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Jodrell Bank 50th Aniversary Star Party

Last night saw the final event of the 2007 "50th Anniversary" celebrations of the Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank.

There were two ADAS members present. Myself, using a Konus 120mm F8.3 Refactor mounted onto a Vixen GP-DX. And Colin Bowler who was using a fine Celestron C8 and Vixen GP-D2, together with a 10" Callisto Dob.

Also present at last night's event, were members from Macclesfield AS. There certainly was, a lot of telescope's on show. And the event was a sell out, but I don't know the actual numbers, but there must have been over 100+ people there, braving the sub zero conditions.

Soon after the event started at 19:00ut, we where all treated to a magnificent -4 Geminid at 19:40ut. This bolide appeared from the direction of Castor and slowly moved north-east fading near the boarder with Lynx. The meteor had a nice luminous trail, which lasted several seconds.

Once the excitement had died down, it was time to show the crowds some celestial views.

My first target was the Moon. Using my 24mm Panoptic (x41) the Moon was very clear and sharp, despite it's low altitude. Through this eyepiece there was a lovely view of Earth shine, illuminating the Moons dark crescent. With higher power, we were treated to views of mountains and craters which really wowed those who were looking.

After what seemed like an hour. I finally found a fading comet 17P/Holmes. The comet is now a very diffuse object, and looks more like a brighter version of M33 and it was difficult to see with the light pollution from the visitors center.

We next had a look at M31, and this galaxy was quite a show stopper! I was able to show them both M31 and the two satellite galaxies M32 and M110. It really looked magnificat through my Astronomic CLS filter, and even at low power, you could begin to see some faint spiral arms.

Next up was M45, followed by M42. Using a Baader UHC-S filter and 24mm Pany. M42 was a glorious sight. And I had many people queuing up for a peak, at this huge Stella nursery.

Later in the evening I turned my 4.75" "OG" onto the star of the show. Mars. At x200 with a red filter. Mars was very clear but only during those moments of steady seeing. The main feature visible was Syrtis Major, and what I thought was the North polar cap. I later found out back home, I was actually looking at the huge Helas basin.Mars was a real show stopper and I had any number of visits to my telescope, once word had been passed, I was looking at the red planet.

By 22:00 the event was over. And after wishing every one a Happy Christmas, I went home happy, that I might have encouraged more people to take a look at what's up there.

by Paul Brierley

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