NSAAC Returns to IRWS
Due to the Girl Scout camporee take over of Veasey Park we were forced to find an alternate observing site for Saturday the 17th. Fortunately for us Gary Meehan had extended an invitation for NSAAC to join him in observing at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary (IRWS). NSAAC members that have been around for a while know IRWS very well as IRWS used to be NSAACs primary observing site before Veasey Park.
We had a great turnout of NSAAC members and guests. The night was completely cloud and wind free and the seeing conditions improved as the night went on. The temperature dropped rapidly during the evening but due to the lack of wind it was not uncomfortable. Early in the evening we had visitors from a rental cabin on the IRWS property. They were amazed by views of the Moon, Perseus double cluster, Andromeda Galaxy M31, The Ring nebula M57, Albireo, M35, M81, M82 and NGC457. Jupiter was too low early in the evening for our visitors to get a good view.
Some of us were new to IRWS and setup in close proximity to the fields. The moisture from the vegetation and rapid radiational cooling caused dew to set in early. As the night went on and the temperature continued to drop below zero my scope became covered in a heavy layer of frost. Some people left early because of dew/frost but a few stayed past midnight.
Gary Meehan had his 12″ truss tube dob and a decent size group of people in attendance from his “meetup” group. For those that don’t know, IRWS is Gary’s regular viewing site and he also gives astronomy lectures/talks at IRWS.
Felipe Silva was able to perform wide field astro photography all night long with the aid of hand warmers on his camera lens to ward off the dew.
Kandy Rathinasamy tested an Android tablet app that gives a scope “push to” functionality.
I was able to keep my 12″ optics dew/frost free as long as I kept the dew heaters cranking. Later in the evening as Jupiter rose higher in the sky we enjoyed some very nice views of the Great Red Spot crossing the disk of the planet. It was well worth the frost and cold temperatures because the views of Jupiter and the great red spot were excellent. We also had some great views of the Orion Nebula M42. The light gathering power of a 12″ primary really brings out the nebulosity nicely.
People in attendance
Melvin Graham & wife Stephanie
Richard Luke & guest
Gary Meehan and his meetup group
Visitors from the rental cabin
Thanks to all who attended and thanks to Gary for extending the invitation –