Sunday, 9 January 2011

Astronomy club

Hello you, welcome to 2011, I hope the year has started well for you, if it has I hope it continues to be good, if it didn’t then let’s hope it gets better.

I went back to work on Tuesday, oh joy! It hasn’t been too bad but it’s early in the year so we’ll see what happens. I had the day off on Friday as Trudes was off to hospital and the pups needed someone with them. Little Ronnii’s come into season and we can’t risk letting Richie have his wicked way with her. It wouldn’t be good for her and with Richie’s heart problem it wouldn’t be great for him either. So I had a couple of hours with them whilst Trudes was off at the hospital.

This morning, being Saturday, I set off to the shop. It was only going to be a short visit to return some lights and catch up with the lads and Sue. Whilst waiting for the bus to Hythe I looked up at the sky. It had rained heavily during the night and there was a rather strong wind. This was more than a bit disappointing because the astronomy club was holding an event as part of the BBC’s Stargazing Live. Knowing the weather as I do I consigned myself to the fact that cloud would be the norm for the rest of the weekend and the only astronomy done would be via a computer. Things were looking better by the time I left Folkestone at five; a red tint to the sky and the noticeable lack of cloud over Ashford indicated that we might have clear skies over the club sight. Taking the time to look up when I arrived the skies were indeed clear and this meant that we would be able to get the scopes out. The event was due to start at six and finish at nine, we started a little late and people were still arriving. It was incredible to see the amount of people that had come. On a normal astronomy club night we have around 50 people, tonight there was around 150. The hall was packed and when the clubs chairman gave the opening talk there was standing room only. Drew talked for about forty minutes and then we took telescopes outside and set up for an evening’s stargazing.

I took both of my scopes along, the Meade and the Tasco, I spent about ten minutes aligning the Meade and got it set up fairly well. The first object I set it to was the Pleiades cluster, the only view I got of it was when I checked the field of view because there was at least ten people all eager to look through the scope. Fortunately the Meade tracks an object so I could leave it for people to look through and this also allowed me to set up the Tasco. Setting up the Tasco isn’t too difficult, unless the finder scope has been knocked out of alignment. It had so I had to spend a few minutes centring the scope on a bright object and then I had to adjust the finder scope. This didn’t take too long and it was a good thing too because people were now starting to queue up to look through the Tasco. I set it on Jupiter and stepped aside so everyone could see what the scope was on. I was asked questions and, hopefully, answered them informatively without too much techno babble. I also managed to decide what the subject for my next talk will be. Although it won’t be until November I can make good use of the time to ensure that I can make a good presentation and not be so naff and stutter quite so much, I can also make sure that I can cover all possible questions at the end.

The subject will be extra-solar planets; I have ten months to prepare, what could possibly go wrong?

Next Sunday is an adult gaming day, there is a possibility that it will be the last one, there’s not a great deal of interest and I’m seriously beginning to wonder if it’s worth the hassle of opening the shop for the day. I know that it brings a few quid in but it also means that I won’t be wasting a Sunday waiting for people to turn up. We start at ten but the few guys that do show up don’t usually get there until gone twelve which means that I’ve sat freezing my backside off for two hours for nothing, the alternative is to make it later in the day, I shall see how it goes on Sunday before I make a decision.

So with my head reeling from the brilliant evening at Woodchurch, I have no doubt that this has done wonders for the club, we should certainly get new members as a result. This is great because it’s the members that keep the club going, and it’s some that I can honestly say that I’m proud to be a part of. The atmosphere at the club is fantastic and I look forward to every meeting, I just wish we could meet more often.