Federation of Astronomical Societies 40th anniversary

19 September, 2014

The 2014 FAS Annual Convention and AGM will be on Saturday 11 October in the Bramall Music Building, located in the centre of the U of Birmingham campus.

Tickets are obtainable via the FAS website www. fedastro.org.uk

Filed under: News — Ron at 3:48 pm

September 2014 meeting

18 September, 2014

Many thanks to our speaker John Gifford, for his enlightening, entertaining and inspiring talk in which John shared his experiences of astro-imaging.The wide range of his images showed what practice and a relatively modest investment can achieve.  This talk was much enjoyed.


Despite recent poor conditions, Bill Reed was still able to share excellent images, a movie of comet Jaques moving against the background stars and a ‘movie’ of images of Perseid meteors captured by radar reflection during the recent shower. Thanks Bill. And thanks to Arthur for his monthly sky notes.
Ron also shared some images of recent H alpha solar activity.

Many thanks to all who helped in the kitchen and with refreshments. Particular thanks to Lorna for taking the considerable trouble to drive miles to get her cakes to us in time for our break. They were delicious  and every one of them was scoffed. Thanks Lorna!!

All in all a most enjoyable evening.

Next month, the subject of Bob Mizon’s talk is ‘Dark future?” This is a topic relevant to everyone with an interest in the night sky.


Filed under: News — Ron at 7:44 pm

September Sky Notes

4 September, 2014

September  sky notes

September sky chart

Filed under: News — Ron at 8:18 am

August Sky Notes

31 July, 2014

August Sky Notes

August Sky Chart

Filed under: News — Ron at 1:05 pm

July 2014 meeting

17 July, 2014

This month it was ‘Ask the experts’. Our panel of ‘volunteer’ experts  Bob Mizon, Jerry Workman, Bud Budzinski and Bill Reed did a great job. They couldn’t have anticipated the range of questions though.
Imaging, astrobiology, exo-planets, space exploration and the meaning of life, barely covers it. Thanks to the panel for sharing their combined wisdom.
Thanks too, to Bob and Arthur for their ‘Object of the month’ and ‘Monthly Sky notes’ presentations. Bill Reed shared some excellent images of M13 and M51 and I threw in an image of the ISS with flapping wings crossing the disk of the sun. (They really ought to get it fixed). :-)

As he promised, Bill has produced a sheet giving clear, detailed  instructions on the hardware, software and method for the radio tracking of meteors on a budget. These are available from Bill at the next meeting for .50p, proceeds to the Campaign for Dark Skies. If you’d like a copy before the next meeting please contact me.

As usual, Zena and the refreshment crew did us proud and thanks go to them for their hard work.

Don’t forget the South West Astronomy Fair at the Norman Lockyer Observatory in Sidmouth on 9th August where we’ll be having a stand. It starts at 9.30 am


Filed under: News — Ron at 1:03 pm

July 2014 Sky notes

1 July, 2014

July 14 Sky notes

July 14 Sky chart

Filed under: Sky Notes — Ron at 8:38 pm

June meeting

19 June, 2014

It was a near disaster. Not the meeting of course – I refer to the moment I brought the gavel down on Adrian’s purchase of the finderscope kindly donated by Richard Harboard. Trouble was that it was the finderscope wot I used as the gavel! Thankfully no harm done ,but it was a moment of much hilarity – at my expense. :-(

What an enjoyable meeting. Some great images were shared by David Pickles who is learning the dark arts of astro-photography at an impressive rate. I’m sure we’ll be seeing much more of David’s pics once the nights are darker. Can’t wait. Apart from the inadvertent  ‘comedy turn’, my contribution consisted of some solar images and shots of the ISS. Arthur Davis’ monthly sky notes alerted us to what to look for – and what not to – in the coming month.

Bill Read, inspired by Paul Hyde’s talk on meteor detection by radar a couple of months ago, starting from scratch, in short order put together a set up on a budget which is the equal of others costing thousands. We watched and heard  ‘pings’  coming in as Bill explained how he’s done it and what was happening. It was a fascinating and absorbing presentation and Bill was asked to publish some notes on the subject. We were in awe at Bill’s quick grasp of the technicalities and practical nouse that allowed him to be up and running so quickly. Thanks for sharing this Bill.

Next month is ‘ask the experts’ evening. If there is anything you’d like to have clarified, here is the opportunity. There is only one rule. There is no such thing as a stupid question. So don’t be afraid to ask.

Thanks to those who volunteered to help with our stand at the S W Astronomy Fair on 9 August and to Martin for offering the loan of display stands. Thanks too, to Zena for refreshments and to the kind people who helped in the kitchen. Your efforts are much appreciated.


Filed under: News — Ron at 10:22 am

June 2014 Sky notes

29 May, 2014

June Sky notes

June sky diagram

Filed under: Sky Notes — Ron at 8:58 pm

May meeting

22 May, 2014

Pete Adshead’s ‘camera surgery’ had us wincing. Thanks Pete, for sharing your experience of  replacing the filter on your DSLR. Not for the faint hearted or cack -handed I’d say, so that eliminates me at least. :-) That nice Owl Nebula test result showed that the patient had made a full recovery. The link to the Astrometry  site Pete mentioned is http://nova.astrometry.net/

Thanks to Bob Mizon for stepping in to fill the gap left by our speaker who was called away to  high level meetings in the UAE on space issues. Thanks too to Arthur for his sky notes and his account of the Rosse telescope at Birr Castle. (And congratulations on winning the raffle at last).

Inspired by last month’s talk on radio astronomy for amateurs, Bill Reed, (who else), constructed a kit and brought it along to demonstrate his meteor detection set up. Is there no end to the man’s talents? He’s hoping that the anticipated stream from 209P LINEAR on 23/24 May lives up to expectations. Fingers crossed.

My capture of the ISS crossing the sun seemed to be well received but I’m still shaking my head at the good luck with those clouds.

Thanks to Valerie and all who helped with refreshments in Zena’s absence. Much appreciated. Thanks too to those who donated books to our library and to CFDS.

All in all, an interesting and lively meeting and we hope our visitors enjoyed the evening


p s Hope using the scope goes well Hilda. :-)


Filed under: News — Ron at 10:50 am

Colin Pillinger

8 May, 2014

Sad news that Dr Colin Pilliger has died suddenly . He’ll be greatly missed by the space and astronomy community.

Filed under: News — Ron at 11:44 am
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