Fylinghall School Star Event

Held on March 28th the ‘dark sky’ star gazing evening was, like last year, somewhat effected by external conditions – cloud. At least it wasn’t raining so some activities possible, and Mark was able to press gang some of the attendees to help demonstrate the scale solar system in the Stack yard.

To be honest this was a delaying tactic whilst Keith and the staff tried to figure out why the IT was not playing ball and was not allowing any projection onto the screen in the barn theatre. It ultimately turned out to be a broken core connection in their interconnect USB lead. Mark was eventually given the signal, allowing the indoor presentation to begin, and along similar lines to the ones at Danby. A question and answer session followed. Again, not the evening hoped for, but at least those attending seemed to enjoy their foray into the night sky from the comfort of a theatre. Perhaps third time lucky next year?


Hunley Hall Event

The following evening Mark drove over to Brotton and the Hunley Hall complex, to assist in some capacity with the dark sky event being run by the Hall management and members of Cleveland and Darlington A.S.

At the Hall Mark met up with John McCue, one of the key organisers, who many moons ago was instrumental in setting up NEGAS (the north east group of astronomical societies) with whom WDAS was also affiliated. The ‘Edinburgh excursion’ organised by NEGAS was worthy of been made into a comedy drama- but that’s another story!

John had been along to a WDAS meeting last year and had helped out at the Danby event, so it was nice to meet up again. Sadly, although some very early evening observations of the moon and Venus were possible, the weather rapidly deteriorated, with gale force winds and driving rain setting in. A shame as over 80 people had turned out, but at least the scheduled talks by Prof Carole Haswell of the Open University on Exoplanets proved interesting. Carole is actually a ‘local girl’, hailing from Saltburn, and was taught by John McCue at college. Shorter presentations on ‘light’ and the growing problem of ‘satellite’ pollution, followed by further activities to keep the youngerlings interested, fleshed out the evening. Yet another ‘let’s hope for better weather next year’ event.


Errington Primary School – Friday 13th

Having been contacted by Allan Fishpool, lower key stage 2 Leader at Errington Primary School, regarding a visit to coincide with the culmination of their science week activities, Keith and Mark journeyed over to Marske by the Sea, on Friday 13th March.

Locating the School relatively easily, (it actually turned out harder to gain access into the school, with a complete circumnavigation of it before this was achieved) we were finally let in by the caretaker who guided us along what seemed like a labyrinth of corridors to the main hall. This resembled a mini indoor festival, the floor strewn with tents and sleeping bags.

Following ‘meet and greets’ and touching of elbows, planned activities were outlined, before Keith and I journeyed out onto the playing field where we pointed out any visible stars in the night sky, to the first pupil groups. Conditions were not ideal, a little chilly, but clear patches of sky did keep appearing allowing winter constellations to be pointed out using the laser pointer. Pupil groups rotated from indoor activities to the outdoor camp fire talk, to our input and there were ‘several' rotations. By the final group however, conditions had deteriorated, cloud cover obscuring most of the sky. Returning indoors to the main hall via a quick ‘warm up’ by the camp fire, we utilised the interactive screen and web stellarium program to show the pupils the winter night sky. This was followed by questions and answers.

We were rather impressed by the good behaviour of the pupils and the level of questioning (it is not everyday a 9 year old asks about Hawking radiation!) I think they also learned a great deal about the night sky, and the teachers were most grateful of our input. After goodbye’s we exited the school, becoming lost just the once, a ball of string would have come in handy tied to the door we entered. Luckily the Minotaur was out of the building. Another partnership forged – though as matters now stand- it may be a while before we return.