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.

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Thursday, December 27

CAS Stargazing Live event details on BBC website

Our Stargazing LIVE event, Stargazing in Cockermouth, details are now posted on the BBC Things To Do website. This is a great resource for finding information about other Stargazing LIVE activities in your areas as well as many other local activities during the year.

More details on our event will be posted here soon.


Monday, December 24

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Just a quick note to wish you all a Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year.

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

Christmas Drinks

Just a reminder that we will hold our annual, informal, Christmas drinks on Wednesday 19th December. Everyone's welcome just come along to The Swan on Kirkgate in Cockermouth from 7.30pm onwards for a few drinks and an informal chat. (No fancy dress or party hats required!).


Wednesday, December 12

Stargazing LIVE 2013 date confirmed

We've just confirmed our date for Stargazing LIVE in Cockermouth next year. We will be holding our event in Saturday 19th January 2013 in the United Reformed Church hall, Main Street Cockermouth. The event will follow the broad format of our successful events of the last two years with and exhibition and activities in the hall in the afternoon. This will be followed by an observing session in Memorial Gardens in the evening, weather permitting.

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

November 2012 meeting

This month's meeting is on Tuesday 27th November at 7.30pm.

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.

INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera - immagine con il logo dell'OAB

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

Leonids meteor shower this weekend

Don't forget that this weekend is the peak of the Leonids meteor shower. That means there is an increased chance of seeing meteors, assuming there is clear skies of course.

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

October 2012 Meeting Report

Our October equipment meeting was a relatively quiet one, perhaps reflecting the fact that it was half term. With just a few instruments around for people to look at the meeting was unusual in the fact that we actually got to do some observing!

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

Circles around the moon and sun

A few members at our October meeting reported seeing a halo around the moon a couple of days earlier. We briefly discussed the phenomena and the reasons behind it, concluding it was something to do with ice crystals in the atmosphere.

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

October Equipment Night

Tuesday evening's meeting is our annual 'Equipment Night'. This is an opportunity to bring along your telescopes our other equipment to to either demonstrate to others or get some advice on how to set up and use the equipment. It's a great opportunity for those with new equipment to get a bit of helping in making to most of it.

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

October Meeting

The October meeting will be held on Tuesday 30th at the usual 7.30pm. 

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

Planet found around nearest star system

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.

This planet, although Earth sized has little in common with our own planet as it orbits around 4 million miles from the star Alpha Centauri B in around 3 days.

More in this at our October meeting.


Sunday, October 14

Look out for Aurorae

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

Info from Tuesday's meeting

Hope you all enjoyed Tuesday's impromptu discussion.  I've attached some of the images and links from the news section below.

M57 - Ring Nebula
ATIK 314L+ with Skywatcher MN190
4 x 2 mins in each colour (LRGB)
Image Credit:  Dennis Kelly & Jeremy Hunt

M27 - Dumbell NebulaATIK 314L+ with Skywatcher MN190
4 x 2 mins in each colour (LRGB)
Image Credit:  Dennis Kelly & Jeremy Hunt

M31 - Andromeda Galaxy (central portion)
ATIK 314L+ with Skywatcher MN190
4 x 2 mins in each colour (LRGB)
Image Credit:  Dennis Kelly & Jeremy Hunt

M31 Andromeda Galaxy with satellites
Canon EOS300D modified with Skywatcher MN190
10 x 5 mins @ ISO 400
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

Amendment to tonight's programme

Unfortunately due to the extreme weather we've had over the last 24 hours, our speaker is unable to join us tonight.  We will be rescheduling his talk as soon as possible.

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

September CAS meeting

The next CAS meeting will be held on Tuesday 25th September 2012 at 7.30pm.

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

Curiosity has landed in Gale Crater

In case you missed the news, NASA's Curiosity rover has landed successfully in Gale Crater. Congratulations to the NASA team for pulling the amazing landing off.

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

July CAS meeting is on!

Just to confirm that there will be a CAS meeting in July.  We will meet at the usual venue on Tuesday 31st July at 7.30pm and we will have some exciting presentations for you:

- 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

Event display of a Higgs Boson 2e2mu
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)

Two spacecraft engineers stand with a group of vehicles providing a comparison of three generations of Mars rovers developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The setting is JPL's Mars Yard testing area.
3 generations of Mars robots, the MSL is the giant on the right

So please come along and enjoy the show!

Monday, June 11

Rehashing old data...

Given the lack of clear nights available to me lately I've resorted to processing some data I acquired in April earlier this year.

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

Transit from space

If you want to guarantee a view of the transit uninterrupted by clouds you are best heading for space. That's the view that astronauts on the ISS have.

The transit of Venus on June 5, 2012 as seen from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Don Pettit


Cumbrian weather strikes again

Well a quick look out of the window shows total cloud cover and rain here in Cockermouth! A look t the satellite images show that most of the country is covered and so sign of any gaps for the next few hours.

So it's plan B and watching the transit on the Internet then!


Tuesday, June 5

Venus transit update . . new observing site

Thanks to Robin who has posted a comment giving perhaps a more suitable place to view the transit if the weather permits. That's at a small carpark above Caldbeck.

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

Transit LIVE

If the weather does not cooperate on Wednesday morning then your best bet might be to watch the transit live on the Internet. This article has the details.


Watching the Venus transit?

On Wednesday morning (6th June), as the Sun rises, a transit of Venus will be in progress. This is a rare astronomical event, so rare that the next one takes place in December 2117 (yes 2117!). So a few people have been in touch asking if we are holding a public event similar to the one we held in Memorial Gardens back in 2004 for the last transit. The short answer is no . . .

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.

Good luck.


P.S. If you have any good ideas for viewing locations, please share them in the comments.

Monday, May 14

May 2012 meeting

Our next meeting will be held at 7.30pm on May 29th 2012 at the usual venue.  Our main speaker will be Ian Smith, one of our resident astrophysicists, who will be talking about the origins of life in the universe.

If anyone has any observation reports or photos they'd like to share please bring them along.

See you all there.


Tuesday, April 24

April 2012 meeting - tonight!

Just realised that I forgot to remind people that the CAS meeting is tonight, Tuesday 24th April 2012.

Tonight we will have a news update followed by the AGM.

All welcome as usual and depending on the time we can have a bit of a freestyle session after the AGM to discuss any topics people have questions on or would like to see covered in future talks.

See you there (hopefully!)


Saturday, March 24

March meeting 27th March 2012

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

Supernova SN2012aw captured in M95

Many thanks to Robin for pointing out that my image below also captures the very recently discovered Supernova in M95.

Amazing to think of the power of this single star shining so brightly from such a great distance.


Monday, March 19

Mars passes M95 and M96 Galaxies

The sky was beautiful last night and I managed to get a nice conjunction of the planet Mars as it passes by two Messier Galaxies, M95 and M96.

Mars, M95 & M96
Skywatcher MN190 f/5
Canon EOS300D modified
EQ6 Pro autoguided

30 x 3 minute exposures @ ISO800

M95, shown on the right in this image, is a magnitude +11.4 barred spiral 36 million light years away from us.

M96, on the left, is a magnitude +10.6 type Sa spiral 31 million light years away.

Mars was shining brightly at magnitude -1.0 and is shown massively over-exposed here in this series of 3 minute exposures.

Look out for some great conjunctions on 25th or 26th March with the crescent Moon, Jupiter and Venus in the western early evening sky ; and Venus passing very close to the Pleiades (M45) on 2nd-4th April.

Tuesday, March 6

Venus & Jupiter reflected in Lake Windermere

On a visit down to the Eddington Astronomical Society last night to do a talk, I was stunned to see the beauty of Venus and Jupiter reflecting in the still waters of Lake Windermere.

Two bright beacons blazing low in the Western sky!


Sunday, March 4

February 2012 Meeting report

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.



Did you see the meteor?

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

February Meeting

The February 2012 meeting will take place on Tuesday 28th February at 7.30pm in the church hall as usual.


There will be a news update, tea-coffee intermission and a talk entitled "Postcards from Cassini", a photographic voyage around Saturn and its moons.


Huge storm on Saturn


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

January meeting update

Thanks to everyone who came along to our January meeting and special thanks to Ian for holding the fort as Jeremy was injured and I was away with work. It sounds like it was a successful meeting and the high level is interest we had through our Stargazing LIVE events continued with many more people attending the meeting and hopefully joining the society.

Our next meeting is on 28th February. Keep an eye on the website for more details. 


Astrophotography tips

It was great to meet so many people last weekend who are interested in having a go at astrophotography or who are already dabbling.

Below are some useful links to software and hardware that will help you progress:
  • 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.

Hopefully this will set some of you off the journey to taking your own images. If you need any specific advice get in touch via email: j.g.hunt@btinternet.com

Sunday, January 29

Stargazing Photos

Some photos from our Stargazing Event in Cockermouth

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

Stargazing in Cockermouth initial report

A quick report from our stargazing event today. We had a really good turn out all afternoon for our exhibition and talks. Thanks to all the CAS members who came along and brought equipment and displays and spent all afternoon talking to people and helping them with telescopes etc. Thanks to Stuart for coming from Kendal to show people his meteorites and Mars 3D pictures. 

Unfortunately, yet again, the weather didn't co-operate so we have had to cancel our observing event this evening. There was almost total cloud cover when our talks finished.

Thanks to everyone else who came along to visit us the enthusiasm and questions from everyone made the day.

More update and photos later. 


Friday, January 27

Directions to Stargazing in Cockermouth events tomorrow

If you are unsure of the locations for tomorrow's events the map below shows the locations of the United Reformed Church (events start at 1pm) and the Memorial Gardens (observing starts at 8.30pm).

View Stargazing in Cockermouth Locations in a larger map

Fingers crossed for clear skies!

Thursday, January 26

Stargazing in Cockermouth timings

Just a quick reminder of timing for our event on Saturday.

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

Potential aurora tonight

The sun is really active at the moment and yesterday there was another massive solar flare and coronal mass ejection. What that means is that loads of charged particles are on there way towards Earth and could potentially cause aurora (northern lights).

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.

Good luck.

Sunday, January 22

Stargazing report: Low Gillerthwaite event

Yesterday's event at Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre was a great success despite the fact that the weather didn't co-operate. Clouds stubbornly refused to clear as the sky got dark and after a while the observing was abandoned in favour of a few more talks. Everyone there could certainly see the potential for great observing with the dark skies and fantastic setting.

There was a great turnout for the event with well over fifty people visiting during the day, and it was great to see so many family groups. The inflatable planetarium was a favourite. Provided by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the planetarium  was set up in the barn and allowed around 30 people at a time to be taken on a tour of the solar system and the night sky. The enthusiasm of the presenter, Alan, was infectious and he was bombarded with questions at the end of each session. 

Over in the classroom we had a range of astronomy books, posters and equipment on display. I did a number of talks during the afternoon all of which were well attended and followed by questions and answers. Topics such as finding extrasolar planets, what to look for in the winter sky and the ten most amazing places in the solar system were covered. There was also an opportunity for younger enthusiasts to get hands on making planetarium umbrellas. Perhaps the most appropriate equipment for the day!

Thanks to the CAS members who came along with telescopes and spend the day answering people's questions. 

We will get another chance for some observing on Saturday 28th at our Cockermouth event. 


Friday, January 20

Stargazing Events - Press Coverage

We have been fortunate to get quite a bit of press coverage in the local press for Stargazing LIVE events, which is great for our events, but probably a bit too much for me personally !!

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.


Wednesday, January 18

Monkey Head Nebula

During the first in the series of BBC Stargazing Live I was in and out of the house to the observatory, capturing the following image of the Monkey Head Nebula or NGC2174.

Skywatcher MN190
Canon EOS300D modified
EQ6 Pro autoguided

28 x 5 minute exposures

Tuesday, January 17

Stargazing LIVE update

I hope everyone is enjoying the BBC Stargazing LIVE series on BBC2, over 4 million people watched the first programme last night. Judging by the number of people visiting this site  and the number of emails I've had quite a few people have been inspired by the programmes and are looking for further events to get involved with. There are plenty of events around Cumbria check out the BBC Things to Do website

We will be following up on many of the items covered in the TV series at our exhibition and talks on 28th January including more on; finding things in the night sky, choosing telescopes, photographing the night sky and getting hands on with the scale of the universe.

You will have seen plenty of examples of amazing astrophotographs on the TV series, just as impressive are the ones Jeremy has posted on this site including the fantastic Flaming Star nebula one below. Jeremy will be sharing more images and giving advice on how to start taking night sky images yourself.

IC405 - The Flaming Star Nebula

With the lovely spell of clear nights I've been out getting some new shots and the first to be processed is of the Flaming Star Nebula in Auriga. It's a stunning object with deep red emmision and haunting blue reflection nebulae intermingled.

This is the second time I've shot this object, but the first time with this scope. I've done a very deep exposure totalling 3.5 hours colour and 1.5 hours hydrogen-alpha.

IC405 - Flaming Star Nebula

Mak-Newt 190mm f/5
Canon EOS300D modified
EQ6 Pro autoguided

43 x 5 minute exposures (colour) ISO800
9 x 10 minute exposures (hydrogen-alpha) ISO800

Sunday, January 15

Stargazing LIVE starts with events around Cumbria

Stargazing LIVE starts tomorrow on BBC2 and the series runs for three nights. 

Events are already taking place all around Cumbria. Eddington Astronomical Society had a successful observing evening on Saturday, the details are on Stuart's Cumbrian Sky blog. It looks like they had a great turn out from the Kendal. Border Astronomy Society are also holding observing evenings at their observatory in Carlisle.

Check the BBC Things to Do site to find other events in the area. 
One event we are involved with is the Low Gillerthwaite Dark Sky Discovery Siite event on Saturday 21st January. Details are here

Then, of course, there is our own Stargazing in Cockermouth event on Saturday 28th January.

I hope to see you at one of these great events.


Tuesday, January 10

Welcome to 2012 - Some dates for your diary

Happy New Year to everyone.

2012 promises to be an interesting and exciting year for astronomy with plenty for us to get involved with. Later in the year we will have the opportunity to see at least part of a transit of Venus for the last time for 105 years! In August NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover is due to land on the red planet, Opportunity is still going strong 8 years after she landed!

We will of course have a full programme of CAS meetings for 2012, but the activities start before our first meeting on 31st January so take note of the following dates.

16th - 18th January: BBC Stargazing LIVE airs in BBC2, so sit back and enjoy.

21st January: Stargazing event at Low Gillerthwaite Dark Sky Discovery Site at Ennerdale. Various activities including an inflatable 'star lab'. We need society members to come along with telescopes to help with observing later in the evening. More details to follow.

28th January: Our own Stargazing in Cockermouth event at the United Reformed Church on Cockermouth Main Street from 1pm and observing in Memorial Gardens from 8.30pm. We will have plenty of displays in the hall with activities for young stargazers to get involved with. During the afternoon and early evening there will be a number of talks on astronomy subjects and the obviously the observing sessions, weather permitting. We need society members to come along and help set up and bring telescopes and equipment where possible. Everyone else is welcome to just turn up, entry is free for everyone.

31st January: CAS January meeting, 7.30pm in St Joseph's Church Hall.

I hope to see you there.