Next Meeting.Wed 14th March : Short Talk: The Nearest Stars.
Stargazing: The nearest stars in the Northern Night Skies
Welcome to the Bridgwater Astronomical Society Web Site.
We are a small friendly group of individuals interested in talking about and looking at the night sky together.
The monthly meeting is held on the 2nd Wed of the month, from Sept until March (Programme) at Bawdrip Village Hall from 7pm.
During the evening, at around 8-30pm we will step outside and do some Stargazing, so bring binoculars and telescopes. (More Info)
New members of all ages and abilities are most welcome with no obligations on regular attendance. Just come along!
Bawdrip Village Hall and the surrounding car park is fairly wheelchair friendly, so if you would like to join us and you have to use a wheelchair,
you will be most welcome. Just come along!
Bawdrip Hall Map: http://www.geocities.ws/dbown100/bawdripmap2.jpg
▪ BWASTRO Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/bwastro/
New to Astronomy? then start by looking at some of the links below here:
Beginners Corner , Stargazing for beginners, Setting up a simple telescope.
This week's sky at a glance shows night by night some interesting things to look for in the night sky
If you find you have questions that can’t be answered use the contact details below and we will try to help.
Contact us by email at [email protected] or telephone 01278 683740 for more information.
▪ Programme of Meetings Programme
▪ Contact Details Contact
▪ Sites of interest Links
▪ Pictures of the night sky Photos
▪ Observing/Stargazing Evenings. Observing
▪ New to Astronomy? Some basics Beginners Corner
▪ Setting up a simple telescope. Setting
▪ Photography Basics Photography
▪ Viewing the Night sky: This is a large section below:
S&T helpful night by night reminder of what is on view, for the week ahead. http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/sky-at-a-glance/
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 Bawdrip, 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 This link has now been removed as the web site appears to be constantly out of date.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
http://earthsky.org/space/does-our-sun-reside-in-a-spiral-arm-of-the-milky-way-galaxy Where are we located in the Milky Way Galaxy?
▪ 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/
Heavens above: http://www.heavens-above.com/Asteroids
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 protected]
150916 A very successful first meeting was had at our new location Bawdrip Village Hall last night. After welcoming members, including 4 new comers, over coffee tea & biscuits, we looked at the various objects that we might see in the night sky, using a PC projector and screen. Then around 8-30pm we all went outside, on a mild very clear evening and had glorious views of the Moon, Mars, Saturn, the double double in Lyra, and M13 in Hercules. A number of people took turns to try their hand at finding objects using the Society’s telescope, a 150mm f7 Newtonian reflecting telescope. New members Martin & Derek were assisted by Terry in getting their Celestron Goto Telescope working properly and they then enjoyed fine views of the objects mentioned above.
110216 The Chairman circulated an important email on 080216 to members for discussion, outlining some proposed changes to the society, including change of venue, changes to the content of the monthly meetings, and curtailment of a separate stargazing evening on a Friday. Subsequently at the meeting on 100216, the 8 members present had a lively discussion about the points raised by the letter and several proposals were made. Anyone not included on the circulation list, and who might be intending to resume attendance at Society meetings in the near future should note that there will be a change of venue with the AGM being held at a new location on Wed June 8th.
150116 Yet another disappointing turnout for a stargazing evening, with only 3 members turning up!
041115 1)Telescope for sale: Meade ETX-90EC Astro telescope. Contact Mrs.L.A.Gold on [email protected] Cheddar area.
2)LiveView Photo and Optics Show 2015. Date: Sunday 22nd November, Location: The Cedars Inn, Roundswell, Barnstaple, EX31 2HE. The show runs from 10.30am until 4.30pm and admission is completely free. Parking areas will be clearly marked within the grounds of The Cedars Inn,
311015 Telescope for sale: Orbinar refractor 1000-90, (90mm Aperture refractor with 1000mm focal length.) Eq mount with slow motion hand controls. Contact Graham in Taunton at [email protected] Offers around £100.
211015 Open University courses https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/categorieswww.futurelearn.com/courses/categories . (from Ron Cobain)
130815 Perseid Meteor report Wow what a great night. Started slow, nothing much happened from 9-30 till about 10pm then wallop, a stunningly bright slow moving Perseid moving across our eastern sky left a trail for at least 10 seconds. You could have gone home there and then and been quite satisfied with what you had seen but for those that stayed on till 11-30 we saw a further 60 of varying brightness and speed. As we drove down off the Quantocks the skies clouded over, perfect timing. Thanks to all those that came and made it a great evening.
120815 Telescope for sale: Celestron 11 inch GPS, I'm asking £ 950. Originally paid £2,800 plus £500 for eyepieces. Bought maybe 5 years ago and used maybe 3 times. Note no power pack. If interested contact Graham Davis via the visitor posts on the BWASTRO Facebook page.
300715 A web site to look at, courtesy of Nigel W. http://joshworth.com/dev/pixelspace/pixelspace_solarsystem.html
230515 Note that the BWASTRO website, still accessed by entering www.bwastrosoc.org.uk has now been moved from Tripod to Geocities, which should mean no more adds!
130315 No Stargazing planned for tonight. No one showed any interest at Wednesday’s meeting!
That will be it now until later in the year unless someone wishes to organise something.
110315 Collision estimator site http://down2earth.eu/impact_calculator/
1: In the night sky on Fri Feb 20th after sunset look for the dim planet Mars close to the brilliant planet Venus. Moon nearby as well. Look in the west, probably need binocs to see Mars.
2: 3rd March 2015 Look on the evenings of 3/4/5 March to see the planet Uranus slip past Venus. You will definitely need a telescope for that though.
3: Book Friday 20th March in your diary for an Eclipse of the Sun. Info given here is for Cardiff, which should be good enough for us to set our phone alarms by! Looks like about 88% of the Sun should be eclipsed by the Moon. Remember: Only look at the Sun through proper Eclipse glasses or electric welders shield glass. Don't take ANY chances with your eyesight. 08.22 to 10.37hrs
160115 Stargazing evening. A disappointing turnout of only 5 members plus one guest. A fine clear but cold evening gave us wonderful views of Comet Lovejoy Q2, Orion Neb (M42) and Jupiter rising steadily in the east.
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……..
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 on the 2nd Wednesday of each month during Sept - March, from 7pm - 9pm at Bawdrip village hall.
Sat March 10th
Outing to Norman Lockyer Observatory, Sidmouth. Meet there for 6-30pm.
Wed Mar 14th
1: Tonight: The usual review of what’s happening in the night sky then a more detailed look at what we might look at outside later.
2: Short Talk: The Nearest Stars.
3: Stargazing: The nearest stars in the Northern Night Skies
Total eclipse of the Moon and Planet Mars near opposition (brightest and largest).
We will probably organise a viewing evening open to members of the public.
Moon rises eclipsed around 22.05hrs bst, Mars around 22.40hrs bst, and quite close together.
Sunday August 12th.
Perseid Meteor watch. Details to follow..
Wed September 12th
2018/19 session starts.
CONTACT: For further information write to [email protected]
Telephone : 01278 683740
A Stargazing session will be held after the meeting at around 8-15pm - 8-30pm at Bawdrip Village Hall car park.
We may also go outside to observe during the 30 minutes before the meeting starts proper at 7-30pm, and possibly during the evening if something important is happening.
Bring your binoculars, telescopes, and star charts and red not white lights if you have them.
Laser pointers are not allowed, and smoking or vaping is not allowed in the hall or the private car park area around the hall, and no dogs please.
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 [email protected]
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.
So …. moving on to doing some Stargazing, first you need to be able to identify North & South. If you have a compass then use that, or if you can already recognise the Plough use the chart below to identify the Pole Star, which is almost due North.
Once you have found the Pole Star you can use your new found knowledge then to find other things….
Having found Cassiopea, you might then be able to find the square of Pegasus.
Then that leads you to Andromeda and the Spiral Galaxy M31 (marked as ‘nebula’ on the chart below) that looks like our own Milky Way Galaxy.
Things can soon get quite complicated though. Take a look at the next chart!
So….. Don’t panic! Here is an all sky star chart that you can download, print off and take outside.
So how do you use it? Look at it carefully and you will see ‘South’ at the bottom. Just above it is marked ‘Sept’, short for September, and to the left
of ‘Sept’ is a ‘20’ indicating the position for 20th September. The short note at the right tells you the chart is for midnight for the dates shown.
So if you went outside at midnight on 20th Sept, looked South and held the chart up in front of you, that would be the view of the night sky that you
should see. If you go out 2 hours earlier at 10pm you need to rotate the chart slightly so that the Roman numerals XX11 are at the bottom.
Similarly if it’s October 20th then you need to rotate the chart the other way until ‘20 Oct’ is at the bottom. Again if the time is 10pm instead of 12pm
then rotate the chart by 2 hours on the upper scale from ‘11’ back to ‘O’. If it was 11pm you would move it to ‘1’
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……. (return to Start of Introduction)
The meeting schedule is roughly as follows:
19.00hrs The hall is opened. Set up tables, projector etc.
19-15: Informal discussions about anything astronomical before the start of the meeting.
19-30: Official start of the Meeting: An informal discussion about anything in the News.
1: A general look at what is visible in the night sky.
2: Then, a more detailed look at what we might be able to see outside. Alternatively or in addition to this there may be a short talk.
3: We then go outside to do some stargazing; If the weather is insuitable we may continue informal talks inside or have the short talk mentioned above.
The Society has a basic 6” reflecting telescope, that is brought to each meeting for members wanting to try out a telescope. Do come along and have a go if you have never tried one before. It is really quite easy.
21-00: Official closure of the meeting and locking up of the hall or meeting place.
Members can if they wish, stay on longer to carry on observing outside if the sky is clear.
We operate a No Smoking and no Laser Pointers policy at both our meetings in the hall and during Stargazing in the Hall Car Park.
Get more info from [email protected]
£5 Annual membership subscription, and £1 per meeting.