Astronomy Benalla
Reports - 2011
Astronomy Benalla  Dark Sky Site Report - Saturday 8th January 2011 On arrival at the Roy T Hill pavilion dark sky viewing site, the usual early keen members were to be seen sitting lined up in the dusk an hour before viewing time and be-moaning that the cloud front moving in from the west didn’t auger well for a successful night. Accordingly they had chosen to not unpack their scopes. Ever the optimist, President  Rupe drove out on to the viewing area and set up Astronomy Benalla’s new Starwatcher 102mm refractor and waited and waited. Two visitors arrived and during discussions the 4-day-old moon peeped out between the cloud bands for a full 10 seconds. As quick as can be, the Moon disappeared from view before the guide scopes could be aligned, however the constellations of Taurus (The Bull) and Orion (The Hunter) then emerged in the East. Within moments the other members were out like a flash and setting up their telescopes they soon picked up Messier object M42 in the handle of the Saucepan through the thin, high cloud. With the odd star appearing and disappearing it became a race to see who could name the object and have it in reasonable focus for the visitors to view. Fortunately an hour later the southern sky opened up with the constellations of Centaurus and Crux low to the horizon giving reasonable viewing. Frantic swapping of different eye pieces saw our nearest stellar neighbour, the binary star alpha Centauri, being visually separated and explained to a growing number of visitors. With more clouds and masses of monster mosquitoes appearing it was decided to call it a night at 10- 30pm and retire for the usual supper. On driving out of the park to go home the bright planet Jupiter popped out between the clouds and could be seen for the first time for the night. You win some, you lose some!
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