More on the Meteor Watch…

It’s now less than a week until a new meteor shower MIGHT light up the pre-dawn sky, so I thought I’d go up to our chosen observing site – the northern end of Scout Scar – and check the place out, and take some pictures which will help those of you unfamiliar with the area to get to the right place late on Friday night.

So… it turns out that Scout Scar is INCREDIBLE!!!! Why did no-one MAKE me go up there and see it before now??? What were you all thinking????? The view from up there is spectacular, a greet sweeping 360 degree panoramic view of Kendal and its surrounding countryside. And the view north will be perfect for viewing whatever happens on Friday night/Saturday morning, so thanks again to Simon White for suggesting that…

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Ok… so, here’s where we’re holding our Meteor Watch, after midnight on Friday night…

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…and here’s the car park where you all need park up…

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Aerial views are fine, but don’t tell you what a place looks like from ground level. This is what you will see on the right as you reach the car park entrance…

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Then you need to cross the road and head for this gate…

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Then head up this path…

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…until you reach here

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And that’s roughly where we’ll be observing from. There are a couple of benches up there, but I would recommend taking a deck chair or lawn chair up there to rest on while you’re watching the sky.

I should say again here that there is absolutely no guarantee whatsoever that we will see ANYTHING Friday night/Saturday morning. But we are absolutely guaranteed to see nothing if we don’t try. So, I hope you’ll join us if you can.

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.

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METEOR WATCH at Scout Scar, May 23rd/24th

At last night’s meeting – thanks to everyone who came, and to all our speakers, by the way! – we looked at the exciting possibility of a new meteor shower occurring later in the month, specifically in the early hours of Saturday May 24th. Many meteor experts are hopeful that there will be a lot of shooting stars flying about at that time, as Earth ploughs through a stream of dust left behind by a comet. Some are hopeful we may even see a “meteor storm” with many hundreds of shooting stars zipping out of an area of sky to the lower right of the Plough.

Well, we’ll see! These things are very hard to predict accurately, but if there’s even a chance we might see something we have to get out there and look, don’t we? The problem is, all the predictions seem to agree that if there is enhanced activity it probably won’t occur until after sunrise in the UK, which is a shame, but you never know, if we’re lucky the peak might occur a few hours early, in which case we’ll have front row seats! Fingers crossed…

Because there’s a chance we might see something, we’ll be holding an EAS “Meteor Watch” up at Scout Scar, at a location found for and recommended to us by our Treasurer, Simon. This isn’t being organised as a public event – pretty sure not many non-astronomers would be that keen to be out at that time of night! – but if any non-members want to join us, maybe after reading this piece on the blog, they’d be very welcome, obviously.

We’ll start the Meteor Watch after midnight on the Friday (23rd), and go on basically for as long as we can into Saturday (24th) morning, just hoping to see something… anything really! The sky will start to brighten around 2.30am, but that gives us a good couple of hours of skywatching, and if we’re lucky this new shower might reward our patience and devotion by skimming a few Earth-grazing fireballs across our sky before we all pack up and go home! If you come please wrap up warm. Bringing something to sit on might be a good idea too – much easier looking up at and around the sky that way – and maybe a hot flask and a bite to eat. Also bring binoculars, of you have them, just in case any bright meteors leave ghostly, glowing trails behind in the sky… Red torches aren’t obligatory, but I know those of us planning on taking photos would be very grateful if people brought those.

So, where is this all taking place? These pics (click to enlarge them) will show you where to go. If you’re coming up, remember, there’s no guarantee at all that we’ll see anything dramatic or unusual, this is all highly speculative and uncertain. If we see something amazing – brilliant! But if we don’t, well, there’ll still be great views of Mars and Saturn to enjoy, and we can all take a look at Comet PANSTARRS K1. And we’ll be together…!(ahhhhhhhh!)

Hope to see you there!

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Hope to see you there.