EAS TRIP TO ALSTON OBSERVATORY

On Monday night around a dozen members of the Eddington AS travelled down to Alston Observatory, near Preston, for a very enjoyable evening spent listening to a talk on our place in the universe, looking at a lovely old “vintage” telescope and looking through a superb 28″ telescope! Full report at the next meeting, with lots of photos. In the meantime, thanks to everyone who came along, and a special thanks to David Glass for arranging the evening for us!

 

March Observing Evening

About a dozen EAS enthusiasts turned out on Thursday for what will probably be the last observing evening of this season.  A little haze high in the sky meant that there was a slight background wash making faint objects more challenging, but we still bagged a good set of observations.  

Orion offered final views of M42 (The Orion Nebula) nebula setting in the west, and we also took a long look at Betelgeuse (Alpha Orinonis) while observing individual stars including Procyon (Alpha Canis Minoris), Castor (Alpha Geminorum) – a double separated by 90 light years or 5 arcsec viewed from Earth – and Pollox (Beta Geminorum).  

Open clusters were a feature of the evening, M35 in Gemini, M36 (“The Pinwheel”), M37 and M38 (“The Starfish”) in Auriga and M44 (“The Beehive”) in Cancer.

Galaxies M65 and M66, two of the “Leo Triplet”, were just visible in Leo, as were M81 and M82 in Ursa Major.

Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresák was seen as a very challenging fuzzy spot in my 115mm refractor, as was nearby M97 (The Owl Nebula) used for comparison.

We finished with pretty good views of Jupiter and the four Gallilean moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.

My sincere thanks go to all members who come and make these sessions a success. There is still room for improvement and I look forward to canvassing members’ views over the next few EAS meetings to see how we can make then even better.

Simon

 

 

Observing Iridium

Apologies to last night’s observers for predicting the two iridium satellites that failed to appear. Still not sure why but most probably the low angle, 16°. I ‘mistook’ on the direction – it was NE not NNE but you would have thought that was near enough for a -2.8 mag.

EAS TRIP – April 24th

Everyone,

For those who weren’t at the March meeting – or who were but would like a reminder of the details – here’s some information about our Trip being planned for the evening of April 24th. Many thanks to Richard Rae for organising this. If you’re interested in going, please pass that interest on at the April meeting.

 

EDDINGTON AS MoonWatch This Friday

Cross your fingers for clear skies this coming Friday night (March 3rd) because we are having another of our hugely popular “Moon Watch” nights at the Brewery Arts Centre!

As I write this the weather forecast isn’t very good, but as we all know they can change overnight, or just be plain wrong, so let’s just wait and see what happens. If you can see the Moon at or after 6.30pm on Friday night come down to the Brewery, where we’ll have our telescopes set out in the garden.

And what will you see? Well, the Moon will be just short of First Quarter, which is the very best time to look at it through a telescope (not Full Moon, as everyone seems to think) because that’s when the Moon’s jagged mountains and deep craters stand out from the surface most clearly.

On Friday night we’ll have a spectacular view of some of the Moon’s most famous features – weather permitting!

If you come good and early, before Venus drops behind the trees, we should also be able to show you the “Evening Star” through our telescopes – which is now looking like a beautiful thin crescent through telescopes – and the planets Mars and Uranus too, although they’ll just look like tiny stars.

Unfortunately the Space Station won’t be putting in an appearance during our MoonWatch, it’s not an evening object at the moment, but we should see a few other satellites drifting across the sky while we’re Moon-gazing.

The event is free, begins at 6.30pm, and will end around 9pm.

An eclipse and a comet this weekend…

There’s a lunar eclipse happening tonight, which lasts through until the early hours of tomorrow morning, and it’s attracting a lot of media attention. Unfortunately, much of the media coverage is at best misleading and at worst totally wrong. The eclipse happening tonight is a ‘penumbral’ eclipse, which occurs when the Moon drifts through the outer part of the Earth’s shadow. This part is much less dense than the central part of the shadow, the ‘umbra’, so instead of going orange, like it does during a classic total lunar eclipse, the Full Moon will just darken… a bit… and appear more greyish than usual, especially at the top. It’s still well worth watching, because every eclipse has its own appeal, and many astronomers and skywatchers think that the appeal of a penumbral eclipse *is* its subtlety. If you go out to watch it, as long as you don’t expect to see a tangerine- or a Hallowe’en pumpkin lantern-like Moon hanging in the sky, you’ll enjoy it.
 
The media is also telling everyone how a comet is going to “whoosh” or “zoom” across the sky on Saturday night, and are illustrating their pieces with dramatic photos showing comets from the past with bright heads and long, glowing tails. The truth is rather different. Comet 45P is not going to whoosh or zoom across the sky – in fact, it’s been in the sky for ages already, moving across it slowly, like all comets do. It’s just closest to us on Saturday night, that’s all. And those photos are all wrong because the comet is very small and very faint, far too small and faint for the naked eye to pick up on a dark night – and the nights won’t *be* dark this weekend because a big, bright Full Moon will be drowning out everything else in it! If you know the sky well, and have a chart or map showing where the comet is you MIGHT pick it up with binoculars or a small telescope, but it will be, as they say, “challenging”..!
 
Don’t be put off looking for the comet and the eclipse. They’re definitely happening – just not in the way much of the media is reporting s breathlessly.
 
If you want any more info, feel free to ask! In the meantime, here’s a chart showing the times of the different stages of tonight’s eclipse, which we hope you find useful…
Note:  the eclipse will be at its best at around half last twelve.
 

EAS February 2017 Meeting

Many thanks to all the EAS members who came along to Kendal Museum last night for our February meeting, especially the members who stepped up at short notice and gave short presentations. After our Secretary’s monthly News Round Up, and Simon’s report on last month’s observing night and his plans/hopes for this month’s. Richard Rae gave a fascinating talk on our nearest star, The Sun…

After Richard’s talk, our Treasurer, Liz Hodgson gave a very entertaining talk on the posters NASA designs for missions to the International Space Station. Then, to close the meeting, Moira Greenhalgh gave a short but very educational talk about the constellation Pisces – the first of her “Constellation Of The Month” presentations, which we will all enjoy very much in the months ahead, I’m sure!

Many thanks also to Ian Bradley who shared his most recent stunning astrophotos with us.

January Observing Evening

What a super session last night!  Thanks to all who came along – a dozen or more? – and made it such fun.  In addition to the hard core regulars, there were a couple of new faces too, so I hope we lived up to your expectations.  It was bitterly cold, with a little moisture in the air that caught some glow from the town lights to the east early on, but a very rewarding couple of hours in the company of fellow enthusiasts.

We started with Venus and Mars, of course, managing fairly high magnifications (100x through my 115mm refractor, even more in David’s 200mm Schmidt Cassegrain)  to reveal the crescent phase of Venus and the open face of Mars.  Venus was so bright that it had to be viewed through a neutral density filter.

The Pleiades were very high in the sky, as were targets in Auriga.  The Andromeda galaxy got another look in, setting towards the west, with galaxies M81 and M82 in Ursa Major rising higher in the north east.  Later on, as the moisture dissipated and the air became more transparent, Orion was best placed for views of the wonderful Orion nebula M42.

Everyone had something to contribute, either by way of information and explanation, or by testing others with challenging and interesting questions about constellations and star identification.  Huge thanks go to David for bringing his Schmidt Cassegrain planet gobbler, and to Graham for his boundless enthusiasm and knowledge – and the craziest telescope!  These observing sessions are taking on a real character of their own.

See you all soon

Simon