Awayday 2019

The Awayday this year took place from 22nd October to 24th October in Mora de Rubielos near Teruel. As the dates approached the weather forecast looked more and more ominous. A second mini Gota fria was forecast and we could see it circling in on our dates. Each day showed a different forecast. On the night before the trip the rain was extremely heavy in Denia and it continued into the early morning hours. There were several calls asking if we still going ahead, but reports from one of our members who had arrived a day earlier in Mora was that there was no rain as yet (although it was forecast later that day) and the forecast was improving for Wednesday, so, armed with a plan B for cloudy nights, we decided to go ahead and everyone set off.

We didn’t see much rain on the drive up, but as we approached the Teruel area, it started to rain, reasonably heavy, but not as bad as in Denia. Our first excursion that day, was to a local ‘blacksmith’ which was indoors, so this went ahead as planned. It turned out that something was lost in translation, when the person we went to see was called a ‘blacksmith’.  He was in fact a traditional bell maker, who made a massive range of bells by hand using traditional methods and materials. Our tour guide, David, did the translations for us and Antonio (the bell maker) showed us how he went about his trade.

He explained that every bell he made had a different sound, so could be distinguished from others when in use. This meant a shepherd or cowherd could keep track of his own animals, without confusion with other groups. The sounds can be heard over large distances.

This trade, like many other traditional trades is dying out now and there are not many people like Antonio still in business. Nowadays however, as there are so few of them, that there is enough demand from Spain and other countries to keep Antonio busy and for him to pass on his skills and business to his son.

The visit and stories were very interesting and we were also surprised to hear that there is still the tradition in Spain of moving herds of cattle and sheep from summer to winter pasture over long distances twice a year. This is the ‘transhumance’.

There was no rain on the first evening, but there was a lot of cloud, so no observing could be done. Instead, after dinner, we had a look at the equipment and had two talks, one on finding our way around the sky and the other on the planned new space base telescopes that were in the pipeline.

The second day was dry and sunny, with light cloud, so the planned Vulture watching took place. As they hadn’t been fed the day before, there were many birds out in force waiting for their meal. All participants enjoyed the spectacle, with 5 people able to stay in a hide, close to the action.

The sun also made an appearance later in the day when we had the solar scopes out. One member had brought his large solarscope and showed us how he imaged the sun and we had a smaller Coronada available. The sun itself was very quiet, with no visible sunspots. We could see some wispy prominences and our member managed to get an image of one of the prominences.

That evening, the sky cleared after dinner and we were able to go out and view it. There were many more stars on show that in Denia and everyone managed to see the milky way band of stars running across the sky. We had several hours of viewing before the clouds came in again, but we had had a decent time to view. As well as 4 telescopes, we had the sky mirror, stabilizing binoculars and several other normal binoculars.

Overall, the visit was very enjoyable and it was great to see everyone getting together and getting to know each other. The hotel was also very good during our stay, with good service, good food and helpful staff. We had several first time awaydayers this year and I would like to thank everyone who took part for making it so enjoyable and successful.

Below are a few images from the days. To see the images in a larger format, just click on the image.

The observing 

The following pictures were taken as we were setting up during the day, as we didn’t want tot take any flash photos during the observing and spoil peoples night vision

Group dinner

On the second evening, the group  dinner together in the hotel dining room, before the planned observing.

Excursions

During the say we organised excursion to various places of interest. The first was to a traditional bell making workshop and the second to the feeding of a Griffen vulture colony.