Wednesday was the Star Party hosted by Powell River Books at the Town Centre Hotel in Powell River, BC. Wayne (with a little help from me) set up two telescopes in their courtyard. Light pollution was pretty bad, but the goal was to introduce people to astronomy and the availability of affordable telescopes. The Star Party was our contribution for the International Year of Astronomy and to encourage everyone to look to the skies.
After a week of sunshine and clear nights, we had a sudden cloud cover. When you live in Coastal BC, you have to be flexible with the weather. At least they didn't call for rain! Then just before party time, the skies cleared completely. We set up both telescopes to focus on the moon. Then Wayne switched his more powerful Meade LX90 to Saturn, Messier 13, a Globular Cluster, and a double-star pair (Mizar and Alcor). With computer driven controllers, we were able to find and track the evenings best celestial objects.
The participants had a good time and lots of opportunities to look through both telescopes. Wayne and I want to thank Shelly, the manager of the Town Centre Hotel, for her ongoing support of events like these and Powell River Books.
Wayne is an enthusiastic amateur astronomer. He has three telescopes, a Meade ETX125 (125 millimeter) Maksutov-Cassegrain, a Meade LX90 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain, and a Edmond Astroscan (for fun). For newbie amateurs astronomers, here are a few of his recommendations:
- 7 X 50 mm binoculars with magnification no higher than 7 ($100)
- a planisphere chart to identify celestial objects (about $20)
- Nightwatch by Dickinson, Schaller, Costanzo and Cooke ($40)
- Star Watch by Harrington (about $20)
- Sky & Telescope or Astronomy magazine
- FirstScope telescope by Celestron (about $60)
- ETX-90PE telescope by Meade (about $600)