Kelling Heath – Star Party
This is the first time that I have attended the Kelling Heath star party near the town of Holt in Norfolk. The facilities at the event are exactly what you would expect for such a highly regarded camping site. The main reception, shop and pub are all first class and the choice of meals offered is excellent too. The toilet / shower block were kept clear and tidy during our stay, although they did lack a hair dryer? Hand dryer yes, hair dryer no... I'm used to something more gentle on my scalp these days...
Don't want to blow all my remaining hair away! Was actually my wife that made this comment.
At first glance you wouldn’t even know that a star party was taking place. Not until you realise that the toilet / shower block had all been blacked out to avoid the dreaded white light spreading out on to the camp site.
The two main fields for the event are Red and Yellow. On the Red field you can find the organisers tent with a map of the pitches along with an ad-hoc buy & sell section where people can place cards describing the items that they are selling etc. There were no organised talks or a communal meeting point for astronomers, which was a disappointment. Had it been clear every night I might not have noticed this, however, when the weather is against you, you miss these facilities. It appears that the two different events, Spring and Autumn are organised by different astronomical societies and that the Autumn event is the main one of the two. Perhaps I’ll give the Autumn one a chance!
Would I go to the spring event again? Probably not. It's difficult to overcome my experience with the weather and once you realise that there is more priority placed on the autumn event, well that’s the one to attend if any of the two. Having said that, the camp site is excellent and for those wanting to get away with the chance of doing some astronomy its highly recommended. Those going for the astronomy first should wait for the autumn event.
On the one or two patchy clear nights that we did have I noticed that the site wasn’t as dark as I was expecting it to be? Of course, it's a lot better than the light polluted skies back home and no one coming from a large city will be complaining. However, it did leave me with a nagging feeling that this should be better that what I was actually observing. As a rural observing location I’d have to rate it at a 3 to 4 on the Bortle scale. The views to the North and East being the darkest. In fact, one cloudy night the light pollution from the West where the town of Holt is located was very pronounced. Perhaps the local football team had a match that night?
On Saturday & Sunday the event was attended by many of the main UK astronomical suppliers. I succumbed and bought a proper Kendricks, DigiFire 10 dew controller...
The roads are terrible by the way! Norfolk is definitely a county stuck in the 1970’s and you can’t go anywhere fast. Norwich was only 22 miles away and on a good day you can make it in 45mins, on a bad day who knows… I personally hope I never have to find out?
Here are some of the pictures that I have taken. I hope you like them.
Me and the poster! I think I might have scared a few people off!