The evening started with an exceptional sunset at 6:00Pm although the meeting officially started at 6:30PM
Unfortunately for us a planned event the following day at the castle meant that the whole of the lawn was covered in marquees and chairs, this happens sometimes, which means that although the tables are convenient to use, we had to move the scope around several times through the evening.
After spotting the Moon and looking at Mars, we managed to spot Mercury through binoculars, then the naked eye and then finally through the 10 inch Scope. The disk was clearly seen but showed no phase.
Mars was a popular object through the evening. In all over 25 people turned up though not all at the same time, which caused some reputation of objects seen.
The Objects seen were as follows
M42 (Globular Cluster) near Sirius
The Winter “Pentangle”
A number of meteors (3-4) , possibly the Quadrantids
Number of satellites thanks to Richards (Heavens Above predictions)
This included the Hubble Space telescope, though it was quite faint.
Most Satellites disappeared into Earth Shadow.
Also Canopus was easily seen in the South. I also noticed Akibar, which is the tail of Eridanus. I was able to trace for the first time the river all the way from its “source” near Sirius What I didn’t appreciate is that “on the horizon” it may have been possible to see the LMC . Of course I wasn’t looking for it
Unusually, the Pleiades were not seen through the telescope tonight!
Comet Holmes is now very large (well over ½ degree?) and very faint. We couldn’t pick it up at all in the Scope or its finder, but with patience I saw it several times through 8x25 binoculars.
A number of interesting questions were asked, one very simple question produced some good discussion. - the similar apparent brightness and comparison between Mars ( being a red disk) and Sirius being a blue star, as both were “similar” in brightness ( Mag - 1.2?).
Looking at the 3 day old moon a series of craters were seen of similar size. The question was just how many miles across were they? Embarrassingly we didn’t know. The answer is of course is an average of the following, and Ive based this list on the “obvious” row of craters seen on the terminator of a 3 day old Moon ie Langrenus (132 km), Petavius (177 km), Furneriu( 125km) Lets say around 75-100 miles across