Thursday, December 27
More details on our event will be posted here soon.
Monday, December 24
The weather does not look good for festive observing with any new equipment Santa may bring you, (at least here in Cumbria). However, 2013 promises to be a good year for astronomy, starting with BBC's Stargazing LIVE TV series in early January and plenty of events in Cumbria including our own Stargazing in Cockermouth event on 19th January. Check back after Christmas for more details.
|A seasonal 'snow angel' soars through the heavens in this Hubble Space Telescope image of a star-formation region S106 in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan).|
Season's greetings and clear skies,
Saturday, December 15
Wednesday, December 12
The event is open to all and there will be no charge.
If you are a society member we need your help. We will need people to help with the exhibition and activities and most importantly people to bring along their telescopes for the afternoon and evening if possible. If you can help please get in touch to let me know what you can do.
I'll post more details of the planned activities soon.
Tuesday, November 20
Chris and I will be doing the news and talk based around some historical aspects of astronomy.
I'll be basing my talk on a recent visit to Milan where I went to the Brera Observatory.
This is the last meeting scheduled for 2012 as there will be no meeting in December. So if you have any observing questions or equipment issues that you need assistance with prior to the xmas break then come armed with your questions on Tuesday.
Saturday, November 17
To see meteors all you need to do is go outside when it's dark and look up. The shower is best seen after midnight when the Earth is heading towards the trail of dust in space left behind by a comet. In the case of the Leonids the radiant, the point in space the meteors appear to be coming from, is in true constellation if Leo, hence the name.
So if it is clear this weekend go out and look for meteors and report back at our November meeting.
Thursday, November 8
Yes, almost unheard of for a CAS meeting, but despite the high cloud we did manage to get views of the almost full moon and Jupiter close by. Starting off by observing through a small refractor and reflector through the hall windows, we moved as far at the Church Hall steps to get some nice views of the moon through binoculars and the reflector. Not the most impressive observing event ever, but a reminder that it is always worth looking up!
Our next meeting is planned for 27th November and will be our last formal meeting of 2012. Hope to see your there.
Thursday, November 1
Yesterday some more spectacular images were taken in the USA of a wide variety of optical 'features' around the sun. The link below explains the phenomena in more detail with the spectacular images.
Look! Up in the sky! It’s…it’s… it’s an amazing optics display | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine:
Sunday, October 28
There is no scheduled talk as such, but there will be our usual news round up and refreshments. There are also a few potential winter observing and public events to talk about.
See you there.
Saturday, October 27
This month's meeting will focus on astronomy equipment.
So please bring along any telescopes, binoculars, eyepieces, filters, cameras or other devices you'd like to share your experiences of or want some help in getting to grips with.
Thursday, October 18
The big news in exoplanet research was an announcement yesterday that an Earth sized planet has been found orbiting a star in the nearest star system to our Sun, Alpha Centauri. Details of the discovery are available here and plenty of other places on the web.
More in this at our October meeting.
Sunday, October 14
The Sun seems to be fairly active at the moment and there have been quite a few aurora sightings in the last week or so. It is well worth checking out the sky after dark if it is clear.
There are a number of websites you can use to check on the levels of solar activity and hence chances of aurora. One of the best, and relatively local is the University of Lancaster Aurorawatch site.
Good luck, let us know how you get on at our October meeting.
Friday, September 28
4 x 2 mins in each colour (LRGB)
Image Credit: Dennis Kelly & Jeremy Hunt
Image Credit: Jeremy Hunt
NGC 6888 - Crescent Nebula
Canon EOS300D modified with Skywatcher MN190
10 x 5 mins @ ISO 800
Image Credit: Jeremy Hunt
NGC 6960 - Veil Nebula
Canon EOS300D modified with Skywatcher MN190
40 x 5 mins @ ISO 800
Image Credit: Jeremy Hunt
Tuesday, September 25
So instead of his talk on the aurora, I'll be extending my "news" slot to include a short tutorial on astrophotography and image processing. Chris will then give a talk on astronomy "apps".
See you there!
Wednesday, September 19
We have an exciting guest speaker from the University of Lancaster, Dr Jim Wild. The title of Jim's talk is...
In Search Of The Northern Lights
So come along and enjoy the show.
Monday, August 6
NASA websites seems to have taken a big hit with the huge popularity of the mission so you may be having trouble getting on to them to see the first pictures, but they are all over the web now,
Stuart, who gave us an excellent talk on Tuesday about the landing and the rover, has started a new blog dedicated to Curiosity called Gale Gazette, check in our for the latest news and first images.
Tuesday, July 10
- Chris Darwin will give us an update on the Higgs Boson discovery announced last week, hopefully in layman's terms that we can all understand, along with other news items for July
|Will the $9billion experiment re-write the science books?|
- Stuart Atkinson will be our main speaker with a theme of Oppy @ Endeavour, an update on the Mars Rover situation, including a look ahead to the landing of the new Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)
|3 generations of Mars robots, the MSL is the giant on the right|
So please come along and enjoy the show!
Monday, June 11
The subject is the Rosette Nebula, always a favourite of mine. The image consists of 8 x 8 minute exposures at ISO800. I've processed the image using some of the noise reduction functions in the newer version of Images Plus which has worked well. And then I've sharpened the image with a series of High Pass filters of varying strengths to bring out the contrast of the dark dust lanes.
Wednesday, June 6
Tuesday, June 5
The location is shown in the map embedded below.
View Caldbeck Observing Site in a larger map
This looks like it will be an easier site to get to early in the morning, without involving a climb up a mountain. The sun should rise more or less along the road to the north-west as shown in the solar calculator map below.
Robin's website has some pictures taken of a partial solar eclipse taken from the same site back in 2003.
So all things being well I'll head up there about 4.30 in the morning.
Now just fingers crossed for the weather. If I remember I'll post something in the morning letting people know if the weather is too bad to even bother!
Good luck, and thanks for the tip Robin,
Monday, June 4
There's a couple of reasons why we have not organised an event this year. Firstly the transit is already well underway when the sun rises at around 4.45am. That's early for most people, especially on the day after a long bank holiday weekend. Secondly because the event is in progress at sunrise to get the best views we need a low eastern (north eastern actually) horizon to allow us to see the event as soon as possible. Here in west Cumbria we are not well provided for with low eastern horizons so that means travelling some distance and/or height.
So, no public event then, but if the weather is kind (and unfortunately the forecasts have been consistently poor, but fingers crossed . . . ) it is still worth a go. So that leaves the question of where to view from?
Before I carry on and talk about where you might observe the transit from, word of caution. Viewing the transit involves looking at the Sun. As always, the advice is NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN through a telescope or binoculars, or with the naked eye for that matter (even with sunglasses). That's an excellent way of damaging your eyes. There is plenty of advice around about how to view the sun safely through filters, via projection etc. For some good advice try this link from SpaceWeather.com.
Back to 'where?' . . .
My first thought was Whinlatter Forest Park. It's easy to get to, and a short walk gets you to a viewing point high above the valley with an excellent view east over Keswick. However at this time of year the sun actually rise in the northeast and I suspected that would put it behind Skidaw. A quick, and pleasant, walk up there on Thursday evening confirmed that.
I then found this NASA solar calculator which allows you to plot the sunrise and sunset direction for any location on google maps. That illustrated the problem. . .
So my thoughts moved further east, beyond Keswick and out towards Penrith, putting most of the Lake District hills behind us. I settled on one of the lesser known and lower lakeland fells, Great Mell Fell. It offers a bit of height, relative proximity to the A66 and that all important low north-eastern horizon (as does the adjacent Little Mell Fell). A quick check on the NASA solar calculator confirmed its suitability.
The magic of the internet allowed me a virtual view from the summit via Andrew Leaney's excellent 'The Lakeland Fells' website with this summit 360 degree panorama.
If climbing fells that early in the morning is not your cup of tea (and I'm not sure it's mine yet!) then there are perhaps some viewing points on, or near, the A66 if you park in one of the laybys and head for high ground.
Obviously large telescopes are out of the question if walking a distance from vehicles, so probably the best approach is the projection technique using a pair of binoculars (or half a pair to be precise). I'll have the society's solar telescope available which is relatively portable, and my trusty binos.
So. That's it, no public event, no guarantee of good weather, no firm plans. But, if the weather is kind, and you (and I) have enough dedication and a dose of good fortune we may see this chance in a lifetime event. And I may see you on top of one of Wainwright's lower fells.
P.S. If you have any good ideas for viewing locations, please share them in the comments.
Monday, May 14
If anyone has any observation reports or photos they'd like to share please bring them along.
See you all there.
Tuesday, April 24
Saturday, March 24
This Tuesday (27th March) is our March meeting. After our usual round up of news items Dennis will be giving us a talk in his experiences starting out in astrophotographs. There should be plenty of tips for anyone interested in taking their own photos of the night sky.
See you there.
Tuesday, March 20
Monday, March 19
Tuesday, March 6
Two bright beacons blazing low in the Western sky!
Sunday, March 4
We had a great turn out for our February meeting where Jeremy gave us a talk on some of the fantastic images of Saturn returned by the Cassini probe which is still orbiting around the ringed planet years after its initial mission duration.
One of my favourites was the image of a backlight Saturn which included the Earth seen as a tiny dot peeping through Saturn's rings.
We also covered the latest news topics and I used a diagram showing where all the current space exploration missions in the Solar System currently are. You can see that close up at this Planetary Society Blog post.
Next month Dennis will be giving us a talk on his experiences starting out in astrophotographs.
Last night 3rd March there were lots of sightings of a pretty big meteor, known as a fireball, seen from northern England and southern Scotland. The event has made the news and caused a lot of people seeing it to call the police who were said to have been inundated.
So if you saw something very bright moving across the sky at about 9.40pm last night that's probably what you were looking at. Universe today has a good report with a nice picture and a couple of videos.
If you did see this why not let us know in the comments?
Monday, February 20
There will be a news update, tea-coffee intermission and a talk entitled "Postcards from Cassini", a photographic voyage around Saturn and its moons.
Everyone is welcome. If you have any difficulties with a telescope or would like some advice then bring your equipment if you like and we can help point you in the right direction during the intermission or after the meeting.
See you there!
Saturday, February 4
- Registax - a freeware program that produces stunning images of the moon and planets using webcam video footage
- Clamping arrangements to attach a compact digital camera to the eyepiece of a telescope. These can be useful to ensure the optics are aligned properly and held steady. This will allow straightforward imaging of planets and the moon through your telescope.
- Phillips 880SPC or Phillips Toucam Pro II (SPC900) are excellent cameras for webcam imaging. Unfortunately I can't find any in stock anywhere...but keep your eyes open. Morgan Computers were selling them for £17.90 recently. All you need in addition to the camera is a nose piece and IR cut filter, which can be purchased from many astronomy shops online such as Altair Astro for example ( http://www.altairastro.com/product.php?productid=16449&cat=0&page=1 )
- Digital SLRs are a great way to get into astrophotography if you already own one. The best are either Nikon or Canon. I use a Canon 300D which I have had modified to remove the daylight colour balancing filter as this blocks a lot of the red spectrum that we really want to record. Astronomiser.co.uk is the service I used to modify my Canon 300D and the service was first class. The camera was returned to me within 2 days. You can also purchase pre-modified cameras from Andy Ellis from about £500.
- However, if you are going to invest a significant amount of money in a camera for astronomy you may want to consider a dedicated astro-CCD camera, rather than a DSLR. There are many brands and prices available, too many to discuss here. The two benefits of a DSLR over an astronomy CCD in my opinion are: (i) DSLRs can be used for normal daylight photography not just astronomy, although you will have to do some colour balancing if you have the chip modified and (ii) the field of view of a DSLR is much larger than many dedicated astro-CCD cameras £ for £.
- If you are going to get into imaging stars, galaxies, etc (not planets and moon) then an image processing software is essential. Again there are many options. I use the excellent package called ImagesPlus developed by Mike Unsold (www.mlunsold.com) and selling for $230 at the moment. Tutorials and support are excellent. But as I say there are many options out there.
- If you don't want to invest yet in image processing software then try out this freeware:
http://deepskystacker.free.fr/english/index.html or have a go an manually aligning images in Photoshop (warning this will take a LOT of time). Deepsky Stacker is fantastic for a free package and there are some good explanations of the theory behind image stacking on the website (click on the "How To Create Better Images" link on the left hand pane of their website).
- I also use a piece of software called NeatImage which helps to reduce noise in processed images. Be careful not to overprocess the image though.
Sunday, January 29
Thanks to everyone who was involved in making the day a great success.
Don't forget our next meeting is on Tuesday (31st January). Usual place and time; St Joseph's Church Hall, Cockermouth, 7.30pm. I can't make this one, but I hope lots of you can and I hope to see you at future events.
Saturday, January 28
Friday, January 27
View Stargazing in Cockermouth Locations in a larger map
Fingers crossed for clear skies!
Thursday, January 26
We start at the United Reformed Church in Cockermouth at 1pm with exhibitions and short talks. No booking is necessary just come along and drop in when you can.
At 6.30pm we will have a couple of longer talks. One providing a Tour of the Solar System and the other an introduction to astrophotography.
Finally from 8.30pm we will be in Memorial Gardens in Cockermouth with telescopes and binoculars observing the night sky. Weather permitting we will be there until at least 10pm.
Hope to see as many people as possible throughout the day.
Tuesday, January 24
There is no guarantee this will happen and the weather looks pretty cloudy at the moment. However if it does clear after dark it is well worth going outside and looking to the north. You may see the northern lights as a faint shimmering curtain of light.
There has been lots of activity recently and the aurora got a fair bit if TV coverage yesterday and this morning.
Sunday, January 22
Friday, January 20
Unfortunately there is some confusing information in some of the papers about what events are taking place when. I'd hate people to be disappointed turning up at the wrong place or time, so I'll try and clarify as simply as possible. Here goes . . . .
There are TWO events taking place, one this weekend and one next weekend.
The event this weekend is at Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre in Ennerdale and has been organised by them. I and other members of Cockermouth Astronomy Society will be attended to help out with some talks and observing weather permitting. I haven't got full details of the timing of this event but I understand the main part of it will start early on Saturday afternoon and continue into the evening (21st January). For more details check the Low Gillerthwaite website.
The event next weekend is on Saturday 28th January in the United Reformed Church on Cockermouth Main Street. This event is organised by Cockermouth Astronomical Society and will consist of an exhibition and talks during the afternoon and early evening (starting at 1pm) and observing in nearby Memorial Gardens from about 8.30pm weather permitting.
I hope that clarifies things. Both events are free and it would be great to see as many people as possible.
There are some other confusions in the articles not least we are of course Cockermouth ASTRONOMICAL Society not astrological society (how many times ?. . . . ). So if you are coming along to see what the stars hold for your future expect an appropriate response!
Finally for the avoidance of doubt, with regard to the photos, the good looking bloke on the left is Professor Brian Cox and the other bloke is me! Brian will not be at our events but I hope to see you there.