Saturday, December 5
If you can make it and can let me know that would be ideal. If you're not sure feel free to just turn up and find us. We are just meeting for an informal chat and a few drinks, nothing special planned but it would be great to see you all.
Monday, November 23
Saturday, November 21
My thoughts go out to all affected by the floods. I hope you are all OK.
Thursday, November 5
Dr Christianne Helling of the University of St Andrews will be lecturing on the nature of interstellar dust, the effects of dust on luminous giant star formation and dim dwarfs.
Wednesday 18th November 2009, Sellafield Centre, Refreshments at 6.30pm talk starts at 7pm.
Please book by emailing WestCumbriaIOP@googlemail.com
Thursday, October 29
- Astronomy & Spaceflight News
- An Introduction to Astrophysics - by Dennis Kelly
- An Alternative History of Astronomy: The Unbelievable Truth - by Ian Smith
We have an "alternative" agenda this month, with the usual news slot followed by two brief presentations to get your mind going. The first will focus on Dennis' part-time Astrophysics studies. This will be followed by something to tease your imagination and test your knowledge of astronomical history.
See you there at 7.30pm.
Saturday, October 24
You can find the latest version of the programme by following the "Meeting Programme" link in the toolbar above. Or simply follow this link.
Thursday, October 22
More details next week at our October meeting of course.
Tuesday, October 20
Of course we'll also have our usual round up of the latest in space and astronomy news.
See you there,
If you haven't checked out the Big Picture it's well worth a regular check as it covers a wide variety of topics and news stories using just a collection of great images.
Saturday, October 17
IC405 & IC410
William Optics ZS80 & Canon 300D
14 x minutes @ 1600ISO
Approx. fov 3 x 2 degrees
M45 - Pleiades Cluster
Friday, October 16
Check out Stuart's post for more details. I'm wondering just how many blogs Stuart is running now ?
However that's changed again as the the spacecraft is back in an equatorial orbits and has already sent back some amazing images including this great image of Tethys below. As usual Emily Lakdawala has much more information and images on the Planetary Society Blog.
Saturday, October 10
That prompted me to check our own counter and we have reached the somewhat more modest milestone of 3,000 visitors. That's not bad for a blog that's really just designed to keep society members up to date on whats going on. We've been going for almost four years (since January 2006) and have over 400 posts on CAS News now.
So to 'celebrate' I've added a search panel to the side bar on the blog to help you search through some of those 400 older articles. It's over there just under the calendar.
While on the topic of posting I'd also like to pass on my thanks to Jeremy who has really picked on the mantle of the blog over the last few months posting news articles and his excellent images, while I've not been so active. Hopefully other things will calm down a bit for me soon and I'll be able to spend a bit more time blogging.
And of course thanks to all of you for keeping coming back.
Don't forget you can contribute by leaving comments on posts, just click on the "x comments" link under the relevant post. It only take a minutes and it doesn't hurt ;-)
The real attraction of this scale model was that both the distances between planets and the size of the planets were done to the same scale thanks to lots of hard work by Doug Ellison of the Unmanned Spaceflight forum. The scale was really enlightening, even for those of us who have been observing and reading about the solar system for years, you really got an appreciation of how much SPACE there is out there!
Thanks to Stuart's organisational and publicity skills plenty of people turned up to experience the event themselves, around 200 in total.
I spent the day 'orbiting' somewhere around the asteroid belt, talking to people, answering questions and generally trying to convince people that there is more to that part of the solar system than just Mars!
Congratulations to Stuart, Doug, EAS and everyone who turned out to make the event the fantastic success it was.
Saturday, September 26
William Optics ZS80 with 0.8x reducer
Canon 300D modified
23 x 5 minute exposures @ ISO800
Thursday, September 24
Topics for the evening include:
- Summer Space News Update
- Saturn's Equinox
- International Astronomy at a Danish Star Party
- Local Members Observing Updates - Robin & Jeremy
Please encourage friends to attend.
Monday, September 21
Tuesday, September 1
A perfect photo-opportunity (if it's clear...which the forecast says it should be).
Wednesday, August 26
Many images include the Heart Nebula which is a couple of degrees to the west of the Soul. I'll try and catch that one in my next imaging session and make a composite image of the two.
Unfortunately, I failed one of the 5 F's (framing the shot) by cutting the head off the Soul...
William Optics ZS80 with 0.8x Field Flattener (436mm f/5.5)
Canon 300D Baader Modified
14 x 5minute exposures @ ISO800
Darks, Flats & Bias with Sigma Clip Median Stack in ImagesPlus
Given that it's still summer holidays time, we're not going to have an August CAS meeting. So the next scheduled CAS meeting will be September 29th.
If you are thirsting for a summer astronomical top up then a visit to Kendal Eddington Astronomical Society on Friday 5th September could be the tonic you need.
Chris Lintott is coming to speak about Galaxy Zoo. Tickets are £3 each. If you're interested then contact Stuart Atkinson (STUARTATK@aol.com). I suggest given the short time between now and the event everyone contacts Stuart directly to ensure they get a ticket.
There may be scope to car share so if you're interested then get in touch with me by Thursday and I'll try and coordinate (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thursday, August 13
Tuesday, July 28
Here you'll find a link to one of Stuart Atkinson's recent astro-art images of the Mars Rover Opportunity. Stuart has strong links with CAS and runs the Eddington Astronomical Society down in Kendal.
Following my talk a couple of months back, I promised I would keep you posted on what is happening with epsilon Aurigae. The latest is the eclipsing object is now back after 25 years and is showing in the spectra I am taking, though it will probably be a week or two yet before it becomes measurably fainter. To make these discoveries official and to keep the astronomical community up to date the International Astronomical Union issue "Central Bureau Electronic Telegrams" (CBET) Here is an extract from CBET 1885 :-)
"E. O. Waagen, AAVSO, writes that R. Leadbeater, Wigton, U.K., reported (via the AAVSO Discussion Group) the spectroscopic detection of the start of a predicted eclipse for the long-period binary star epsilon Aur. The last eclipse was in 1982-1984.
A redshifted component in the K I 769.9-nm line has appeared in LHIRES III observations obtained on July 20.081 UT, offset by +15 km/s and with 62-mA equivalent width. This emerging feature is uniquely associated with eclipse phases, wherein visual light declines by 0.75 mag over 18 months."
More information about my eps Aur observations can be found on my website
Sunday, July 26
[Image details: ZS80, Phillips Toucam ProII, 1000 frames stacked with CCDTools]
All images were taken at prime focus of the William Optics ZS80, with an Astronomik CLS deep sky filter fitted. Images were calibrated with darks, bias and flat frames prior to co-adding in ImagesPlus.
Thursday, July 23
Tuesday, July 21
Gamma-Cgyni with surrounding nebulosity
7 x 5 mins @ ISO400
Very poor seeing, with cloud often interrupting
William Optics ZS80ii, Modified Canon300D
The sensitivity of the camera is now fantastic. Can't wait for a decent clear night instead of one dodging the clouds!
Tuesday, July 7
Other topics covered included the demise of the Kaguya/Selene lunar orbiter. See here www.kaguya.jaxa.jp/index_e.htm for more info and great HDTV footage from lunar orbit.
Friday, June 12
Williams Optics ZS80ii, Canon 300D
EQ6 autoguided, 4 x 5 mins @ Iso800
Thursday, June 4
Perhaps we'll see a Nova whilst Scorpius is up in the southern summer sky.
Monday, June 1
William Optics ZS80II, Canon 300D
5 x 5 mins @ ISO400
Saturday, May 30
Things got off to a slow start, with the good weather and a couple of football cup finals working against us, and keeping people away.
However, things started picking up after a while and literally hotted up once Robin and Peter arrived with telecsopes to allow people to look at the sun. We then switched to 'sidewalk astronomy' encouraging everyone walking past to stop and have a look. A much more succesful strategy as the pictures below illustrate . . .
It was really clear that many people just walking down the street were interested in astronomy and fascinated to see the sun through Robin's hydrogen alpha solar scope. That proved a real hit as we were lucky enough to have a solar flare several times the size of the Earth visible on the edge of the solar disc.
So we answered many varied questions on astronomy, space and sometimes vaguely related subjects, and people went on their way hopefully a little better informed. Perhaps we'll see some of those people again at CAS meetings.
So thanks again to all CAS Members who turned out to help and to everyone who spend a little of their sunny Saturday stopping to take an interest.
Thursday, May 28
Wednesday, May 27
Tuesday, May 26
We need people to turn up for an hour or two to man the stall and answer questions etc. We also need to put together some display material. I have quite a bit we could use.
If you can help please let me know ASAP and I'll put a rota together.
-- Mobile post
Monday, May 25
William Optics ZS80II
24 x 5 minute exposures (ISO400)
Saturday, May 23
Don't forget to bring along details of any observations you been making.
See you there
Wednesday, May 13
You can download a mask specific to your equipment setup, print it, laminate it and away you go for about 50p!
The results of the mask are fantastic. It's incredibly easy to use and provides pin-sharp pictures.
The principle is that a diffraction pattern is created, with three (well six really) spikes. The central spike moves laterally between the two outer spikes to the left or the right as you move the focus. When you are in perfect focus the middle spike is centred between the other two as shown in the image below (taken last night).
As you can see, I didn't get the framing of the shot right...and cut off the bottom of the nebula. Never mind, next time!
Tuesday, May 12
Monday, May 4
We confirmed our constitution and approved the annual accounts. The new committee for 2009 was elected this now comprises;
Plus other committee members;
Ben & Chris
Thanks to those people for stepping forward and to those standing down for all their support over the last few years.
After the formal business Robin gave us a report from a recent conference he attended including news of a new exoplanet announced at the event.
Thursday, April 30
Also on tonight at 9pm is the first of 2 programmes on the builders of the new telescopes "The New Galileos"
Sunday, April 26
IC1396, 7 x 10 min exposures @ 1600 ASA
William Optics ED80ii, 585mm f/6.9
Canon 300D, full frame image
Thursday, April 23
This year we will need some more volunteers to take up roles on the committee. Robin who has given a lot of support on the committee over the last few years and is currently our Secretary, has indicated he wants to have a break from committee work for a while. That means we are looking for someone to take on the Secretary role and possibly we'll need an additional committee member as well. So there is plenty of opportunity to get involved.
As I've said on a number of occasions you don't need any special skills to be a committee member and it certainly does not mean that you will have to stand up and give presentations ! Really you just need enthusiasm and a bit of spare time.
I'm sure you are all aware that all the committee are volunteers and without them we simply would not have a society. We can't expect that those that have done it in the past will want to continue indefinitely (there's a personal hint there!) so please continue how you can help.
On the subject of help, the response to my request for ideas and help with the International Year of Astronomy events has been underwhelming to date. Again we can't do this with just one or two people so I think that, in the best NASA tradition, the AGM will have to be a Go / No Go decision for these events !
All that said we will try and keep the formal business of the meeting to a minimum and Robin is lined up to give us an update on news from his recent attendance at Joint European and National Astronomy Meeting (JENAM09).
See you all there.
Wednesday, April 22
I have just got back from a day at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science. Usually this is a conference just for Professional Astronomers. This year though there was a small session on Pro-Am cooperation and I was down there to give a short talk on spectroscopy. It was also a great opportunity to find out just what some of the professionals are up to. (There were over a thousand of them at the conference) I will be giving you the inside story at next Tuesday's meeting including the latest on ESO's proposed European Extremely Large Telescope, but if you want to keep up to date with the latest news, Astronomy Now are also blogging live from EWASS.
See you Tuesday
Thursday, April 9
All is not lost though, as I've attached a link to the newsletter on this post. As you'll see if you follow the link here or click on the image below, Dennis has pulled a lot of useful information together about the night sky for the month ahead.
As usual we would appreciate you thoughts and ideas on the newsletter. Please provide your feedback by leaving a comment below, emailing me or contacting Dennis direct (details on the newsletter).
Sunday, April 5
To improve the contrast and reduce the moonlight I used an Astronomik CLS filter, which unfortunately also dims the total amount of light received.
M101, 10 x 1o minutes @ ISO400
EQ6 autoguided LPI
Canon 300D & William Optics 80iiED
Saturday, April 4
Full details are in this IYA Briefing Document (pdf file).
The Committee are continuing to work up ideas for these events, but here are 10 ways you can help . .
Have you got contacts with local schools? Would you be willing and available to help out with some events? What ideas have you got for "ten things" we could cover? Would you be willing to prepare and give a short talk at and event? Do you know any useful routes we could try to get sponsorship? Do you know of any locations we could use for public events (church halls etc)? Have you can any useful contacts to publicise events? Have you got access to equipment we may need (display boards for example)? Have you got any useful posters or pictures we could use? What other ideas have you got?
Wednesday, April 1
To celebrate the International Year of Astronomy, there is a full day of talks taking place in Edinburgh on 18th April as part of the Science Festival. The event is completely free and the line up includes John Brown Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Chris Lintott from BBC Sky at Night and many other experts on a wide range of subjects. More information on the Festival website here
We also discussed ideas for some CAS events to support the International Year of Astronomy this year. More on that in a separate post.
There's much more information on Mars Rover images etc on Stuart's blog, Cumbrian Sky. If you're not a regular reader, bookmark it today !
Sunday, March 29
This month Stuart Atkinson (Eddington Astronomical Society Secretary, CAS founder and author of Cumbrian Sky) will be giving us a talk on his recent VIP trip to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and an update on the Mars Rovers as they reach a landmark five years of operation on Mars.
See you on Tuesday,
Monday, February 23
Saturday, February 21
Alas the clear skies tunrned cloudy for about an hour and then fortunately cleared again just before I decided to give up!
30 exposures of 90 seconds each
William Optics 80mm ; Canon EOS
Images aligned on stars
Same source images as above but aligned on comet nucleus
to show its movement against the stars
Lulin is travelling really fast at about 4 degrees per day, very noticeable in the space of a short of observing session. Have a look as soon as you can before it begins to fade as it speeds away from the sun.
Friday, February 20
While the spectrograph was doing its stuff last night recording some data for a Pro/Am project, I took the opportunity around 2am to take a snap of Comet Lulin. Visually it was easy to spot as a fuzzy blob in the ubiquitous Liddl 10x50 binoculars. The 80mm wide field refractor showed a bit more detail and a hint of the tail and anti-tail.
Thursday, February 19
At the moment you need to stay up after midnight to see it but in the comming week it will move into the evening sky, passing below Saturn (in the south east around 11pm) on 23/24th February when it should at its maximum brightness, possibly even visible with the unaided eye from a dark site.
It then continues its westward path, becoming visible earlier in the evening until it passes close to Regulus on 27/28th. From then on it will fade rapidly as it rushes away from us to be lost in the waxing moonlight.
Detailed charts can be found on the Society for Popular Astronomy website and Sky and Telescope are publishing observing reports.
Monday, January 26
I can't make this month, but Jeremy has kindly agreed to lead the session and provide a quick news update. Dennis is also pitching in with a quick presentation. So thanks to the guys for stepping in to at relatively short notice.
See you next time.
Saturday, January 10
So produced a montage based on individual frames of the moon and M45 taken on the 8th Jan but then merged them to show approximately what it would have looked like if it had been clear on the night before! Obviously the main flaws are in the exact position of the moon relative to the stars and the fact that the moon is 24 hours older. Never mind...
Single frame of moon taken at ISO100 with a 5 second exposure.
5 frames of M45 taken at ISO400 with a 5 second exposure. Aligned and stacked with ImagesPlus.
Moon and M45 images merged in Photoshop with position approximated to 1630hrs on 7th Jan 09.
13 frames of the moon taken at ISO100 with exposure time of 1/160th sec. Aligned, stacked and processed with RegistaxV4 .
3 frames of M45 taken at ISO400 with exposure time of 60 seconds. Aligned, stacked and DDP processing with ImagesPlus.
Moon and M45 images merged in Photoshop with position approximated to 1830hrs on 7th Jan 09.
The joys of trick photography.
Friday, January 2
William Optics 80II, 21 x 2 minute exposures
William Optics 80II, 7 x 2 minute exposures