Whitby Youth Hostel Event

Originally planned for the 2022 Oct half term week, the event was rescheduled for half term Feb 2023.  Glynnis and Tom were hosts and organisers at the Youth Hostel and with almost 40 bookings, were hoping for better conditions than the previous year, when very unsettled weather had prevented any sightings of stars.  Mark had carried out a recci on the 14th, when conditions were quite clear, allowing him to seek out those dark oasis on the Abbey headland and around the Youth Hostel itself.  

The rear of the Hostel - The observing location? 

We have hosted star party events from the Youth Hostel on several occasions,  often utilising the front drive approach and side area for observations and scale solar system demonstrations.  The rear garden at the Hostel was also an attractive location to do likewise, and with use of the Cholmely room for an indoor presentation, our options were covered.  All would depend on the sky conditions.  A sunny day turned cloudy in the afternoon with splashes of rain, before trying to clear out again.  As usual the forecast was a 'toss a coin in the air' affair, but we hoped to point out some stars and constellations.

Mark and Keith headed up early under cloudy skies  and having located Glynnis and Tom, were shown the Cholmley room.  With a planned walk outdoors by Glynnis, we weighed up our options beforehand, a scale solar system, or a presentation.  We decided to utilise the Starry Night pro planetarium to at least show what was NOT currently visible outdoors.  John L and Rich R had arrived by then to lent support - logistical and moral!. 

The guests arrive, looking forward to an evening under the stars?
Image by Keith D. (Click for larger)

The room filled with people, and after covering the simulated sky in 25 minutes or thereabouts, we headed outside into the rear garden, hoping to utilise the rather decent collection of binoculars belonging to the Hostel. 

No stars were visible, but a planet was - Jupiter, the sole object on show, though in and out of cloud.  A few stars appeared, Capella overhead, then Procyon and briefly Castor and Pollux.  Jupiter was lost, but skies were trying to clear to some degree.  The party moved on, along the drive and into the grave yard at St Mary's church.  More stars appeared, whole constellations could be glimpsed at times.  Mark wielded the laser pointer, Perseus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Auriga, then Orion and Gemini, Taurus, including the Pleiades and Mars were all picked out.  The Plough and Polaris, Leo and the head of Hydra became visible.

The walk under the stars ...and then clouds. Image by Richard Randle. (Click for larger image)

As we headed toward the Coast Guard cottages those breaks in cloud to the west and overhead began to fill in once more and before long just a few of Leo's stars were peeping out. Time to head back to the warmth of the room where Mark showed some spectacular images of deep sky objects visible in the winter sky, before a Q & A session to bring the formal event to a conclusion.  The audience departed to the cafe for refreshments, very happy to have at least viewed something of the night sky.  As we packed away the equipment, it was generally agreed that the evening had turned out not too bad at all!  

             Mark concludes the evening with a tour of winter sky wonders - indoors of course!              Image by Keith D. (Click for larger)