Moon Rise and Bats

Moon Watching at the Observatory

Day 5 of our residency at Allenheads Contemporary Arts.  We had our first exciting glimpse of the moon at the North Peninnes Observatory.

moon scope

On a  late afternoon the moon was  clearly visible in the vivid blue sky. In the observatory, Alan Smith prepared the big telescope (10 inch Newtonia Sky Watcher), setting it up to track the moon.

The observatory uses a free, open source  software, Stellarium. 
This software enables users  to track the path of celestial bodies with the telescope. So, on a monitor in the adjoining warm room, we were able to watch the moon’s progress across the sky.

ian scopeIt was exciting to watch the moon’s rapid flight around the earth, but nothing prepared us for the thrill experienced in looking at the moon in the Observatory. Seen through a telescope the curvature of this massive orb with its craters, mountains and ravines becomes apparent and very real.

Fiona Knox and the Bat Detectors

Earlier in the day, we met Fiona Knox from the North Peninnes AONB (Area WarmRoom-CoffeeBreakof Outstanding Natural Beauty). The AONB are one of the partner groups supporting the BEYOND project and the North Pennines Observatory.

As part of our residency we are collecting spoken word accounts from local people with a connection to Allenheads Resevoir and the wildlife of the locale. We recorded an interview with Fiona, beside the Cosmic Pond,  about her work with the AONB. Fiona also kindly lent us some bat detectors for our night time events.

That evening, we had a go with the bat detectors and followed the sweeping path of a pipistrelle as it darted around the Cosmic Pond.pipistrelle common

According to the Northumberland Bat Group there are 17 types of bat in Northumberland. The pipistrelle is probably the most common. Bats use sonar to echo locate their surrounds. The bat detector detects the ultra sound that the bats use.

Hear what the common pipistrelle sounds like through a bat detector:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jzpPTntI2U