Derby and District Astronomical Society
DDAS Observing Session - Flamsteed Observatory - Saturday 16th February 2008
Report by Claire Spencer
Saturday February 16th 2008 was a crisp, clear and bright day. It looked highly likely that the observing session was on! Would I really get my first views of the night sky from the observatory? I called Robert Seymour, a DDAS member to enquire whether a lift was available to the observatory at Brailsford. Fortunately, Robert wasn’t working his long, interminable shifts for the railways, so at a little after a quarter past seven, we set off, clutching binoculars and wrapped up against the winter chill. When we arrived, the Society’s ten inch Newtonian was already in use, observing the nine day old moon. As luck would have it, the terminator cut through Sinus Iridium (the romantically named 'Bay of Rainbows'). The valley floor was in deep shadow, but shining out like a diamond ring, the mountains behind had caught the rising sun, causing the observers looking through the business end of the scope to gasp in wonderment.
Also under scrutiny that night was M42, the Orion nebula, visible under the sword belt of the three stars of Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. This was to be no disappointment, either. The multiple star system star known as the Trapezium, or Theta Orionis was an awesome sight surrounded by a greenish nebulosity. I have to say that Saturn stole the show that evening for me, and if you can make it to the observatory any time, I can guarantee in the words of Messrs Lennon and McCartney, that “A splendid time is guaranteed for all.”
Image Credits: Top left - Sinus Iridum on the 2nd February 2006 by Chris Newsome, mid-right - Mars on the 13th February 2008 by Barry Ashforth, lower left - Saturn on the 16th February 2008 by Barry Ashforth, lower right - M42 on the 17th September 2005 by Adrian Brown.
DDAS members at the observing session on the 16th February 2008. Picture by Malcolm Neal.