Lecture at University of Central Lancashire

There is a free public lecture in Preston on 28th September 2017;  the Jeremiah Horrocks Autumn Lecture. The speaker is Professor Lucie Green, and the title is “15 million degrees: journey to the centre of the Sun“.

It will be in the Darwin Lecture Theatre, 6.30pm start. Although it is free, you will need to apply for a ticket in advance:



Solar Watch Day at the Brewery Art Centre

We held a Solar Watch at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal on July 1st. The weather was very good with just a few passing clouds. The clouds had the advantage of allowing members time to cool down telescopes and explain the physical nature of our nearest star with the aid of photographs and diagrams to members of the public. Only one faint sunspot could be seen on the day, nonetheless the opportunity to view the sun safely, either through projection, solar filters or using the society’s Coronado, was enjoyed by many enthusiastic visitors who could observe the sun and see the occasional prominence.

EAS Meeting 2nd September 2014

This meeting was the official start of our Stargazing Kendal week, and started with Stuart Atkinson’s round-up of astronomy news, and also some of his recent photographs of the Aurora taken from Shap and the Milky Way from Dalby Star Camp, as well as Comet Jacques, currently visible in binoculars.

Simon White then showed his latest photos. He has been investigating the possibility of using Silecroft, on the coast out beyond Barrow, as an observing site with a dark sky to the South-West, only to discover that there is a huge, well-lit wind farm out to sea. So not as dark as he hoped, but he still got some impressive shots of the Milky Way. He has also been following Comet Jacques, and showed a beautiful photo of the comet moving past the Heart Nebula (albeit composed of two separate photos taken by two different telescopes, on two different continents!).

Telescope Night

After the break we had Telescope Night. This is the chance for everyone to show off their telescopes, and answer questions about them – how the different types worked, and what their advantages and disadvantages were. Ten people brought telescopes along, varying from little birding telescopes to large reflectors which took two people to carry. Different devices are suitable for different applications, so it all depends on what you want to do, and on how important portability is to you. The discussion also highlighted the importance of picking the right tripod, where there is a distinct trade-off of stability against portability to be considered.

Finally, we were reminded of the events for the coming week, especially the observing sessions on Wednesday night at the Castle, and on Saturday.at the Brewery Arts Centre.

Liz Hodgson

EAS August Meeting

Since the last meeting, the Museum projector has been fixed, so we can now see pictures in colour! (For those who missed the July meeting, everything was a deep, deep green….) So Stuart Atkinson was able to show his latest NLC photos to best advantage. After 10 years in Kendal, he has finally managed to capture NLC above the Castle, and it was truly a gorgeous image.

Richard Allen (the son of our ex-treasurer David Allen, it turns out) gave a nicely-pitched lecture on how the size and orbit of the Earth determine the weather patterns that exist on it, and also how the climate has been affected in the past by things such as the tilt of the Earth’s rotation axis to its orbital plane (why we have summer and winter) and the changing eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit over time. He finished with a sobering summary of the current evidence that mankind’s activities on Earth have very recently upset long-standing balances between the carbon dioxide entering and leaving the atmosphere (man-made climate change).

Liz Hodgson

Amateurs take over old NASA satellite

Some brave people have scraped together funding to try and contact ISEE-3, a NASA satellite from 1978 that just happens to be passing Earth again in August 2014. They call themselves the ISEE-3 Reboot Project and NASA has just given them the official go-ahead. They will have to rebuild a lot of kit that has been scrapped, as the technology used to communicate with satellites has changed so much since the 1970s. They even have a mission patch!


Sounds a great idea!  Maybe EAS should be more ambitious?

12th May 2014 – Meeting

The meeting was well attended (around 40 members) and Stuart Atkinson kicked off with a description of his recent observing sessions, and the resulting beautiful photos. EAS members have been searching all round Kendal and the surrounding areas for good observing sites, and we have tracked down quite a few dark places. As well as finding places suitable for an evening session, some members are interested in sites where we could hold our own Starcamp. Stuart has found a local campsite that would offer very dark skies but is quite close and accessible.

That would be for later on in the year. In the meantime, there has been a prediction of a possible meteor shower on 23/24th May 2014, from a new trail of dust, i.e. not one of the regular showers. Since it is new, no-one knows how bright it might be, but we are always hopeful, and a Meteor Watch is planned up on Scout Scar for the night of the 23rd. This will not be a public event, just for EAS members.

Stuart also reminded everyone to look out for noctilucent clouds, as we are approaching the season for them There were some really good ones last year, and several members got good photos.

After the break, we had a presentation from Simon White, who explained the hard work that goes into his amazing photos (and also the occasional glitch!). He had managed to capture comet PANSTARRS c/2012 K1 and M51 in the same frame, but they put up a fight.

Simon was followed by Ian Bradley showing his holiday snaps of the restored 72″ telescope built at Birr in Ireland by the 3rd Earl of Rosse in the mid-19th Century. It was an astonishing technical achievement in its day, but central Ireland was perhaps not the best place to site it. The cloud cover rivals Kendal’s!

Lastly Carol Grayson showed us how she had managed to capture two unusual optical highlights on the Moon, the Lunar X and the Lunar V. In both cases, these are the result of the way the oblique sunlight hits the mountains and crater ridges as the Moon turns, and they can only be seen quite briefly.

Liz Hodgson

7th April 2014 – Meeting

This was Beginners Night, and Stuart Atkinson gave a wide-ranging overview of the ways in which a beginner might set out to learn more about the night sky. He emphasized the importance of navigation; learning your way round the night sky, so that you can recognize the major constellations. This will necessarily take at least 12 months, but there are many guides and devices to help you.

As far as equipment is concerned, binoculars are more suited for beginners than telescopes because of their wider field of view, and many exciting things can be seen with binoculars, or even with the naked eye. But you do need a dark place to observe from; light pollution is an issue even in places like Kendal. Closer to large cities, it can be impossible to get a good view of the night sky.

Good targets for beginners to observe are the Moon and planets, bright satellites like the ISS, meteors, and atmospheric phenomena such as noctilucent clouds and the Northern Lights.

After the break, Simon White gave a presentation on astrophotography for beginners.