Monday, January 27
We had an outstanding turn out for the recent Stargazing Live evening in Cockermouth, with so many members of the public coming to observe Jupiter and the Moon from the Memorial Gardens.
Our meeting on Tuesday will assist those who are relatively new to astronomy to find their way around the night sky, tips on observing and equipment, basics of astrophotography and of course a summary of the latest news on astronomy and spaceflight.
We will also have a short talk by local member Chris McKay on the Project Ascend mission to launch a series of scientific instruments and cameras into space from Cockermouth School!
If you have any images you have taken in the recent weeks (Jupiter, the Moon, Supernova SN2014J, etc.) then please bring them along on a memory stick and we can share them.
See you there!
Thursday, January 23
|Image Credit : UCL/University of London Observatory/Steve Fossey/Ben Cooke/Guy Pollack/Matthew Wilde/Thomas Wright|
The supernova (now designated SN 2014J) was around magnitude 11 when first discovered, requiring a relatively large telescope to observe it. It is set to brighten over the next week or so to somewhere around magnitude 8, visible in modest telescopes.
Full details are available here and here.
Congratulations to the discovery team, students from my old university Physics and Astronomy department at University College London.
Sunday, January 12
We had a really busy Stargazing event last night in Cockermouth. I lost count of the number of people who came along to look through our telescopes. Luckily we had nine telescopes lined up in the play area of Memorial Gardens to show people the Moon and Jupiter.
The early start at 6pm allowed families with young children come along, and they certainly did. It was fantastic to see so many youngsters getting their first view of craters on the moon and the moons of Jupiter. We quickly relocated a couple of telescopes to a low level to help our smaller visitors get the best views.
Unfortunately we were so busy we didn't get time to get any photos of the crowds. In fact it was well past 7.30pm before I got chance to quickly walk round the 'scopes and see which CAS members had turned up with their telescopes.
Thanks for your support.
Thanks to everyone who came along and brought telescopes and binoculars. Thanks to BBC Stargazing LIVE, BBC Radio Cumbria, Cumbria Crack and others who helped to publicise our events. Thanks of course to everyone who came along and for all the great questions and comments. It was certainly a very successful evening to finish a great stargazing LIVE week.
We're not done yet!
We are not done with Stargazing LIVE just yet though. At the end of this month our friends at Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre in Ennerdale are holding their first Dark Sky Discovery Weekend of the year. On Friday 31st January and Saturday 1st February there will be a number of activities at the centre.
On the Saturday afternoon and evening, CAS members will be there to help show people the night sky from this fantastic dark sky site. There will also be an inflatable planetarium giving everyone a tour of the night sky regardless of the weather. More details on the LGFC website.
Following that there's a repeat dark sky event in February and look out for some more events during National Astronomy Week in March.
If you've been inspired. . .
If the BBC Stargazing LIVE series and our events have inspired you to get more involved in astronomy then come along to our next regular CAS meeting on Tuesday 28th January. We'll be following up on our observing sessions with a chance to look at the telescopes in more detail, learn about starting out photographing the night sky and some hints and tips about finding your way around the night sky. No need to book for our meetings, just turn up at St Joseph's church hall in Cockermouth at 7.30pm.
You can also keep up to date through this site, or our Facebook and Twitter accounts.
I hope to see you at some of our future events.
Saturday, January 11
Undeterred we moved up Lowther Went and found an ideal spot outside Wilkinson's. After a quick word with the manager, who kindly gave us permission, we set up two telescopes.
We even managed to get a couple of cameras attached to the scopes and captured some reasonable images. There was a particularly impressive solar prominence visible through the H-alpha filter.
At 12pm we will be in Cockermouth town centre with special solar telescopes, hopefully showing people the Sun close up, and safely. (NEVER look directly at the Sun with binoculars or telescopes, without special equipment). Hopefully we will see sunspots and other features on the surface.
Later on we'll be back in Memorial Gardens from 6pm to look at the night sky. CAS members will be on hand with their telescopes to show people a range for objects. We will be near the Wakefield Road car park, close to the children's play area.
Wrap up warm and come along.
Believe it or not, in our fourth year of holding events in conjunction with BBC Stargazing LIVE, that's the first time we've been able to see anything! and prospects are better for tonight.
Eight CAS members arrived with an array of telescopes and other equipment ready for observing. The forecast was for patchy cloud although there were no signs of the cloud breaking at 7pm.
|Waiting for the clouds to clear|
|A first glimpse of the moon through cloud|
|Telescopes set up and ready for action|
|The moon through one of the telescopes|
Friday, January 10
The weather is poor at the moment for our first stargazing event tonight. We will still be in Memorial Gardens from 7pm to see how it goes. There is some optimism in the forecast that we may at least see some breaks in the cloud.
Check back here, or our Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates.
We will be in Memorial Gardens, Cockermouth from 7pm this evening, with telescopes, binoculars and more. There is no need to bring you own equipment (although you can if you want), CAS Members will be on hand to show you some of the best sights in the night sky.
There is no charge for the event, and it is suitable for all ages. The forecast is for patchy cloud, so hopefully we will be able to see some of the night sky.
If the sky clears it will be cold so wrap up warm and come a join us.
Thursday, January 9
Later in the month we will once again be supporting Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre at their Dark Sky Discovery Weekend.
For details of all the events near you, wherever you are, check out the BBC Things to Do website.
|M51 Whirlpool Galaxy as you won't see it through a small telescope!|
While these are *relatively* easy galaxies to find but still can be frustrating to track down in a small telescope.
If you want some help finding these and other 'deep sky' objects, including the Andromeda Galaxy 'only' 2.5 million light years away, come along to one of our Stargazing in Cockermouth events. We are in Memorial Gardens, Cockermouth with our telescopes from 7pm on Friday 10th, and 6pm on Saturday 11th January.
Don't forget you can help look for hidden galaxies at spacewarps.org.
Wednesday, January 8
The Tromso all-sky camera provides a new image every few seconds, just click on the 'latest image' link on the main page of their website. Or you can explore the archive of images.
The image below is from last night just after the start of the BBC Stargazing LIVE show and shows the extensive green aurora we saw behind Liz Bonnin on the programme.
Tonight there is cloud cover and snow in Tromso, so not much to see on the camera. Just as well the BBC crew were able to bring us live pictures from 30,000ft, well above the clouds.
You can also view some fantastic aurora images on the Spaceweather.com Realtime Aurora Gallery.
As mentioned on tonight's show, a large Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) erupted from the sun today and is heading for the Earth. I we get any clear skies over the next couple of days look out for aurora. Failing that check the camera in Tromso.
Don't forget our own Stargazing in Cockermouth sessions on Friday and Saturday
Sunday, January 5
This year we invite you to join us for a simple observing event in Memorial Gardens Cockermouth, which will provide a fantastic opportunity for everyone, young and old, to explore the night sky.
With plenty of telescopes, binoculars and amateur experts on hand to guide you, you'll see some amazing sights. Explore the craters and seas of the moon in amazing detail through telescopes that will make it seem you are hovering just above the surface.
See Jupiter, that 'bright star' in the evening sky, come to life as a real planet with cloud bands visible in its atmosphere. See its tiny moons, first observed by Galileo over 400 years ago, for yourself through a telescope or binoculars. Perhaps even catch a glimpse of the Great Red Spot, a huge storm, three times the size of the Earth, that has been raging in Jupiter's atmosphere for hundreds of years.
|Jupiter imaged recently by CAS member Dennis Kelly|
Test your vision on the Pleiades, a cluster of stars known as 'The Seven Sisters' and used as a test of eyesight by many ancient cultures. How many of its stars can you see with the naked eye?
Learn where to find the Andromeda Galaxy, a twin to our own Milky Way. Light from this collection of over 200 billion suns started its journey two and a half million years ago. You can observe it with a simple pair of binoculars.
See many other 'deep sky' objects, like the Crab Nebula, the remains of a star that exploded as a bright star observed by Chinese astronomers in 1054 AD. The star has gone, but the remains are visible through telescopes today.
Learn how to photograph the night sky with fairly basic equipment that you may already have access to. We will have plenty of experienced society members on hand to show you how you can take some stunning photographs yourself.
If the Stargazing LIVE programmes have inspired you to explore the night sky further, wrap up warm and come along to Memorial Gardens in Cockermouth from 7pm on Friday 10th January and from 6pm on Saturday 11th January. We hope to see you there!
Friday, January 3
Our own events will follow on from that next Friday and Saturday evenings. We will kick off on Friday 10th at 7pm in Memorial Gardens, Cockermouth. We need as many telescopes as possible along with society members to assist showing members of the public the night sky. If you can come along and help, great. Even better if you can let me know beforehand, so I can plan best use of our resources. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We will run a repeat event on the Saturday night, that's 11th January. We will start at the earlier time of 6pm. Again the more telescopes the better.
Weather permitting we are also hoping to do a bit of solar observing in the afternoon. Check back for more details on our plans and what were are hoping to show people.
In the mean time enjoy the TV shows.