It was a real pleasure to return to the Fox and Hounds and once again assist in the Dark Skies, Warm Fires weekend hosted by Colin.  Less of a pleasure was the cloud cover and unexpectedly strong breeze, which prevented serious observations, allowing only veiled views of some aspects of the night sky. 

Keith and Mark arrived at 18:00hrs joining Paul Woods and John McCue who were already in the bar.  As in previous years the games room served as ‘lecture theatre’ for the indoor presentation, but also dining room for those booked for the weekend.  Colin gave an introductory speech to the assembled guests (22 I believe) welcoming everyone detailing the proposed itinarary for the evening and the next.  Mark gave a general presentation utilising Starry Night program highlighting what constellations were visible in the winter night sky, and where to locate them.

The guests and John seem engrossed (Click for full image)

Colin, Paul and Mark nipped outside to check whether the cloud was thinning, and to some extent it was, but not in a way that would allow satisfactory observation with the telescopes, for one thing the wind would be a negative factor.  Still, the option of pointing out stars and constellations was there, so before the serving of deserts it was agreed to try our luck as more than a few stars were now visible. Everyone donned their winter garb and off we went.  In places skies were 'hazy clear', good enough for Mark utilise a laser pointer on various stars, but is was hard work - gaps here and there, stars not as bright as they should be, but at least some were visible. 

Mark breaks the bad news - he will be talking - again! (Click for full image)

Deserts called.  Warm and cosy again inside, the question was would skies still be clear following deserts, Colin kept checking ... the answer was NO!  Great, cue Mark for another presentation followed by Q & A's.  Time flew past and before Betelgeuse had time to go supernova, the bells tolled last orders, and was perhaps our cue to wrap matters up.  It had been yet another very enjoyable evening, even without the use of telescopes and after bidding adjeu, we departed home, staring at a eerily veiled last quarter Moon rising over the east horizon.  Colin from the Fox and Hounds will be putting another public star party event on Friday April 7th.