I met Mike Mills at 09:30 at our top-secret location where we store the Telescopes. Mike was extremely organised with his comprehensive check-sheet of required equipment and paraphernalia. We took about 30 minutes to load up, checking and double-checking everything. We were due to meet Mike Gover and Andy Noble at Hallam Square around 11am; as we had an hour or so to kill, we went for a coffee to discuss the game plan for the day – “Set up the scopes and see what happens”.
Gaining a preferential parking spot on Arundel Street ensured that we didn’t have too much work lugging the kit around. Then Darren Swindells and Stephen Jackson showed up, both armed with their own telescopes and imaging equipment, Steve with the Raspberry Pi camera and wireless access point.
Setup was fairly straightforward, although positioning of the newtonian side-by-side with the hydrogen alpha was more art than science, the problem being getting the positioning of the eyepiece easily viewable on both telescopes.
The day was blue skies from horizon to horizon. Sun cream was an essential. First contact was at 12:12, where Mercury started it’s journey across the face of the Sun. Some good sunspots and prominences were also visible.
All the equipment performed well, and special mention should be made of the new Televue and Explore Scientific eyepieces we have recently acquired. The view through the Howitzer/Baader Herschel Wedge/Televue Delos combination was simply spectacular. The new Orion Optics 8″ Newtonian proved to be an excellent purchase with the Seymour Solar glass filter on the front and the Explore Scientific eyepiece, although the focuser did require an extension tube.
We had several hundred visitors through the course of the day including a number of Sheffield Hallam University faculty members, students, commuters (a number of whom I suspect missed their trains), and general passers by. It’s a good location because of the amount of people passing by.
We closed the day when the Sun retreated behind the Saint Paul’s Tower at around 18:30, so we didn’t see last contact. All in all, we had an excellent day.
– Andrew Gilhooley