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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.