Swindon Stargazers Star Party October 2022












































New arrivals at the campsite - Photo: Rob Slack
Background illustration: Hot Blue Stars at the Core of Globular Cluster M15 - Hubble Space Telescope

Our First Star Party by Rob Slack

Something rather new for Swindon Stargazers - a Star Party. It's something the club had not tried before. Although in our earlier years the club held BBQs at Coate Water.

The idea suggested earlier in the year by member Damian Ohara and located at an idyllic country campsite called Rouselands Farm, with a Bortle 4 sky, just outside the village of Brinkworth.

As the campsite had come to the end of it's season and was closed to regular campers, Swindon Stargazer campers had the site all to ourselves. It's a lovely, quiet location with minimal traffic driving by and even if they had done so at night, the tall hedge afforded good protection from stray headlights.

Although most turned up with tents, or prepared to sleep in their car, Mrs and I opted for a much more practical and comfy solution, our caravan! Well Mrs wanted to watch Strictly, while I and the others stared into the heavens.

Before nightfall, Damian gave an excellent talk in one of the farm barns, looking at digital camera astro photography. This was a most useful talk and I'm sure we all learnt something from it.

So, It went ahead fine, but sadly the heavens were no where to be seen by the time darkness fell. This was most frustrating, as the afternoon had given us some clear skies and thanks to member Pete C's H alpha scope we had some great views of the solar disc.

Richard Salt and Malcolm Woods setting up - Photo: Rob Slack

However as darkness finally arrived, so did those pesky cumulus nimbus!! The weather forecast, which seemed optimistic earlier in the day, now promised rain during the night! So those less well equipped to deal with foul weather, decided to call it a night by about 10 pm. As much as we wished, we simply could not shift those clouds!

By morning Mrs and I awoke to find ourselves alone in the camping field. And if sods law had not had enough fun with us the night before, the Sunday turned out to be a beautiful clear day. I wished I'd pack a solar filter, so I could have at least observed something! Such was the peace and quiet, Mrs and I stayed in our caravan ( well sunbathing outside it actually ) until well after lunch time.

So that was the very first Swindon Stargazers Star Party. Quite honestly, we should have done this years ago and hopefully now we have a flavour for it, the club might consider it an annual event.

A big thank you to Damian for organising and many, many thanks to Shaun and Alison at Rouselands Campsite for making us so welcome. I'm sure we will be back.

Rob's 200mm Newtonian - Photo: Rob Slack

Then the clouds rolled in - Photo - Peter Chappell

Notes on the DSLR Camera Workshop can be found HERE