So, what did Mother Nature have in store for this year’s Regatta – the usual mixture of inclement dross, incorrect forecasts and a blank white disk to look at for hours on end! Well, at least any likely showers would fall on a new gazebo, purchased just a few days prior. The old one requires major (but not insurmountable) work to rectify various issues – particularly with the strut frame work – so we thought a new one would be the better option for now.

It was unpacked and erected on the Saturday afternoon, an hour before our solar event was due to start. Saturday, although actually quite sunny, was let down by a nagging breeze, met office speak for a blustery gale at least that’s what it felt like sometimes. Still, if you can erect a gazebo in conditions like that, it should be a doddle in calm weather. Keith and Mark battled on and surprisingly had the thing up in less than 15minutes, pegged and tethered down.

Our colleague Marcus from Grover Optics was once again pitched adjacent, with the birds of prey eyeing up the un wary on the other side.

Having set up ‘shop’ with scopes and posters etc it was time to see what, if anything was on the sun. Wow! Not a blank, disk, but a decent grouping of sunspots occupying the equatorial region, a fine sight indeed and one that people could appreciate for once.

Clouds, people and our flyers came and went, the A4 flyers gaining their wings during a particularly blustery period, plastering cars, bikes, people, babies alike across in crescent garden. Fortunately people ran, fetched and retrieved (a bit like Marcus’s new Border collie) and within 5 minutes all the literature was securely nailed down to the table.

Saturday evening was meant to be the clear night... it wasn’t, but strangely all was not lost with a clearing to the SW allowing views of Saturn, much to the delight of the ‘party goers. Eventually the cloud cover did fragment, allowing observations of a few deep sky objects, the LX having its first run out this season.

Sunday afternoon – was much calmer, and erecting the gazebo was indeed a doddle, but the high hazy cloud robbed us of the clarity of the solar disk we had enjoyed on the Saturday.

The forecast was not encouraging for the Sunday evening – cloud cover would continue to build, preventing any observations whatsoever. Well, cloud did build up, slowing marching across the sky. Then the subsiding breeze swung round to the ESE and lo and behold the cloud fragmented and marched off again.  So having expected to preside over a ‘cloud party’ the LX and several members were called into action for what turned out to be a half decent event.

Mark ventured up to assist Marcus on the Monday afternoon, and tried a little solar viewing with one of his spotting scopes and our ETX solar filter. The sunspot group was evolving nicely. Tentative plans had been made to train a scope on the setting sun that evening to observe the 4% partial solar eclipse, but in the end thicker cloud prevented any chance of doing this, but at least we could enjoy the NASA on line streaming of the total eclipse tracking across the US. So, Regatta, in summary 7 out of 10 I guess.

Images: taken by Mark - 20-Aug-2017, 12:15h.