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The Covid-19 outbreak means that the astronomy group cannot meet face to face in the near future.
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During the Covid-19 difficulties the group is holding its meetings using the Zoom video conferencing tool. The meetings are held on the first Monday of each month, starting at 10.30am, and last between an hour and an hour and a half. The bulk of each meeting is usually made up of two talks on different astronomical topics. The speakers are always members of the group: our usual practice. Sometimes observations are reported by group members, observing being largely unaffected by the current difficulties.
The thumbnails below are of images taken at our Zoom meetings. (click on a thumbnail to see a larger image)
The membership varies widely in background and we are mainly a talks and discussions group, but with a small number of dedicated, telescope owning observers. We cover astronomy in the widest sense: observations, cosmology, space missions, history and so on. We do not explore the subject systematically - almost every meeting is a stand-alone meeting. We are particularly keen on covering the latest findings in Astronomy as soon as possible after they are announced.
A few days before each meeting a poster is placed on this website advertising the meeting’s main talk. The "Past Meetings" page contains a collection of these posters and anyone interested in joining us can examine these to get some idea of what we cover. The group welcomes new members.
Contact the Group Leader, Peter Jackson, on 418050 or by email to Astronomy.
If you have any comments about the web site, please sent an email to Webmaster.
Photograph of Mars by Malcolm Worster
Malcolm's telescope is a Meade LX90 10 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain with a focal length of 2500mm. His camera is a Meade Lunar Planetary Imager (a CCD camera much like a webcam) which is probaby 10-15 years old so fairly basic compared to what is available now.
He took the picture on October 23rd 2020 from his back garden in Tockington.
Various freeware programs were used to capture and process the image. They all have a multitude of settings which Malcolm just guessed at.:
- Firecapture was used to capture the image as an AVI video file approx 30 secs long;
- Autostakkert was used to select the best frames and to stack them together to produce a TIFF file;
- Registax Image Processing Software to manipulate the image and make it sharper.
Malcolm suggests that other members of the group may be more familiar with these and more knowledgeable on to how to use them.
Eddie, a distinguished member of the Group died recently. So, at the November 2020 Zoom meeting, glasses and mugs were raised in his memory.
In the following images, on the left is Eddie talking to Mel at the start of a meeting on November 5th 2018. The middle image is at the same meeting just before Eddie was to give a talk on Archeoastronomy. As I recall, he didn't believe a word of it! On the right is a screenshot taken at the Zoom meeting on October 5th 2020. This was the last meeting he attended. He died a few days later.
Roger Steer offered the following memory of Eddie.
Eddie was born on 29 November 1941 in Penzance. There was no-one prouder of their Cornish heritage. He was, by trade, a biology teacher, as I was, later in my career. We both trained at Bath College of HE, Newton Park, but missed each other by more than 25 years.
When I re-joined the BAS, in 1996-7. Eddie was well established as Vice-Chairman. He had just taken early retirement. He organised the fortnightly Members’ Evenings.
Eddie has been a good friend ever since we met. We were close (countryside) neighbours (about a mile away). He provided books, that were hard to find. Contacts, that were hard to get. We car-shared to the BAS for most of the time since we met. When I retired, I joined Thornbury U3A and, of course, Eddie was a fixture there too. We didn’t car-share. It was always Eddie who drove, because he always had an overhead projector and a pile of books to bring. He sometimes brought electrical items, of his own making. Having an electronics background, I treated these with some caution!
Everyone knew Eddie. When I spoke to well-known speakers, like Owen Brazell and Lucie Green, they all knew him. Top speakers would arrive and greet him with a ‘Hello Eddie!’ He collected speakers’ autographs. There was no-one he would not approach. He had friends around the world, all connected by the love of astronomy.
He overcame two different cancers, before the third. This was too much even for him.
As well as U3A Astronomy, as I mentioned, he was an active member of the Bristol Astronomical Society, the Society for Popular Astronomy and the Cotswold Astronomical Society.
He had a ‘side-ways’ view of most things and a great insight into the practical side of astronomy – gained over many years.
No one could find a better bargain, nor do a better deal. He was as generous as he was frugal. We will all miss him.
Jupiter and Saturn
Bill Beere has issued a challenge to the group to photograph the coming near conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. See the link on the right.
- Two members of the group have selections of camera adapters which are surplus to their requirements. Take a look at the "For Sale" page (see the link on the right of this page).
- A small "Jessop’s refractor and tripod" has been offered for sale. Details are on the "For Sale" page (see the link on the right of this page).
- In December, the Geminids meteor shower will peak on the night of December 13th/14th 2020. The radiant will be highest in the southern sky at about 02:00 on Monday 14th. The new moon will not yet have risen. Unlike most meteor showers, the Geminids are not associated with a comet but with an asteroid: the 3200 Phaethon.
- Also in December, The Ursids will peak on December 21st/22nd 2018 The radiant will be at its highest in the northern sky at 08:00 on Tuesday 22nd. This is about the same time as sunrise so an earlier viewing time would be preferable. The moon, in its first quarter will have set at about 01:00. The Ursids are associated with the comet, 8P/Tuttle, also sometimes known as Mechain-Tuttle's Comet.
|Dates for your Diary|
|Mon Dec 7th||Andrew Barnes will talk about Dark Matter... and possibly other things.|
|Mon Jan 4th 2021||Details of the January 2021 Zoom gathering will appear here when they become available.|
|Mon Feb 1st 2021||Details of the February 2021 Zoom gathering will appear here when they become available.|