As the evenings draw in again, it’s time to get some serious observation and photography in! And how better than another Field Astronomy Session that will be held at Woodrow around the society’s scope – weather permitting of course. Bring your own scope and not only show our visitors some of those Summer and Autumn highlights, but get the opportunity to see other peoples’ kit and some new products. But if the weather is against us we have a session about Live Stacking and observing star clusters and galaxies – this will complement last month’s session on observing nebulae.
It’s your favourite topic this month – observing planets. And we have a rare opportunity on the 11th this month to observe a transit of Mercury. So there will be plenty of guidance on how to observe it and capture it with a camera.
Another Field Astronomy evening if whether permits, so we’ll be up at Woodrow with our scopes and hopefully lots of visitors. Otherwise we’ll re-visit the complex but rewarding business of image processing. Taking the picture is challenging enough, but getting the best out of the pictures you’ve taken can take as long and is just as challenging. But not impossible and indeed it is even possible to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!
The Perseid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on Monday, 12th August 2019. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 23rd July to 20th August. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible from a dark location is around 80 per hour. That said, the Moon will be 12 days old at the time of peak activity, and being so close to Full Moon will severely limit the observations that will be possible. Nevertheless let’s hope for better weather than last year, when it poured with rain!
We are pleased to Welcome back WAS friend Paul Hill who will be giving the lecture on Wednesday 17th July.
Animals in space. What have we sent, why did we send them and who are the top 5 celebrity space animals?
Something a little different, hopefully accessible to all and will no doubt be served up in Paul’s usual friendly engaging style.
Since it’s the time of year when because of long day lengths we can’t really do astronomy, this is your chance to show off your best astro-images taken during the last twelve months. Last year’s exhibition was a major success and with more and more people doing Astro-imaging we can look forward to another high quality evening.
Dr Dirk Froebrich from the University of Kent has been running the HOYS-CAPS citizen science project since October 2014. HOYS-CAPS stands for Hunting Outbursting Young Stars with the Centre of Astrophysics and Planetary Science. The aim of the project is long term, multi-filter optical photometric monitoring of young (age less than 10Myr), nearby (distances typically within 1kpc) star clusters or star forming regions visible from the northern hemisphere.
The project currently involves about 10 amateur astronomers from the UK, as well as from Europe and is supported by some additional professional observatories. The participants take images of objects on their target list, perform a basic data reduction (flat-fielding and dark/bias correction) and submit these reduced images for inclusion into their database via a newly developed web-interface (at http://astro.kent.ac.uk/HOYS-CAPS/). This interface will soon also allow participants to plot and study light-curves of any star imaged by the project.
At the time of writing the target list contains 17 young clusters/regions as well as several additional targets selected from the Gaia Photometric Alerts, some of which are within the 17 target regions. More than 3200 images have been taken for the project so far, with a total of about 1000hrs of observing time. So far the data has been included in one refereed paper, an Astronomers Telegram and a second paper is currently in preparation.
Dr Dirk Froebrich is now aiming to increase the participation in HOYS-CAPS to a much larger number of amateur societies across the entire UK. This potentially includes Wycombe Astronomical Society, so the aim of this presentation is for us to gain an understanding of the scientific goals and results of this project and how we can participate.
This is an exciting opportunity for WAS, and I hope you will enjoy hearing all about it. We do obviously understand that not all members may feel that they can easily participate due to the equipment involved, or perhaps the process needed to produce the required images. If that is the case, I would just like to say that we can help. The society has the required equipment, and as an example we could form working groups to capture the data and process results together during practical meetings so please keep an open mind.
There is a project website that you can look at on the link below, but you may wish to look at it in more detail after the talk;
Project website: http://astro.kent.ac.uk/~df/hoyscaps/index.html
Please note that Dr Froebrich will bring a questionnaire which will contain a few short questions to be answered anonymously, and voluntarily before and after the talk. This will enable the project team to collect some more feedback on their project.
If planetary observing is the favourite pastime of our members, Lunar Observing runs it a close second. We’ll cover all aspects of lunar observing, from phases and libration, to crater formation and tidal locking. And we’ll take another look at taking photos of the moon using anything from an i-Phone to the latest video cameras now available.
We hear a lot about dark matter in astronomy. Some people consider it a fudge. In this talk we'll go through the evidence for dark matter and the history of it, and answer the questions in the title. No particular prior knowledge is assumed.
The Apollo Missions To The Moon
Starting with the cold war and the Russian success story of space flight, we then learn how the USA built the infrastructure to full fill President Kennedy's goal of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely back to the Earth. Andy Green has met 9 of the 12 men who walked on the moon as well as mission controllers and engineers. He is well placed to talk about the Apollo success.
Whilst Messier’s 110 objects provide plenty of interest, there are a whole pile of other objects out there to observe. Patrick Moore’s Caldwell Objects, for example, provide new viewing opportunities (and challenges).
Melanie Davies, Founder and Science Director from Creative Space Science CIC and elected Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2014, will be giving us a lecture on the history, myths and science of the Pleiades, the famous and beautiful open cluster of young stars in the constellation of Taurus.
Her lecture will be drawing on scientific papers, and will inform us of the scientific community’s current knowledge of the Pleiades including their evolution, properties and their possible fate.
Practical - Field Astronomy Session (or Scope set-up optimisation - Collimation & Polar Alignment, Handset sub-menus
If we’re lucky with the weather, this Field Astronomy Session will be held at Woodrow around the society’s scope. Bring your own, of course, and not only show our visitors some of those Spring highlights, but get the opportunity to see other peoples’ kit and some new products. But if the weather is against us we have a session about those tricky but essential aspects of telescope management, collimation and polar alignment. We shall also look at some of those handset sub-menus – Precise Go-To for example.
A session primarily aimed at our newer members (but experienced members will also learn a thing or two!) and all about using the constellations and key stars as celestial signposts to those exciting astronomical objects we all like looking at. We’ll also re-visit the two telescopic observing projects WAS-50 and WAS-25 – still two of the best Teach-Yourself Astronomy projects ever devised
Colin Stuart, an active and popular astronomy speaker, author, award winning journalist and Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, will be giving us a lecture on how we will live on Mars.
He has written over 150 popular science articles for publications including the Guardian, New Scientist, The Wall Street Journal and the European Space Agency, and has talked about astronomy on Sky News, BBC News and Radio 5 Live and been quoted in national newspapers including The Daily Telegraph and The Observer.
To kick the year off a session on a new area for us – spectroscopy. Dr Lee Sproats is coming along to talk to us; now with David Hinds/Baader UK, he will be demonstrating a complete Baader DADOS spectroscopy kit to us - what it is, how it works, what the different ports and knobs are for, and how to use them. He will then cover how DADOS can be attached to a telescope and how to set it up to get spectra and how the spectra data are reduced. If the sky is clear he will attempt to take spectra of a couple of stars. If the sky is cloudy he will take spectra of internal lights and also get some raw spectral data and calibration files and then go through the data reduction.
Now for cool part (though some call it the Dark Art!) of processing those astro-images you’ve so carefully and painstakingly taken. For this you’ll need your image files and your computer. You’ll need to have some stacking software on your computer (we shall be demonstrating Deep Sky Stacker). Also we shall be using Adobe Photoshop so you need to have that on your machine as well. We’ll be covering the Levels and Curves routines to bring out the detail of those images and showing you a couple of sharpening techniques to improve those images even further. If you haven’t managed to capture images at this stage we’ll have a few we prepared earlier for you to work with. We may even have time to delve into PixInsight. Plus our regular items – planetary round-up, Cullen Objects and a Book of the Month.
The speed of light in a vacuum, c, is one of the most important constants of nature. It even plays a fundamental role in the definition of the metre, the internationally accepted unit of length. This talk examines the reasons why the speed of light has become so important, and explains the particular role that astronomy has played in establishing its value and its significance.
It’s clear that more and more of our members are at the stage they’d like to dip their toes into the complex business of astrophotography. But even getting to the stage of attaching a camera to your scope can be daunting. It isn’t, and we’ll show you how. And hopefully we’ll be able to take some sort of image on the night. You’ll need to bring scopes and cameras (whether they’re CCDs or DSLRs, or even your smart phones!). Plus our regular items – planetary round-up, Cullen Objects and a Book of the Month
** Please note, we are currently expecting to hold the practical meeting at the Woodrow Observatory. For further information please refer to member emails.
As the evenings draw in again, it’s time to get some serious observation and photography in! Now is the time to make sure your scope is in good condition and we’ll run through some of the key steps to get the most out of your instrument. But whenever we come to talk about this, we tend to skim past collimations and polar alignment till right at the end. So we’ve decided to make them a topic in their own right. We’ll talk about tools that can be used for this and software solutions too. Plus our regular items – planetary round-up, Cullen Objects and a Book of the Month.
Steve Broadbent will be giving us a lecture on Astronomical Spectroscopy.
He is a member of the BAA and elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.
He is retired from the University of Portsmouth. Initially a chemist, he undertook research into reaction mechanisms. He used to run a spectroscopy laboratory and lectured in computational chemistry and programming.
As an aside he is an active member of and gives regular talks to the Hampshire Astronomical Group including "Constellation of the Month" as well as talks on specific interest areas such as astronomical spectroscopy and individual astronomical observatories.
We’ll try and combine two topics in this session. Many members do not have scopes but they do have binoculars. We’ll cover the different designs and demonstrate how to use them. And we may be able to see Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner which reaches closest approach on the night of 10th/11th September, after which it rises after midnight. Plus our regular items – planetary round-up, Cullen Objects and a Book of the Month.
The Perseid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 12th August 2018. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 23rd July to 20th August. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible from a dark location is around 80 per hour. The Moon will be out of the way too, so with luck we should see plenty of meteors.
Please note, this is a members only event.
Do we really understand the northern lights? Tour operators will have us believe that we do, but there are still mysteries hidden behind the dancing curtains of light.
Interweaving the science with a background of their history, folklore and changing landscape, Aurora brings together space, place and science in magnificent style. In a journey that takes her through Scandinavia, Canada and Svalbard, culminating in a spectacular solar eclipse, Dr Melanie Windridge delves into the Northern Lights.
This beautiful and inspiring lecture will describe our connection to the Sun, the scientific processes behind the polar lights, and some of the unwanted technological effects of Space Weather – with beautiful images and adventure stories.
Since it’s the time of year when because of long day lengths we can’t really do astronomy, this is your chance to show off your best astro-images taken during the last twelve months. Last year’s exhibition was a major success and resulted in the first WAS Calendar being produced. Plus our regular items – planetary round-up, Cullen Objects and a Book of the Month.
We’re All Going To Die!
The threat from Near-Earth Objects
It came from space! It was 10 km across and it killed nearly all life on Earth! That was 65 million years ago. When might it happen again? The Earth was actually hit by minor asteroids in 1908 and 1947, and recent studies suggest that there are more such objects than previously thought.
The threat is real – it isn't a case of "if", but "when"
On the assumption we survive for the next few days!!! Jerry Stone - Author of "One Small Step", commemorating the first men on the Moon, Founder, The Sir Arthur Clarke Awards and President, The Mars Society UK will be here to talk to us about what we can do about it.
We have a lot to thank the moon for. It has influenced culture, religion and art for as long as humans have looked up and noticed our neighbour, and that's not counting how we probably owe our very existence to it's influence.
Something absolutely new for us this month as we venture into the realms of Radio Astronomy! And we aim to actually build a radio telescope for use later in the year. We’ll also have our regular items – planetary round-up, Cullen Objects and a Book of the Month.