Clear skies greeted some 60 or more enthusiastic children and parents for the Star Night at Matthews Hall School in London, Thursday, April 14th, 2016, 8:00 p.m. The Star Night involved the whole school from JK to Grade-8 and outdoor lighting was turned off for better viewing through telescopes.
There were 10 RASC London Centre members who set up 9 telescopes on the north end of the school’s grassy soccer field, including Norman McCall, with his Explore Scientific 152mm Maksutov-Newtonian Comet Hunter and his 10-inch (25.4cm) Meade DS-10 Newtonian reflector (operated by a friend); Steve Gauthier, with his 8-inch (20.3cm) Newtonian reflector on a Celestron Losmandy G11 mount; Gaetan Godin with his home-built 20.3cm Newtonian reflector on a Sky-Watcher NEQ6 PRO SynScan mount; Paul Kerans with his 22-inch (56cm) Obsession Truss-Tube Dobsonian; Charlene Kerans with her 9.25-inch (23.5cm) Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain on a Sky-Watcher EQ6 mount; Everett Clark with his 11.4cm Tasco Newtonian reflector on a Super Polaris mount; Rob McNeil with his Williams Optics Megrez 72mm refractor; and Bob Duff with his Meade Starfinder 8 (20.3cm) Newtonian reflector on its Dobsonian mount. Peter Jedicke and Chris Sandelli were also their, assisting with observing and answer questions.
Early in the evening Steve Gauthier directed his 8-inch (20.3cm) Newtonian reflector, with a 22mm Panoptic eyepiece (55X) and white-light solar filter installed, towards the nearly setting Sun, revealing a large sunspot. As the sky darkened, Steve removed the solar filter from his telescope to show people other celestial objects. Children and parents lined up to view the one-day-past-first quarter Moon through Bob Duff’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Dobsonian, with the Meade MA25mm eyepiece (49X). Bob soon swapped in his 7mm Nagler eyepiece (174.3X) for better views of the Moon, Jupiter, the Orion Nebula (M42) and the red giant star Betelgeuse, through his 8-inch (20.3cm) Dobsonian.
Norm McCall showed people Jupiter and the Orion Nebula (M42) through his 152mm Maksutov-Newtonian and his colleague showed them the Moon and Jupiter through the Meade DS-10 Newtonian reflector. Paul and Charlene Kerans showed people the Moon, Jupiter and M42 in their 22-inch (56cm) Truss-Tube Dobsonian and 9.25-inch (23.5cm) Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, respectively.
Gaetan Godin showed people the Moon and Jupiter through his 20.3cm Newtonian reflector. Gaetan also used his green laser pointer to call people’s attention to the planet Mercury near the northwestern horizon, although he did not show them Mercury through his telescope because it was intermittently obscured by tree branches. However, Everett Clark showed people Mercury—well as the Moon and Jupiter—through his 11.4cm Tasco Newtonian reflector.
Rob McNeil showed people Moon and Jupiter through his 72mm refractor and called everybody’s attention to the International Space Station (ISS) pass, travelling from northwest to east, 8:42—8:48 p.m. There was also a bright Iridium flare visible in the north later in the evening—an Iridium satellite with its large solar panels reflecting the Sun from high above the Earth.
Peter Jedicke counted 58 children and adults midway through the evening with several later arrivals bringing the number to perhaps 60 or more people. The children and parents were mostly gone by around 10:00 p.m. and RASC London Centre members packed up their telescopes after a very successful and much appreciated stargazing evening at Matthews Hall School.