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In the last four months Trystan’s interest in astronomy has grown and he has spent hours upon hours reading astronomy magazines he has been given by his Dadcu. For Christmas the older two boys were bought their first telescope by Granny and Dadcu and have been getting to grips with it. They have also been getting some basic supplies together ready for the first opportunity to do some stargazing. We need long life batteries, touches or lanterns and a stargazing guide to help identify the stars.
For the last few weeks Trystan has been watching the skies every night in the hope that it will be clear enough for some stargazing. Although we are lucky enough to live on the outskirts of town we have a street below us and there is a lot of street lights which makes stargazing although not impossible not ideal. So we have been talking about taking a trip to one of the local beaches to do the stargazing. After weeks of gales and storms it looked like there was a chance of a clear night over the weekend. So in preparation I asked Trystan to help check the batteries in the torches were working as we would need to take some with us as well as spare batteries. One of the sets of batteries had run out so and we had no more left, so a quick trip to Tesco was needed to buy some more.
For a small store, our local Tesco has quite a good selection of batteries available so we knew we would be able to find the ones we needed. Located at the end of an aisle where pet food and home cleaning products are kept. It is also opposite the checkouts making them easy to locate.
Yesterday afternoon was really busy in store and as we only needed batteries we made our way over to the display. Trystan quickly spotted that there was an offer on some of the packs of batteries, buy one get one free with the cheapest item being free. This is a good offer as we use quite a lot of batteries with toys, remote controls and torches/lanterns so it was one to take advantage of. So I picked up a pack of AAA and AA Energizer Batteries and headed over to the checkouts.
Once home Trystan helped change the batteries in the torch and made sure everything was in one place, then it was a matter of waiting to see what nightfall brought. At 6.30pm after we had eaten tea I went out into the garden to see what the sky was like, sadly there was a lot of cloud. Trystan was very disappointed so I told him that we would wait another half hour or so and then check again but if it was still cloudy we would have to try again another night. Trystan and Rowan spent the next half an hour checking the sky from the front and back of the house every few minutes. Suddenly Trystan spotted the cloud dispersing and a few visible stars so we quickly wrapped up and grabbed the torches, lantern, batteries and stargazing guide and got ready to head out. Luc decided he wanted to stay at home and as Erin has a heavy cold dad of 3 said he would stay at home this time with them, so it was just Trystan, Rowan and myself on our stargazing mission.
I told the boys we would drive the two minutes down to the nearest beach and we would see that the weather was like as the wind was picking up and it’s quite exposed there. On our way there Trystan spotted the full moon peering from behind the clouds and we stopped on the side of the road to try and capture it. But it disappeared out of sight before we could. Once at the beach I pulled up and jumped out of the car to see if we would be able to see anything. The wind was really blowing along the front and there were lots of boats up close to where we were parked but even with the help of the torch I couldn’t make out where the water was as we were close to the mouth of the estuary. I got back in the car and explained I didn’t feel it was safe to go onto the beach and suggested we headed back down the road to Granny and Dadcu’s house to see if we would have any luck. Granny and Dadcu’s house backs on to the local county school field and their garden is very dark with no street or house lighting effecting it. I really hoped it would give us a view.
As we drove the mile back to their house we were amazed at the sudden appearance of the moon and lots of stars, I had a good feeling about this! Dadcu had just finished his dinner when we arrived and I explained that we wanted to use their garden for some stargazing. Dadcu wrapped up and said he would go and have a look first. Five minutes later he came back and told the boys to carefully follow him down the garden to see the stars. He even got his telescope out so the boys could get a better view.
Rowan thought it was great fun walking through Dadcu’s garden by torchlight, although we had to keep telling him not to shine the torch in our eyes!
We had a great view of the full moon behind the house. I quickly identified the Plough and Trystan checked I was right using the stargazing guide.
Dadcu suddenly became very excited and asked if we could see a bright star to the east of his house, Trystan and Rowan stood still and looked hard, then quickly said they could see it. Dadcu explained that was Jupiter and tried to get a better look through his telescope. Amazingly we could see the storm lines on Jupiter.
I tried several times to photograph the Plough, Orion and Beattlejuice which we also spotted but my camera wasn’t able to pick them up. We spent a good hour sat out in the garden looking at the sky above us and trying to identify varies constellations using the stargazing guide and had a great time getting the opportunity to use Dadcu’s telescope. It was now almost 9pm and way passed the boys bedtime and the weather was turning cold so reluctantly the two boys agreed it was time to head home. Dadcu told them that next time we were to give him enough notice and he would get his big telescope out for them to use or if we headed to the beach he would come with us. Back at the car I suddenly realised Rowan had forgotten to turn his torch off when he put it in his coat pocket when we got back inside Dadcu’s house, thank goodness for long life batteries!
Once home Trystan and Rowan excitedly told their dad and Luc about the stars we had seen and showed them the photographs we had taken of Jupiter and the moon. It was lovely to be back inside in the warm although I had really enjoyed our stargazing trip. It was lovely listening to the boys chatting about astronomy with Dadcu and to see them sharing something with him. Luc and dad of 3 couldn’t help but go outside the front door to see if they could see the full moon too and dad of 3 managed to capture this great photograph of it behind the houses opposite us.
I am pretty certain that our little trip out will be the first of many this year and hopefully we will get better at capturing the night sky on camera!