So, what would Saturday evening throw up?  Well, Mark first returned back to the Fox and Hounds in the late morning to reload the stored equipment and relocate to the Moors Centre.  This took quite a while, but at least it meant equipment was ‘on site’ for the evening.  Looking at the forecast for the evening prospects looked quite encouraging... and rather pessimistic at the same time!  Evening fell, Keith, Mark, Barbara and Mark journeyed up under ‘pessimistically encouraging’ skies, joining Paul Wood, who had been there quite a while already.  Paul Cass and Dr John McCue also brought their scopes along.


Portage of telescopes from upstairs and erecting on the front upper terrace then became our main priority.  Straight away teething problems arose with three of the scopes.  The Tal refractor head and tripod stand refused to marry up, so a shotgun wedding ensued and although not sited properly the two stayed intact for the remainder of the evening.  Mark thought the collimation on the smaller 6 inch dobsonian was off, but was ok for the evening.  The small meade ETX had to be taken out of line, as nothing could be see through it!  This was later found to be the diagonal mirror, which had come unstuck from its base and was rattling around in the tube.   A project for the weekend!

Fortunately there were enough instruments set up and functioning properly, and miraculously conditions were pretty decent, the wind had subsided considerably, skies were clear enough and it wasn’t perishing.  Over 70 people had booked for the event (including the Fox and Hounds contingent) and with lady luck favouring us, it was pleasing (to say the least) to observe some of the wonders of the winter night sky in relative comfort.  Mark gave a laser point tour, whilst people queued at the eyepiece to view the Orion nebula, Pleiades, M35 open cluster, the beehive, Mizar and alcor, Castor, Betelgeuse, M41 and a number of other deep sky objects.  The time slipped by quite quickly.


As agreed with Karen, following a tea and biscuit break, Mark gave a couple of quick presentations in the lecture room.  One on the celestial highlights to look out for this year, and another on some of the deep sky wonders to look for with a smaller scope.  Whilst the IT was getting sorted in preparation for this, the instruments outside were brought indoors – or packed away, just in time apparently as a small rain shower appeared from nowhere.


By 20:35h it was time to call a halt (Mark only overrunning by 5 mins)  I think the evening had been a great success, much appreciated by all those attending who perhaps don’t often get the opportunity to view deep sky objects from dark sky locations.  Karen was delighted with the positive feedback.   By 21:00h everything was packed away into the cars, and after final goodbyes we headed back home.

Many thanks to Keith, Barbara and Mark, Paul C, John and Paul W, Karen and all the staff at the Moor’s Centre, for making the evening work.  Considerably hard work goes into these events – and for once the weather came on board too!