Observing at Tyntesfield
Star Gazing at the National Trust Tyntesfield
The Bristol Astronomical Society finally had a clear to night and held a very successful stargazing evening at the National Trust’s Tyntesfield estate on Monday March 7th. Fifty nine National Trust members (about 6 children, adults of all ages and two ladies from Russia) braved the cold to attend the event; those that arrived early were treated to view of the ISS and the Space Shuttle Discovery passing across the southern sky.
We had 5 GOTO telescopes in use - Peter Lythgoe with his 11 inch Celestron, me with my 8 inch Meade LX200, John Bishop with the BAS 10 inch Meade LX200, Simon Smith and Fiona Lambert with the BAS 8 inch Meade LX90, and Chris Lee with his 8 inch Celestron. Tricia Brown and Mike Cowles came along to answer questions, direct the public to parking areas and the viewing stations and generally help with instrument set up and packing up.
Viewing of objects was slightly delayed by problems with the set-up of some of the telescopes, but fortunately we had Mike Cowles to keep the visitors happy with an impromptu tour of the sky with the aid of his laser pointer.
Each telescope had a list of 3 objects to work through and the attendees were asked to circulate in a clockwise direction around the ring of telescopes. This strategy was only partly successful. I spent a large part of the evening showing just one object, the Orion nebula, and had a queue of 5 - 10 people for most of that time. The range of objects shown by the rest of the BAS group included double stars, open clusters and the odd galaxy.
Many of the visitors left by 9 p.m., largely because of the cold, but those remaining were treated to a view of Saturn rising in the East.
In the early part of the evening the visibility of some objects was limited by considerable light pollution from the flood lights associated with the one of the sports fields on the other side of Failand. There were also some problems with light from the Tyntesfield Visitor Centre which was lit up like a Christmas Tree the whole time, but that is probably rectifiable for future events.
A number of the visitors owned telescopes and many asked for and received copies of our current list of meetings. Some had been to our Autumn Star Parties. Many were interested in our future Star Parties and a few were interested in coming to our meetings.
One of the visitors was Graham Southorn, editor of the Sky at Night Magazine you can read his view of the night’s events on Grahams Blog
Allan McCarthyThe BAS will be running more star gazing events at Tyntesfield in the autumn, dates will be announced later in the year.
These events are held on the lawn at Tyntesfield during the summer months and are free to visitors to the estate.
During the comming year we aim to hold at least one solar observing event each month. As these event are completely dependent on the weather a decision on whether the event will go ahead will be made on the Saturday and posted on the website.
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