Wrapping up “STARGAZING KENDAL”…

Well, here we are, the last official ‘event’ of our mini astro festival – a special 3D screening of the film “Gravity” – will be held at the Brewery Arts Centre in an hour and a half, and then, after a spot of stargazing tonight, that’ll be it, apart from taking down the Museum’s meteorite display next Friday.

After the frustration of Wednesday night’s cloud-ruined “Skywatch” up at the Castle, when we saw ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, yesterday’s observing day at the Brewery was a huge success, with first sunshine and then moonlight illuminating the Brewery Arts Centre gardens for hours. In the afternoon we set up more than half a dozen telescopes to show people the Sun, and after dark we switched our attention to the Moon. Lots of people came to both events, and the weather co-operated this time, allowing us long, wonderful periods of Sun- and Moon-vieweing. We were joined by amateur astronomers from outside our area, including Chris Darwin from the Cockermouth AS and Andrew Davies from the Knowledge Observatory, a good 3 hour drive away! Both brought solar telescopes along, and luckily there was lots to see on the Sun to keep our visitors happy: several groups of sunspots just clearing the limb, and rising up from the limb many feathery crimson prominences. I hope someone got pictures of those, they looked beautiful…

Here are some pics from the Sunwatch…

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girl scope

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I’ve no idea how many people came to see the Sun yesterday afternoon, but certainly all the members of the Society who came along to help – and thank you, all of you! – were kept busy, and there were lots of kind and appreciative comments from people who were amazed at their first ever views of sunspots, either through a telescope or on a projected image. The solar telescopes were big hits, and their owners worked particularly hard throughout the afternoon,

Between four and half past seven we had a well-earned and much-needed break, then returned to the Brewery gardens to set up for the Moonwatch. At first there was no sign of the Moon, it was hidden behind thick puffs of low cloud, but eventually it appeared, a big, bright, silvery ball breaking through a gap, and everyone rushed to their scopes! And that was the pattern for the next two hours… the Moon playing hide and seek through the clouds, with every reappearace greeted by a flurry of activity as telescope owners swung their instruments back towards it and visitors rushed to the nearest eyepiece. Again, I can’t estimate how many people came to see the Moon, but there was a steady flow of visitors all through the evening, young and old, curious and fascinated, and again for many of them it was their first view through a telescope, so I hope we made it a memorable one!

By the time we packed up at ten thirty we were all pretty worn out, but delighted the event had gone so well. It was a great day.

So, special thanks to everyone who played a part in it – all the members of the Society who took the time to come to the gardens and man a telescope; EAS member Dan Beale who promoted us all week on his Lakeland Radio show; Sally Moon and Caroline Robertson who plugged us so generously on Radio Cumbria; the Westmorland Gazette for telling its readers all about our events; Andrew Davies and Chris Darwin for travelling such a long way; the Brewery staff for supporting us, and, of course, the Brewery Arts Centre for letting us take over their lovely garden for most of the day!

And finally, a big THANK YOU to all the members of the public who came along to let us show them the Sun and the Moon. If you were one of them I hope you enjoyed your time with us, and that we will see you at some of our future events too!

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