Well, after cancelling 4 nights at the observatory over the past 2 months, we were finally graced with a clear night on March 11. And what an evening it was!
I had the roof off and the 16” fired up by 7:30 PM so we had an early start. Our first visitor was Herb (sorry, no last name) who was at the observatory for the first time and is contemplating joining our club. Herb and I began by viewing M42 and then Mark Smith showed up and set up his 10” Dob, a very nice piece of equipment with clear views.
Gary Bennett arrived a short while later, as did Jeff Booth, Muhammad Basil Ahmad and Gladwin Hui. We treated ourselves to views of Jupiter (with 4 moons), M45, M42 and M1 and we saw these objects through both the 16” and the 14” scopes.
Once we had a good look at these beautiful objects Gary B. offered to teach us how to fire up and use the C14 and a few of us practiced the setup steps to get some hands-on experience.
Then the cameras came out. Jeff and I had our DSLRs but really had no expectations of making photos, as this was meant as “visual night” only; but being able to use the C14 as a lens was an added bonus. Gary helped with tips on exposure length, ISO, etc. and it became a real team effort with everyone providing advice and ideas on how to capture the best “single-shot” images of Jupiter and M42. Using the C14 was almost like getting a new toy at Christmas or on a Birthday and it was rather humourous to see these so-called “grown” men all huddled around the scope and cameras and hearing oohs and awes from everyone.
Muhammad has since done some processing of my images and you can see them on the Forum.
Of course, as most amateur astronomers know, time flies when observing and making images and, with the lack of clear nights this winter, it was tough to call it a night. I was the last to leave, along with Gary, Jeff and Gladwin and when I looked at my watch it was 12:15 AM!!!
In the end, it was a wonderful evening, with clear skies, nice equipment and most importantly…like minds sharing a hobby like no other.