Observing the Geminid Meteor Shower – peak 2am, 14th Dec

based on a BAA circular

Active from December 6-17, but with a slow rise to maximum on 14 December.

The Geminids are currently the richest of the regular annual meteor showers, producing an abundance of bright meteors at the maximum. Timing this year is good as the maximum occurs just before new Moon, so no interference by moonlight, enabling many fainter meteors to be seen in addition to the brightest members of the shower.  Peak activity expected at about 02h on Thursday, December 14.

In recent years, from the UK, the Geminids have shown typical peak observed rates of 70-80 meteors per hour in good skies if clear, so we might expect something like this on the peak night of December 13/14 (Wednesday night/Thursday morning). However, the maximum is quite broad and respectable Geminid rates may be expected throughout the nights of December 12/13, 13/14 and 14/15. Past observations have shown that bright Geminids become more numerous some hours after the rates have peaked, a consequence of particle-sorting in the meteoroid stream. Geminid meteors enter the atmosphere at a relatively slow 35 kilometres per second, and tend to last longer than most in luminous flight and may fragment into a train of ‘blobs.

The Geminid shower radiant (at RA 07h 33m,  Dec +32°, just north of the first magnitude star Castor in Gemini) rises early in the evening and reaches a respectable elevation above the horizon (> 40°) well before midnight, so observers who are unable to stay up late can still see a good show if clear. However, the early morning hours of Thursday, 14th December are likely to see the greatest Geminid activity, when the radiant is high in the sky.

Where best to look: As with any meteor shower, when observing it is best to look at an altitude of 50° and 40-50° to either side of shower radiant, rather than looking directly at the radiant itself, although Geminid meteors may appear in any part of the sky. It could be quite cold so wrap up well with plenty of layers of warm, dry clothing and make sure that you wear a hat, gloves and thick socks if you are outside for any time. No equipment is required – just go and look!


Public Moonwatch 25 November 2017

There was a successful EAS moonwatch last night at the Brewery Arts Centre despite the odd cloud obscuring the view. Lots of ‘Oh’, ‘wow’ and ‘cool’ from the passers-by as they clearly saw the craters on the Moon, many for the first time, through Society members telescopes. Lots of different ages… very young to, shall we say, senior citizens. There were pulses of visitors coinciding with the start and end of various Brewery events, so quite busy at times.  

Public moonwatch 21 Feb 2015

Another typical frustrating weather window for a EAS moonwatch. It came, it went! Some lovely clear skies with Venus and Mars and a striking crescent Moon sinking into the trees on the hill behind the Brewery Arts Centre, and then drizzle, then clear, then… well you get it!

With three small aperture telscopes there, plenty to look at.  Many families came through with small children who were most impressed, especially at the jagged Moon terminator. Well worth it for them. A striking contrast between white Venus and red Mars. The ISS also put in a show, catching us by surprise as we hadn’t looked when it was visible, popping into view really close to Mars and soaring upwards. Looked relatively faint and reddish so probably seeing it through a lot of thin cloud.

Moonwatch 21 Feb 2015

Moonwatch 21 Feb 2015

Mars and Venus were very low on the horizon and by 18:37 they were dipping behind the hill. Not a great pic but…

Moonwatch Moon Mars Venus 21 Feb 2015

Moonwatch Moon Mars Venus 21 Feb 2015

The crescent moon quickly captured thru the telescope – eyepiece projection and a compact camera. Pity about the tree!

Moonwatch Moon  21 Feb 2015

Moonwatch Moon 21 Feb 2015

NW astronomy societies Christmas dinner

Well 4 intrepid EAS members, me, Liz, Simon and Graham, made the trek down to Garstang for the annual N Lancs, S Cumbria astronomy societies Christmas dinner. The event was organised by PADAS [Preston and District AS] with Lancaster and Morecambe AS, Blackpool and Fylde AS and Barrow AS members usually present too. This was the first time EAS members attended. Not for the first time, the after-dinner speaker was Dr Alan Chapman FRAS, an eminent historian of science from Oxford University.

So how did it go – well the meal was good and Alan Chapman gave a fascinating talk on William and Caroline Herschell. He fluently spoke without notes for an hour and placed the Herschells’ achievements in the historical context of the time. William, born 1738 in Germany and died in 1822, was originally a musician but came to fame as an astronomer and composer, the latter to make money! He is, of course, best known as the discoverer of Uranus.

Anyway, a fine night and thanks to Graham for driving. Roll on next year!




EAS / CAS “SkyWatch” at Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre

Last weekend members of the Eddington AS and members (well, a member!) of the Cockermouth AS gathered at the Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre for a weekend “astronomy retreat”, organised by Carol (EAS) and Jeremy (CAS), the aim being to combine socialising and informal astronomy workshops and discussions with some serious stargazing and astrophotography at one of the darkest sites in the county – a secluded valley at the end of Ennerdale, absolutely miles away from anywhere.



Sadly the weather didn’t co-operate (that’s a polite way of saying it was ******** rubbish! Again! We’re cursed!) but it was still great fun, and a great opportunity to just chat about astronomy over great food, and sit beside a roaring fire while the wind howled outside and the rain pattered down.


There was a two minute gap on one night, when I managed to sneak out a single photo before the clouds obliterated everything (Cassiopiea), but that was it…

cass s

With no stars to view, members found other things to do, and there was no shortage of local wildlife to get to know…


…and I know that the EAS members who “attended” Jeremy Hunt’s astro-photography workshop found it extremely useful, so thanks Jeremy!

It was a shame more of our friends from Cockermouth couldn’t join us for what was a very enjoyable weekend, despite the weather. Maybe next time. LGFC is a great place with great facilities…





…and on a clear night – such as the night immediately before we got there and on the night we left, ********** typical!!!! – the sky is strewn with stars.

Thanks to everyone who made the effort to go to the weekend – quite a trek from Kendal – and a special thanks to Carol and Jeremy for organising it. Look forward to the next time!

Stargazing Kendal – The Podcast

Hi all

After a brilliant week for Stargazing Kendal, there is a special edition of the ‘Heavens Above Astronomy Podcast’ looking at Stargazing Kendal and watch out for a few familiar voices joining Dan, John & Stu including Graham and Carol! We recorded audio at the Sky Watch and Moon watch!

Listen on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5dWXh-E3c8

Listen on our website here: http://www.heavensabovepodcast.co.uk/



Well, here we are, the last official ‘event’ of our mini astro festival – a special 3D screening of the film “Gravity” – will be held at the Brewery Arts Centre in an hour and a half, and then, after a spot of stargazing tonight, that’ll be it, apart from taking down the Museum’s meteorite display next Friday.

After the frustration of Wednesday night’s cloud-ruined “Skywatch” up at the Castle, when we saw ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, yesterday’s observing day at the Brewery was a huge success, with first sunshine and then moonlight illuminating the Brewery Arts Centre gardens for hours. In the afternoon we set up more than half a dozen telescopes to show people the Sun, and after dark we switched our attention to the Moon. Lots of people came to both events, and the weather co-operated this time, allowing us long, wonderful periods of Sun- and Moon-vieweing. We were joined by amateur astronomers from outside our area, including Chris Darwin from the Cockermouth AS and Andrew Davies from the Knowledge Observatory, a good 3 hour drive away! Both brought solar telescopes along, and luckily there was lots to see on the Sun to keep our visitors happy: several groups of sunspots just clearing the limb, and rising up from the limb many feathery crimson prominences. I hope someone got pictures of those, they looked beautiful…

Here are some pics from the Sunwatch…



girl scope


I’ve no idea how many people came to see the Sun yesterday afternoon, but certainly all the members of the Society who came along to help – and thank you, all of you! – were kept busy, and there were lots of kind and appreciative comments from people who were amazed at their first ever views of sunspots, either through a telescope or on a projected image. The solar telescopes were big hits, and their owners worked particularly hard throughout the afternoon,

Between four and half past seven we had a well-earned and much-needed break, then returned to the Brewery gardens to set up for the Moonwatch. At first there was no sign of the Moon, it was hidden behind thick puffs of low cloud, but eventually it appeared, a big, bright, silvery ball breaking through a gap, and everyone rushed to their scopes! And that was the pattern for the next two hours… the Moon playing hide and seek through the clouds, with every reappearace greeted by a flurry of activity as telescope owners swung their instruments back towards it and visitors rushed to the nearest eyepiece. Again, I can’t estimate how many people came to see the Moon, but there was a steady flow of visitors all through the evening, young and old, curious and fascinated, and again for many of them it was their first view through a telescope, so I hope we made it a memorable one!

By the time we packed up at ten thirty we were all pretty worn out, but delighted the event had gone so well. It was a great day.

So, special thanks to everyone who played a part in it – all the members of the Society who took the time to come to the gardens and man a telescope; EAS member Dan Beale who promoted us all week on his Lakeland Radio show; Sally Moon and Caroline Robertson who plugged us so generously on Radio Cumbria; the Westmorland Gazette for telling its readers all about our events; Andrew Davies and Chris Darwin for travelling such a long way; the Brewery staff for supporting us, and, of course, the Brewery Arts Centre for letting us take over their lovely garden for most of the day!

And finally, a big THANK YOU to all the members of the public who came along to let us show them the Sun and the Moon. If you were one of them I hope you enjoyed your time with us, and that we will see you at some of our future events too!

STARGAZING KENDAL… How’s it going?

So, with just a couple of days of our mini astro festival left to go, how has STARGAZING KENDAL gone so far?

We started off on Monday night with an “open night” at Kendal Museum, when we flung open the doors for our monthly meeting and invited along anyone who wanted to learn more about what we do. It was our annual “Telescope Night”, when members bring along their telescopes and everyone has a good look at the variety of instruments owned by the Society. This year we had a REALLY good selection of telescopes, so thank you to everyone who brought one to the meeting!

telescopes and owners b












The next evening, Tuesday, The Brewery Arts Centre showed the SF film “Contact” in their Warehouse Cafe cinema for us. 24 hours later, members if the Society gathered up at Kendal Castle for the first observing event of the week, a “Skywatch”… unfortunately that sky was totally cloudy, so we saw nothing “Up there”, and missed the chance to show people Mars and Saturn shining close together over the town, and the Moon shining over the castle ruins, but still, lots of people came up to the castle and enjoyed chatting to us about the night sky and finding out more about the Society. And it was great to welcome back our Founder, Philip Stobbart, who brought with him a VERY special birthday card, signed by many famous astro people…





Thursday night the Brewery Arts Centre showed another film for us in The Warehouse, this time the space thriller “Sunshine”. Then last night was Lecture Night at The Box, and a small but select crowd enjoyed a trio of talks on beginners astronomy and astrophotography, from EAS Secretary Stuart Atkinson, EAS Treasurer Simon White and Cockermouth AS’s Jeremy Hunt, who travelled all the way down from Cockernouth to support us…






Today, Saturday, is our main observing day, with not one but TWO public observing events being held at The Brewery Arts Centre.

Poster Sun Moon BAC sm jpg

We’ll be looking at the Sun between 2 and 4, and the Moon after 8pm. If you haven’t come along to one of our STARGAZING KENDAL events yet, today’s your chance. Hope to see you there! 🙂

Stunning Rosetta pictures…

Rosetta is there and in orbit about comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The pictures are stunning – see http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Rosetta/Highlights/Postcards_from_Rosetta and others here.

Great job after 30 years from conception, 20 years of planning and assembly, and 10 years getting into position to do this … I must admit I share Stuart’s frustration at the lack of images but if I’d been involved that long, I think I would like to look at the data myself first!

Ian B