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Right Time (Spring), Wrong Place (Kelling), Right Weather

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Just arrived back from Kelling where I ended up due to a mix-up. It was my first star party and I was amazed by the friendliness of the people and their eagerness to share information.

There were two great talks, one on deep sky observation by Owen Brazell and one on CCD cameras by Steve Chambers (who works with Atik). And the information went down nicely with a pint of Adnams.

People came over and chatted because they were intrigued by my improvised dob which consists of a Skywatcher 250 from MikeP mounted on a wooden rotating frame care of StarFlyer. And, errr, some string to stop it slipping its mount when pointing near the zenith.

I limited the cash I took with me which is just as well. I walked away with a hand-wound red LED torch from Simon Bennett (The Widescreen Centre) which proved invaluable and didn't need rewinding all night. I also bagged a nice Orion right-angle telescopic viewfinder for 70 quid ("the best on the market" hee hee sales people make me laugh).

As the sun went down we had a nice view of Mercury, with its crescent phase clearly visible but jittery through all that air. As it got darker a nice american chap called Matt came over and spent about 40 minutes with me going from one deep sky object to another. The Leo triplet was stunning, captured nicely in my Swan wide-field objective. We also saw the double cluster in Perseus as I'd never seen it before, and M13 in Hercules which some people claimed to be able to see with the naked eye and averted vision, but I couldn't. Also M35, the Ring Nebula visible even in high magnification, M36, M37 and M38 in Auriga. As it got darker we started with galaxies. And the Milky Way was ablaze running the length of the eastern sky. Coma Berenices cluster was a spatter of visible nebulae. And there were several spectacular meteorites.

Someone kindly let me spend some time looking through a colossal dob with a televue ethos 13mm and all I can say is "wow". This even showed up the Antennae Galaxies (NGC 4038 and 4039 colliding) in Corvus which showed up as a fuzzy L shape. I've never even noticed Corvus before.

My only regret was that it was the wrong star party. I can see what I could achieve with dark skies and a home-made dob held together, quite literally, by string. Looking forward to seeing you all at Kelling in August!


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Hi Ramin,

Having a few leftover name badges meant I could tell who had not arrived and I wondered what had happened to you.

I'm glad you had a good time. I was a bit worried that your camping gear might not be up to the task, so perhaps it was as well you went to Kelling because we did have some rain.

See you at Kelling in September.


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Hi Mike,

Looking forward to seeing you again at Kelling - September 18th to 20th (just to be sure).


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