Tuesday, October 31
Thanks to Phil for the photographs
After a news update and a quick summary of telescope basics, much of the evening was spent in huddled groups discussing telescopes and accessories, what and how to upgrade, how to take photographs of the night sky, and much more. I'm sure that was really useful to many people, probably more so than the talks.
Thanks again to everyone who brought a 'scope along, and a special thanks to Caroline again for sorting out the refreshments.
The next task for the Committee is putting together a really good programme for 2007. We'll be meeting soon to discuss that, and would really appreciate your suggested for things we should be doing as a society.
Here is hoping for clear skies!
Sunday, October 29
Friday, October 27
If you already have a telescope, we'll take a look at a few 'upgrades' you could consider to get more out of you telescope. There will be plenty of time for answering any of you questions on choosing and using telescopes.
We will of course have our usual new round up, and refreshments. I look forward to seeing you there.
Thursday, October 26
Image Credit NASA: McMurdo Panorama (Click for larger version)
NASA has just released a new 360 degree panorama of the area around "Low Ridge" where Spirit has been spending the Martian winter. The image is the largest taken to date, as the press release puts it;
"The panorama was acquired using all 13 of the Pancam's color filters, using lossless compression for the red and blue stereo filters, and only modest levels of compression on the remaining filters. The overall panorama consists of 1,449 Pancam images and represents a raw data volume of nearly 500 megabytes. It is thus the largest, highest-fidelity view of Mars acquired from either rover"
It took the rover, and team 119 sols (martian days) to take all those images. Check out the press release and related links to download the full size (12 MB) version.
Wednesday, October 25
Note that this comet is on what is known as a Hyperbolic orbit which means after visiting our part of the solar system, it is heading off into deep space, never to return so if the weather allows, catch it while you can!
Friday, October 20
The following image is a composite stack of 10 x 30second images at ISO1600 taken with 6" f/5 achromatic refractor and Canon 300D:
The tail was not visible with binoculars or through the 150mm refractor, but does start to show on this relatively short exposure. Pushing the image shows it up slightly more:
Some other images I was able to capture last weekend with the clear skies were...
M27 (Dumbell Nebula)
Fingers crossed for the Orionids this weekend.
Now it's over to you. Firstly I need to know if anything about the site doesn't work for you, I've tested it on a couple of systems but could do with more feedback. Secondly I need you contributions. As I've said many times, this is a society website, not my personal website, so if you contribute anything, please get in touch.
Wednesday, October 18
For more information check out our observing Frequently Asked Questions.
If you fancy having a go at photographing meteors check out this advice on Space.com.
Fingers crossed for clear skies.
Monday, October 16
Image credit: NASA
Image Credit: NASA - Lake Powell photographed from the Space Shuttle
The scale of the Cassini image is 190 miles wide by 60 miles, so the lakes are on a large scale compared with Earth's lakes. The next Cassini flyby of Titan is due on 24th October.
Saturday, October 14
Comet M4 Swan is now visible in binoculars in the North West in early evening from around 20:00 BST. Look out for a fuzzy 6th magnitude "star". Currently between The Plough and Bootes, Heavens Above has a finder chart which is updated daily. I took this image, which is a total of 37 minutes exposure, Saturday night. Notice how the stars have trailed as I tracked the comet moving through the field of view. The height of this image is about 1/2 degree. I could not see the tail visually in 10x50 binoculars or the 80mm refractor, only in the image.
Thursday, October 12
This recent release from the Cassini team shows a composite of 165 images taken, at various wavelengths, from behind the planet. It shows incredible detail in the rings which is simply not seen in the more usual direct sunlight images taken from the 'front' of Saturn.
There plenty more about this image (and a slightly different version) on the planetary society blog and of course the Cassini website.
Tuesday, October 10
In 2000 a team of scientists announced a suspected planet the existence of which has finally been confirmed, after years of debate, by the Hubble observations.
Image Credit NASA: Artist impression of Epsilon Eridani b
The planet, Epsilon Eridani b has a mass of 1.5 Jupiters and orbits at a distance of 3.3 AU from the star. Another planet Epsilon Eridani c has been postulated but not confirmed.
The Hubble observation has now shown that planets form from dust disks. Something we all thought we knew, but apparently this is the first time a system has been known to discover both a dust disk and a confirmed planet!
Interestingly, because Epsilon Eridani is so close the Hubble team think they may be able to see it when it makes its closet approach to its star in late 2007. Watch this space . .
Friday, October 6
As well as being simply a fantastic image of Victoria crater, the camera has also captured the rover Opportunity perched on the end of the crater overlooking Duck Bay.
This really is amazing, getting new images from the rover and the orbiter within days of each other. If you look carefully your can even make out the rover tracks where it has approached the crater edge in one location, then moved further along.
As Mars is due to pass behind the Sun, as seen from Earth, very shortly we won't here much more from the rovers for a month or so. One radio communications are up to full speed again, we can expect more amazing images. Until then just look at this one.
Thursday, October 5
In this survey 180,000 stars were studied in a region of the sky in the constellation Sagittarius 26,000 light years away. This is looking directly at the central bulge of our Milky Way galaxy. All the planets are Jupiter mass or greater, and some are unusual in than they orbit their stars in less than one Earth day! This has never been seen before and has lead astronomers to propose a new class of planet known as Ultra-Short-Period Planets (USPPs).
The planets are not confirmed yet so you won't find them on the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia, further observations are needed to measure their mass. However, this discovery provides yet more evidence to consider in revising our views on how and where planetary systems form.
Wednesday, October 4
I hope to go live with the revised site over the next few days. The main changes are a simplified navigation system with everything in one of five main sections. I've also included the latest blog entries from CAS News directly on the front page so you can read the full articles there. I've removed some stuff that simply wasn't being used.
The most important thing about any website is the content, and although I've updated some information, and added a couple of new reviews, much of it is the same. That's where I need your help . . . .
This is after all a society website, not a personal website, so it would be really good to have some contributions from society members. I'm not asking for long articles, just a quick review or website recommendation etc would be great. Have a look at the type of things that are there now, you'll get the idea. As always any ideas, comments suggestions etc will be gratefully received.
The idea is that I can post a link and short description of a website of interest without having to prepare a full post. That should make it easier (for me at least) to keep you up to date with the latest news. I'll also include the feature on the relaunch of our main website.
Monday, October 2
I know many of you will be following Stuart's entries with as keen an interest as I am. If you haven't I suggest you check out his latest pictures.
Image Credit: NASA
This image was taken almost a month ago now, when New Horizons was 180 million miles away from Jupiter. It shows Jupiter's moons Europa and Io, and their shadows crossing the planet in the northern hemisphere as seen from the probe. The spacecraft will be sending back more detailed images as it gets closer to the planet in January and February next year.
Meanwhile Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA's new probe orbiting the red planet, has finally started sending high resolution pictures. The images are available at the MRO website.