Date: 20 – 23 October 2017
Location: Little Desert Nature Lodge, Nhill, Australia
A great time was had by all at the annual Vic South Star Party.
This was my first visit to Vic South, so was didn’t know what to expect and had tried to plan for all eventualities, carrying plenty of battery power along with my ‘scopes and cameras. I needn’t have worried. The event was very well organised and the facilities were excellent.
I arrived at the Little Desert Nature Lodge in Nhill on Friday afternoon and found a large group of astronomers setting up their equipment on the lawn with thoughtfully-provided electrical power and guidelines for the best places to set up.
Visual observers were directed to one end of the field and astrophotographers to the other, with laptop screens facing away from the visual observers. This ensured that no-matter what style of observing was planned, you’d have a place to do it. Even the windows of the lodge rooms had been covered to minimise stray light during the night.
As darkness fell on Friday night, the winds dropped and we were treated to a dazzling display of the night sky with the Milky Way and Orionid meteors on show throughout the night.
At around 2:00AM the whole field erupted in gasps as an Orionid fireball ploughed slowly across the sky, leaving a glowing trail in its wake which lasted for at least 10 minutes. (My camera was pointing in the wrong direction!)
The sun was due to rise at about 6:30AM and, as if on cue, the clouds rolled across the whole sky just after 5:00AM to lower the curtain on a fabulous night’s observing.
For these events I deliberately do not have a pre-planned observing schedule, preferring to leave the night open for random observations and to meet other astronomers and discuss their projects.
Following a quick sleep, at breakfast I was surrounded by astrophotographers studiously tapping away at their laptops, processing images from the previous night and comparing their results.
The clouds obstinately refused to budge for Saturday night, but the crowd settled-in for an evening of Movies and Astro-Gossip before catching up on much-needed sleep.
Sign me up for 2018