Star Night, Springwater Conservation Area Campground, June 7th, 2014

Hazy, partly cloudy skies greeted 4 RASC London Centre members to the Springwater Conservation Area Campground near Aylmer, Ontario, Saturday, June 7th, 2014. Dave McCarter brought his 25.4cm Dobsonian; Gaetan Godin, his 20.3cm Home Built Dobsonian; Harold Tutt, his 80mm Stellarvue Night Hawk refractor; and Everett Clark, his 11.4cm Tasco Newtonian on a Super Polaris equatorial mount.

Everett and Gaetan were already showing visitors the 2-day-past-First Quarter gibbous Moon when Dave arrived and Harold showed up shortly thereafter. After using his powerful new green laser to indicate the location of Mars above the Moon, Dave set up his telescope on the south side of the field to view Jupiter with 2 Galilean moons visible, one (Io) very near the planet. Soon there was a decent crowd of adults and children and Dave gave out 8 copies of the book Mary Lou’s New Telescope which was popular with younger children. Dave estimated that there were perhaps 38 people, including 12 adults and the rest children. Mars was observed as well as Saturn with its moon Titan visible, despite the haze, which seemed to make high magnification views of the Moon easier. Dave also showed people M13 at low magnification. Dave used his 32mm TeleVue Plossl and 9mm Ortho in his 25.4cm Dobsonian.

In addition to the Moon Gaetan showed campers Jupiter, Mars and Saturn, although high thin clouds obscured Jupiter’s moon’s and rendered observing difficult. He used a 2-inch diameter 32mm eyepiece to view the Moon and a 17mm eyepiece, sometimes with a 2X Barlow lens, to view the planets in his 20.3cm Home Built Dobsonian.

Harold showed people the Moon and Saturn in his 80mm Stellarvue Night Hawk refractor. Mizar and Alcor were clouded out and he pointed out Vega and the Ring Nebula (M57) but these also were obscured by clouds. Everett showed people Saturn, the Moon and Vega in his 11.4cm Tasco Newtonian. Everybody had the opportunity to view the ISS pass at 9:50 p.m., going west to northeast and reaching maximum altitude (40 degrees) in the north northwest. The star night was over by around 11:30 p.m. with RASC London Centre members packing up their telescopes after an enjoyable evening of astronomy despite the hazy clouds.