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Sunday, April 27

A quick update . . .

Just a quick reminder that our next meeting is on Tuesday. I won't be there, but there will be plently going on. As Robin reminds us on the previous post, bring you scopes etc if the weather's good.

Here's an very entertaining video that Stuart's just pointed out to me. An important message in there as well.

Have a good meeting. See you in May.

Sunday, April 20

Keilder Observatory Open for Business!

You may have caught the news on BBC Look North during the week but in case you didn't, the prestigious Keilder Observatory opens for business next weekend. This picture was taken in February so it looks like they have been hard at work over the past couple of months!) They are organising tours around it over the weekend so if it is decent weather I might be taking a run out. If you fancy a lift - get in touch.

You can read more about it and watch Maggie Philbin meeting astronomers at Keilder and extolling the virtues of keeping the lights low, on the BBC TV website.

For a more practical guide for astronomers, the Keilder Observatory Society website is probably the best place to go.

On an even more local note, if it is fine on 29th (meet night) don't forget forget to bring warm clothes and optical aids if you have them as we will be ajourning to the Memorial Gardens after Dennis' talk. If not you might have to hear about my trip to Cambridge for the BAA/AAVSO meeting instead, so better hope for.....

Clear Skies! :-)


Thursday, April 17

CAS News update 17-4-2008

A quick update of latest Cockermouth Astronomical Society and general news items

CAS News

Firstly we did plan to have our Annual General Meeting at our next meeting on 29th April . As I'm not available that night we have decided to move the AGM to the May meeting. We are still having a meeting on the 29th. Dennis will be giving a talk on the lifecycle of stars, and the evening is an opportunity for members to bring along their telescopes and get some advice and help setting them up and using them.

Space and Astronomy News

Good news from NASA this week. The Cassini mission has been extended again for a further two years. The cost over two years will be around $160m which is not much when you consider Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix cost $150m to make !

Stuart over at Cumbrian Sky has written an excellent article giving his opinion on the practice of selling star names. The article has received wide attention, getting a mention on Fraser Cain's Universe Today blog.

The Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter team have released some spectacular images of Mar's moon Phobos. As usual Emily Lakdawala has extensive coverage at the Planetary Society Blog so I'll just post the images here for your to look at.

Image Credit: NASA / JPL / U. Arizona

The world of Physics lost one of it's giants this week when John Archibald Wheeler passed away. Wheeler was active in many areas of physics and astrophysics and is credited among other things with inventing the term 'black hole'. He worked with many of the great physicists and taught some of them including Richard Feynman and Kip Thorne. There are many tributes to him on the blogs this week, none more personal and moving than this one from Daniel Holtz at Cosmic Variance.

I'll finish with a quote from Wheeler himself ;

“We live on an island surrounded by a sea of ignorance. As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.”

Thursday, April 3

CAS Update - 3rd April 2008

Society News

First a quick report from our March meeting. We had a good turn out, including a couple of new faces which was good to see. Following the usual news round up, which I'm pleased to say is becoming more of a discussion tha a talk, I gave a presentation on the ife of Robert Hooke, a founder of the Royal Society and someone who made significant contributions to astronomy.

Next month is our Annual General Meeting, which means we have to conduct the formal business of the society including approving the accounts and electing committee members. As I've said at previous meetings we are looking for more people to help out on the committee, so please come with ideas and nominees. The meeting will be on Tuesday 29th April and Dennis has agreed to do a talk on the lifecycle of stars following the formal business.

Also we would like to take the opportunity (weather permitting) for people to bring along their telescopes for a short observing session in Memorial Gardens after the meeting. This will be an opportunity for people to get some help and advice in using their telescopes. That's something a number of people have been asking for.

Space and Astronomy News

There's quite a bit of news about at the moment covering Cassini's recent flyby of Saturn's moon Enceladus. The probe flew just 30 miles above the surface and also managed to get some chemical analysis data of the plumes erupting from the geysers on the surface of the moon. Articles and Bad Astronomy and The Planetary Society give further details.

NASA's Spitzer Space telescope has been producing some spectacular images again. This image if M82 is actually a composite of images from Spitzer, Chandra and Hubble and shows infrared, x-ray and visible wavelengths.

Compared this this Hubble only image you can see additional contribution from infrared (red) and x-ray (blue) make indicating material, largely dust excited by stellar explosions, not normally visible.

Also worth checking out this week, Stuart looks ahead to NASA Phoenix landing on Mars. The lander will land on 25th May this year, and Stuart speculates as to what those first images will be like.

Tuesday, April 1

RAS National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2008)

This week over 650 professional astronomers are meeting in Belfast to discuss what's new. The event is NAM 2008 hosted by the Royal Astronomical Society. It is mostly pretty esoteric stuff but this year a group of astro- bloggers are planning to make it more accessible. Take a look at their NAM blog for the very latest breaking news!