Another year, another Skellig Star Party

Assembly after the SSP Talks
Assembly after the SSP Talks

Phew! We made it.

So we just wanted to re-cap some of the highlights of the Skellig Star Party 2015 weekend which made this years star party such a resounding success. Super thank you’s have to be given out to everybody who made it possible, from our distinguished guests to all the attendees. We’re certainly starting to find our groove and have lots to build on for 2016.

I suppose the first thing to note about this years star party is that Friday night gave us the most amazing clear sky, and we think everyone managed to make the most of them. Saturday clouded out but after the clear skies of Friday, nobody really minded. To kick things off we were treated to a great ISS fly-over as everyone was finishing setting up

 

The boys on the ISS treating us to a flyover
The boys on the ISS treating us to a flyover
Setting up the scopes at Skellig Lodge
Setting up the scopes at Skellig Lodge

Being in an International Dark Sky Reserve we were then treated to some amazing views of the the Milky Way and of course, the Perseid meteor shower. Many of us captured amazing images and made some crystal clear observations. Some notable views were the Whirlpool galaxy, Trifid Nebula, and a field of view that we were certain contained Pluto.

One of the many scopes pointing into the dark night sky
One of the many scopes pointing into the dark night sky, complete with Perseid meteor
The view we had all Friday night
The view we had all Friday night
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The Milky Way peering around a cloud
We actually managed to do a lot of solar observing, despite a fairly inactive sun
We got to do a lot of solar observing, despite a fairly inactive sun

Although the Skellig Star Party is all about the dark skies, the talks given by our speakers were so much fun! Nick gave us a passionate talk on the legacy of Apollo, as well as an impromptu show-and-tell of his awesome collection of meteorites and other space bits. Brian gave a brilliant history lesson which accounted the astronomical exploits of the likes of Ptolemy and Galileo, and which hinted that the next Newton or Feynman may be right around the corner. Kimberly’s talk about working on the New Horizons mission was also absolutely sensational, and extremely detailed. It was great seeing the images of Pluto and Charon coming out online, but getting a play by play commentary by a NASA scientist on the mission with accompanying projected imagery was next to none. All the talks sparked lively questions and discussions, which carried on into the evenings.

Nicks impromptu show-and-tell
Nicks impromptu show-and-tell
Brian giving us a history lesson
Brian giving us a history lesson
Nicks talk on the legacy of the Apollo missions
Nicks talk on the legacy of the Apollo missions

Nick also showed the trailer to the new series The Apollo Tribute. The trailer for a series of interview films produced in association with the Kielder Observatory at Spacefest VI, which was held in Pasadena California. It’s dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of people who made the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs possible, and to those who gave their lives in pursuit of mankind’s greatest dream.

Kimberly giving her account of her time on the New Horizons misions
Kimberly giving her account of her time on the New Horizons misions

 

As always, Kevin played a blinder sorting out the Skellig Star Party BBQ this year. Keeping over a hundred hungry astronomers fed is no small task, but he took it in his stride and we managed to raise a fairly sizable amount in aid of Barnardo’s.

Astronomer fuel
Astronomer fuel

So, that’s it for another year. As the team regroups and starts organizing for next year, anyone who came this year is welcome to share any images or stories with us on social media or here on the website. Simply email info@skelligstarparty.com.

There will be a stream of content coming out online from us over the coming weeks, including more images on the website, social media and on our new Flickr page, as well as some superb interviews we had the pleasure of conducting with our speakers. Not to mentioned a slight revamp of the SSP website to ring in the next year. There may also be a little surprise on the way 😉

Again, thank you to all the attendees, special guests and partners for making this a very special weekend.

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