After a mild week of clear evenings, it was on the cards that for the weekend of the half term ‘dark sky’ event at the Danby Moors Centre, an arctic plunge would complicate matters.  Chilly, blustery, showery conditions are not conducive for observing outdoors.  Therefore the decision was taken to host an indoor presentation for the 55 or so people who had booked to come along.  Although conditions did improve marginally, it proved to be the correct choice.

Mark, Barbara, Andy, Elaine and Keith all met at Mark’s house to divvy up the equipment (a couple of scopes were taken – just in case) before setting off in Convoy to Danby.  Welcomed on arrival by Karen, Rita and the centre staff, everything was unloaded and transported up to lecture room with all our poster boards displayed around the walls.  The centre has an interactive touch screen on which Stellarium was running, which proved useful as we couldn’t hook up the laptop to use the starry night program (not the right kind of connections)

By 18:30h the room was full, and having made apologies about the weather, the obligatory H&S and Fire announcements, Mark started.

Using some new scaled demo’s utilising the inflatable solar system planets, together with other aids – including a model space shuttle, the Earth-moon size and distance scale was demonstrated with enthusiastic help from the children in the audience.

A ball of suitably marked string was then ‘unwound’ – again with lots of help, to demonstrate our normal scale solar system, and caused much hilarity as it became apparent, that beyond Saturn (which was located in the ‘tree’ part of solar system –who knew?) that several walls would have to demolished to reach Uranus and Neptune!  Mark further went on to demonstrate the scale of the galaxy and universe using nothing but reams of paper.

After a break, the Stellarium program was employed, really quite wonderful using the large interactive touch screen, that is until glitches continually caused it to shut down, so Andy had manipulate the Stellarium controls on the computer screen, whilst Mark tried to avoid touching the screen.  It seemed to do the trick.  A further short power point presentation of the various types of deep sky objects located around the autumn sky, some of which were then highlighted by using the Stellarium planetarium, rounded of proceedings.

It wasn’t the event we had hoped to host – ie. outdoors with telescopes, but it was nevertheless much appreciated by the audience and hopefully the event at the Moors Centre in early March will have better conditions.  Thanks to all for their time and assistance.