100 Hours - part one
Last night was my first event in the 100 Hours of Astronomy week. OK, so it's not officially 100 Hours yet, but hey. Organised by Scitech and AstronomyWA, the event included people and equipment from Scitech, Perth Observatory, AGWA and Curtin. Held down at Halls Head primary school in Mandurah, the event was attended by more than 200 people including pupils and teachers from the school and their familes. They looked after us very well, providing food and drinks, and even covering the building lights around the oval with red gels!
Between us we had more than 10 telescopes, including Scitech's collection of very nice 16-inch Dobs. I got a lift down in the van with Pete and Dempsey from Scitech and, after getting a bit lost (the instructions were wrong and none of us had a street directory!), we arrived at the school just before sunset and unloaded the van. We set up the scopes, aligned the finderscopes and the optics with the laser collimator, and nervously watched the high cloud rolling in over the ocean. It had been clear when we left Perth! When people appeared on the oval at half seven it was still cloudy so we spent a frustrating half hour chasing clear patches across the sky. At about 8pm the sky suddenly cleared and finally we had the whole sky to play with. I was looking after one of the Dobs and managed to show the Moon, Saturn, the Orion nebula, omega Cen, the Jewel Box, and the Tarantula, as well as a few random bits of fuzz in the Milky Way. It was great fun!
So that's the first event. Tomorrow I'm off with the same crowd to do a 100 Hours public observing evening in Fremantle. This one has a pirate theme...
Incidentally, Scitech planned a great April Fool's Day stunt this morning: they staged a meteorite landing on Cottesloe beach! Fantastic!