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 23

Season's greetings

Wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

Hopefully 2012 will be a good year for astronomy.

Clear skies.


Wednesday, December 21

Telescope for sale

I've had someone contact me looking to sell a secondhand telescope.
The 'scope is a Meade LX90 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and comes with a computerised 'GOTO' mount and accessories including eight eyepieces.
The owner describes the telescope as 'hardly used' and as this is a high end telescope is looking for £1250 for it. If anyone is interested please contact me and I will pass on the sellers details to you.

Thursday, December 15

Stargazing in Cockermouth January 2012

We are planning our Stargazing event for January 2012. The event is designed to support the BBC Stargazing LIVE series which will air between 16th and 18th January, presented by Prof Brian Cox among others. The series was very popular earlier this year and looks set to be equally popular this time. Our event is later in the month, on 28th January and this time we will have an exhibition and talks in the afternoon followed by talks and observing in the evening.

More details will be published as we prepare for the event. In the meantime put the date for our event and, of course, the TV series in your diary.

Details are also on the BBC Things to Do website.

Tuesday, December 13

CAS Christmas drinks

Tomorrow night (Wednesday 14th December) is our annual social get together for a few pre Christmas drinks and chat. We will also discuss planning for our Stargazing LIVE event in January. 

We'll meet up about 8pm in The Swan on Kirkgate. I'll probably be a few minutes late. 

Look forward to seeing you there. 


Thursday, December 1

November Meeting Report

The moon was the main topic for our November meeting. Denis Kelly provided us with some new insights on the moon and it origins based on a recent distant learning course he has completed on the subject. The talk not only provided details on the moon which were new to most people in the audience but demonstrated just how much knowledge is out there on the Internet for interested amateurs to learn more about the hobby.

Following a brief news update from Chris we discussed and agreed our plans to support the BBC Stargazing LIVE programmes to be shown in January. We agreed that we will hold a afternoon and evening event on Saturday 28th January in the United Reformed Church on Cockermouth Main Street. We will also have hands on observing in Memorial Gardens, weather permitting. The event this January was a success, although the weather was not kind to us, let's hope it is better this time.

Society members' help will be essential for success. We need volunteers to help with displays, bring along telescopes and other equipment and generally be around to point people in the right direction and answer questions if possible. You don't need lots of knowledge and experience to help out.

To help with planning it would be useful if you could book the date in your diary and let me know via email if you are available to help.


Monday, November 28

November Meeting

The next CAS meeting will be on Tuesday 29th November 2011 at 7.30pm.

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, November 16

Leonids Meteor Shower

Don't forget that the next couple of nights is the time for viewing the Leonid meteor shower. This year there is quite a bit of interference from the moon so the best time for viewing is probably around midnight. Just go outside and look up. The meteors should appear to come from the constellation Leo, but you could see them from anywhere really. This is one occasion where a telescope or binoculars will hinder you. All you need is a nice, wide, clear view of the sky.

Good luck,


Tuesday, November 8

California Nebula over 5 hours

I took my longest ever exposure this weekend, lasting a total of 5.5 hours in an attempt to capture the NGC1499 (aka California Nebula) under bright moonlight.

The secret to this image is the use of a Hydrogen-Alpha filter to cut out all wavelengths bar a narrow band 12 nanometers (FWHM) in the region of 656nm wavelength. This effectively cuts out all emission from mercury and sodium lights and general sky (and moon) glow. The downside is that although it does transmit 97% of the h-alpha light, prolonged exposures are required due to a dimming of the image.

NGC 1499, California Nebula (central potion)
Skywatcher MN190
Canon EOS300D modified
EQ6 autoguided with a Toucam Pro webcam & PHD

20 x 15 minute H-Alpha subs
5 x 5 minute colour subs (in bright moonlight)

Processing of the image in ImagesPlus included flatframe, bias and dark noise reduction and a simple average stack, followed by Digital Development Processing (DDP algorithm).

Further image adjustment including H-Alpha/RGB combination to produce a "colour" image. Noise reduction, nebula enhancement, star reduction and diffraction spikes were applied using Noel Carboni's Astronomy Tools. Further contrast enhancement was applied with a high-pass filter of several iterations.

Friday, November 4

Dark Sky Observing in Ennerdale

On the weekend of 25th to 27th November the Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre in Ennerdale are holding an astronomy event to encourage people to take advantage of their newly awarded Dark Sky Discovery Site status. We have been asked to get involved by providing some talks and exhibitions on afternoon of 26th November and helping with observing on that evening.

So we need as many members as possible to come along and join in with this event. You don't need to be an expert, or do anything in particular other than join in. It would be great to get a few telescopes along for the evening, so if you have one that's portable please bring it along.

You can find details of Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre at www.lgfc.org.uk.

To help me give the field centre an idea of numbers it would be helpful if you could let me know if you can make it. If your not sure now it is fine to just turn up on the day. The event is open to anyone, and there is now charge for attending, so feel free to encourage friends and family to come along. More details will be available here, on the field centre website and hopefully in local press nearer the event.



Thursday, October 27

October Meeting Report

We had a great turn out for our October meeting, and it was particularly good to see a few new faces at the meeting. That was particularly good as our topic 'finding things in the night sky' was aimed at helping out beginners getting to grips with a telescope.

We had loads of good questions and plenty of tips from some of our more experienced members. One topic which is always an issue is setting up and aligning an equatorial mount. We had one available at the meeting and were able to provide some demonstration, but I said I would try and find a suitable video which might help for future reference. I found a useful video on YouTube here.


CAS observing night postponed

We discussed the planned observing night at our meeting on Tuesday and although we didn't reach a firm conclusion at the meeting it was clear that many people were unavailable due to the half term holidays. We are therefore postponing the planned observing until November. Keep an eye in the website for details of where and when to meet.

In the meantime make the best use of any clear skies we get!


Saturday, October 22

NGC 1848

For the first time in about 6 months I managed to grab a few hours outside with the stars last week. Although I was eventually clouded off I did manage to get 1.5 hours of NGC1848, sometimes called the "soul nebula" as it resembles a foetus in long exposures. (mine doesn't do it justice unfortunately)

NGC1848, Cassiopeia
SN-190mm f/5 with EOS300D
11 x 8 mins @ iso800
Processed with ImagesPlus and Photoshop

Thursday, October 20

October CAS Meeting

Our next meeting is on 25th October. The topic this month is "Finding things in the night sky".

This is always a topic of many questions and frustrations, particularly when trying to get to grips with a new telescope. I will be talking about some equipment and techniques which will hopefully help. It would be good to have a few telescopes around to help demonstrate and this would be an opportunity to bring yours along if your are struggling with set up etc. So if anyone can bring a telescope along please do.


Tuesday, September 27

Flying over planet Earth

Tonight at our meeting I showed a video from the ISS showing the view from orbit in time-lapse form. A few people were looking for the link. As luck would have it the video actually features as today's Astronomy Picture of the Day. Look up the 27th September APOD here.

Saturday, September 24

CAS meeting

Hi all

Summer is over, if it was ever here...at least we'll have the benefits of longer darker nights to come.

The next CAS meeting is on Tuesday 27th September at 7.30pm.

Hope to see you there!


Monday, August 29

No meeting in August

Just a reminder that we have no meeting this month due to the bank holiday etc. Our next meeting is the last Tuesday in September. Enjoy the bank holiday.


Monday, July 11

Neptune one year on

Today marks a special date in Neptune's history it being exactly one year since it was discovered!

Of course that's Neptune years not Earth years. Neptune takes 164.79 years to orbit the Sun and was discovered on 23 September 1846.

It's quite mind boggling to think that all the time we've known about, observed and even sent probes past, Neptune it has only just completed one orbit of the Sun. More information is available here and here.

Wednesday, June 29

Integrated Flux Nebula and Van Den Bergh catalogue

For those of you who made it last night, I hope you enjoyed the talk on faint nebulae. Some links to the info on the internet follow:

Integrated Flux Nebula http://www.galaxyimages.com/UNP1.html

Van Deb Bergh catalogue http://tvdavisastropics.com/astroimages-1_00008e.htm


Tuesday, June 28

Future of space exploration lecture

If you are interested in the future of space exploration over the next 30 or 40 years there is a lecture on Wednesday evening which will be of interest.

It's organised by the Samuel Lindow Foundation and is being held at Westlakes Science and Technology Park near Whitehaven.

Full details are here


Sunday, June 26

June 2011 Meeting Tuesday 28th June

This Tuesday (28th June) is our June meeting and the last one before the summer break. We are meeting in the usual place at 7.30pm and following a brief news round up Jeremy will be giving us a talk on a rare category of nebulae.

After this meeting we will have a break during July and August and meet again on the last Tuesday in September.


Location:Cockermouth,United Kingdom

Tuesday, June 14

Lunar eclipse Wednesday 15th June

Don't forget that we can see a lunar eclipse tomorrow night. The moon will rise already in eclipse with mid eclipse being 2113h and the moon rising for us around 2145h

So there is only about 15 mins of full eclipse remaining. The moons will then move into the penumbra for another hour or so. This part will be less noticeable as the moon will not be in as dark a shadow.

The best observing plan is just to find somewhere with a low eastern horizon and watch as the moon rises.


Saturday, June 11

May 2011 meeting report

The May meeting was our Annual General Meeting. Thanks to everyone who came along to take part and thanks particularly to those who volunteered to join the committee for the coming year.

Before the meeting Robin took the opportunity provided by some clear skies and sunshine to show us the sun through a couple of solar telescopes. Thanks Robin.

After the formal AGM business was complete I gave a talk on "Particle physics for astronomy" looking at the links between the very large ( cosmology) and the very small (particle physics).

Next month is our last meeting before the summer break.


Sunday, May 8

Recent pics

Taking advantage of the fine weather we've had for weeks, I've managed to get a few new shots.

NGC7000 (North American Nebula)
15 x 8 minute exposures @ ISO1600
Canon 300D modified
Processing: ImagesPlus and AstronomyAction by Noel Carboni

NGC6992 (Western Veil Nebula in Cygnus)
5 x 8 minute exposures @ ISO1600
Canon 300D modified
Processing: ImagesPlus and AstronomyAction by Noel Carboni

IC1396 (Elephant's Trunk)
10 x 15 minute Hydrogen-Alpha exposures @ ISO1600
merged with
10 x 8 minute exposures @ ISO1600
Canon 300D modified
Processing: ImagesPlus and AstronomyAction by Noel Carboni

NGC7023 (Iris Nebula)
10 x 5 minute exposures @ ISO800
Canon 300D modified
Processing: ImagesPlus and AstronomyAction by Noel Carboni

What a great month!


Wednesday, April 20

April CAS meeting

The next CAS meeting will take place on Tuesday 26th April 2011 at 7.30pm.

We have a travelling guest speaker from the York Astronomical Society, Hazel Collett, who will be speaking about her passions in astronomy.

In addition to her work at the York AS, Hazel is the Meetings Secretary for the British Astronomical Association (BAA) and is an avid observer of the Sun. So for those of you who attended last month this will be a good follow on from Stuart's talk on our violent star.

Don't forget to bring along any images or observing notes you have made over the last month.

My latest endeavour was the Iris Nebula (NGC 7023) below.

Tuesday, March 15

March Meeting

Hi All

Just to let you know that the talk at our next meeting will be given by the enigmatic Stuart Atkinson on the theme of "The Savage Sun", a fascinating look at the beautiful and violent star at the centre of our solar system

Should be a very interested talk and I'm sure Stuart will include something fascinating for newer and more experienced observers alike. If you've not heard him speak before you'll certainly enjoy his enthusiasm and some spectacular images.

Meeting is at 7.30pm, usual venue, on March 29th 2011.

the sun

Saturday, March 12

Telescope for sale - Meade ETX 70

I have been contacted recently by someone who has a Meade ETX70 telescope for sale.

If anyone is potentially interested I can pass on contact details.


Wednesday, February 23

February 2011 meeting report

Last night was a February meeting which was well attended and a useful session.

Many thanks to Dennis who gave a short introduction to web-cam imaging showing us some moon images he had recently captured as well as demonstrating the Registax software use to process webcam movie files into still images. The cameras Dennis referred to and details of how to get hold of them were discussed by Robin in this previous post.

I mentioned the Globe at Night project which everyone can get involved with (assuming we get some clear nights!). I had left the details at home but you can find out all you need to know at the project's website. It's easy to get involved so have a go.

Our question and answer session went well with quite a few questions around observing and equipment. We will definitely try to do more of that. Our discussion inspired Paul to do a bit of follow up research and he posted the following comment. . .

"Very interesting meeting tonighht.
A bit of googling turned up transient lunar phenomena, which nasa is taking a great deal of interest in

and auoral sounds

this guy even records them allbeit with a special antena


Monday, February 21

February Meeting


the next meeting will be held on Tuesday 22nd February at 7.30pm in the usual venue.

The agenda is likely to include a Q&A session for beginners, a demonstration of imaging the moon by one of our members and some recent spaceflight news.

See you all there.


Monday, January 24

Image processing comparison

After reading Nik Syzmanek's imaging article in the recent Astronomy Now magazine I decided to go back to my recent picture of M42 to try out the Photoshop-Highpass filter technique he described.

Results are below and I think the increased contrast and structure within the nebula is very apparent.

Above: Original image

Below: Image with highpass filter blending


Tuesday, January 18

Stargazing LIVE in Cockermouth - Report

As expected, the weather prevented us doing any actual observing at our event on Saturday night. The clouds and rain were well set in all day so there never was any real prospect of setting telescopes up in Memorial Gardens.

Efforts were focussed in St Joseph's church hall, and it was great to see so many people turn out despite the awful weather.Even before 7.30pm people were arriving and there was plenty for them to see. Displays of astrophotography greeted people as the arrived along with some impressive telescope set ups.

Computer simulations of the night sky and solar system proved very popular, especially with our younger visitors! People were particularly impressed when we pointed out that both software packages were free downloads.

Lots more people were interested in astronomical equipment and were able to get some advice on buying telescopes, and setting up the ones they already had. Jeremy's photography displays were popular  with visitors who wanted to know how they could get started taking photographs of the night sky.

Many thanks to all the CAS members, and families, who turned out to help with displays, talk to visitors, make refreshments and clear away afterwards. The event was a great success (weather apart) and judging by the website statistics, a lot more people know about CAS now.

If you were one of our visitors it would be great to see you at our routine meetings (the next one is 25th January, 7.30pm in the same location). We will also be trying again to beat the clouds and actually see something through a telescope at some point in the future. So keep an eye on this blog (or subscribe to the email service via the side bar).


Saturday, January 15

Stargazing tonight

Today is our Stargazing LIVE day and the heavy rain has already set in!

It's likely most of the activities will be taking place in St Joseph's Church Hall in Cockermouth (close to The Trout Hotel). You will spot the Statgazing LIVE banner outside. Activities start at 7.30pm.


Friday, January 14

Stargazing Live in Cockermouth - Update

I've just finished watching the weather forecast this evening and couldn't help but notice that the presenter stressed at least THREE times that Cumbria could expect 36 hours of rain this evening and tomorrow. Typical!.

Not to be disheartened our event will still go ahead. We have the back up plan of indoor displays and simulations in St Joseph's Church Hall from 7.30pm to 10pm (that's Saturday 15th). So there will be plenty to see and members on hand to give advice. The aim will still be to help you find your way around the night sky and learn how to start photographing the night sky.

I hope to see as many of you there as possible.

Sunday, January 9

Getting ready for our own Stargazing Event

I hope everyone enjoyed the BBC2 Stargazing LIVE series last week. Although the weather didn't cooperate well especially in Cumbria.

However, we have another chance with our own observing event this Saturday 15th January. We will have a public observing event in Memorial Gardens, Cockermouth. We already have a number of telescope planned but if you want to bring your own instrument (scope or binoculars) the more the merrier!

Should the weather not cooperate (or even if it does) we have a back up plan. In nearby St Joseph's Church Hall we will have displays of astronomy photographs and information as well as computer simulations of the night sky. Members will also be on hand to shown you how to find your way around and even photograph the night sky with simple equipment.

So whatever the weather throws our way we'll be set to have a great evening. Everything kicks off at 7.30pm Preparations are well underway and I'm looking forward to seeing you all there.