As it was looking to be a clear evening, and the moon wasn't due to rise until about 2200, I took my 8' Newtonian along to the Roseland Observatory, Court Farm, St Stephen for a quick viewing session with colleagues. Fortunately I was able to mount the scope on their EQ5 mount which meant I didn't need to take the EM-200.
The session was fantastic and there was the opportunity to share the views with several campers who had arrived for the weekend. Views through the 30mm Tak eyepiece of the Pleiades were stunning, with pinpoint stars. Venus showed a small crescent under a 15mm eyepiece with polarising filter. Jupiter was descending very quickly but we saw the main Gallilean satellites. There was hint of Syrtis Major on Mars with the 6.4mm eyepiece but I was a little disappointed with the view compared to that a couple of views ago with the Tak FS-102 where we detected a polar icecap and a nice contrastly surface feature. The view of Saturn was good, although the planet was very low in the eastern sky. The Moon was fantastic, although being full did not display the level of surface detail assocaied with a crescent or gibbous phase.
A fun session therefore, and a nice reminder of the rewards of visual astronomy!
The activities of the Roseland Observatory can be viewed here: www.roselandobservatory.com. I'd thoroughly recommend a visit!