by Susie Busby
Tumbling, satisfyingly full, out of the Coastal Café in Moelfre, we spotted a beautiful crescent moon and Jupiter low in the darkening sky. A Friday fish supper and sky watching could only mean one thing – WDAS’s late summer trip to the Anglesey Guide Centre in Lligwy.
Back at base, dark had fully descended. Mars glowed a deep red to the south. Telescopes, set up earlier in the day, stood waiting for our return. The sky was crystal clear overhead with the Milky Way easily visible around the Summer Triangle. Sporadic, yet startlingly bright meteors, from the Piscid meteor shower, streaked past throughout the evening.
Jason, our resident expert, set to work with the society’s 14” Meade LX 200 GPS, slewing the scope around giving our 16 strong group a guided tour of the heavens: M11 – the Wild Duck cluster, M31 and M33 – Andromeda and Triangulum galaxies, M13 – Hercules cluster, M81 and M82 galaxies, MGC 6960 and 6992, the Veil Nebula, M27 the Dumbbell nebula, Saturn, the double star Alberio and a glimpse of the moon before it set.
The more experienced stargazers enjoyed handing out tips to the newbies – defocusing to make the colours of stars stand out and looking to the side of faint objects (averted vision} to see them better.
Gary spent the evening photographing M15 (at 5 second exposures) and M110 (at 30 second exposures) with an LPR filter, producing successful results after stacking 40 images of each.
New member, Dave, brought a sunbed to lie on and we agreed that the society should invest in a few of these, along with sleeping bags, to gaze at the stars in comfort.
As the evening cooled, dew formed on the lens of the Meade. This was soon remedied with a hairdryer and the dew guard attached to extend our viewing time by a couple more hours.
Around 1.00am the clouds rolled in and we retired inside for warming drinks and a chat. We hoped the clouds would pass – but alas, by 2.00am we gave up and went to bed.
Next morning, after a slap-up English breakfast, the group separated. Some went walking, cycling or to find a pub to watch football. The majority of us visited the quirky, but fascinating, Stone Science Museum at Llanddyfnan. Then on to Redwarf Bay for cake and coffee – a favourite activity for WDAS members! Later, we strolled over the Martianesque landscape of the old copper mine on Parys Mountain.
Unfortunately, Saturday night’s stargazing was clouded off so we stayed inside exchanging stories over beers, wine and a takeaway.
Sunday morning we enjoyed a continental breakfast before cleaning down and saying our goodbyes to new and old friends. On the way home to Manchester we dropped in to visit the ‘Museum of the Moon’ installation at St Johns Church in Llandudno. The perfect end to a wonderful weekend.
Thanks to Jason and Zeinith for organising yet another great trip away.