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.

For more regular updates and members images why not join our Facebook page.

Friday, December 24

Season's Greetings

I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2011. My apologies to those attending the Christmas Social last week, unfortunately I was unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances at home.

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

Pacman Nebula (NGC 281)

Finally managed to get some h-alpha footage to add to the colour data from October... of the Pacman Nebula or NGC 281 in Cassiopeia.

Unfortunately only got about 1/2 hour of h-alpha. So the colour still is a bit "pink" rather than red.

NGC281 - Pacman Nebula
1000mm f/5.3 Skywatcher MN-190
Canon 300D Modified
EQ6 pro autoguided with PHD
25 x 5min colour exposures + 25min h-alpha (5 subs)

Sunday, December 5

Christmas Social

As is traditional this time of year we will be meeting in a local hostelry for few drinks prior to Christmas rather than having a formal December meeting. (Our next formal meeting will be on 25th January 2011).

This year we will meet on Thursday 16th December at 8pm in the Swan Inn, Kirkgate, Cockermouth.

I look forward to seeing you there.

January Public Observing Event

As mentioned briefly at our last meeting we will be running a public astronomy event in Cockermouth in the new year to link with the BBC Stargazing Live series. We have fixed on a date; Saturday 15th January 2011. The event will, weather permitting, include observing the night sky as well as an indoor exhibition of astronomy equipment and information.

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.

November Meeting

Thanks to everyone who came along to our November meeting despite the snow and ice. Special thanks go to our guest speaker, Robin Bellerby, from Dumfries who made it down to Cockermouth to tells us about the Wigtownshire Astronomical Society's activities and in particular their project to establish the UK's first Dark Sky Park in Dumfries & Galloway.

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

Meeting reminder

Just a reminder to say that the meeting is on tonight.

If the skies are clear we may get a chance to go to the Memorial Gardens afterwards, so anyone interested bring along your binoculars or scopes.


Friday, November 19

November Meeting

This month's meeting will take place on Tuesday 30th November 2010 at the usual venue (St Joseph's Parish Hall in Cockermouth).

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 flyby images

There is lots of information and fantastic images around at the moment about the EPOXI mission flyby of comet Hartley 2 (yes it is the same comet previously, and more correctly referred to as 103P/Hartley).

495296main epoxi-1-full full.jpg
Hartley 2 nucleus from EPOXI mission
Check out the latest updates at Planetary Society, Bad Astronomy and of course Cumbrian Sky. More at our next meeting.

Thursday, October 28

CAS Library: A reminder

Just a reminder to members that we do have a reasonably extensive library of space and astronomy books which are available for full members to borrow. Denis kindly looks after the books (and a couple of DVDs I believe), but due to storage and transport restrictions it is not possible to have them all available every meeting.

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

Look out for UFOs / Sky Lanterns

As the bonfire and fireworks season approaches this year keep a look out for a relatively new trend; sky lanterns.

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.


October 2010 Meeting Report

Thanks to everyone who brought their telescopes and other equipment along to our equipment evening. We had a really good range of telescopes with examples of all the major types of 'scope. There was also plenty of other equipment, including binoculars, webcams and books for people to look through.

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.

Webcam Imaging and Spectroscopy

Here are more details about the webcam imaging kit and the Star Analyser diffraction grating I demonstrated during the meeting on Tuesday

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

October Meeting - Equipment Evening

October is traditionally our equipment evening, and this year is no exception. It's a great opportunity for those thinking about buying a telescope, perhaps with Christmas in mind, to get some advice and see some telescopes up close. It's also a fantastic opportunity for those who are still getting to grips with their 'scopes to bring them along and get some practical help. The evening will be flexible so hopefully there will be something for everyone.

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.


Apollo launch video

I've just been checking my usual haunts around the web and followed a few links, as you do. I came across this video of the Apollo 11 launch back in July 1969. The video film was originally shot at 500 frames per second and has been slowed down and converted to HD video to give an 8 minute slow motion of the engines at launch. What's more it's got a very informative narration with it so you get full details of what you are seeing. Well worth 8 minutes of your time!

Friday, October 22

Comet 103P Hartley

For those who haven't managed to catch a glimpse of Comet Hartley yet, here is a great link to S&T magazine showing the comet in all its glory.


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

Comet Hartley & Double Cluster

Dodging the water-saturated skies (hair-dryer working every 10 minutes to de-mist the optics!) I managed to get a short series of frames to make a mosaic of Comet 103P_Hartley approaching the Double Cluster in Perseus (NGC 884 & NGC 869).

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

Comet Hartley

I finally managed to track down comet Hartley in my binoculars tonight after trying over the last few clear nights.

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

40 minute movement of Comet 103p/Hartley

The following image, taken at an effective focal length of 1000mm, shows the movement of Comet 103P/Hartley over a 40 minute period.

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

September Meeting Report

Confusingly our September meeting was held on Saturday 2nd October. The meeting was a great success thanks to Robin Leadbeater stepping in to do an excellent talk on "a week in the life of an amateur astronomer". Not a typical week by any means, but a great insight into the work an amateur can do to help out with real professional science.

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

Comet 103P/Hartley

Comet 103P/Hartley is starting to brighten and is winging its way across the bottom of the W constellation of Cassiopeia towards Perseus.

The comet is visible all night, at a high altitude giving good clarity. However, it is still a little unspectacular visually, even though it is estimate at Magnitude 5.6 at the moment.

I took the following image on Friday night. It is a single 2 minute exposure at ISO1600. Just visible in the image is NGC281 (Pacman Nebula). The field of view in the image is about 2 x 1 degrees. The comet is 16.6 million miles from earth in this image.

More detailed images will be posted later in the week once I've processed them.

If the skies are clear take a look on Saturday night when the comet should be brighter and will be within about 0.5 degree from the Double Cluster in Perseus.

The comet is very small, estimated to be only 600 metres across. But is relatively bright as it will be within 10 million miles of earth at its closest approach.

Monday, September 27

CAS Meeting, Sat 2nd October 2010

HI all

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

Guest Speaker cancellation


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

September Meeting Reminder


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

September meeting date changed

Please be aware that the next CAS Meeting will be held on Saturday 2nd October not on the usual Tuesday evening at the end of the month.

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

Telescope For Sale

Meade lightbridge 10" deluxe Dobsonian reflector telescope.

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 bainbridge-c@sky.com

Saturday, July 10

ESA’s Rosetta mission has has a long a interesting journey through the solar system on its way to its final target Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Launched in 2004 the probe has completed flybys of Earth twice and Mars one and already visited an asteroid as well as taking some fantastic astro-images on the way.

Today it passes asteroid 21 Lutetia at a distance of about 3,000 km. The closest approach takes place at about 1645 BST but as it is happening at a distance of 450 million km from Earth it will take some time for the pictures to be returned and processed. It's unlikely we'll see anything on the web before ten o'clock tonight.

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.

The Solar System needs your help . . .

Last year Kendal's Eddington Astronomical Society held a really successful scale model solar system event at Kendal Castle. I went along to help out and it was a really good day. See the video below. .

They are repeating the event this year, in the town centre this time. The aim is to bring the event to even more members of the public. The event takes place on 14th August.

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

Planck produces an new map of the microwave sky

ESA Planck instrument has been observing the sky at microwave wavelengths for 12 months now. This newly released image shows the microwave radiation from both the cosmic background radiation and the milky way.

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

June 2010 Meeting Report

A very big thank you to Professor Ryan Hickox, an STFC Fellow at the University of Durham, who came to speak to us about the Growth of Galaxies and Supermassive Black Holes.

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

June CAS Meeting

The June Cockermouth Astronomy Society meeting will be held on Tuesday 29th June 2010 at the usual venue (St Joseph's Church Hall, Cockermouth) at 7.30pm.

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

Comet C/2009 R1 McNaught

If you can manage to stay awake until about 1am and have a clear North horizon, then you might just manage to glimpse the rapidly moving Comet McNaught c/2009 R1. It is brightening nicely, currently at Mag 6.3 but expected to brighten to Mag 3.0 by the end of the month.

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

Telescope for sale

I have recently been contaced by someone locally who has a telescope for sale. The scope is a Celestron NexStar GT80 which I'm told is in good condition and still in its original box. If anyone is interested please contact me and I will pass on the seller's details.


Monday, May 24

May CAS Meeting

The May 2010 meeting will be held on Tuesday 25th May at 7.30pm in St Jospeh's Church Hall, Cockermouth.

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

Recent images

The night was so clear on Monday that I was out from 11pm to 3am. The milky way was gorgeous and I took the following two pics.

M17 in Sagittarius
Skywatcher MN190 on EQ6
Canon 300D modified
4 x 5 mins @ ISO800

M17 is located at a declination of -16 degrees so it's pretty close to the horizon from northern England. The shot is only 4 combined images so very short. I only managed to steal a few images as the dawn was breaking.

I spent most of the night imaging parts of the North America and Pelican Nebulae (NGC7000). The following image combines 45 minutes of white light plus 100 minutes of Hydrogen-Alpha data.

Skywatcher MN190, EQ6 + Canon 300D modified
10 x 10mins H-alpha + 9 x 5 mins RGB

Monday, May 3

Cocoon Nebula

I got about an hour of exposure time on the Cocoon Nebula (IC5146), located in the constellation Cygnus.

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.

IC5146 - Cocoon Nebula
MN190 (1000mm f5.3)
Canon 300D modified
12 x 5mins @ ISO800
1 x 10min Hydrogen-Alpha frame

Wednesday, April 28

Society Telescope

To all CAS Members,

I am currently storing the society's telescope, which is an 8" reflector on a CG5 computerised mount.

Any full members of the society are entitled to borrow the scope if they wish.

Please contact me if you'd like the use of the scope at any time.

016973 71224

April Meeting Report

We had a great meeting last night, with lots of visitors in attendance for the first time.

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

M16 Eagle Nebula

Rising at 2am I managed to get a few shots of M16, The Eagle Nebula between the setting moon and the rising sun this morning.

7 x 5 min exposures @ISO800
Canon 300D modded
Skywatcher MN-190
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

April CAS Meeting

The April 2010 meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 27th April at 7.30pm.

We have a guest speaker, Stuart Atkinson, from the Kendal Astronomy Society and well known to many of us at Cockermouth. Please invite your friends or family, they will undoubtedly be energised by Stuart's dynamic presentation.

Sunday, April 18

5 planets at once

And finally...

Over the last few days you'll have probably seen (whether you were aware of it or not) 5 planets in the same evening sky.
Saturn in the south, Mars high in the south-west, Venus in the west, Mercury just to the right and below Venus and of course the Earth (you're standing on it!)

We were also treated to a lovely young crescent moon on the 14th and 15th of April.

Runaway Greenhouse Effect?

I thought this was a good tongue-in-cheek image, showing Venus setting behind the Bothel windfarm with a red sky (perhaps linked to the volcanic ash from Iceland).

Venus we know is an unhospitable planet due to a runaway Greenhouse Effect arising from volcanic eruptions in the planet's past.
Earth on the other hand has managed to control its atmosphere, perhaps due to the effects of precipitation extracting the volcanic gases from the atmosphere and locking it back into the oceans and rocks.

Man on the other hand may (or may not) be affecting the delicate balance here on earth. One thing is for sure, the idea of a man-inspired Greenhouse Effect has perhaps runaway with itself leading to the erection of windfarms such as the one at Bothel.


From first light last week, I shot a quick movie of Saturn using the MN190 and Toucam Pro webcam. Not a very good quality image, I obviously need to practice my webcaming more. The view through the eyepiece was great (I could count 5 moons around the planet no problem).

MN190 with 2x barlow
(2000mm f/10.6)
Toucam Pro II
K3ccd Tools

M101 with new scope

Grabbed a few clear hours on Thursday night (despite the alleged ash cloud high in the atmosphere) to shoot M101 with the new MN190. You won't see much detail in this web-image but the stars are nice and sharp across the entire field of view. You can count at least 5 other galaxies in the background of the image.

11 x 5 mins @ ISO800
1000mm f/5.3 on EQ6
Canon 300D Modified

Tuesday, April 13

Maksutov-Newtonian 190


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

New scope...

I'm dead excited...got a new telescope coming Thursday/Friday. The new Skywatcher Maksutov-Newtonian 190 astrograph. Rave reviews call it the equivalent of an 8" apochromatic refractor with a beautifully flat field of view and fast optics. Hopefully it should arrive in time for the clear nights forecast for this weekend... Will post some pics ASAP.

Tuesday, April 6

M13 Globular Cluster

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

Solar Activity

Hi all

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!


Kendal AS Scale Model of the Solar System

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

New Solar activity

Finally there are signs that the sun is waking from its prolonged period of inactivity.

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

Cloudy skies

Just thought I'd share my frustration with you all...Got up at 1.20am to do some observing, only for high cloud to roll in. Do I wait it out or go to bed?? That's twice in the last week this has happened!

Sunday, March 21

March CAS meeting

Hi all,

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

Sunspot 1054

Thanks to Robin, I've borrowed his Coronado PST solar telescope and mylar white light filter.

I couldn't resist a quick photo through the white light filter when the sun peeked through the clouds this afternoon.

Unfortunately I couldn't get a decent image through the h-alpha PST scope, although visually I could see some small prominences around the limb. Really great - first time for me.

Thursday, March 11

Jellyfish Close-Up

A crop of the previous image is shown below to bring out some more detail in IC443, which is the remains of a supernova with an age range of 3000 to 30,000 years.

Look here for a narrowband image of the "head" showing spectacular detail in the shockfront of the expanding explosion:


Take part in the Globe at Night

Each year there is a global campaign to check on the status of our night skies. The survey is carried out by volunteers (that could be you!) from around the globe and needs very little astronomical knowledge to take part in.

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

Cosmic Jellyfish

IC443, commonly referred to as the Jellyfish Nebula can be seen swimming to the right of the bright yellow star Propus in this image.

William Optics 80mm with 0.8x reducer
Canon 300D modified
Autoguided EQ6
12 x 10 minute exposures @ ISO800
I took the image last night (8th March 2010) in a brief 2 hour period of clear skies. I plan to take several more hours to bring out the depth of the surrounding nebulosity to the East of the Jellyfish.
The image processing consisted of dark (3), flat (10) and bias (10) frame calibration, Extended Addition and Digital Development (DDP) stretch. The image was tweaked for noise (NeatImage) and colour balance in Photoshop.

Tuesday, March 2

Institute of Physics Lecutre

"Searching In The Dark" - a talk on the ZEPLIN collaboration searching for dark matter particles in salt & pot ash mines in the North East of England.

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

Recent Images

Thanks Chris, glad you enjoyed the talk. Some of the latest images are below, for those who missed the meeting.

California Nebula
3x10min H-alpha + 18x5min RGB @ ISO800

Christmas Tree Nebula
10x10min H-alpha + 12x5min RGB @ ISO800

Wednesday, February 24

February meeting report

Thanks to Jeremy for a facsinating talk at our February meeting last night. After a brief news update and discussion Jeremy covered the topic of astrophotography right from the basics of pointing a camera at the night sky and recording star trials to the very advanced and spectacular images Jeremy is now making with his own equipment. Illustrated with many images some of which have been published in astronomy magazines the talk was appreciated by everyone.


Tuesday, February 16

CAS look-ahead

Just to keep everyone up to date on the next few months CAS meetings, we have the following speakers lined up:
  • 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

February Meeting

Hi All

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). j.g.hunt@btinternet.com

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

January Meeting Details

As Chris says the meeting will be on as normal on Tuesday 26th January @ 7.30pm in St Joseph's church hall, Cockermouth.

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

January meeting

Just a quick update to say that our January meeting is on. I've had a few questions about whether the hall is available. I'm trying to get 'official' confirmation, but I know other groups are using the hall and I have no indication that it is not available.

Jeremy has details of our speaker for the month and will post details separately.

See you all on tuesday.