Monday, December 31
Saturday, December 22
It's not particularly bright at the moment, I would estimate about Mag +7. It's not that easy to spot even with binoculars initially but hopefully this will improve over the next couple of weeks.
This shot was taken in the early morning hours of 21st December with Cassiopeia low on the horizon. It was a desperate shot in the knowledge that the clear nights were soon to disappear.
Tuesday, December 18
It can't have escaped your attention that posts to CAS News have been a bit thin on the ground lately. That really reflects the fact that I've been busy with other things over the last few months. I also haven't managed to organise a Christmas 'Do' for a variety of reasons. Apologies if that was the highlight of your social calendar for the festive season.
Anyway, lets looks forward to 2008. I can't promise that I'll have any more time available any time soon, but I can try and plan it better. So my thoughts are that I'll try and do at least one post a week which summarises that best of space news, society news and observing information. I'll make best use of resources out there by linking articles by the many space bloggers who have far more time, enthusiasm and talent that I have, to ensure you are kept up to date.
I will of course welcome any contributions from other members and anyone who is particularly keen is welcome to contribute to the blog directly, just email me at email@example.com
We next meet on Tuesday 25th January when amongst other things we'll discuss our society plans for 2008. In the meantime enjoy the festive season and the current spell of clear (but COLD!!) nights.
Tuesday, December 11
Compare the size of this with the image a few posts ago (8th November)! It's now full frame on the Canon (approximately 2 degrees across I think).
Monday, November 19
Our routine meetings will start again on January, and we will be seeking to get things on a more stable footing. So please consider whether you could help the society in some way. You don't need to be able to stand up and give talks there are plenty of other ways you could help.
We still aim to have a December social evening, just an informal get together down a local pub. I'll post something soon so watch this space. I'll look forward to seeing some of you then.
Thursday, November 8
55mm canon telephoto showing Comet Holmes and Double Cluster in Perseus
200mm canon telephoto of Comet Holmes
750mm (6" f/5 refractor) and Canon 300D
I've just been observing it from the back garden and it is an impressive sight in my 15x70 binoculars. The comet has definitely got bigger since I last saw it. It's still bright, but the brightness is spread over a larger area, hence it's more difficult to see even though it has the same magnitude.
Apparently the cloud of the debris around the comet is now around 70% the diameter of the sun!
Saturday, November 3
I have been waiting over a week for a break in the weather to spot this comet and finally I got a glimpse of it tonight through the haze and bonfire smoke. It certainly is big and bright, easily spotted naked eye as a fuzzy blob and rivals the full moon for size in the ubiquitous Lidl 10x50s.
I took a couple of quick snapshots of it with the Canon 350d plus 80-300mm zoom pigybacked on the main scope. We are seeing it almost end on as it speeds away from us so there is only the merest hint of a tail. Very different from its reported almost star like appearence a week ago.
This has to be one of the most remarkable unexpected astronomical events of the year. I am surprised more has not been made of it in the press.
There is a possible break in the weather Monday/Tuesday night so look out for it at that firework party and if anyone fancies an impromptu comet watch, I will be in the Memorial Garden Cockermouth Tuesday 6th from 8-9pm with a small wide field refractor, given clear skies. e-mail me if you plan to join me.
Saturday, October 27
Wednesday, October 24
Stuart has all the details and finder charts over at Cumbrian Sky. Have a look and see if you can see anything.
Tuesday, October 23
Monday, October 22
Our next CAS meeting is on Tuesday 30th October, that's next week. Our October meeting is traditionally given over to an 'equipment night'. Over the past few years we have concentrated on a beginners guide to telescopes and binoculars. This year we are trying something a little different.
The theme of the evening will be observing equipment & projects. The idea is that as many people a possible bring along some equipment to either show others or ask others about, if you have new equipment you need advice on.
Examples might be; a photography set up you are using, a new telescope you are struggling with, some DIY upgrades you've made to your kit etc. The more the merrier.
Please give it some though an if possible email me ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) to let me know if you are bringing something.
Of course we will also have the usual news round up and refreshments.
Friday, September 14
The bright areas are thought to be ice common in the Saturnian system moons, like Enceladus for example. The dark areas are ice covered with some dark deposits. More detailed images show the dark material lying in craters and channels etc on the surface.
Monday, September 10
Iapetus is a mystery for two reasons; firstly it has one dark hemisphere and one light hemisphere (visible at the top is this photo) giving it the nickname of the Ying-Yang moon, secondly it has a massive mountain range around it's equator. This mountain range makes it look as if the moon is constructed from two hemispheres joined together (a bit like an easter egg). This of course is highly unlikely to be the real reason, but that's one of the things this current encounter should help to solve.
During this encounter Cassini will fly within 1,000 miles of the surface of the moon, much closer than the previous closest approach of 80,000 miles in 2004. Emily Lakadawala has posted an article with all the details on the Planetary Society website and will be giving regular updates on her blog.
Friday, September 7
Friday, August 31
Image Credit: NASA / JPL / U. Arizona
This latest image was taken from an angle and shows one wall of the pit illuminated by sunlight. This provides some details on the cave which is approximately 150m in diameter. For more on this try Emily Lakdawalla's post on the Planetary Society Blog.
Following the refreshments break there was time for a quick news round up including a look at the latest astronomy features of Google Earth, known as Google Sky.
Our next meeting is on Tuesday 25th September. Also look out for details of our observing events which will restart soon, now that the nights are drawing in . . .
Monday, August 27
There will also be the usual news round up and plenty of opportunity (excuse the Mars pun!) for discussion.
See you there.
Wednesday, August 15
Image Credit: NASA
There's not much I can add except thanks to Stuart for pointing it out, and US tax payers for paying for it !
Full resolution version available here (3MB download!)
Sunday, August 12
Saturday, August 11
The dark skies are back and I hope you managed to make good use of the of the odd clear night this week. Sunday night is the expected peak time to catch the Perseid meteors but there have been a few around already and you will probably see a few any evening over the next week or so. The picture is of a bright one I was lucky to catch in my wide field spectrograph a couple of years back. What ever happened to those balmy summer evenings.... sigh...
Friday, August 10
Now it is . . .
I'm talking about Microsoft's demonstration technology called Photosynth, which allows a collection of related 2D images (simple digital camera images) to be mapped to a 3D model. This allows you to select different viewpoints of a scene as well as zoom in and out and up and down etc. It really rather impressive (on a broadband connection as least!). Anyway the latest examples are definitely worth checking out; the shuttle Endeavour on the launchpad and inside the Vehicle Assembly Building.
Anyway I think it's a pretty amazing concept, and I'm sure you could think of lots of practical uses for it. In the mean time just enjoy the tours.
If you want some more info on how this works check out this video and others like it on youtube.
Tuesday, August 7
The next shuttle mission, STS 118 is preparing for launch tomorrow. The mission involves further construction work on the International Space Station, including the delivery and installation of a third truss. However, most importantly the mission will be the first space flight for astronaut and teacher Barbara Morgan who was the back-up for Christa McAuliffe who was tragically killed in the Challenger disaster 2o years ago.
Although originally selected as part of the "Teacher in Space" programme which was cancelled after the Challenger disaster, Morgan was eventually selected for full astronaut training in 1998 and is now a "fully fledged" astronaut.
Image Credit: NASA
More details on the mission on the NASA mission site. Endeavour is due to launch on Wednesday 8th August at around 23:36 BST.
Saturday, August 4
[If you're reading the email CAS News you'll have to follow the link above or go to the CAS News blog to see the embedded video].
Also this video includes more details of the mission and of course there's plenty of details on the mission website and also the Planetary Society website.
Thursday, August 2
If you want to find out much more about this story and what the rovers have been up to over the last month check out this comprehensive report on the Planetary Society Website.
The meeting was a great success and an ideal opportunity for members to hold more informal discussions on topics of interest. Robin demonstrated his latest acquisition, a digital SLR which he had operating on a small equatorial mount and using PC software FocusAssist and DSLR Shutter.
Chris demonstrated some astronomy podcasts including Chris Lintott's Living Space Online. He also demonstrated software for easily reading lots of blogs, Google Reader.
Members were also asked to provide advice on equipment and setting up and polar aligning telescopes.
All in all and interesting and worthwhile meeting, which I'm sure we'll do again in the future. Thanks to Ian for doing the refreshments this month.
Friday, July 27
See you there!
Thursday, July 12
The Galaxy Zoo scheme is operated by a group of astronomers including Chris Lintott and has received loads of publicity over the last few days. BBC News covered the website, and their's more details on Stuart's Cumbrian sky and the Bad Astronomy Blog, to name just two.
I've registered and passed the short tutorial / test, now I'm addicted classifying one galaxy after another, some of which (so the tell me) have never been seen by any other human before.
Now I really must go to work !
Saturday, July 7
You might think inflatables are more at home on the beach but not any more. Bigelow Aerospace have just launched Genesis II, their second blow up spacecraft. While not quite as big and bright as the International Space Station it is still spottable with the naked eye and will be making some high passes visible from here just before midnight over the next few days. See Heavens Above (where-else!) for full details of where and when to look.
Friday, July 6
As well as plenty of coverage of Captain Jack, there's also a fair amount about the experiment itself including some pretty impressive animations. There'll be a test on quark-gluon plasma at the next meeting !
P.S. First time I've tried embedding a YouTube video so here's hoping it works for you. If not try this link.
Thursday, June 28
Despite the talk covering many more technical concepts than the title might imply, Keith's clear concise explanations and obvious enthusiasm for the subject ensured that everyone got something from talk. Even those with science degrees were left thinking "why hadn't I thought of that before", myself included.
Also at the meeting we took the opportunity to present Stuart Atkinson (our founder and now Secretary of the Eddington Astronomical Society) with Honourary Membership of CAS as a token of our appreciation of his work for the society for over 15 years.
Keith was the third guest speaker to talk at CAS this year, and as usual these things don't happen by themselves. So, thanks to Keith for coming and his wife Liz for driving him. Thanks also to Robin for making all the arrangements and providing a opportunity for people to view the sun's spectra through his spectrograph before the meeting.
Friday, June 22
On the subject of colour, don't miss the opportunities to observe the colourful spectrum of the sun (weather permitting of course). Robin will be setting up his spectrograph outside the church hall from about 7pm. The talk will start at around 7.30pm.
Hope to see you all there.
Thursday, June 14
Wednesday, June 13
Tuesday, June 12
Saturday, June 9
The next meeting is 26th June when we will have our third guest speaker of the year -Dr Keith Robinson of The University of Central Lancashire who will be giving a talk entitled "The Colourful Universe" If you have ever wondered what is behind all the wonderful colours you see an astronomical images then this is your chance to find out!
As an added bonus, if it is sunny, I will have my spectrograph set up outside from 7pm before the meeting So if you have not had a chance to view the solar spectrum in glorious high resolution, be sure to arrive a few minutes early.
Wednesday, May 23
Tuesday, May 22
After clouds and rain put a dampener of our first solar observing session the second session was much more successful with 30-40 people stopping to look at the sun through Robin's specially filtered telescope and spectrograph.
The highlight of the day was the talk by BBC Sky at Night presenter Dr Chris Lintott. The event was well attended with over 50 people joining us in the Methodist Church hall in Keswick. Chris gave a fascinating talk on "The First Stars" and gave an insight into how dark matter influenced the formation of the first stars and how these stars subsequently influenced the formation of the rest of the universe.
After the talk Chris answered questions from the audience which continued throughout the refreshment break. After a quick cup of tea it was back down to the lake to set up in Crow Park for the evening's 'planetwatch' event.
The weather co-operated for once and were were treated to some fantastic views of Mercury, Venus and the moon. Chris Lintott was there all evening mingling with the observers answering their questions and displaying his enthusiasm for astronomy.
A special thanks must go to Robin for organising the whole thing and arranging for Chris to attend. Also to Gwen for acting as Chris' driver and providing refreshments in the evening.
Thanks also to Stuart for coming through from Kendal to assist with the displays during the day and to all CAS members who made the day a success; Bill, Tony, Caroline, Wes, Dave, Jeremy and others.
Monday, May 21
If you missed the the Moon passing in front of Saturn recently then there is another chance tomorrow (Tuesday) evening. It will be a little tougher this time as it takes place before the Sun has set. It should be visible in a telescope though and the Moon will make it relatively easy to find Saturn. According to Starry Night software, Saturn disappears behind the unlit edge at 20:00 BST and reappears on the sunlit edge at 21:08 as seen from here. The diagram shows the track to help you locate Saturn. Good luck and if you manage to photograph it, don't forget to bring the result along to the next meeting the following Tuesday.
Wednesday, May 16
Dark Matter is also the subject for our May meeting where Bill will be giving us a talk on the subject.
Thursday, May 10
During the day (from 11am until 4 pm) society members will be on hand at the Theatre by the Lake to provide information about the day's events, the society and hopefully answer the public's astronomy related questions. Hence the session's title "Ask an astronomer".
Also during the day, weather permitting, we will hold two sun observing sessions on the lake shore near the Keswick Launch landing stages. These sessions will give people an opportunity to safely view the sun through special optical equipment. It's worth repeating our usual warning: NEVER look directly at the sun through any optical instruments (binoculars, telescopes etc) you can seriously damage your eysight! These sessions will take place between 11.30am - 12.30pm and 2.30pm - 3.30pm.
The main event of the day is a talk by BBC Sky at Night co-presenter Dr Chris Lintott. Chris will be giving an illustrated talk on "The First Stars". Chris will explain how the first stars in the Universe formed and the crucial role they played in the events that lead to our existence here on Earth. The talk will take place at the Methodist Church Hall, Southey Street, Keswick at 7.30pm. Prebooking of tickets is essential for this talk, the cost is £4 for adults and £3 for under 16s and full CAS Members.
Finally the evening will finish back down at the lake shore in Crow Park, opposite the theatre, with a planet watch event. The session will take place between 9.30pm and 11.30pm and although it will not be fully dark at the start, weather permitting we will be able to observe several planets through society member's telescopes.
If you have a telescope you are able to bring along to the evening event please let either Robin or myself know as soon as possible, so that we have a good idea of numbers.
Wednesday, May 9
Below is a selection of an article on Bad Astronomy blog reporting that astronomers have managed to 'map' the surface of an extrasolar planet. The team at the Havard-Smithsonian Centre of Astrophysics have the full details in this press release.