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 BRIDGWATER ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY: Established 1969

 

Next Meeting: Wed  May 14th.  Guest Speaker. James Fradgley giving several short talks :  

1: ‘Active Galaxies. What are they’ 2: Objects in the Solar system 3: Wolf Rayet Stars.

Last rev 12th April 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  bwastrosoc@hotmail.com or telephone 01278 683740 for more information.

                

Use the links in the four sections below; General, Observing, Space Exploration & Cosmology.

 

  GENERAL:     

  Programme of Meetings                     Programme

  News items                                         News                 

  Contact Details                                   Contact

  Sites of interest                                    Links

  Pictures of the night sky                     Photos                Bwastro Members Photo Album

  Library.                                              astrosoc/library  

  History of the Society                          History

 

 OBSERVING:   

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.  

.heavens-above.com/skychart

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/spaceflight/                         Spaceflight

                                                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

 

ISS  ISS      Iridium Flares

 

Sun:  BAA Solar page   

 

Moon:  Moon Map  BAA Lunar page. Virtual Atlas: http://www.astrosurf.com/avl/UK_index.html

http://www.lunar-occultations.com/iota/iotandx.htm 

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/moon

 

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.

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/javascript/3307831.html#

 

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

 

Comets:  

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   

 

Deep Sky: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/deepsky

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey  http://www.sdss.org/

 

Radio Astronomy:  Jodrell Bank http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/ 

 

       SPACE  EXPLORATION:          

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)

 

         COSMOLOGY              

   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 bwastrosoc@hotmail.com

 

 

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 

Plot your own finder chart at http://www.heavens-above.com/comet.aspx?cid=C%2F2013%20R1&lat=51.13542&lng=-2.92889&loc=Parchey+Bridge%2c+Chedzoy&alt=0&tz=GMT&cul=en-GB

 

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.

 

220513 Look North West after sunset to see Jupiter, Venus & Mercury. Picture taken this evening at 21.45 shows Venus low on the horizon with Mercury to its right, and Jupiter above and to the left. http://dbown100.tripod.com/220513_Jupiter_Venus_Mercury.jpg

 

300413 North Devon Astro Soc. Patrick Moore Memorial lecture by Dr Allan Chapman at West Buckland School near Barnstaple Devon on Friday 3rd May at 7 45pm. Tickets on the door £5.

 

010413 Comet Panstarrs visible again tonight after a long break due to Moon & cloud. Now much fainter and further round towards the north it was a difficult object to find in binoculars from around 9pm. Look NW just below M31 the Andromeda Galaxy. Over the next 3 -4 nights it will pass quite close to M31. Get a look now before it become too faint.

180313 Panstarrs visible again. See pic at http://dbown100.tripod.com/Panstarrs_180313_19-47hrs.jpg

 

170313 Comet Panstarrs seen this evening from 7-15pm at about 15 deg alt. Easy naked eye object. Lovely tail in binoculars pointing straight up. Look slightly north of due west from about 7pm. You will need quite a clear and low western sky to see it as it is quite low on the horizon.

 

110113 New for 2013. Check out our new Blog page at http://bwastrosoc.blogspot.co.uk/

 

241212 Ceres(7.1) & Vesta(6.9). Still fairly bright, just past opposition in early/mid December, worth a look above Orion, near Jupiter. For a star chart use the link below: http://media.skyandtelescope.com/documents/WEB_Dec12_CeresVesta.pdf

 

161212 The Stargazing Live Event at Taunton racecourse is now on Jan 10th, not Jan 19th for some reason……..

 

291112 Stargazing Live event on Sat the 19th January from 16.30 to 22.00 at Taunton Racecourse. Email from Ron Westmass:

The BBC have asked me put together a list of observers from local societies who might be willing to participate in an event being organised at Taunton Racecourse on the 19th January from 16.30 to 22.00. The organisers are expecting around 3000 to attend. (The BBC in the region are aware that the dates chosen were, to say the least, not the best; however this was out of their hands). Apart from a number of activities and speakers indoors, a site has been allocated for members of Astronomical Societies to set up their equipment for the public to 'have a go' at 'stargazing live'. Should the weather be uncooperative, two rooms have been allocated for equipment to be set up so that visitors can have an opportunity to talk to experienced observers, ask questions etc. Societies are invited to have a publicity display although nothing can be sold on the night. (BBC regulations). Because disabled access is limited at the racecourse, two or three 'scopes will be set up in a ground floor room whatever the weather to allow those with limited mobility to have access to equipment. Should any of your members be able to take part, I would be pleased to have their names and a contact number. Some further details of the event are still in the planning stage; however the public stargazing segment has been confirmed. I do hope that your Society will be able to participate and look forward to hearing from you.

If anyone is interested in taking part please email me at dbown100@hotmail.com   Dave Bown.

 

281112 Stargazing Live. We have now linked our January & February Stargazing evenings with the BBC’s Stargazing Live programmes on 8th, 9th & 10th Jan 2013. You can look at our activity page at http://www.bbc.co.uk/thingstodo/activity/stargazing-16.  In January we should receive some resources, star guides, event packs & posters.

 

140912 Observation Evening. This was largely successful with clouds passing across the skies until by around 10pm there was too much cloud to continue viewing anything much.  Several large reflecting telescopes were in use, being used to look at a variety of interesting objects.

 

120912 First meeting of 2012/13 season. Revised membership subscriptions and monthly meeting fees were agreed, for introduction from October 2012. This was necessary due to the College increasing the room fees due to be charged to us for the upcoming 2012/13 season. Annual membership subscription was increased from £2 to £4, and monthly meeting charges increased from £2 per night to £3 per night. (Seniors & juniors pay half this rate)

 

120812 The Annual barbi went ahead last night, but there was no viewing afterwards due to 10/10 cloud cover. However, I looked outside at home later on at midnight and through a clearing part of the sky managed to see 6  Perseids in 20 mins. DB.

 

310712  Mars Science Laboratory reaches Mars Aug 6th and it hopes to drop the Mars rover Curiosity onto the surface. Twice as long and three times as heavy as the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, the Mars Science Laboratory will collect Martian soil and rock samples and analyze them for organic compounds and environmental conditions that could have supported microbial life now or in the past. Curiosity will land near the foot of a layered mountain inside Gale crater. Layers of this mountain contain minerals that form in water. The portion of the crater floor where Curiosity will land has an alluvial fan likely formed by water-carried sediments.

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/

 

290712 Galaxy Zoo’s odd black holes:   http://www.skyandtelescope.com/news/Citizen-Science-Sheds-Light-on-Galaxy-Evolution-163852416.html

 

150712 The Exmoor Astronomical Festival is scheduled for September 14th-17th. For info go to http://exmoorastronomicalfestival.webs.com/

 

140612 The AGM was held last night. All serving officers were re-elected and an interesting programme of meetings was established for the 2012/13 season.

 

110512 Good views had at the stargazing evening, Venus, now a thin crescent shape, Mars, some dark markings and a polar ice cap, and Saturn with its rings. Images were compared through the various telescopes which included 2 x 250mm reflectors and several smaller scopes.

 

250312 Good views over the next few nights of the Moon passing Jupiter & Venus. See pic taken this evening

https://skydrive.live.com/?sc=photos&cid=0c4da7e0d06dcff5#cid=0C4DA7E0D06DCFF5&id=C4DA7E0D06DCFF5%21168&sc=photos

 

140312 Stargazing evening. Well, we were blessed with an excellent evening and had good views of Venus & Jupiter close together, Mars, Comet Garradd, Orion Neb.

 

070312  Venus & Jupiter gradually approaching each other for a close pass around the 14th- 16th March. Also look for Mercury low on the horizon below them, and Mars rising in the east.

 

130112  The Observation session earlier this evening was treated to lovely clear skies and a very bright meteor that broke in two as it shot through the atmosphere to Earth.

 

110112 Please note the Feb 8th meeting is now ‘A debate about the Milky Way Galaxy’, and the March 14th meeting is an Observation Evening. This change was necessary due to the full moon falling on Feb 7th only one day before the Feb meeting.

 

 

 

                           PHOTOS:

 

 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    

Look at the following section….. Comets  Stars  Moon

 

To look at pictures taken by some of our members……..

Go to       Terry's  Astrophotos      Jan's page         Matt’s page           DB's Pics  

 

          BWASTRO Members photo Album

Is located on Microsoft Skydrive at

http://cid-0c4da7e0d06dcff5.skydrive.live.com/browse.aspx/New%20album?view=thumbs

It’s your album so if you want a photo displayed here, send it to dbown100@hotmail.com

 

 

  

 

COMETS     

 

 

Comet Hale Bopp

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

STARS

 

Orion Nebula & Horsehead.

 

 

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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 .                                                       

The Horsehead, difficult visually, but relatively easy to photograph.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

MOON

 

     ‘Shoot the Moon’

 

 

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 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.

 

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This is a digital shot at 45x  through a 10”Newtonian with the camera held up to the eyepiece.

 

 

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Same as previously but now at around 70x                   

 

 

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                                      And then some more magnification (but a different part of the moon)

Photos by DB.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bridgwater Astronomical Society : Programme for 2014:

 

The Monthly Meeting is always on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at Bridgwater College, Bath Road, usually in Room D10.

 

2014

 

 

 

Wed  May 14th           1: ‘Active Galaxies. What are they’ 2: Objects in the Solar system 3: Wolf Rayet Stars.

                                   Guest Speaker. James Fradgley

 

May   26-31st                Bridgwater Science Festival. BWASTRO may take part in some way, watch this space.

 

Wed  June 11th           AGM

 

Tues Aug 12th             Annual Barbeque and Perseid Meteor watch.

 

 

CONTACT:                    For further information write to bwastrosoc@hotmail.com

                                              Telephone : 01278 683740

 

 

OBSERVING / STARGAZING  EVENINGS    Come Stargazing with the Bridgwater Astronomical Society:

 

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

 

 

 

 

Links to sites of interest to the Astronomer

 

If you have some favourite links why not share them with others. Please email to bwastrosoc at above address.

 

Members Favourite Links:

http://www.astronomycast.com/

http://www.jodcast.net/

http://www.slackerastronomy.org/wordpress/

http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/

http://www.lpod.org/

http://www.planetary.org/home/

 

 

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:

Picstop.co.ul                                                                http://www.picstop.co.uk/telescopes

Skys the limit (Chinese Imports)                                  http://www.skysthelimit.org.uk/ 

Sherwoods                                                                    http://www.sherwoods-photo.com/homepage.htm

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/

 

Misc.

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/

ESA                                                                                                               http://www.esrin.esa.it/export/esaCP/index.html                    

 

 

 

 

 

Setting up and using your telescope.   

(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.

 

IMPORTANT TIPS:

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 bwastrosoc@hotmail.com

 

 

Basic photography.

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

http://www.threebuttes.com/RegistaxTutorial.htm

http://www.davesastro.co.uk/techniques/registax_tutorial/index.html

 

 

BEGINNERS CORNER.

 

Q:  Do I need to buy a telescope?

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.

 

Q:  OK so what can I see with just my eyes?

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…..

 

Q: And what can I see with binoculars?

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.

 

Q: All very well, but do I really need binoculars or a telescope?

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.

 

 

 

 

A brief History of the Society.

 

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.

 

 

Introduction Continued……. (Press back button< to return)

 

 

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 bwastrosoc@hotmail.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.)