Credit: John Axtell
I’m sure that Mother Nature was just doing her best to redress the drought that currently afflicts so much of England, but why oh why did she have to choose the weekend of the star party?
It rained, and it rained and it rained.
When it wasn’t raining the clouds for the most part stayed stubbornly in place.
Kelling Heath is be found near the village of Weybourne, itself not far from the North Norfolk seaside town of Sheringham.
In 2004 it became the home for both the Spring and the Equinox star parties, formerly held in Thetford Forest.
It’s an area that offers lots of other attractions including bird watching at nearby Cley Marshes, the Muckleborough tank museum, and the Poppy Line – a steam loco even stops at the Halt at the edge the campsite!
The campsite grounds have been declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Norwich Astronomical Society (NAS) is the association behind the spring event.
They organised very well indeed, providing an information tent which included such useful items as a people finder map, twilight times, Moon rise and set times, a For Sale board, ISS Flybys and Iridium Flare times.
NAS produced an excellent little welcome booklet given free of charge to each attendee, showing guidelines on star party etiquette, an article outlining suggested targets plus of course adverts from the many traders in attendance.
NAS’s Andrew Robertson is the chief organiser and he has attended every single star party at Kelling Heath.
He confirmed that this is the first event that has suffered so badly in terms of cloud cover.
He added that although attendance was down because of the weather, there were still over 200 astronomers at the event.
However, all was not lost.
Those of us that stayed beyond the main nights of Friday and Saturday were rewarded with some great observing on Sunday night.
With so little light pollution the Milky Way was vivid.
I observed solidly between 10.30 pm and 3.15 am.
Several hardy souls stayed even longer, and reported other observing sessions later in the week.
Clear skies come to those that wait!
As amateur astronomers in the UK, we just have to put up with the weather we get.
We have to postulate it will be good and with good humour accept that we don’t always get what we want.
Roll on September for my next trip to Kelling Heath for the Equinox Star Party!