Next Meeting: Wed Sept 10th The night sky including computer star charts and astro pics
Last rev 14th Sept 2014)
Welcome to the Bridgwater Astronomical Society Web Site. The monthly meeting is held on the 2nd Wed of the month, from Sept until June,( Programme ) currently in room D10 at Bridgwater College, Bath Road, Bridgwater. (Towards Main Reception on East side of the building, through first set of doors, turn left up stairs, turn left along corridor at top, D10 is last door on the left)
Meetings start at 7-30 with Society business, a review of the observing notes for the month, and a discussion about any topical issues. The main talk or subject of the evening is usually from 7-55 to 8-45pm. The meeting closes at 9pm. Regular monthly Observing / Stargazing sessions are also held on the Friday after each meeting(Observing). (More Info)
Contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01278 683740 for more information.
▪ Programme of Meetings Programme
▪ News items News
▪ Contact Details Contact
▪ Sites of interest Links
▪ Library. astrosoc/library
▪ History of the Society History
▪ Observing/Stargazing Evenings. Observing
▪ Weather Met Office Weather
▪ New to Astronomy? Some basics Beginners
▪ Setting up a simple telescope. Setting
▪ Photography Basics Photography
▪ Viewing the Night sky: This is a large section below:
Sky & Telescope: skytonight ataglance Very helpful night by night reminder of what is on view, for the week ahead.
Heavens Above. Lots of info including a useful night sky chart with planets & the moon. You can also change the date and time to suit your needs to plan your observing on a future date. This chart is set for Parchey Bridge, Chedzoy, our observing site.
Sky Diary from the Society for Popular Astronomy…. http://www.popastro.com/skydiary/index.php
CalSKY calsky.com Customise it to your own location, then generate your own observing list for the evening.
BBC Science night sky page…. This link has now been removed as the web site appears to be constantly out of date.
Astronomy Now astronomynow.com
Space.com…… http://www.space.com/skywatching/ Skywatching
http://www.space.com/search-for-life/ Search for Life
News Now Astronomy Newsnow.co.uk/h/Science/Astronomy
Universe today Universetoday.com/
The Milky Way Galaxy :
http://www.atlasoftheuniverse.com/galaxy.html Atlas of the Universe: Tip: Zoom in several times to see the objects nearest to the Solar System in a way you’ve probably never seen them before.
http://astronomyonline.org/OurGalaxy/Introduction.asp?Cate=OurGalaxy&SubCate=OG01 Astronomy on line .org
▪ Sun: BAA Solar page
▪ Planets skyandtelescope.com/observing/planets Various info on planetary observing.
Mars: Interactive Mars map. Set date & time to see what features might be visible on the face of the planet.
▪ Asteroids(minor planets)
S&T Asteroid page http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/asteroids
Nasa Near Earth Object Programme http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/neo.html
http://cometchasing.skyhound.com/ Skyhound comet pages
http://www.heavens-above.com/Comets Heavens above Comet Page
http://www.ast.cam.ac.uk/~jds/ BAA comet pages
http://kometen.fg-vds.de/fgk_hpe.htm German comet pages
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/comets S&T comet pages
▪ Meteors: http://www.theastronomer.org/meteors.html
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey http://www.sdss.org/
▪ Radio Astronomy: Jodrell Bank http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/
▪ SPACEFLIGHT NOW: http://spaceflightnow.com/ Shows all the latest goings on in space
▪ NASA : jpl.nasa A definitive list of and details of all missions that are still ‘live’.
▪ MARS: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ Curiosity rover
Marsrovers There are 2 Mars Rovers still on Mars, but only one still operating.
▪ SATURN: Cassini Various close fly by’s of Titan, other moons, & Saturn itself.
▪ OTHERS dawn Dawn launched Oct 2007, Dawn visited the Minor Planets Vesta (Aug2011) & will visit Ceres (Feb2015)
▪ Nasa site on Cosmology http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/m_uni.html
▪ University of Cambridge site http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/gr/public/cos_home.html
▪ The Official String Theory Web Site http://www.superstringtheory.com/cosmo/index.html
▪ UCLA site http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/cosmolog.htm
BAS News: If members have other items of news to include, write to email@example.com
140914 Ambitious project to build a 5m Radio telescope at Caradon Observatory, in Cornwall, writes Damian Rumble in an email to us. The project is entirely designed, managed and operated by students from a number of universities across the country as part of UKSEDS. We have received part funding and are currently in the process of procuring components. We request your help to publicise the project to your members or any interested parties.
General website http://www.xrt-s.co.uk/
I have attached a Press Release and a link to our Kickstarter page which contain more information about the project.
130814 Perseid Meteor watch & Barbi went well last night. It was quite chilly on the hill, even in mid-August, and everyone tried to wrap up well to keep warm. The combined total of 50 meteors were seen between 10pm & 11-30pm, with 4 -5 being really bright and quite spectacular to see.
230714 A news item about the Rosetta space probe: http://spaceflightnow.com/rosetta/140717shape/#.U9AXuVIg8eg &
200714 A few pics from Blake Science fair at https://onedrive.live.com/?cid=0C4DA7E0D06DCFF5&id=C4DA7E0D06DCFF5%21169
110414 Stargazing evening. Nice views of the bright Moon. Also saw Mars at opposition around 15”, very low could just make out north polar cap, and Jupiter red spot coming onto the disk from around 9pm. Also saw the ISS go overhead near Jupiter and at almost the same magnitude.
100414 The Astro Photography competition went very well. The outstanding entry and winners were the combined efforts of Eugene & Nick Martin who took a series of remarkable pin hole camera shots of the landscape to the south of their home. The pin hole cameras, made from lager cans, were attached to the house drainpipe and left for up to 72 days and showed the path of the Sun across the sky from East to West and also the change in elevation over the 72 days. Well done, thoroughly deserved the £5 prize.
240114 Supernova discovered in M82. http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/home/Bright-Supernova-in-M82-241477661.html
061213 Sat Dec 7th. Christmas Craft & Food Fair at the Arts Centre, 10-30 to 3pm. Bwastro will have a table at this fair. Call in and see us if you are nearby.
011213 Comet Lovejoy continues to put on a good show and is now an easy object in binoculars in Bootes near Corona Borealis, it is visible in the early morning sky in the E NE, and now should also be visible in the evening sky in the W NW
A short 8sec photo taken in haste this morning just before 4 am as cloud was spreading across. http://dbown100.tripod.com/Comet_Lovejoy_011213_03_56hrs.jpg
161113 Comet Lovejoy now an easy object above left of the sickle of Leo. This pic taken at 05-03hrs this morning shows the comet at top left and the sickle of Leo in the centre of the pic. An unguided photo 3 x 10 secs at ISO 12800. http://dbown100.tripod.com/Comet_Lovejoy_161113_05-03hrs.jpg
111113 New Link for looking at the weather. Have put up a new link to the Met Office Weather Forecast & Observations site. Met Office Weather
If you click on the drop down menu at top left and select ‘Observation’ you are given a map showing various options such as rain, cloud, temp etc that were made within the last hour. On the slider at bottom you can also check how it looked each hour previously. Thus it is possible to look at the track of clouds or rain coming over. By taking the ‘Forecast’ option at top right you can also get a forecast looking into the future.
120913 New comet Lovejoy. Go to http://www.universetoday.com/104662/new-comet-discovered-lovejoy-will-add-to-comet-lineup-in-winter-skies/
Comet Ison latest: go to http://observing.skyhound.com/ISON.html
150813 Nova in Delphinus mag 5 or 6 . For article go to http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/highlights/Bright-Nova-in-Delphinus-219631281.html
120813 Annual Perseid Meteor watch. The annual barbi & Perseid watch was a great success. When cloud cover cleared around 10-10 we were treated to lovely clear skies and saw 65 meteors over the next 1 ½ hrs until 11-40.
Go below for a small selection of pictures to give you some ideas for your own attempts.
Some technical information is given with each picture. Some pics are taken using ‘old’ methods with film, whilst others are taken with digital. Whatever equipment you have, you will be able to do something. For the basic techniques go to Photography
To look at pictures taken by some of our members……..
Is located on Microsoft Skydrive at
It’s your album so if you want a photo displayed here, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Comet Hale Bopp
29/03/97 : 3mins with 50mm f1.8, Nikon camera guided by 10"scope.Colour corrected to remove light pollution causing a yellowish cast caused by the town of Bridgwater. Film:Ectachrome 100ASA push processed to 400ASA.
Comet Hale Bopp 12/04/97 20secs at f4.3(prime focus) through 250mm Aperture reflector on HP5 film uprated to 1600ASA. Photo by DB.
Orion Nebula & Horsehead.
10min @ f2.8 using 135mm telephoto on a camera, mounted piggyback on a guided telescope. As well as M42, the Orion Nebula, you can just make out the dark shape of the Horsehead just below the faint star below the left hand belt star .
Jupiter in Leo.(11/06/04) A 15sec unguided digital shot. ISO set at 400, exposure time , f No, & focusing manually set. Noise reduction set at ON. Camera used Olympus C765, set on tripod with self timer to take the photo. Photo by DB.
031208 The Moon, Venus & Jupiter, from left to right, seen across Radipole Lake at Weymouth in Dorset.
For the technically minded, digital photo, 1 sec at F2.8, ISO 400
A simple photo that anyone might try! Digital camera pointed into the eyepiece of 11 x 80 binoculars aimed at the moon. Or use an SLR set at 1/125sec, with the lens wide open set to infinity.
This is a digital shot at 45x through a 10”Newtonian with the camera held up to the eyepiece.
Same as previously but now at around 70x
And then some more magnification (but a different part of the moon)
Photos by DB.
The Monthly Meeting is always on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at Bridgwater College, Bath Road, usually in Room D10.
Wed Oct 8th Rosetta. The spacecraft that is scheduled to land on a comet in mid October.
Wed Nov 12th Observation Evening at Parchey Bridge.
Wed Dec 10th Quiz & mince pies
Wed Jan 14th 10 Min Talks
Wed Feb 11th Cosmic Collisions
Wed Mar 11th Solar Viewing
Wed Apr 8th Eyepieces
Wed May 13th Guest Speaker
Wed June 10th The AGM
CONTACT: For further information write to email@example.com
Telephone : 01278 683740
These are normally held on the Friday after the monthly meeting from September to March, unless stated otherwise. They are normally held at Parchey Bridge, Chedzoy, in the fisherman’s car park next to the bridge. Bring binoculars, telescopes, and star charts and red not white lights if you have them. If you have no equipment of your own, come along and see what someone else might have brought with them.
Google map of the Parchey site http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?oe=UTF-8&hl=en&tab=wl&q=51.13552,-2.92759
If the weather looks uncertain, ring the chairman on 01278 683740, to find out if the observing evening is going ahead. Total cloud cover will certainly mean cancellation, but partial cover means that some observing is usually possible. Don’t forget, that just because its cloudy where you are, doesn’t mean it will be cloudy at the observing site, so make that phone call.
We usually aim to look at any planets that are visible, and then a selection of other interesting objects such as galaxies, nebulae, double stars, comets etc. If the Moon is around we will also take a look at that.
You can use some of the links from the Observing section above, to plan your viewing, such as ataglance to check what is happening from night to night, and skychart to look at a current star chart of the night sky.
For other information such as Directions to the observing site, Weather prospects, and Monthly Observing notes go to www.dennathorne-designs.com/astrosoc
If you have some favourite links why not share them with others. Please email to bwastrosoc at above address.
Members Favourite Links:
Pages for Observers:
This weeks night sky http://www.skypub.com/sights/sights.shtml
Comet Pages http://www.skypub.com/sights/comets/comets.shtml
Comet Observation Pages http://encke.jpl.nasa.gov/
Satellite Observing http://www.skypub.com/sights/satellites/satellites.shtml
Heavens above http://www.heavens-above.com/
The Astronomer http://www.theastronomer.org/index.html
BBC Science & Nature : Space http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/space/myspace/
Astronomy Now magazine http://www.astronomynow.com/
Sky at Night Mag http://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/
The Society for Popular Astronomy http://www.popastro.com/home.htm
Telescopes & telescope making:
Skys the limit (Chinese Imports) http://www.skysthelimit.org.uk/
First Light Optics (Exeter) http://www.firstlightoptics.com/
MC2scopes (Frome) www.mc2scopes.com
UK Telescopes http://www.uk-telescopes.co.uk/index.htm
Broadhurst Clarkson & Fuller Ltd http://www.telescopehouse.com/acatalog/about_us.html
David Hinds http://www.dhinds.co.uk/
AWR Technology http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/awr.tech/
Beacon hill telescopes http://www.beaconhilltelescopes.mcmail.com/
Societies & Groups:
British Astronomical Assoc http://www.britastro.org/main/
Bristol Astronomical Society http://www.bristolastrosoc.org.uk/
Crewkerne Astro Soc http://www.cadas.net/
South Som Astro Soc http://ssas.fateback.com/home.htm
Charterhouse Centre http://www.charterhousecentre.org.uk/
The North Devon Astronomical Society http://www.ndastros.org/
Hubble Heritage Gallery of Images http://heritage.stsci.edu/public/gallery/galindex.html
Hubble Space Telescope Public Pictures http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/pictures.html
ESO Online Digitized Sky Survey http://arch-http.hq.eso.org/dss/dss
Cassini Huygens Mission to Saturn/Titan http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/index.cfm
JPL Nasa home page http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/
Nasa home page http://www.nasa.gov/
(Please note that these are brief notes relevant to simple telescopes without electronic GoTo drives etc.)
The two most common questions we get asked from someone new to astronomy are usually these
1. " I've just bought a new telescope but I can't find anything with it"
2. "I've just bought a new telescope but I don't understand how to set it up. How do I set it up so that I can find something ?"
The first question is usually associated with actually pointing the telescope at an object, and is usually to do with the finder scope not being properly aligned with the main telescope tube. In daylight, point the telescope at a distant object such as a tree or building and then without moving the main telescope, adjust the finder so that the centre of the cross hairs points at the same object that you lined the telescope up on. If you can’t understand how to do this, then forget about the finder scope and at night time try looking up along the length of the main telescope tube to line it up on the object that you want to view. Make sure that the telescope is first set up with the lowest power of eyepiece ( focal length of 20mm or more).
The second question is more complicated and is to do with lining the telescope mount up with the sky. If your telescope has an 'Equatorial mount' the polar axis should be pointing towards the Pole star Polaris. To do this look at your mounting and identify the 2 movements that it has. Each movement is around a shaft or spindle. One of these, the polar axis can usually be tilted up or down at an angle to point at the pole star. If there is a scale then it should be set at your latitude(approx +52degrees for Bridgwater). Now when you take your telescope outside, position it so that polar axis points up at the pole star, or if you can't see or identify the pole star, set that axis pointing northwards using a compass. This should be good enough for simple observing.
a) Always start off with the lowest magnification eyepiece in the telescope. This will be the one with the longest focal length such as 20mm or 25mm, and gives a wide field of view most suitable for initially finding things
b) Check before use that the small finder telescope is still lined up with the main telescope. Use a bright star or the moon.
c) Commence viewing on a bright object so that you can get the eyepiece in focus to start with. It will then be easier when you move on to fainter objects.
d) If you have an equatorial mount, line the polar axis up with the North Star, Polaris, as best you can.
If you are still stuck with something then send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org
By far the easiest object to start with is the moon. You can just hold almost any type of camera to the eyepiece of your telescope and try pressing the shutter. The lens of the camera must be looking into the telescope eyepiece. Focus the moon in the eyepiece before you take your picture, and only use a low magnification eyepiece.
If there are settings on your camera that you can adjust, set focus to infinity or max distance, lens ‘F’ no to lowest such as f2.8, and shutter speed to about 1/125th. Otherwise if your camera is automatic, let the camera do the work and keep your fingers crossed.
Another interesting object to consider, but without your telescope this time, and only if you have a camera with at least a 10x zoom facility, is to try a picture of Jupiter and it’s moons. You will need your camera tripod mounted, zoomed in to max setting. If possible use manual focussing, set to infinity, and manual exposure time set at half a second to begin with. Experiment with shorter or longer times to reveal the moons. Jupiter will be over exposed and will show no detail other than a bright blob of light.
Other objects will not normally be possible unless your camera shutter can be left opened for more than several seconds, and then the camera must be securely fixed to something on the telescope, and the telescope needs to have a motor drive running so that it keeps pace with the star movements. With this method it is possible to take pictures of the planets, or close ups of the moon.
If you have a tripod you may be able to have a go at photographing the stars in the night sky using just your camera lens and a time exposure to collect their light.
First aim your camera in the required direction. As before, set focus to infinity or max distance, lens ‘F’ no to lowest such as f2.8, and shutter speed to 10 seconds or more. If automatic, make sure the camera is set for a time exposure of at least 10 seconds if possible. Shorter times will do but you will only capture the brighter stars in your photo.
Now comes the tricky bit. If there is a self timer button use this to fire the shutter after you have pressed the button. That way you will not shake the camera during the time the lens is open. If not you will have to try and do it manually.
Depending on your camera and specifications you should be able to photograph all stars that can be seen with the naked eye, and possibly some fainter ones. Have a go at the planets among the stars, minor planets, comets, etc. Good Luck.
For a detailed article on processing webcam images of the planets go to http://www.skyandtelescope.com/howto/astrophotography/How_to_Process_Planetary_Images.html
A: No not at all. In fact until you decide what it is that interests you in the night sky it is difficult to choose which telescope will suit you best . So to start with, use your eyes, or perhaps a pair of binoculars if you have some, or can borrow a pair, or borrow the Society’s 150mm reflector if you feel confident of having a go.
A: Well a whole night sky covered with stars, constellation patterns including the constellation signs of the zodiac (Aries, Taurus, etc) the moon and planets including, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, but you will need to know where to look ( Click on the Heavens Above link in ‘Viewing the Night sky’ to get a star chart that includes planet positions).
Then there are shooting stars (or meteor showers as they are known to astronomers), orbiting earth satellites such as The International Space Station Int' Space Station(ISS), Eclipses of the Sun & Moon, Transits(events where objects pass in front of other objects such as the sun or planets), comets…..
A; Much, much more. Fainter stars (The bigger the binoculars or telescope lens, the fainter are the stars that you can see), lots of details on the moon (such as its Mares or Sea’s and the many craters that pockmark its surface), Jupiter’s 4 brightest moons (but you will probably need to steady your binoculars on a post or a wall), Saturn’s rings (You can just about make out the elliptical shape of the rings in 7 x 50 binoculars), star clusters, nebulae, galaxies, minor planets(asteroids), fainter comets, 2 more planets of the Solar System Uranus and Neptune….
Q: And what are those funny numbers they always show when advertising binoculars?
A: Well the numbers are usually something like .. 7 x 35, or 10 x 50. The first number, such as 7 or 10, is the magnification, or how much closer an object will look compared to the eye. The second number, such as 35 or 50, is the size of the lens in millimetres (mm). Remember the answer in the question above… The bigger the binoculars or telescope lens, the fainter are the stars that you can see.
A: No not at all. Some people are quite content reading about all aspects of astronomy, others like to follow what’s happening regarding space travel and space probes, some like to carry out calculations to prove or disprove theories, and there are many other things that can be done without optical equipment. Take a look at some of the Links listed on this page for ideas.
1969 Spring/ Summer, Formation of the Bridgwater Astronomical Society. Five Members present.
1969 3rd Nov. There were seven members present, plus a new member Mr Buckland. This brought the total membership of the Society to 11. Mr Charles Key was the chairman, Mr K Combes the Vice Chairman, Mr Duncan Bee was the secretary and Mr Gentile was the Treasurer.
1969 Dec. The Society has 15 members.
1970 6th Jan. There were seven members present. Additional officers elected were Mr Stone as Press Officer and Mr Livingstone as Librarian. It was also agreed that members should pay 6d a week to cover the cost of the clubroom.
1970 4th Feb. A secretary’s report exists. It mentions that ‘the club has now been in existence for just over 6 months and has added 14 members to the original 5.’ ‘The last 6 months have seen a change of meeting place from the Bridgwater Squib to the Fountain Inn’
1971 June WL Buckland becomes the secretary.
1972 Sept Mr G Jarvis makes his first appearance.
1973 Sept Mr D Bown makes his first appearance.
1973 Oct Ken Coles had been nominated as the Society’s representative to be trained in the use of the Charterhouse telescope.
1977: Oct 12th The first Observational Evening at Parchey Bridge arranged by Mr D Bown for the following Friday.
1980: June 11th Mr G Jarvis becomes Treasurer after Mr Coles relinquishes the position.
1982: June 9th Mr D Bown replaces Mr W Earp as Deputy Chairman.
1984: June 13th Mr D Bown succeeds Mr K Coombs as chairman.
1984: Sept 12th First meeting in room D10 at Bridgwater College, Bath Rd.
1985: Nov 18th Mr Bown, the chairman and provider of monthly notes, presents notes stating that Halley's comet will be near the Pleiades in a few days time.
1987: Jan 21st Mr Earp tells of a letter received from Mr Dowling in Australia, commenting on Orion being upside down. Also, this meeting had to be postponed for a week due to the severe arctic weather.
1987: Oct 7th Patrick Moore gives a lecture at the BCL Social Centre.
1998: 10th June Walter Buckland retires as secretary after 27 years, Gordon Mackenzie takes over the role.
1999: Aug 11th Members travel to various places to view the Total Eclipse of the Sun.
Members have a wide range of interest and level of knowledge, from beginner to experienced observer, using equipment ranging from just small binoculars to quite large telescopes. Regular monthly observing sessions are held (Observing), where members can bring along their own telescopes and learn how to set them up and use them, and look through other member’s binoculars & telescopes.
The Society also has an 6” reflecting telescope, that is sometimes brought to observation evenings and which is available for loan to members wanting to try out a telescope before purchasing one of their own.
Get more info from email@example.com
New members of all ages and abilities are most welcome with no obligations on regular attendance.
Subscription from Oct 2012:
£4 Annual membership subscription, then £3 per meeting. ( £2 annually then £1.50 per meeting for juniors & seniors.)