As Reported in the BHA News …
January and February can be a dark, low point of the year for some. When the New Year firework displays have passed, and the sparkling bright colours have faded, the spring delights of fresh flowers and bright mornings can seem such a long wait.
This year, Basingstoke Humanists decided to take advantage of the long nights, and invited the local Basingstoke Astronomical Society (BAS) to come along to our normal meeting venue at Queen Mary’s College on the 3rd of February. They agreed, and said they would bring their telescopes. A plan was organised, and by November, the lecture room as booked, members were advised, and posters were produced and circulated. Representatives of the BAS would give a short talk about what to see in the night sky, before all of us tramped out into the dark heath outside for some live observations.
Tickets were sold at £5 each, and the 50-seat event was a sell out, with the biggest problem being disappointing the people we turned away.
The skies were very accommodating on the night, and people were amazed at what they saw. The telescopes were focussed on some interesting highlights in the night sky including the ‘nearby’ Andromeda Galaxy (nearby in galactic terms being 2 Million light years away) and some local stars, nearest of which being a poultry 7 light years (41 trillion miles) distant.
But it was our fellow planet Jupiter that impressed the attendees the most, and those of us who looked in the right direction saw a round ball with four of Jupiter’s biggest moons appearing on the same plane as if lined up by a celestial ruler into a straight line. It was a fascinating evening, and everyone wore warm clothes and tough footgear to ward off the cold. After the observations the group returned to the lecture room and tucked into a warming supply of hot sausage rolls, curried Indian pastries, and warm mulled wine as they chatted about what they had seen.
The evening was a great success, in spite of the muddy boots, and left the audience with some special, astronomical memories …