Welcome to the Cockermouth Astronomical Society website. Hopefully you'll find all the information you need about our society and astronomy in West Cumbria here. If not contact us.

Wednesday, March 26

March Meeting Report

CAS members, including a few new faces, and some of our friends from Eddington Astronomical Society were treated to an excellent presentation from Chris and Ross from Cockermouth School's Project Ascend Team.

They gave a behind the scenes insight into the planning and preparations for the launch of a weather balloon from Cockermouth on 12th March 2014, reaching 35,000m and capturing images of the curvature of the Earth. With video of the launch, images from the edge of space and even the capsule and remnants of the balloon itself the talk really impressed everyone. The enthusiasm and ingenuity of the whole team really came across. It's amazing what can be done by a group of school pupils, £400 sponsorship from REACT Engineering, some modern off-the-shelf technology, and very little else apart from hard work and enthusiasm!

An excellent highlights video is available on YouTube, and on the Project Ascend teams website here. The team are promising a more in depth 'behind the scenes' video is in the making.

Well done to all the Project Ascend team, and many thanks to Chris and Ross for an entertaining, informative and very professional talk.

Saturday, March 22

March CAS meeting - Project Ascend

The main speaker at our March meeting will be CAS member Chris McKay with something we've all been waiting for...

The Project Ascend space balloon project results! Chris will be supported by other members of the team and will have gorgeous photos to share from the event!

The meeting is on Tuesday 25th March at 7.30pm in St Joseph's Church Hall, Cockermouth.

Thursday, February 20

February CAS meeting

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 25th February, 7.30pm at St Joseph's Church Hall Cockermouth. The topic this month will be "Star Clusters" with an introduction to what they are, how they formed and how to observe them whatever your level of experience.

If you have taken any images of star clusters you would like to share at the meeting please bring them along.


Monday, January 27

CAS January 2014 Meeting

The next CAS meeting will be on Tuesday 28th January 2014 at St Joseph's Church Hall, starting at 7.30pm

We had an outstanding turn out for the recent Stargazing Live evening in Cockermouth, with so many members of the public coming to observe Jupiter and the Moon from the Memorial Gardens. 

Our meeting on Tuesday will assist those who are relatively new to astronomy to find their way around the night sky, tips on observing and equipment, basics of astrophotography and of course a summary of the latest news on astronomy and spaceflight.

We will also have a short talk by local member Chris McKay on the Project Ascend mission to launch a series of scientific instruments and cameras into space from Cockermouth School!

If you have any images you have taken in the recent weeks (Jupiter, the Moon, Supernova SN2014J, etc.) then please bring them along on a memory stick and we can share them.

See you there!

Thursday, January 23

Supernova in M82 galaxy

Recently astronomers have observed at new supernova, a massive stellar explosion, in the M82 galaxy in the constellation of Ursa Major.

Image Credit : UCL/University of London Observatory/Steve Fossey/Ben Cooke/Guy Pollack/Matthew Wilde/Thomas Wright

The supernova (now designated SN 2014J) was around magnitude 11 when first discovered, requiring a relatively large telescope to observe it. It is set to brighten over the next week or so to somewhere around magnitude 8, visible in modest telescopes.

Full details are available here and here.

Congratulations to the discovery team, students from my old university Physics and Astronomy department at University College London.

Sunday, January 12

Stargazing LIVE in Cockermouth - Day Two : the evening session

A fantastic success.

We had a really busy Stargazing event last night in Cockermouth. I lost count of the number of people who came along to look through our telescopes. Luckily we had nine telescopes lined up in the play area of Memorial Gardens to show people the Moon and Jupiter.

The early start at 6pm allowed families with young children come along, and they certainly did. It was fantastic to see so many youngsters getting their first view of craters on the moon and the moons of Jupiter. We quickly relocated a couple of telescopes to a low level to help our smaller visitors get the best views.

Unfortunately we were so busy we didn't get time to get any photos of the crowds. In fact it was well past 7.30pm before I got chance to quickly walk round the 'scopes and see which CAS members had turned up with their telescopes. 

Thanks for your support.

Thanks to everyone who came along and brought telescopes and binoculars. Thanks to BBC Stargazing LIVE, BBC Radio Cumbria, Cumbria Crack and others who helped to publicise our events. Thanks of course to everyone who came along and for all the great questions and comments. It was certainly a very successful evening to finish a great stargazing LIVE week.

We're not done yet!

We are not done with Stargazing LIVE just yet though. At the end of this month our friends at Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre in Ennerdale are holding their first Dark Sky Discovery Weekend of the year. On Friday 31st January and Saturday 1st February there will be a number of activities at the centre.

On the Saturday afternoon and evening, CAS members will be there to help show people the night sky from this fantastic dark sky site. There will also be an inflatable planetarium giving everyone a tour of the night sky regardless of the weather. More details on the LGFC website.

Following that there's a repeat dark sky event in February and look out for some more events during National Astronomy Week in March.

If you've been inspired. . . 

If the BBC Stargazing LIVE series and our events have inspired you to get more involved in astronomy then come along to our next regular CAS meeting on Tuesday 28th January. We'll be following up on our observing sessions with a chance to look at the telescopes in more detail, learn about starting out photographing the night sky and some hints and tips about finding your way around the night sky. No need to book for our meetings, just turn up at St Joseph's church hall in Cockermouth at 7.30pm. 

You can also keep up to date through this site, or our Facebook and Twitter accounts. 

I hope to see you at some of our future events.