Nibbles and Nebulas

Wednesday 15 November 2017

  On Wednesday 15th November 2017, HCO played host from 6p.m. to 7.30 or so to an event, Nibbles & Nebulas, for pupils of Space Studio Banbury, parents and members of staff. Nibbles were kindly provided by two teachers from the school and Nebulas, or rather astronomicals with an emphasis on nebulae, by three HCO team-members. Having been told only the previous week that there would be about 20 attending, a number which had risen to 30 by the previous Friday, on the night there were over 60 packing Hanwell Village Hall, where we started, to capacity, with standing room only for late arrivals. And that was with an impenetrably overcast sky!

  The evening’s entertainments, indeed, had been deliberately planned to be independent of  the weather, proceedings kicking off in the hall with a half-hour slide-show on the theme of ‘nebulae’, with emphasis on those in the evening sky at this season. Granted there was a certain amount of ‘cheating’, in including galaxies on the menu to add glamour to the show, but some of us still vividly remember the days when Messier 31 was generally called ‘The Great Andromeda Nebula’!

  Following the slide-show, participants divided into two groups and, while one group then had a guided tour of the main HCO telescopes & observatory site a few minutes walk away, the other enjoyed nibbles and chat at the village hall, the two groups then switching places before the evening concluded. We were both astonished and delighted at the turn-out for the event, which seems to have gone down well despite the impossibility of any real stargazing: encouraged by this result, HCO will certainly consider running further such events in the future. We are extremely grateful to Hanwell Village Hall Committee for allowing use of the hall, without which this partly indoor occasion – a first of its kind for HCO, and a formula which seems to work extremely well in freeing us of the tyranny of the English weather – would not have been possible.

  Hanwell 21.xi.17