This was our first Parkfest event, held at the Moors centre, Danby. Keith and Mark had an early start, arriving at the grounds by 9am. Because the forecast was for overcast skies, turning to rain by late afternoon, Mark had loaded the car for almost every eventuality (the kitchen sink wouldn’t quite fit).

The gazebo, complete with side walls, two scopes fitted with solar filters, laptop, screen, power station, generator, fuel, poster boards, handouts, flyers, solar system demo, table, cuddly toy, a fondue set, meteorites, inflatable Mars globe, his and hers watches, refreshments- it was all there.

Erecting the gazebo uncovered a problem, it went up alright, however, it was found that two side struts were broken and the effected sides could not be pulled fully taught. A little tinkering with metal work is required before the next outing. On the positive side the sun was actually out!  A bit of a bonus there then, and once the scopes were set up we eagerly viewed through the eyepieces to seek out the rash of expected sunspots. Nothing, zilch, now’t, not even a speck, typical!

Although we had managed to attach 2 walls to the gazebo, it was still far too bright inside, and plans for projecting onto the screen had to be abandoned. The laptop screen was just about viable to watch hemmed into the darker corner of the gazebo. So with all the poster boards distributed around our ‘stall perimeter’ W.D.A S was open for business.

Initially custom was slow, the two perched Falcons on the adjacent stall eyeing our scopes – or Keith, inquisitively.

By midday crowds were flocking into the field, a busy afternoon lay ahead, just not at the scopes, unfortunately. The cursed cloud thickened, and then rain began to gently fall. Bizarrely, a Lancaster bomber was spotted by Keith, flying just above the moors horizon to the north. Then we remembered it was Sunderland Air. Not a figment of our imagination or a side effect of the homemade scones.

We did have visitors, including a chap from St Helena, who regaled us with tales of how brilliant the night sky is there, the trouble being it was cloudy more often than not!  Despite this the island elders were pushing the island as an Astronomical observing destination. I think Sir Edmund Halley would have disagreed on this viewpoint.

Mark had already got dispensation to leave earlier, and by 14:45h the process of packing away and loading the car began. All in all not a bad day, reminding us a little of one of those Regatta afternoons.