Once, many moons ago we had a glorious day watching the Red Arrows from the slopes of Slieve Commedagh. Afterwards we camped at Meelmore Lodge and were atmospherically lucky enough to have a clear night with no moon on which for the first time ever, I saw the Milky Way live rather than in a photograph. It’s fair to say that even from the darkest areas of Northern Ireland the Milky Way is never going to be overly visible, but on this night it was clear enough to be unmistakable. Ever since then I have always wanted to see it again. Even through a few years dabbling in astronomy and buying a telescope I was never lucky enough to repeat the experience, mostly due to light pollution rather than weather.
Even after I sold the scope due to useless viewing conditions in Belfast and the neighbors thinking I must be some sort of pervert sitting in the garden at midnight with a large telescope, I still always had a hankering to go and sit in the mountains and do a bit of stargazing.
So when we were feeling around for something new to do, a photography camp to do some astrophotography seemed ideal and we decided to head for Hares Gap where the light pollution is a bit lower. However, the idea and experience rarely actually come together and when the appointed weekend approached the weather forecast was foul. Cloudy with rain right through the entire weekend. It seemed a shame to cancel a perfectly good night on the hills so we packed the gear and went anyway but once we arrived in the dark, it was wet, windy and cloudy all night and still wet the next morning. So no photography astro or otherwise. Such is life in Northern Ireland.
We did have a cracking night in the hills, enjoyed a splendid haggis, mash and pepper sauce that was hotter than the heart of the sun and chatted around the firelog until the early hours. So not a waste but I’ll have to wait for another while to see the Milky Way.