Kielder Star Party report
Last week was the Kielder star party, just over the border in England, in the Kielder Forest. As usual the weather in the run up to the party was pretty dire with large parts of the site flooded, so I did not exactly have high hopes!!! Anyway, myself and Euan arrived on Friday and although it was dry there was a lot of cloud around. We quickly set up the caravan, unpacked the scopes and headed to the castle for a talk on imaging, came back down around 4pm and set up the scopes properly. Martin, the other guest in my caravan had arrived a short while earlier and was waiting in his car. As it was by now nearing dinner time we headed down the Anglers Arms for dinner, having been told that it was supposed to clear after 10pm……
Well, we came out the pub around 7pm and guess what? It was crystal clear! The milky way was nicely showing and we hurried back to get everything polar aligned and ready for a night of imaging! I had my HEQ5 Pro with my Netbook control box (Containing the PSU, voltmeter, current meter and thermometer, all in one nice box) and the imaging scope was going to be my Altair Astro 8″ Newt (as always! I really need to get my William Optics ZS70 hooked up!). Anyway, I did a collimation, then a polar align (With the excellent EQMod Polar Align feature) and away I went – First up was a run of 17X 10 min subs of NGC281, the Pacman nebula, then I went for a longer run, again 17 subs but this time 15mins each, and the target was the Iris Nebula. Meanwhile, Euan had setup my other rig – A borrowed HEQ5Pro and my 8″ SCT and we spent the night (while the main rig was imaging) doing a wee tour, along with Martin and his ED120 on an EQ6. I have lost count of what we saw that first night! Neptune, was nice, small but very definitely a planet – first time for me, and very satisfying. We also saw loads of Messier and quite a few nice small NGC galaxies. The other great view was of the Viel Nebula, we popped in an OIII filter and it popped out at us! Just shows how dark the kielder skies are! I am not much good at observing reports, because to be honest I think this night was about my first observing session!!!! We had a great night anyway, and went to bed around 3:30 after waiting for Orion to rise – I got back up at 5am and powered down the scope after the run on the Iris Nebula finished.
The satruday night was pretty much a normal Kielder star party evening – loads of cloud, loads of beer and an early night as we were shattered….. We did have a couple of pints in the Anglers again after the talks up at the castle and I was pleased to see the data I had gathered was looking good……Packed up Sunday morning and came home.