Star Night, Gary Hink’s Farm and Observatory, July 23rd, 2015

RASC London Centre member Gary Hink’s hosted a Star Night for his fellow Rona employees at his farm and observatory on Thursday, July 23rd, 2015, 8:00 p.m.  There were 4 visitors who showed up.  He was joined by fellow London Centre members Dale Armstrong, with his Vernonscope 80mm refractor on a camera tripod; Mike Roffey, with his 15cm Celestron NexStar 6SE Schmidt-Cassegrain on a Vixen alt-azimuth mount; and Harold Tutt with his Celestron 15 X 70mm binoculars on a tripod.

Peter Jedicke and Steve Gauthier arrived to share the evening.  Peter reported that Gary’s observatory was quite an amazing facility with a 20.3cm Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain under a roll-off roof and a 38cm (15-inch) Starsplitter Truss-Tube Dobsonian, which slides out on a track from a shed attached to the building. There were 2 eyepieces used with the 38cm Starsplitter Dobsonian including an 8mm and a 14mm eyepiece.  Gary also set up his 80mm refractor on a tripod.  In addition, Gary had his giant dual magnification 25/40X 100mm binoculars set up on a concrete pier, but for the Star Night only 25X was used.

Objects observed included Venus and the one-day-prior-to-first quarter Moon in early evening twilight.  Peter did not know if anyone observed Jupiter but noted that the Moon was particularly striking at this phase with all kinds of dramatic shadows along the terminator.  The Moon’s brightness affected the rest of the sky throughout the evening.  As dusk deepened, all eyes turned towards Saturn.  Referring to his phone app, Steve was able to pick out more than the usual array of moons including Titan, Rhea, Iapetus, Dione, Tethys and Enceladus.  Mimus eluded them, lost beside the glare of Saturn’s rings.  Despite scattered clouds there were always gaps with nice transparent sky.

After the visitors had left London Centre members continued observing, with galaxies M101, M81 and M82 being viewed in the binoculars.  Peter used the Starsplitter to view galaxy M51, the red giant carbon stars Mu Cephei and WZ Cassiopeia, the Ring Nebula (M57), globular clusters M71 and M56, the open cluster M29, and globular clusters NGC7006 and M22.  Dale viewed the Moon, Saturn, Albireo, globular cluster M15, and the red giant carbon stars UX Draconis and WZ Cassiopeia in his 80mmVernonscope refractor.  Gary closed down his observatory before midnight and everybody else packed up for the night after an enjoyable evening under the stars with great camaraderie.

Report by Peter Jedicke, Revised with Additions by Robert Duff