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, March 29

March 2015 Meeting: Asteroids

This Tuesday, 31st March 7.30pm, is our next CAS Meeting. We'll be having our usual news update, including a report on the March Solar eclipse. The our topic of the month is Asteroids, including the latest from NASA's Dawn mission to Ceres.
If you have any pictures from the Solar Eclipse, or any other astronomical images you want to share please bring them along.

Friday, March 20

Eclipse watch report

We did manage to see some the solar eclipse from Cockermouth this morning, much to the delight of everyone who came along to Memorial Gardens.

The morning started early, with three society members arriving around 8am to set up, joined a short time later by a photographer from the News and Star. We were met with skies heavy with cloud, and a forecast that didn't look promising. However, as the saying goes, "the only guarantee in astronomy is, if you don't look you definitely won't see anything!". So we set up 'scopes and waited for the crowds to arrive and the clouds to clear.

Not looking too hopeful . . 
Soon the people started to arrive, or at least notice us loitering in the park. With no prospect of showing them anything through our scopes at least we are able to keep up with progress on the Internet, and hand out some BBC Stargazing LIVE leaflets.

Eclipse watching via the internet
As the time of maximum eclipse approached at 9.30am the sky was noticeably darker and cooler and there was a hint of the "eclipse breeze" being researched by the University of Reading. Totality was observed over the Internet, live from an aircraft above the Faroe Isles.

Then the sky started to brighten. At first, because less of the Sun was blocked out by the moon, but then we realised that the clouds were breaking up. The lower level of cloud had gaps which showed brighter patches of cloud above. Then, suddenly, we saw the eclipsed sun through the clouds. Just a second or so, but enough to raise a cheer from the gathered crowd.

After that spirits rose, and we were eagerly watching gaps in the clouds drifting across the sky, willing them to move to just the right place to reveal the sun again. Some did, and before long we were starting to capture images.

Eclipse glasses at the ready
Eventually the cloud was thin enough to require the eclipse glasses to view the Sun safely. Special filters went on the the cameras. Unfortunately there wasn't enough time to align telescopes.

Solar filters deployed
The gaps continued to align with the sun, giving us views for as long as 30 seconds through our eclipse glasses, as the moon gradually moved away from the Sun.

Eclipsed Sun through one of the many gaps in the clouds
So, overall a successful morning. Yes it would have been nice to bask in glorious sunshine for the whole event, but this is Cumbria! Given the forecast we had I think we definitely came out on top.

I'm sure there will be more photos to come, watch this space.

Sunday, March 15

Solar Eclipse on Friday

This Friday is the Solar Eclipse. For Cockermouth the moon will cover around 90% of the surface of the Sun. While it will not go dark you can see the eclipse safely with special telescopes, filters and eclipse glasses, all of which will be available at our event. We will be in Memorial Gardens, Cockermouth from about 8am on Friday with the eclipse itself starting around 8.30am.

The BBC Stargazing LIVE series will also air this week with plenty more information about the eclipse and other astronomy topics. 

Details of the event are also available on our Facebook page.

REMEMBER: Never look directly at the Sun with any type of instrument (telescope or binoculars) you will seriously damage you eyes. Normal sunglasses or smoked glass are not suitable for eclipse viewing as they do not provide adequate protection from the Sun.

Wednesday, March 4

Eycott Hill Jupiter and Moon Watch - Friday 6th March 2015

This Friday, 6th March, we will be holding a public observing session in association Cumbria Wildlife Trust at their recently acquired Eycott Hill reserve.

We will be on the site from 7.30pm to observe Jupiter and the (almost full) Moon rising. If you are able to bring a telescope along please contact me so that I've got an idea of the number of telescopes we will have available. If you'd just like to come along and take part, that's fine too, please see the details of the event on the Cumbria Wildlife Trust website and book with them. There is no charge for the event from either CWT or CAS.

This map shows directions to the event. Basically turn off the A66 at The Sportsman Inn and follow the road through the hamlet of Berrier. The site is just outside the hamlet on the left.