So, on Friday the 13th of October, tossing triskaidekaphobia to the wind, Matt and I boarded our trusty hired steed, the infamous white Van, and headed south for Borden. For WHERE? I hear you ask, and yes, I did too. Borden is a small town, it’s not quite the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from there, about 100 odd Km North East of Albany. It has an amazing Pub, known all around for its meals and the stunning cuteness of the Barmaid (well, that’s what Matt said), a general store, a truly excellent guest house, and skies that were the most awe-inspiring, excellent, beautiful that I have seen in decades, possibly ever.

Volunteer Matt setting up a telescope at borden. Image Credit: Steve Ewing

We travelled down the Albany highway, dropping into Williams Woolshed for lunch, and making the town about four-ish. We had two nights of sky show and I was somewhat apprehensive that both of us might outnumber the audience. Wrong!! We were fed by the gang that set the whole thing up, and as the sunset, 20 or so had rocked up. By the time we were using the instruments in anger, we had well over 60 people.

A wonderful view of Saturn with his rings wide open. Curiously the most common comment was, “Wow, amazing, that looks fake”. Leaping from Messier nebula to Messier Nebula and, being in Borden, the Western Sky was as good as the Eastern Sky. Watching as the centre of the Galaxy set and, a couple of hours later, watched the Orion Arm rise. By then I was on my own, the scopes were packed and the town asleep, just the sky drawing me in, as it always has.

We travelled to Albany the next day and had a look around the Anzac museum. If you’re in Albany do that. It was wonderful, and if anyone has a spare couple of million, Matt and I now know how to spend it. Serendipitously meeting, at the Museum, one of the people who set the night up, and Annie, a Meridian observer from the old Observatory days!

The second night was a little nerve-wracking with the cloud coming in, as many or more people as the first night, and we hadn’t brought the Observatory to talk about (you haven’t been on a cloudy night tour? Keep coming until there’s cloud, we’ll have fun, promise). But there was enough clear sky to show a few things early (like good old “fake” Saturn). Then the clouds cleared. Gas lanes in Ptolemy’s Cluster (M7) and the detail in M20 and M21, I never imagined.

Too soon, the night ended, the morning came, and it was time to do the long drive home. Making plans all the way for more of these, raving about the sky, driving through the wheat belt, through amazing fires in Jarrahdale, to the home of Astronomy in Western Australia for these 120+ years.