Nearly 20 members along with a wide variety of scopes and binoculars descended on the Gateway Niagara Tourism Centre on Sat 9 April for a night of bringing Astronomy to the people. The weather cooperated and we had mostly clear skies which allowed us to share wonderful views of the first quarter Moon, Saturn, double stars, nebulas and more.
This was our second year at the Gateway Centre since we had great participation last year, and this year was just as successful, if not more so. We easily exceeded more than 200 people (probably more than 300) stopping by on their way to one of the restaurants inside or buying gas nearby. We often had line-ups at many of the scopes and all of our members were actively engaged answering a plethora of questions. Kevin had one of those little hand counters (great idea) and recorded more than 116 visits to his wonderful 10" DOB.
As usual we met a lot of really nice people who showed fascination and deep interest in astronomy and the objects they were seeing. For most it was their first time seeing the Moon in such detail or the rings around Saturn. Both are always crowd pleasers. Since it was a tourism centre, many of our visitors were passing through from substantial distances, some from as far as Windsor and Oshawa.
Grimsby Public Night April 2011
I met one couple who are now living in Canada, but were originally from Columbia and were fascinated in how much our sky differed from theirs near the equator. We also met Lisa and some of her friends and family who were surprised to see us there, but had a real and recently discovered connection. They so much enjoyed our chance meeting, they went home, got on warmer clothes and returned for the balance of our stay. Sadly they had recently lost a relative, John Huchra, who was a professor and researcher at Harvard University. He had been a very active observer, past president of the American Astronomical Society and had been one of the early pioneers to map the galaxy distribution out a substantial way from our Milky Way galaxy. And another we met passing through, was a good friend of Dan Falk who recently was a featured speaker at one of our meetings.
We were well comforted with a warm building, convenient washrooms, - and most important, a Tim Horton's who generously provided a free box of baked goods for us to enjoy as we were having fun with the public.
Our thanks go to all of the members who generously gave of their time, experience and enthusiasm, and did such a terrific job of representing the club and our hobby.
Due to the late confirmation that we would actually go out tonight, I was pleasantly surprised that we had a good turn out for our first night trying to complete the Messier Marathon. Kevin Salwich was anxiously waiting along with his sister and mother when I arrived at 8 to open the gates. We were joined shortly thereafter by Dave Tym, Gord Newell and Matthew Mannering.
Despite earlier cloudy skies, we ended up with quite good seeing and only some patchy clouds. And the winds that were forecast never manifested themselves which helped to make the cold night slightly more tolerable (though Lolly wouldn't agree). With the coyotes and geese in the background, we got underway.
I was the only one who seriously attempted to complete all 110 objects. Everyone else had their own plans and were just happy to get out observing after a long hiatus. But the variety of goals made the night more enjoyable. Kevin was just out for a few hours of practise, getting ready for his major attempt on Sat night. Matthew was picking off a few objects with his excellent 12" DOB and trying out some new eyepieces. Dave was doing some experimenting with PEC on his CGEM and 8" SCT, and then eventually got into imaging M81 for most of the night.
The numbers gradually whittled down over the course of the night, but Dave and I stuck it out until 4:30am when the chill and fatigue got the better of us (and we ran out of coffee). But I had managed to see 92 objects (plus a few non-Messiers like Saturn and some galaxies in the Virgo cluster). Even though I cheated and used the Goto, it was the first time I made a real effort to catch all the items in one night and was pleased with results. The only items I missed were those lost in the trees due to a late start, or not waiting for the rest of Sagittarius to rise.
After many months without any serious observing, it was great to see others just as enthusiastic about the upcoming season. Here's hoping to a great year. And good luck to those who try on Sat night. Clear Skies!
This is a blog of recent observing sessions, meetings, happenings within the HAA. Feel free to contribute!
To post, send an account request to:
|<< <||Current||> >>|