09.02.18 -- Friday

Arrived at 7:30pm to find Rhys, Elaine and Paul already there.  Shortly joined by Jonathan.

Exceptionally clear night, best we have had for months. Started with M42 followed by the Rossette Nebulae NGC2244. We then went on to to look at M35, M37 and M38.

Dave saw two sporadic meteors and Rhys and Lesley saw a fantastic fireball straight through Cassiopeia, We all looked at Mizar and Alcor and finished with M31. Which was the best we have seen at Austerfield for some time.

The absence of street lights made a great difference and the seeing was exceptional. It became really cold so closed down at 9:30pm.


08.12.17 -- Friday

Opened up at 7.30 Brian had arrived just before myself, bitterly cold temperature in observatory 0 deg with wind blowing from the North.
Joined by a family with two small children Lesley showed then around the sky then a look at Capella but to cold for the children so they didn't stay long.
Neil and Jonathan arrived soon after followed by Phil ,the sky looked very good.

Managed to see M36,M37 Uranus and Neptune.By this time Orion has risen so had a look at M42 and finally managed to see M1 then round to NGC2392 and NGC869. In the meantime Jonathan had a go at setting up his new mount with camera only to find batteries don't like the cold but a standby power pack soon cured that
A very good nights viewing but becoming very humid and cold so closed down 9.30.
Dave and Lesley

4.12.17 -- Monday

The plan for tonight was to meet David Moore from the council's highways department to discuss the street lights near the observatory. This was planned for 5:00pm.
All went well from getting out of my house to getting into the car. It all went wrong from then as the car wouldn't start. It did all sorts of electronic tricks but wouldn't start. Fortunately my next door neighbour was watching and cheering, and offered to take me to the observatory. He did and we met Paul there, who was to pick me up if I fell over. I didn't but realised I'd left the keys in my car, so we couldn't get in. They're always there in the car so I never got down to the dome leaving them at home. It worked for 12 years faultlessly, till tonight when they were still in the car but I'd left the car at home!
Fortunately I'd also emailed Dave of the meeting. He was on the east coast in his van and didn't know I'd emailed him till he got home and found his house overheated having had a powercut while he was away and the automatic heating system had cut out, then restarted on full on when the power came on again giving his house several days of permanently full on heating. He read his emails (in his underwear (?)), and luckily, felt he needed to be at the observatory, so hurried down.
He'd had the forethought to bring his keys so could open up, to Paul's, my neighbour's and my great relief.
At the appointed time David Moore turned up. It transpired he'd been before, with Jim Blaik, some years ago, when Jim got the same street lights changed from the normal, at that time, to flat lights.
The three of us looked at the lights and David took notes of the lights concerned and what could be done, finally suggesting it might take some time to get the screens that Jim Blaik had had fitted for us to be redesigned and extended to suit our needs, but said he'd keep us informed of progress.
I'll have to see how friendly the Green Flag folk are tomorrow.

24.11.17 -- Friday

Opened up 7.30 shortly joined by Rhys and a couple of visitors, Kerry with her 6 year old son and Leon a visitor who came last week.
Brian came about 8.00pm followed by Elaine and Paul.Max and Wendy then a new member Paul with a friend.
We started with the moon just before it set,then onto M45 and Aldebran but the clouds came with vengeance eventually completely obliterating the sky all together.
We gave up by 9.15 closed the dome down as the clouds peeled away !!! by the time I locked up we had a shower of rain.
Dave and Lesley

18.11.17 -- Saturday

Lesley and I had a stargazing booking for 30 brownies and for once its a clear night
Started with the usual talk, a very good group lots of sensible questions then into the dome, no moon so a look at a few stars then into the field to point out some of the constellations.Closed down 9.00pm.

17.11.17 -- Friday

A clear Friday, getting more plentiful. Dave opened at 7:30pm I joined at 8, Rhys was there having set up the whole thing professionally. We were joined soon after that by Jonathan Lodge, new member, and later by a visitor, Neil Gutteridge from Hatfield, who also brought his telescope, a Skywatcher Newtonian he wanted collimating. It was close enough in general terms as far as I could do it in my state and in the dark. He was more knowledgeable on astronomy and the use of his telescope than usual, and sought more detailed help and advice, which we were able to provide. Jonathan and he and Rhys got to talking and exchanging experiences and looking round the sky, they were getting on so well together I left them to it. The sky deteriorated from the north from about 10pm and slowly developed into a full covering of thin debilitating cloud cover. Dave had already gone home by about 10pm, Neil about an hour later. Jonathan and I left at midnight with Rhys who closed it all down.

16.11.17 -- Thursday

A clear sky at last opened up 7.30
M57 looked good but no sign of M27 round to Alberio, mount behaving well so stayed around Cygnus for a hour or so.
A quick hop across to Taurus M45 looked good but to early for Orion.No one else turned up so closed down 9.30.

14.11.17 -- Friday

A school group of 11 children  asked if they could have a look in the observatories so I opened up 10.30am.
Fortunately the moon was visible so they all had a look then a quick talk about the Planets.Closed down 11.15

27.10.17 -- Friday

Unusually, the sky was clear, so I opened up at 8:00pm and was joined, preceded actually, by Rhys, and an hour later by Phil. Rhys had come down to photograph the Moon with his webcam and for a look round. Phil, to compare what he saw in his binoculars with that seen in the ODK. A good evening with few problems, but the trees are shedding their leaves and I'll have to contact the street lighting department to seek their help with shielding their new lights.
Finally closed down when the clouds started to spread, about 12:15am

6.10.17 -- Friday

Lesley and I opened up 7.00pm to a group of 52 Beavers,Cubs and Scouts all dressed in white paper suits pertaining to be space suits complete with 2 litre pop bottle oxygen cylinders,usual talk with usual cloudy sky, lots of good questions followed by 6 groups to tour the dome.
Closed down 11.00pm.

5.10.17 -- Thursday

8:30pm to 1:15am, A clear sky, though the seeing wasn't as good as hoped. Rhys and I there to practice on the ODK with Rhys' SX CCD camera on part of the Heart nebula. It has a small chip so only the central part, and in Ha too. Lots of time spent in getting things right, much was my fault, good practice though and finally a result, but not long enough to exhibit. The Moon was full too and not to far away, though that shouldn't adversely affect the result much. A good evening's practice. This was the first time for Rhys, with a not so simple mount and telescope.

30.9.17 -- Saturday

Opened up 7.00 pm for the first of the stargazing sessions after the summer break.
A group of 14 children from St John Ambulance ,unfortunately heavy rain prevented any stargazing so Lesley and I gave the usual talk then two groups into the dome to have a look at the telescopes.
A good group plenty of sensible questions no aliens or black holes
Closed down 9.00pm

18.8.17 -- Friday

 This was the day before the Auckley Show and Phil and Dave went down to collect the telescopes and things to take to the show. Loaded up and kept overnight before unloading at Auckley by 9:30am. To be returned after the show on Saturday.

12.8.17 -- Saturday

The annual Perseid Meteor Watch, but I was late, arriving after 10:00pm, others were already there on garden loungers or chairs under blankets etc. The sky was clearish though the forecast had suggested it would be cloudy. In fact it stayed clear till we closed down at 1:00am, when the fat moon rose too high for comfort.
I'm not sure who saw how many of what type but I know I heard more than I saw, and I saw 18 including a couple of spasmodics, with a mix of bright slow ones and fast thin ones.
It wasn't too cold but cold enough to wish I'd prepared more carefully. Dave had opened the big dome and I looked in to see the new cushions for the wall seat that Max or Wendy had made, felt very comfortable too, much easier on the bum than the plain wood.
Those attending tonight were Dave and Lesley, Paul and Elaine, Sandra, Bev, Vic, John Foster, who brought a friend, Mick Horsfall, and new member Kim.

26.5.17 -- Friday

Friday and a fully clear sky after the hottest day of the year so far. Opened up at 10:00pm, still quite light but gradually darkening. Attending were Rhys and the Bookers. The sky was also hazy and didn't look well, but improved as time passed. We started with Jupiter and on to others round the sky. The Bookers left at 11:00pm leaving Rhys and me on our own.
The haziness precluded nebulae so we concentrated on clusters, but tried and failed with M57 the Ring and M27 the Dumbell. Not enough contrast. Then went on to M51, seen, then M101, failed, then M13, M108, M97, M63, NGC4631 the Whale, M3, M81, M82, M53, M64 and others in the Coma Cluster, then on to Jupiter again and Saturn, followed by M11, M20, M16 and M17. M71 and M56, and a think so attempt at the Veil, and NGC6888. The sky was gradually improving as time went on. Not all in that order though, and there were others that I don't remember.
All in all a very good night indeed, the best for some time. As one says, wish you were there.

There was a problem, two in fact. The first was that the dome's lower shutter panel has a twist in it so the right hand closes to the flush position but the left is left a bit high, so the upper part closed down to the edge of the lower's left part, allowing rain potentially to enter. It just needs the shutter twisting the other way.
The other is more of a problem. The council has changed the street lights to the new LED type. They emit largely white light. We can't filter it out and they have left us with 3 outside that shine very strongly into the domes. All the others seem to be well directed. We'll have to talk to them about them. So unless we can get them to improve these lights we'll have 2 new Moons all night in summer and 3 in winter.

1.5.17 -- Monday

We were asked to open the domes for this the Centre's May Day celebration. They had games and things for children mostly and food and drinks too. So we set up both domes with solar telescopes, the Meade with a white light filter on the 80ED and the PST on the mount in the big dome. The sky was mostly cloudy but gradually cleared to let us have a look at the Sun. Only one spot and a couple of small prominences but still worth the effort for the many people who came in, not as many as last year, but that had the Tour de Yorkshire going past the gate on the same day.
Our helpers were Dave and Lesley, Paul and Elaine, Sue came as a visitor and Max brought Wendy and his mother too. Lesley went and collected Sandra and her Planets game because I'd forgotten her.

30.4.17 -- Sunday

A reasonable day for weather, dry at least. We met at the observatory to Spring Clean the domes, an annual event in Spring of all times. Done this time as for last year, because the Centre's May Day party was to be the next day and we planned to open the domes for visitors, in case the Sun shone upon us. We started at 10:00am and were done by about noon I think, using buckets, mops cloths, washing up liquid and all such cleaning chemicals. All very labour intensive but aided strongly by Mark who brought his power washer. Three of us said we should have brought ours too, so should remember to do just that next year. They looked very well when done.
Lots of washing on the outsides and vacuuming inside. Finishing up with a cup of tea in the building.
We were Dave and Leslie, Paul and Elaine, Mark, Rhys, Peter, Phil and Sue. I spent most of my time supervising from the bench, and keeping an eye on the blue tits in house number 1, though I couldn't see a number 2 or 3.

31.3.17 - Friday

Encouraging forecasts for several days leading up to Friday, but after setting up the occasion, following on from a page on the BBC website encouraging visitors to go to certain observatories, including ours, the weather did the expected and turned cloudy. This was partly because of the BBC's Stargazing Live conducted over the three days before the Friday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. So after getting other members to come with telescopes too, they were greeted by full cloud. And plenty came too, Rhys brought his sister Rhiane, and his Celestron, Max and Wendy, Mark brought his Celestron, Paul and Elaine, Sandra and Sue came too.
It did begin to clear up after 10:00pm when most had tired of it. We did see the Moon, very good too, and Jupiter and a couple of stars, Betalgeuse, Mizar. We also chased Comet C/41P but failed that too, helped by the cloud. Finally closed down about 11.

24.3.17 - Friday

For a change a clear Friday night, so I opened up at 7:30pm and was soon inundated by others, about a dozen in all came for a look round the sky. I was so overwhelmed by the numbers that I don't remember all who came, but they included Phil and Richard, Richard for the first time in ages. Also there was Max, and Wendy came too with her son and his girlfriend, two others who had called Dave for a visit previously, Dave of course, Rhys, but he left soon, to work with his cameras. Two more visiting couples, Paul and Elaine, and a father and son from Pudsey! He'd come for a look at the sky too and had brought his 4" Celestron. He visits different societies in the area, and to ours this Friday. He was certainly one I'd like to see here again, too far to be a permanent member though.
They all seemed to be enjoying themselves too. They'd mostly left by 10pm, so I closed down and left for some late night shopping.


Opened up 7.00pm for a group of guides to heavy rain so started the usual talk.
After that we split the group into two and went to the observatory to a clear sky both groups had a look at M42,Sirius, Pollux and Castor then a trawl across the sky looking at various stars and clusters.
They all said what a great night .Helped by Lesley and Max closed down 9.30.

14.03.17 - Tuesday

A group of 22 mixed ages from 8 to 16 for stargazing started with a reasonable sky but to many to get into the observatory all at once so decided to do the talk then split into groups.
A good sky to start with but clouded towards the end but every one at least managed to see something.Maybe I should grab a clear sky when I get one and leave the talk to later.Closed down 9.00pm.

24.02.17 - Friday

Opened up 6.00pm for a new group of cubs they missed a clear sky by 10 minutes. Mars and Venus clearly visible till they turned up and the clouds rolled in so they got the usual talk then a look around the dome.
Closed down 8.30pm    Dave

14.02.17 - Tuesday

Second night of a large group of scouts 28 last night and 25 tonight opened up 6.00pm helped by Lesley and yet again a cloud filled the usual talk,hot dogs and hot chocolate then into the observatory.
Divided into two groups but with the helpers far to little room all crowding around the pc wanting to have a go controlling the scope and dome it felt like mayhem.Closed the dome 8.00pm
Dave and Lesley

13.02.17 - Monday

When will this dreadful weather end.Max and I had another group of scouts for stargazing who didn't see a thing so the usual talk helped by copious supplies of hot dogs and hot chocolate (this group came prepared) then into the observatory to look at the telescopes.
Then they had a swearing ceremony as it was a new group due to excessive demand for membership.
Closed down 8.00pm Dave

08.02.17 - Wednesday

Opened 7.00pm Stargazing for a group of scouts only to find the usual rain and cloud cover.
The scout leader decided to cut the session short  due to the weather.
Showed them the telescopes and gave usual talk.
Closed down 8.00pm.

06.02.17 - Monday

6.00 to 8.30pm a group of Brownies booked in for stargazing unfortunately to torrential rain so the usual talk then into the observatory to look at the telescopes and a play with the p.c.
A good group some very good questions invited back first clear Friday.

04.02.17 - Saturday

A promise of a clear sky early in the evening so I opened up 6.00pm Lesley and I trawled the sky starting with Venus,Mars and Uranus.
Later we were joined by a couple of visitors who called on the off chance someone might be there.
We then moved onto M42,M45,M31.Lesley then gave the visitors a tour around the constellations out in the field.
The clouds started to roll in around 8.30 the visitors had gone so I closed down 8.45pm.   Dave

31.01.17 - Tuesday

6.00 till 7.30 a group of  20 Brownies for stargazing and yet again cloud and heavy rain so the usual talk then into the observatory to look at the telescopes and a play with the pc .
They seem to forget the stars when they operate the dome and telescope, they seem to enjoy that most.
Closed down 7.30   Dave

20.01.17 - Friday

Opened up 7.15 to a clear sky soon joined by Max and Brian, had a run through of the start up and close down procedure then had a look at Venus before it set then onto Mars.A good sky so we decided to test it and had a look at M1 did we see it or not ? I don't know ,very faint next lets try something silly and try to see the horse head and the flame nebulae definitely no success there, so back to the old favourite M42 with a UHC filter looked superb.
Suddenly got very cold and a fog rolled in so called it a night 9.00pm.

18.01.17- Wednesday

Stargazing for a group of 23 cubs opened up 6.30 to a cloudy sky so gave usual talk then into the dome for a play with the pc controlling the observatory closed down 8.30.

13.01.17- Friday

Called at the observatory to mod the cam locks fitted earlier in the week, keys now turn 180 degree and are able to withdraw the key in both positions.

Opened the domes 7.30 to a clear sky soon joined by Lesley,Max,Rhys and Brian.
A good night generally browsing around the sky Mars,Venus Rigel M42 amongst several others.Had a break for tea then into the small dome to re acquaint ourselves with the big Meade.
Closed down 10.30


9.01.17 - Monday

Went down to the observatories to check on the dehumidifier, the reservoir was only half full so I emptied that and then fitted two security cam locks on the large dome,
Fired up the pc all working OK the dome was nice and dry inside no sign of condensation.

1.12.16 - Thursday

An unexpected phone call from Austerfield staff they have a school in tonight and forgot to book stargazing could we cover at short notice. I'm glad I did, it was the best sky I've seen for months. Opened up 6.30.
A group of 21 pupils had 90 minutes of stargazing why bother giving talks with a sky like this. They must have been talking about Polaris or the North star as they called it as they all asked where is it, and could we see it. We then moved onto Mars, Albireo, Deneb, M45, M31 and finally even a decent view of Uranus.
A great night for the pupils all bouncing around with excitement.
Closed down 8.30.

24.11.16 - Thursday

Stargazing for a group of 12 cubs/beavers opened up 6.00pm to heavy cloud. Assisted by Max, I gave the usual talk and Max showed them around the dome.Very interested group lots of questions from both beavers and parents.
But nothing seen when are we going to get some clear skies?
Closed down 8.00pm. Dave.

22.11.16 - Tuesday

6.00 to 8.00.Max and Brian and I had a group of 19 cubs for stargazing. I arrived at 5.30 to set up only to find a group waiting for us.We had to use the flower hut as a dance group were in the main class room.
Weather stopped any star gazing with complete cloud cover but they all seem to like controlling the dome and telescope with the pc we then finished the evening with a questions and answers session.
Closed down to heavy rain.  Dave

14.11.12 - Monday

6.30 - 7.30 a group of 21 brownies came for a look at the super moon,heavy fleeting clouds spoilt the evening but most managed to at least see the moon.I cut the usual talk short when Brian said the clouds were thinning so we all dashed out to the dome, a bit of a crush when they all came in at once.

12.11.16 - Saturday

From 9:00pm to 11:00pm. Not as clear as the forecast led me to hope. Slow moving extensive thin clouds and an almost full moon, and fatter than usual too. Add that to a gang of scouts from Rotherham, though a good friendly group, spending the weekend there. Not that this was bad, but they had two fires burning, one on the field and the other the northern side of the nearest fence to us almost directly upwind of the dome.
This part of the gang had lots of good fireworks to let off. So, we gave the night over to the scouts and had tea and cakes with them. The firewood came from pulling down the old barbecue place near the building. You can burn all this timber if you return the area to what it was before, was the authority they'd been given. No likelihood of that, but the big fire was in the reserve rather than the centre's field. Dave and Rhys were there too, we saw the Moon (!) and a couple of other items through the thin cloud, only one of the scouts came in to take a look, though Dave had invited them all. A good campfire and lots of fireworks clearly a greater attraction. M42 looked well though between clouds, unfortunately the close-by Moon spoiled it somewhat.

1.11.16 - Tuesday

Down at 8:00pm or so till 1:30am, working on re-polar aligning the AP 900GTO mount. It hadn't moved at all in Azimuth and only a tiny amount in Altitude so it didn't take long to re-set. The only trouble was the illuminated eyepiece had lost all power in the light's battery so I had to do it by shining a torch into the hole.
I spent the rest of the time on photographing the Orion nebula though it hadn't risen much so the seeing was poor so low in the murk, still worth the effort. Visually the nebula looked immense in the ODK, striking, filled the 32mm eyepiece.

28.10.16 -- Friday

Brian and I opened the domes at 7.00pm for group of 23 cubs for stargazing, I gave the usual talk then into the large dome in two groups unfortunately complete cloud cover prevented any observing but they all seemed to enjoy operating the dome and telescope with the pc. Closed down 9.00pm.

21.10.16 - Friday

At 8:00pm Dave, Rhys, Elaine and Paul and I were ready to start, under a cloudless sky. Dave did much with binoculars too, while Elaine, Rhys and I used the ODK to observe clusters mostly. Dave Elaine and Paul left soon after we'd had a cup of tea, but Rhys and I stayed to seek out nebulae, with some success in the east, but not in the west. We left at midnight with the beginning of cloud patches in the east, and the Moon rising.

16.10.16 - Sunday

Cloudless sky all the time I was there OMO, 8:00pm to 1:15am. But with a maximum size full Moon, a Hunter's Moon. Re-collimated the ODK and took the focuser off and adjusted the 3 element corrector lens system, by moving it IN half a turn. Put it back and re-checked the collimation with my 4mm eyepiece, which gave a 505x magnification. Took a couple of shots of star clusters and M27. The sky was hazy as well as being full of Moonlight.
I checked the filter wheel and the 17mm Baader eyepiece in the small dome and took them home to clean, they haven't been used since Peter died. I think I'll keep the 17mm EP with the ODK when cleaned.

5.10.16 - Wednesday

OMO. Clear sky at 10:00pm when I got there. A visiting group was there too. I began to set up and noticed a group of people in the field, in the dark, so I went over. They said they were supervising the visiting group, 8 of them! They explained they were looking after a group of handicapped children, and they were also doing their Duke of Edinburgh award. So I took them over for a look at the stars, and noted that the clouds began to roll in. When thy left I continued to set up, and the clouds continued to roll in in greater masses. So I closed down and left at 11:30pm.

2.10.16 - Sunday

OMO. 8:30pm to 2:00am. Clear sky all night. Final collimation of the ODK, looks good too. Took a few series of frames of open clusters for test purposes. Will see the results tomorrow. Cold - down to 3° in the dome, frost on the grass verges on the way home and some mist sat in the roads near the airport.

29.9.16 - Thursday

OMO. Clear to start but hazed over then clouded over too, till I got home where it was clear again. I was there for 90mins to 11:30pm, working on the ODK and getting the Tak to be parallel with the ODK. Reasonable progress on that.