two star party dates in August both fell victim in similar circumstances, with heavy cloud cover preventing any observing. What then would the Whitby Regatta weekend have in store? The Friday evening before the weekend, saw several members met up with Andi at the Royal Hotel for a mini get together before Andi returned to Tenerife. It was nice to see Andi again and catch up on all sorts of matters.

The Regatta itself was the usual mixed bag of conditions; Saturday was awful, cloud and rain preventing both solar viewing and evening star party events from going ahead. Sunday also looked far from ideal according to the forecast, but ever the optimists, Keith and Mark journeyed up onto the West Cliff on the afternoon to our usual location and waited for divine intervention. Well, 'divine' must have been listening, because the cloud cover fragmented, the Sun came out and to top it all; a sunspot group was visible near the limb of the solar disk! The optimistic gamble had paid off! 

Regatta Sunday Solar Party - Mark explaining something (click for full image)

Things looked more promising for the evening star party. The cloud was certainly in party mood, doing what can only be described as the 'cloud hokey-cokey'; coming in, then melting away, then coming in again, then out, in... out... By the time Mark arrived by the side of the mini golf course the cloud was in again. It was decided to set up anyway and wait for developments. John L then joined the optimistic two, before out of the gathering gloom people began to emerge, expectant, optimistic... lost, all scrutinising the sky for any sign of breaks in the cloud. Then a strange thing happened, first a blood orange moon clambered over the roof tops and into a clear slot. Instruments were hastily trained and everyone seemed happy to have observed something. Jupiter and Saturn then appeared to the right of the moon, stars emerged, and the summer triangle was visible. Mark wielded his laser pointer, not at clouds, but at stars! People were delighted at the unexpected turn of affairs; this was now a star party! Well, for about 20 minutes it was, then as soon as clouds parted, the sky filled in once again, but this time for good. We reloaded the equipment and went our separate ways pondering on whether it had been the best Regatta star party for 3 years!  And that sums up Regatta weather for you.  

We have sunspots...honest guv. (click for full image)

Monday dawned cloudy still, but by late morning skies were clearing rapidly. Mark and Keith ventured up to the Grovers Optics pitch, (which this year was opposite the Royal Hotel on the West Cliff) to hang out with our friend Marcus. Solar viewing had been the intention, Keith had even brought along his solar scope, a rare outing. Depressingly the sight of solar scopes being set up appears to strongly dissagree with the weather gods, and in an all too familiar response a sheet of cloud slid off the North Sea for the duration of the day (and much of the following week)!!  

The scheduled star party for the Wednesday evening was... yes you've guessed it, totally clouded out! 

And so to the event at Northcliffe and Seaview Caravan Holiday Park which came at the end of a mostly cloudy week. It had been 4 years since our first (and last) visit, so we were eager to make use of the dark location. Mark had already transported the two dobsonians over the day before the event as transport logistics looked they might be an issue. Friday 27th was another cloudy day, however, by early evening a few breaks were starting to appear. John L, Keith, Lee and Mark met at Mark's house, decided what else to load and set off for the Park. Cloud cover was still over 80% and we thought that would deter people from coming along at the park itself. We were wrong as on arrival it was clear upwards of 50 were gathered at the booking office - enjoying light refreshments. 

The gathering crowd at Northcliffe - refreshments and hand-outs in hand.
Image by Keith (click for full image)

After 'meets and greets' it was decided to go ahead with the scale demonstrations, first the Earth - Lunar one and then the scale solar system. The inflatable planets and light globes were utilised for this, along with plenty of willing assistance from the younger guests. Brief sightings of Jupiter and a few stars then prompted us to deploy the scopes on the park football field. For this the scopes were manhandled by volunteers along the service lane. 

Once set up it became apparent the cloud was going to be coming and going (mostly coming as it turned out). Occasionally Mark was able to point out a bright star and sometimes almost whole constellations with the laser pointer, but it was frustrating, essentially a virtual tour of the night sky - through cloud. John, Keith and Lee strove valiantly to train the scopes on Jupiter or Saturn when they fleetingly appeared. Skies briefly threatened to clear further, but it was short lived. A faint glow on the sea and above the horizon to the east revealed the location of a moonrise, although the moon itself remained hidden behind cloud. 
By 22:30hrs there was little to see at all and so we called it a night. Not the one that we had hoped for, but our efforts had been appreciated by the park guests all the same.

Typically, the following day was sunny, with a clear evening to follow. Just no star party, and the event on the 29th was also a victim of...