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/

Dan

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!

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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…

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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…

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

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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! 🙂

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

EAS June meeting

Thanks to everyone who came along to our June meeting last night, I know our guest speaker, Prof Lionel Wilson from Lancaster Uni, was very appreciative of the good turn-out.

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If you missed it, Lionel gave a fascinating, very detailed talk about explosive vulcanism in the solar system, and some of his high resolution images of the Moon, Mercury and Mars were beautiful. He also found time to talk to our Lakeland Radio presenter members Dan and John after the meeting, recording an interview for their monthly forecast, which was very good of him.

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The next EAS event is our Summer (ha!) “Sunwatch”, which will be held at the Museum on Saturday June 14th between 12 and 2. If you have a telescope suitable for viewing or projecting the Sun, please come along.

For those people wanting to watch the live streaming video of Earth coming down from the Space Station…

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…here’s the link to the website:

http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/HDEV/

And talking about the ISS, as I said last night it’s visible in the late night/early morning sky again, and here are the times for you… (click to enlarge)

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Cheers,

Stu

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

Free lecture on “New Horizons Mission to Pluto”

There is a free public lecture as part of Lancaster University’s 50th anniversary by Lancaster alumni Dr Fran Bagenal of the Univesrity of Colorado entitled “New Horizons Mission to Pluto” , Tuesday, 13 May 2014 from 18:30 to 19:30 (BST) at Lancaster University.

Booking essential – see here for more information and to book.

Ian B

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.

3rd March 2014 – Meeting

We started with a round-up by Simon White on the interesting conjunctions of planets coming up in March. If the sky clears for a few nights, there will be some good photo opportunities. One of the new sections on the website is to cover up-coming astronomical events, so you will be able to find details there.

This meeting was our AGM, postponed from February for Nick Howes excellent talk on Comets. The existing committee are all willing to stand for another year, and no-one at the meeting volunteered to replace them, so we go on as we are.

Stuart Atkinson thanked members for their support last year, and explained his plans for an AstroFest event in the autumn. This will involve observing events, lectures, an exhibition and perhaps some films. All the members of the Society need to be prepared to actively support the AstroFest if it is to go ahead.

Simon White gave the annual Treasurer’s report. We are in good shape financially, with 50 paid-up members and slightly more income than expenses. This is mainly because our speakers so rarely accept the money to cover their costs! But the meeting agreed that it was wise to hold a surplus against future expenses, and it was agreed to keep the subscriptions at £20 per year (£10 concessions).

The EAS website has long been in need of updating, and so I proposed moving to this WordPress format, which will allow all the members of EAS to post messages and comments, and upload any photos, interesting links or general snippets that they want to share. Any comments to me at hodgson_elizabeth@hotmail.com.

Next we had a presentation from Stuart Atkinson about the Kielder Star Camp last week. The weather was very mixed, but they did get a chance to see the aurora on the Thursday night. There is a full account of the Kielder Star Camp on Stuart’s blog.

Finally Steve Day of the Castle Head Field Centre spoke about the possibilities of using their observing facilities. The Centre is quite close to Kendal and has dark skies to the north, but it is private land and people wishing to use it would need to make some sort of prior arrangement with the Centre.

Liz Hodgson