This was our second Park Fest event, a family fun day organised by North York Moors – Parks authority and held at the Danby Moors centre.

Keith and Mark made the journey over to Danby, Mark’s car packed with equipment and paraphernalia both necessary and in the ‘just in case’ bracket.  Having made good time over and then unloaded pretty pronto too, allowed everything to be erected, laid out, hung up and arranged at a leisurely pace.

We had been allotted a couple of tables in the corner of the main marquee – a good position, as it afforded shelter from direct sunlight and allowed the scopes to be set up just outside the tent.  Four instruments were selected, the two 2 Tal refractors, the 70mm Meade ETX refractor and the 6 “ Dobsonian.  The table tops were dressed with magazines, books, maps and charts, whilst hanging from the Marquee structure was the inflatable solar system, Sun, Moon, Pluto and all.

After attaching the solar filters to the scopes it was crunch time.  What would the Sun have to offer?  A perfectly clean, blemish free round disk was the answer, not even a sun pimple let alone a spot.  Oh well, at least the sun was visible unlike 2016 when we last attended Park Fest.  The event officially opened at 11pm, and for a good while the public seemed a little thin on the ground.  By midday however people began to flock onto the field, desperate to get a look at a clear white disk....

By 1pm Mark decided to seek out the MC and highjack the wandering mike, so that we could announce a set time for the scale solar system demonstration.  So at 1:15pm Mark became MC for a while, asking for ‘planet’ hosts to come forward and participate.  It took a little while, but eventually we had a dozen guinea pigs, much to the amusement of their parents.

The demonstration played rather well with more and more people looking on to see if the outer planets reached the extremities of the field.  Utilising a flock of penned sheep to illustrate comets in the Oort cloud caused some mirth, but mostly bemusement with onlookers.

The demonstration did however stoke up interest in viewing our nearest star...  still a blemish free disk, but being able to handle the building blocks of the solar system: our collection of meteorites, did prove popular.

The afternoon was dogged by more cloud, with the sun hiding for many short periods.  These interludes did however allow time for an ice cream break as well as purchase some liquid produce from a stall in the back of the marquee.  With the event finishing at 4pm, we had already moved back to the car items not required and by 4:15 we had completely reloaded.

A rather enjoyable day then, with further events on the horizon, the Moors Centre committing to star parties in October and next February, and the possibility of others too.