We did well to postpone the BBQ. The evening was perfect for observing and we had several scopes to choose from. Jonathan brought his SkyWatcher and demonstrated his ability to find things in the sky. I brought my LX200 and demonstrated the ability of it to find things in the sky.
We had excellent views of The Dumbell Nebula (M27), The Ring Nebula (M57) as well as Albireo (the blue/orange double at the head of Cygnus the Swan), The Wild Duck Cluster (M11), Epsilon Lyrae (a double-double star near Vega). I also had a look at The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) – I could make out the two galaxy centres, but not really a lot else. M13, the great globular in Hercules, was spectacular as usual.
Jonathan and I both looked at a faint NGC (I think NGC6207, near M13) through both our scopes. My scope rates it as “fair” which usually means “no hope” from my garden, but I could definitely make out a fuzzy patch which I thought was slightly lopsided although images on the web do not really look so.
For me the highlight was seeing the Veil Nebula through Jonathan’s scope — something I have not seen with the naked eye before.
John showed us his equatorial mount and refractor working well with software control — just click on an object on the screen and wait for a short (and I must say virtually silent (compared to my LX200, a tractor is silent)) slew and hey-presto the object appears live on screen. I remember him showing several objects including a Comet and the Omega Nebula.
Of course, no barbeque would be complete without the barbeque itself, and we were treated to some fine fare. Many thanks to John and Rosemary for the vittles and to the people who brought along puddings. No-one went away feeling hungry!