2004 Open evening at High Top

18th September 2004

On Saturday September 18th the Society held an open evening at High Top for members and friends. The event was a great success, with about 30 visitors enjoying fine views of the sky and refreshments kindly provided by committee members.

After an unpromising wet afternoon the sky cleared early in the evening, and we had fine views of the 4-day old Moon setting at 8.30 pm. After that we enjoyed one of the best observing evenings for some time at High Top, with clear dark skies, mild weather and no wind. The Milky Way was visible high overhead, and sky-watchers were able to see the International Space Station pass overhead, as well as a couple of satellites and a fleeting meteor.

Bob Garner and Don Doherty manned the 14″ telescope, and were able to show visitors fine views of a number of deep-sky objects. These included the ‘Great Nebula in Andromeda’, which is actually our close galactic neighbour the Andromeda Galaxy (M31, at a mere 2.3 million light years), together with its satellite galaxies M32 and NGC 110. Also on show was the ‘Wild Duck’ cluster (M11) in the constellation Scutum, a small but extremely rich open cluster containing well over 600 stars. It was given its nickname by the English astronomer Smyth, who likened it to a flight of wild ducks.

We are grateful to all those who helped to make the evening a great success. Special thanks to Hilary Doherty, who looked after the refreshments for us.