This year’s foray over to Westerdale on Sept 2nd remarkably coincided with crystal clear skies once again, in fact we could not have wished for clearer ones.  It was obvious on arrival at the village hall car park that a sizeable gathering was present, induced out by the fine conditions (or was it society stalwart John Randles – the Godfather of Westerdale.  Whatever, we received a warm welcome as usual.  Whilst John and Mark were talking a barn owl flew out across the drop next to the site, a fine start to proceedings.

Whilst Keith and Mark sorted the telescopes out - just the two this year - Andi Ye, who had managed to make it back early from an appointment in Scarborough, helped with the IT equipment in the village hall.  This was utilised by Mark to give a brief presentation using the Starry Night program, whilst skies darkened sufficiently.  A rolling power point slide show was left running for anyone to watch, whilst not outside.

It wasn’t long before skies were sufficiently dark for our first objects.  First up, Saturn and Mars, visible low in the SW.  Saturn received all the plaudits, whilst Mars...  Oh damn, it’s gone behind that tree, oh well!  From our dark location and under transparent conditions, deep sky objects looked amazing, far better than anything experienced so far this year.  The Milky Way arched overhead in striking fashion, before cascading down to the SW horizon, with the northern rift, a huge dark intervening dust cloud, clearly evident through Cygnus.

Given that the Perseids had been predominantly clouded out, it was therefore rather satisfying that sporadic meteor levels that night were very healthy, almost a dozen were spotted, much to the delight of all.  Mark and Keith also pointed out numerous artificial satellites using the laser pointers.  Before proceedings finally came to an end, Uranus and Neptune were targeted, as well as Pluto, although which one of the numerous faint points of light Pluto was, was anyone’s guess.

An exceptional night all round then, made all the more special by our friendly hosts.