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.

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Friday, February 29

CAS Update 29th February 2008

I guess you don't often get to post a blog entry on 29th February, and I suspect many of us didn't even know what a blog was on the last 29th February. Perhaps unsurprisingly then there has been quite a few "leap day" related posts around the web this week. Check out this post from the bad Astronomer on "why we have leap days" or this one on Cosmic Variance. Orbiting Frog even goes as far as to suggest 29th February should be a national holiday.

Space and Astronomy News

Something you can get involved with this week (weather permitting) is helping to map light pollution through the GLOBE at Night 2008 campaign. Basically be counting the number of stars you can see with the naked eye in the constellation Orion. Full details on the GLOBE Website. Find a larger version of the fantastic(ly depressing) image at Astronomy Picture of the Day.

I previously reported on UK astronomy's loss of access to the Gemini telescopes due to lack of government funding. It now looks like common sense has prevailed and full membership of the project has been reinstated. Good News.

Universe Today reports that Pluto's 'new' moons Nix and Hydra may be adopted.

Society News

Tuesday this week was our February meeting. As I wasn't there I can't provide an update but I'm sure everything went just fine. . .

Saturday, February 23

CAS Update 23rd February 2008

Space and Astronomy News

The space shuttle Atlantis landed this week after a successful mission to ISS including the fitting of the ESA COLUMBUS module to the station.

As is traditional in these parts the weeks of fine clear (but cold!) nights were interrupted on the very night of the lunar eclipse on the morning of 21st February. It was an early morning event anyway, but there are as usual some excellent photos and videos out there on the net.

New Horizons, NASA's probe on its way to Pluto has passed the 9 astronomical unit mark. That's 1.35 billion km and almost at the orbit of Saturn.

The MESSENGER team have released some more excellent pictures of Mercury. This picture shows dark halos around two craters which may reveal something about different layers below the surface. Emily Lakdawala has more on this.

Society News

Our February meeting is this Tuesday 26th February. I won't be there, but Robin will step into the breach with news items and a round up of his activities over the winter. Ian Smith will also be explaining NASA's plans to return to the moon.

Tuesday, February 19

Heads up! Total Lunar Eclipse 21st February

Only for the dedicated though as the action takes place in the early hours of Thursday morning. It could be worth getting up for though if this run of excellent weather keeps up. There isn't another visible from the UK until December 2010

Saturday, February 16

CAS Update - 16th February 2008

Space and astronomy news

NASA have been testing a remote probe which could be the forerunner to a probe designed to explore the oceans of Europa, Jupiter's icy moon. Plenty of details in the Washington University press release. The team are also expecting to be able to draw close comparisons with Saturn's icy moon Enceladus.

It looks like UK astronomers have managed to secure some access for use of the Gemini telescopes which a couple of weeks ago looked doubtful. The story is covered by the e-astronomer and bbc news.

The Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have again teamed up, this time to image the most distant galaxy ever seen. The galaxy is an estimates 12.8 billion light years away, and is only visible due to a gravitational lensing affect caused by an intervening galaxy cluster.

The European Space Agency Columbus module has been successfully attached to the International Space Station after an 8 hour space walk.

Also making the news in the last couple of days is the discovery of a triple asteroid in a near earth orbit. The discovery was made with radar observations from the Arecibo radio telescope. Emily Lakdawala has the story one the Planetary Society Blog.

Society News

Our next meeting is on 26th February, amongst other things Ian will be giving us a talk about NASA's planned return to the moon, and Robin will be showing us his latest scientific adventures!

Finally a request for help. One of our members is having difficulty setting up and aligning a Celestron Nextstar telescope. If you have a similar computerised scope and could spare some time to help please get in touch with me in the first instance at chris@cockermouthastronomy.co.uk

Hope you are enjoying the recent run of clear nights.


Sunday, February 10

CAS Update - 10th February 2008

If you've noticed the last couple of weeks newsletters were missing, you'll hopefully appreciate that finding time to write these is harder than I thought! Anyway here's the latest update.

Society News

Firstly we had a great turn out for our January meeting with over 20 people turning up and it was great to see some old faces as well as new ones. Plenty of people signed up for membership for the full year, which was very promising.

The meeting itself was full with a news round up and talk on asteroids, both of which generated plenty of dicussion. It was also really good to have a couple of people come forward to help with various aspects of society organisation, we can still use more . . .

This month's meeting is on 26th February, and amongst other things, Ian will be giving us an insight into NASA's plan to return to the moon.

Space & Astronomy News

President Bush's plans for next year's NASA budget have been announced this week, and on the face of it they seems to be more positive that last year's. The planetary Society have some useful analysis. However, there's a lot of water to go under the bridge in US politics as I'm sure you'll have realised, unless you've been on another planet recently!

Following the theme of my talk at the last meeting, Universe Today has a story about yet another asteroid passing close to the Earth. It's hard to believe we're still here ;-)

More pictures of Mercury from NASA's Messenger probe have been released including these at Tom's Astronomy Blog and Astroprof's Page. Meanwhile Stuart at Cumbrian Sky was moved to write another of his famous poems about the mission, and was stunned to find the Messenger team adopted it and placed it on the offical website. Congratulations Stuart.

STS 122 launched this week after several delays. Now it's in orbit further delays to the mission have been caused by a mystery medical problem affecting one of the crew members. The shuttle is carrying the European Space Agency's Columbus module to attach to the space station, Stuart has written about this as a guest blogger at SpaceEurope.