An Evening with the Stars – 18th February 2005

Greenwich domeOur chairman, Paul Whitmarsh writes: Looking at the sky on Friday 18th February was most depressing, as tonight we were to go to Greenwich for an evening with the stars. However as I left the house it looked more like an evening with an umbrella was in the offing. Driving with windscreen wipers racing I wondered if it might not be such a bad idea to turn back and head for home. Although the rain did seem to be letting up, and now it was stopping. By the time Kidbrook was reached a star could be glimpsed between the clouds. Arriving at the observatory gates at 18:50 we streamed into the observatory building ready for the 19:00 show, only to find out that we had arrived an hour early our slot had been booked for 20:00. We looked enviously upon those members of the public who were lead along the path and up the observatory steps, while we wondered how long the now clear sky would last for. The observatory staff kindly gave us a private tour of the ground floor instruments from Halley’s quadrant to Airy’s transit circle, a fascinating half hour, many thanks to the observatory staff for helping out. This left just enough time to pop outside and check on the cloud cover. Doh! It was coming back, but by 20:00 the errant cloud had parted and it was our turn to climb the stairs to the 28″, which was aimed at the crater Clavius on the Moon. The views of the crater walls were stunning. Then we moved onto Saturn, with seven moons, this was the best view of Saturn I have ever had. Then finally Tony Sizer moved the telescope to M42 Tony had to take care not to bump the tube on the safety rail only a foot or so below or clout the dome. The steps were rolled out and we climbed them to view the trapezium area of the nebula, and six stars! An excellent evening, with stunning views, through an excellent instrument.

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