Partying with the stars in Letchworth

A STORY on the Comet website gave a big boost to an event on Saturday. More than 70 people went along to the Standalone Farm Centre in Letchworth GC to look up at the evening sky. It was the latest Public Star Party organised by the Letchworth and Distric

A STORY on the Comet website gave a big boost to an event on Saturday.

More than 70 people went along to the Standalone Farm Centre in Letchworth GC to look up at the evening sky.

It was the latest Public Star Party organised by the Letchworth and District Astronomical Society (LDAS) which has an observatory at the centre.

Delighted chairman Jerry Stone said: "I am pleased to tell you that many visitors said that they heard about the event from the Comet."

Conditions were perfect - a clear sky, starting to darken after the sunset.

Watchers were rewarded when a spot of light could be seen moving slowly, getting brighter as it rose to cross the sky. This was the International Space Station, travelling round the Earth at a height of 215 miles, moving at 17,500 mph.

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As well as the space station, visitors were able to see the planet Jupiter and its main moons. The event was timed so that the Moon would not be around to drown out the fainter objects in the sky, so it was also possible to see star clusters, nebulae and galaxies.

Earlier in the day, LDAS members held a public astronomy session is the town centre. A telescope was set up for passers-by to look at the Moon, and there were also special solar telescopes which allowed people to observe the sun in safety.

Saturday's events were part of the society's special programme marking the International Year of Astronomy.

Activities include astronomy workshops on Friday evenings (for adults) and Saturday evenings (for under-16s), and as Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, the society is holding a Ghosts and Galaxies event on October 31. This is for under-15s (and accompanying adults) and will include astronomical games and puzzles, plus some observing if the sky is clear.

The next Public Star Party will be on October 24.

The society now has 100 members. Meetings are held on the last Wednesday of each month at Plinston hall in Broadway. For more information, contact the society at events@ldas.org.uk