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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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.