Friday, December 24
Hopefully people are taking advantage of the long run of clear (if VERY cold) nights we have been having.
As an early heads up, we will be needing the help of as many members as possible on 15th January for our Skywatch event linked to BBC Stargazing LIVE. We will have observing sessions open to the public in Memorial Gardens and indoor displays and activities in St Joseph's Church Hall. Se we need members to help out by bringing along telescopes, binoculars and other equipment if possible. If not please just come along and help man displays, or show people the night sky.
If you can help please reserve the date in your diary and let me now via email so we can refine our planning.
Stuart has a special blog with details of all the Cumbria events here.
All the best.
Monday, December 13
Sunday, December 5
This year we will meet on Thursday 16th December at 8pm in the Swan Inn, Kirkgate, Cockermouth.
I look forward to seeing you there.
If you are a society member then please reserve the evening in your diary as we will need as many members as possible to ensure the event's success. More details will be made available on this site in the next few days.
It was certainly no easy task and Robin provided a fascinating insight into the project from concept to conclusion, including his interview with Sir Partick Moore following the opening of the park.
Thanks again to Robin and to Jeremy for organising the talk.
Tuesday, November 30
Friday, November 19
We have a guest speaker this month, Robin Bellerby from across the Solway. Robin is coming to speak about the creation of the UK's first Dark Sky Park in Dumfries & Galloway, recognised internationally for the quality of its dark skies.
Chris will also be giving an update on astronomy and spaceflight news over the past month.
All are welcome, members and visitors alike. See you there!
Saturday, November 6
|Hartley 2 nucleus from EPOXI mission|
Thursday, October 28
If you are looking to borrow anything then I would suggest speaking to Denis at a meeting or contact me via email and we'll see what we have.
Many of our newer books which are ideal for beginners have been out on loan for a while. If you have one of these books on loan and are not actively using it perhaps you could return it at one of the upcoming meetings to make it available for other members.
Also if anyone has any suggestions for books we should have available for loan, then please let me know. We can consider some purchases of particularly useful books.
Wednesday, October 27
Sky lanterns, or Chinese lanterns, are small paper lanterns which act as hot air balloons and drift on the wind across the sky. Although they have been around for a while they seem to be a growing trend this year. I've seen many on sale in local shops and advertised as an alternative to fireworks.
The other night my kids spotted something in the sky over our house. On investigation there were about ten lanterns drifting over the house and I managed to catch some on the video below.
These lanterns will no doubt prompt lots of enquiries from people who have seen a 'UFO' and want to know exactly what it is they have seen. I've a few similar enquiries over the last couple of years. So if you have people telling you they have seen strange lights in the distance you can probably tell them what they have really seen.
It's worth noting that looking a bright lights in a dark sky plays havoc with our perception of distance. People will often assume they are seeing large objects (spacecraft ?) at a great distance moving very quickly. In reality it's more likely to be small objects, much closer and moving more slowly carried by the breeze.
Whatever you are doing this bonfire night have a safe and enjoyable one.
Much of the evening was spent in informal discussions around the various 'scope. Robin demonstrated spectroscopy with the aid of a commandeered telescope, a diffraction grating and a box with artificial stars!
Robin has posted some further information here.
You can buy the cheap webcam, adapter and IR blocking filter here but be quick, they may run out. Note that the webcam will work with windows XP with the recommended driver but you will need to modify the camera firmware to make it run on Vista or 7 (contact me if you need help)
The Star Analyser diffraction grating can be bought here Contact me for an £8 rebate (fully paid up CAS members only)
Saturday, October 23
If the weather cooperates we will finish the evening with some practical observing over in Memorial Gardens so bring along some warm clothing.
Hope to see many of you there, and if you have any specific questions feel free to email me before to ensure we get a comprehensive answer for you.
Friday, October 22
Hopefully we'll get some good views over the weekend, although the moon is still very prominent.
The comet is now apparently naked eye without visual aid and has a very large diffuse coma and some tail.
Friday, October 15
The image is compose of 5 frames, each made up of 6 x 1 minute exposures at ISO800, with the exception of the "comet frame" which is actually 6 x 2 minutes at ISO 1600 to bring out the coma in more detail.
All images are prime focus of the MN-190 giving an effective focal length of 1000mm f/5.3.
I have aligned the images on the stars rather than the comet nucleus, giving a pleasing background, but this does show the motion of the comet's nucleus over 12 minutes. Others have obtained images of a faint tail but this is not spectacular.
Thursday, October 7
The comet is just 'passing' the double cluster in Perseus tonight and tomorrow night. In 15x70 binoculars it is very faint requiring a dark sky, dark adapted eyes and use of 'averted vision' to pick it up.
Hopefully Jeremy has managed to get some good pictures to show us.
Wednesday, October 6
The image is composed of 20 x 2 minute exposures stacked at ISO800.
More images hopefully at the weekend (clear skies forecast).
Tuesday, October 5
We also discussed and number of items under our news section including Comet 103P/Hartley which is currently visible in the sky. Jeremy Robin (thanks for correcting me Robin) has posted an excellent photo here and we look forward to more of his images. If you want to find the comet your self there are finder chart on Stuart's Cumbrian Sky blog and the Sky and Telescope website. Let us know how you get on at our next meeting which is at the usual time and place on Tuesday 26th October.
That session will be our annual equipment night. This is an ideal time for those who have telescopes and are looking for some additional help and advice on getting the best out of them, or those thinking of buying a telescope. If you want some advice then bring you 'scope along and there will be plenty of advice on hand.
Monday, October 4
Monday, September 27
our speaker for Saturday night is the world famous Robin Leadbeater, from none other than Torpenhow. Robin's talk is entitled "A Week In The Life of an Amateur Astronomer".
Hopefully something that will whet the appetite of budding new astronomers and show how far we amateurs can take our hobby, to a semi-professional level!
Robin's talk will include tales of colliding stellar winds, an Antarctic ballooning disaster, unearthing treasures at the seaside, shining a light on a dark and mysterious object and much more... so get yourself and your friends along to hear it from our resident expert.
Saturday 2nd October 2010 at 7.30pm, St Joseph's Church Hall Cockermouth.
Tuesday, September 21
I'm sorry to announce that our planned Guest Speaker for October 2nd, Rob Harrison, is unable to attend due to unforseen circumstances. He sends his apologies and would like to come at a later date.
So if you or friends were planning to come and listen to him on Saturday 2nd October then please be aware of the change.
The meeting will proceed on the Saturday as planned to avoid complications, but we will have an alternative speaker.
Sunday, September 19
please remember that the September meeting date has been changed from the usual Tuesday to Saturday 2nd October at 7.30pm in order to accommodate our special guest speaker.
The venue is the same - St Joseph's Church Hall.
Rob Harrison will be coming to speak about his Icarus Project, or home made high altitude balloon camera exploits.
See you there!
Wednesday, August 11
This is an advance notification, I will follow up with more reminders to try and ensure everyone is aware.
We have an extra special guest speaker, Robert Harrison coming to speak about his internationally recognised ICARUS project, or the home-made balloon camera!
Tuesday, July 13
Recent best 10" scope in Sky at Night magazine.
Open Truss design that takes apart to transport in car, put in cupboard etc.
Deluxe version has red dot finder and roller bearing mount, main mirror fan cooled.
Crayford focuser that takes 1 1/4" eyepieces as well as 2".
Also with extras of 2" 25mm eyepiece, dust/waterproof cover and light damping sleeve to cover open tube (good for reducing air currents, dewing and stray light) both designed for lightbridge telescope cost around £150.
Great scope, looking for £400. Or swap for good quality refractor - ideally long focal length 4" plus diameter.
Contact Dave on 01900 828217 or e-mail email@example.com
Saturday, July 10
This image from the ESA Rosetta team shows the asteroid seen from the probe yesterday at a distance of 2 million km. More information and updates are available on the Rosetta Blog.
The asteroid itself is relatively large, about 100km in diameter and although classed as an 'M type' asteroid has some characteristics of the much older 'C type' asteroids. Hence there is a bit of a mystery for astronomers to solve from the data Rosetta returns. It is also a great opportunity to test out all the instruments before the final comet encounter in 2014.
To do this Stuart and EAS could really use your help. They need as people as possible to turn up for as long as you can spare to 'man a planet' as it were. You don't need to be an expert and will be given all the information and equipment you need. The idea is just to have people on hand to talk to the public, answer questions or simply point them in the right direction for more information.
If you think you could help out please get in touch with either myself or Stuart and offer your services. If you can't help then please encourage friends, family and colleagues to go along learn something.
Monday, July 5
Credit: ESA, HFI and LFI consortia
The next task for the team is to use the information from Planck's detectors a nine different wavelengths to remove the Milky Way emissions and produced the most detailed map of the cosmic microwave background yet.
More information at the ESA website.
Sunday, July 4
Ryan flew in from Paris, having spent several days reviewing the latest data from the Herschel space telescope.
If you'd like to know more about Ryan check out http://www.dur.ac.uk/ryan.hickox/
There was much interest in the talk, which appealed to young and advanced with plenty of opportunity for questions (and a pint in the pub after the talk)!
There will be no meetings in July or August due to summer holidays. So the next society meeting will be 28th September 2010.
Wednesday, June 16
We have a guest speaker this month, Ryan Hickox who will be talking about:
Supermassive Blackholes & The Growth of Galaxies
All are welcome, so pass the word to your friends and family.
Sunday, June 13
There is a nicely developing tail visible in long exposure images.
Check out this great time lapse video of the comet "passing by" a galaxy:
Of course you'll be battling the twilight so I suspect it'll be quite a challenge.
Clear skies are predicted for most of next week, so have a go and report your observations at the next CAS meeting (June 29th) or bring along your photos.
Monday, June 7
Monday, May 24
The agenda for the evening is as follows:
- News Update for May (10 mins)
- CAS Annual General Meeting (20-30 mins)
- Stellar Evolution - Chris Darwin (45 - 60 mins)
Tuesday, May 11
Skywatcher MN190 on EQ6
Canon 300D modified
4 x 5 mins @ ISO800
Skywatcher MN190, EQ6 + Canon 300D modified
10 x 10mins H-alpha + 9 x 5 mins RGB
Monday, May 3
The nebula sits at the end of a great dark nebula B168, the tip of which is just visible at the top of this shot.
Wednesday, April 28
Following some space news updates, Robin gave us a fascinating description of the work he is doing on Epsilon Aurigae. Truly ground-breaking on an international level.
The main feature for the evening was our guest speaker Stuart Atkinson from the Eddington (Kendal) Astronomy Society. Everyone gave rapt attention to Stuart's presentation entitled "A Tourist's Guide To The Universe" as he presented a plethora of images and illustrations of the wonders in our solar system and the wider universe. Truly excellent and one that I'm sure will stick in the minds of our young visitors for some time.
Next month we have a talk by Chris Darwin on the topic of Stellar Evolution.
Don't forget some of the links mentioned yesterday:
- NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory (sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov)
- Hubble Space Telescope (hubblesite.org)
- Mars (marsrover.nasa.gov)
- Robin's astronomy site (threehillsobservatory.co.uk)
Wednesday, April 21
7 x 5 min exposures @ISO800
Canon 300D modded
EQ6 autoguided with Toucam Pro and EQMOD
The raw images were calibrated with flats (10), darks (10) and bias (10) frames, before aligning and stacking with a Sigma-clipped Average. The final image was then adjusted for levels and colour balance in Photoshop before a final noise reduction with NeatImage.
Tuesday, April 20
Sunday, April 18
MN190 with 2x barlow
Toucam Pro II
11 x 5 mins @ ISO800
1000mm f/5.3 on EQ6
Canon 300D Modified
Tuesday, April 13
first light with the new Mak-Newt 190mm...absolutely gorgeous. Of course I was in such a rush to get using it I didn't wait for it to cool down at all, taking it straight out of its box and mounting it in the observatory.
Still, beautiful views of Saturn. Simple pic to follow when I get a chance to process the webcam footage.
The light grasp is appreciably different to the William Optics 80mm (as it should be at twice the diameter!) Stunning views of M35, M36, M37 & M13.
Got a few snaps of different objects but didn't spend any time photographing really. Just messing about. But will post a few shots of M13 and M101 later in the week.
Wednesday, April 7
Tuesday, April 6
I had a go at doubling up the focal length of my William Optics via a 2x barlow a couple of nights ago. Unfortunately this does increase the exposure time by a factor of 4 but it givesme a better view of the cluster due to its relatively small size on the Canon.
Canon 300D on autoguided EQ6
William Optics with 2x barlow (EFL 1090mm f/14)
4 x 5mins @ ISO1600
managed to persevere with the Webcam and Robin's Coronado PST solar scope on Sunday and got the following image of a very large prominence on the side of the sun.
Not the best picture of the sun ever taken, but it was really exciting to see this thing with the naked eye. What a shame I'm going to have to return Robin's telescope!
Stuart Atkinson and his enthusiastic cohorts from the Eddington Astronomical Society in Kendal are staging a "Live" Scale Model of the Solar System on August 14th 2010.
Take a sneak peak at their blog here: http://ksssm2.wordpress.com/
All are invited to attend and/or participate and help bring the wonders of the solar system a little closer to home.
Thursday, March 25
Sunspot 1057 appeared a couple of days ago and has already thrown a large Coronal Mass Ejection out into space (but not in our direction). The spot is still growing and as it turns to face earth we could be in for increased chances of aurorae.
Check out www.spaceweather.com for more.
Tuesday, March 23
Sunday, March 21
The March 2010 CAS meeting will be held on Tuesday 30th March with the following agenda:
- Astronomy & Spaceflight Newsround by Chris Darwin
- Introduction to Astrophysics by Dennis Kelly
- Measuring the distance to the Galactic Centre
- Calculating the earth's orbital velocity
- An Alternative History of Astronomy by Ian Smith
The meeting starts at 7.30pm, hall open from around 7.15pm, in St Joseph's Church Hall Cockermouth.
Anyone who has done any visual or photographic observations over the last month is welcome to bring along pictures or talk about their experiences.
See you on the 30th.
Sunday, March 14
Thursday, March 11
Look here for a narrowband image of the "head" showing spectacular detail in the shockfront of the expanding explosion:
Basically it involves counting the number of stars visible with the naked eye in the constellation of Orion. All the details are at the Globe at Night website, where you also leave your results. We could also compare our local results at the March meeting.
As we seem to be having some good clear weather at the moment I'd encourage everyone to get out there and take part.
Tuesday, March 9
Canon 300D modified
12 x 10 minute exposures @ ISO800
Tuesday, March 2
The speaker is Alex Murphy of the University of Edinburgh.
The venue is the Samuel Lindow Building, UCLAN's Westlakes Campus.
The time is 6.30pm on the 23rd March.
If you're interested then email: WestCumbriaIOP@googlemail.com
Saturday, February 27
Wednesday, February 24
Tuesday, February 16
- February 2010 - An Introduction to Astrophotography (Jeremy Hunt)
- March 2010 - Mapping The Milky Way (Dennis Kelly)
The Alternative History of Astronomy (Ian Smith)
- April 2010 - Guest Speaker Stuart Atkinson
Tuesday, February 9
Sorry about the lack of posts on the blog for some time, I'll try and do better in the coming months!
Hopefully many of you saw the spectacular night launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour. If not check out the NASA launch website for great rocket-cam footage.
Our next meeting is Tue 23rd February and following Chris' space newsround I'll be talking about DSLR Astrophotography. If anyone has any burning questions they'd like answered then email me before the 23rd (or surprise me on the night). firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone who has been taking pictures themselves over the last month or so is welcome to bring along their pictures on a USB stick to share with everyone.
Friday, January 22
This month's guest speaker is from the Border Astronomical Society:
David Pettitt's talk is entitled "How I Built My Observatory"
And as usual Chris will be doing the round up of astronomy and spaceflight news.
So please come down and bring any interested friends and family with you.
Wednesday, January 20
Jeremy has details of our speaker for the month and will post details separately.
See you all on tuesday.