Sunday, 23 April 2017

Fully Booked - April at St Brides with PCNP

The astronomy night arranged with Pembrokeshire National Park coincided with the peak of the Lyrid meteor shower on 22nd April - the event was timed (officially) for 9.00 pm - 11.00 p.m.

Preparation was the key and we printed off a number of freebies - information sheets, star charts and the like to make the evening more meaningful.
I did ask the question - fully booked meant 31 people made an advance booking - several more arrived hoping that there was enough space.

Pun intended!!!








We had around 10 from the local astronomy group and this is a selection of the "early birds" that arrived to set up the equipment while it was still light.


Richard, here, was one of the first. Here seen setting up his Newtonian. He also brought along the group's 6" Dobsonian which we "borrowed" later as we were having problems with the group's Tasco.


The 1st object on view was the planet Jupiter which wowed a number of the early attendees.
The four Galilean moons were easily seen in binoculars and by moving from 'scope to 'scope many also saw the equatorial belts and later the Great Red Spot was visible.

The site lived up to expectations and soon it was very dark and some serious skywatching could begin.

Our visitors delighted to see stars, constellations, double stars, galaxies and nebulae that were new to many of them and we were kept busy showing off these these marvels to an enthusiastic audience.



Here we have a couple of images of Jupiter - taken by Rob on the night. The Great Red Spot is clearly visible on these pictures. The GRS is allegedly a weather feature that has been visible on the planet possibly for 350 years.

This image contains the North America Nebula.

It is extremely difficult to see naked eye but the camera reveals much more.

It is an aptly named emission nebula - we can identify features that seem to resemble those on the North American continent.

A number of people saw Lyrids and Rob was very pleased with himself because he captured an image for the first time - we see it here in the middle, about a third of the way down.

Many Lyrids are as bright as the main stars of Ursa Major (the Plough) and often give rise to a persistent train as seen here.

The set finishing time was 11.00 pm but many of us stayed much longer. The Moon being out of the way was an added bonus for this night.

The cry "when are we doing it again?" was made and I'm confident that later in the year we will.

The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Ranger (Dan) who organised the event was pleased with the turn out - as were we all. A clear night for astronomy is unusual enough but one free from rain and wind made it an extra special occasion.






Monday, 12 September 2016

September Meeting

A late start due to calamities from many sides but 29 of us enjoyed our 1st meeting since July.

 Here we have Jim looking extremely casual, almost nonchalant even though half an hour late.

He had the laptop so we couldn't start proceedings though by an amazing coincidence we had just collected a reserve laptop from our Secretary's home when Jim arrived. 
Our membership secretary, Phil, was also late on this night - sadly missed as he is a great help in setting up the room early on.

 "What's Up" gave a helpful look at the current night sky. Not much in the planetary line though this is a good month for Neptune - the 15th is a particularly good date to remember as Neptune is occulted by the Moon on that day and around 9.00pm comes out from behind it.

Some good stuff around Cygnus and Lyra though they are a little too high for comfortable viewing. The Great Square of Pegasus was mentioned and it seems that 7 is the magic number.If that number of stars are visible in the square then the night is good for observing. Curiously a few days later around 4.00am Susan could make out 7/8 in the square - not often that happens!!

Kim then treated us to a demonstration of how to set up an equatorial telescope.

It was a warm night for gymnastics but Kim did a tidy job here.

What about those shorts!!
A "Beam me up Scottie" pose here.

It is the sort of demo that needs seeing many times but we got the idea.

The hire equipment was on display and 2 items were carried away by members - another member is on holiday later this month so opted for the October takeaway.

We have a 6" Dobsonian, 20x80 Celestron Binoculars  and a Tasco Reflector for hire at an extremely moderate rate so if you would like to hire one of these do make it known,
We also had a selection of FAS booklets which went better than anticipated - I should have brought more.

We also had a number of astrocalendars which were being sold off at just 50p each as they have limited content for the current year.

Next month the 2016/17 astrocalendars will be available at an excellent price!

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Newgale Solar Event

Newgale is a stunning place as the following pictures show:

Saturday August 6th was the nominated day for this year's solar event and we were pleased that the forecast was good and on the day itself there was clear skies for the late morning and early afternoon at least.

The car park was pretty full and many holidaymakers were enjoying the day - this was promising!


The life saving club premises at the far end of the car park was where we set out our stall.
Aside from 2 Coronado Solarmax solar telescopes and Roy's PST we had a number of other 'scopes with Mylar filters available for viewing.

The Power Tank proved useful as it powered the drive of both solar telescopes.



Plenty of literature was on hand to promote the PAG in other ways.



Here we have some of the equipment on hand and also a glimpse of the mottley crew.

Roy looks as if he's posing and possibly was.


We met people from Monmouth who said that they wanted to visit the Dark Sky Site at the Brecon Beacons (I like to think we inspired this family!).


Others we spoke with were from  Cheltenham and yet more were from a Nottingham Astronomy Group.
It seems that their home group were having a barbeque that day that they were missing. (A thought that appealed greatly to Roy - so look out)

We had a number of family groups that looked through all of our equipment in turn and were greatly impressed with what could be seen.


The cloud was a bit of a problem and eventually it took over so that by 3 p.m. with wall to wall cloud and a brisk wind we had to pack up and go home.

Rob and Nathan arrived just a little later than the rest of us and so Rob was convenient to blame for the change in the weather - though he did have a number looking through his jumbo telescope before the end.

Before we finally packed up one lady holidaymaker who was staying at Porthgain asked for our recommendations for future astronomy viewing.


We were pleased to tell her about the Perseid meteor shower that peaks on 12th/13th of August. When we suggested using the sun lounger and just naked eye viewing she was greatly impressed. Where do I look? she asked and we were pleased to give suggestions.

A good opportunity for us all, this one - share your sightings on the forum and should you be fortunate enough to get a picture do share that too.

I left my camera behind so these pictures are from Sue and when I get more from Jim I'll put them here also.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

I have been neglecting this blog but 2 items are soon to be covered.


Letterston Memorial Hall are holding a:

1) Flower Festival and Picture Exhibition

Friday 8th through to Tuesday 12th July 2016
 Preseli Astro will be there with the "astrodome" - more later.
2) Saturday August 6th we have our annual Solar Day at Newgale - weather permitting, Join us early afternoon for a look at our nearest star.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Solar Day - Newgale

The P.A.G. annual "solar day" was held at the lifesaving club premises at Newgale on Saturday 8th August from midday.
Our thanks to Roy for allowing us access to this venue yet again.

Below are a selection of pictures received - once again it appears to have been a successful event!



















Thanks to Phil T for these pictures!

Friday, 4 September 2015

September Meeting - Solar Superstorms

24 of us attended the September meeting and at least another 8  would normally be there (by my reckoning!!) We average around 30 at the meetings so this was a good turn out for the 1st meeting since the August break.









Our container (rescued by Richard from an un-named venue in Haverfordwest) caused some interest early on. When the interior painting is complete it will be fully useable though we have already placed a few lumpy articles inside to save carting back and forth.
Phil has fixed up some interior lighting and arranged for a sturdy padlock - all useful additions.


We started a little late with Kim's look at "What's Up" in September.
Planets are in short supply this month - Saturn is  low down in the evening sky and for the early risers Venus is there.
Copernicus was the Moon crater considered and some deep sky areas were hilighted for globular clusters and the like. An unusually short one for Kim but he will make up for it!!
We really must mention the total lunar eclipse later this month. Sadly it's early morning but check out our Twitter site for more details or "google" it.
twitter.com/preseliastro
www.jb.man.ac.uk/astronomy/nightsky/

The main lecture covered by Mike was on the subject of "Solar Superstorms".
A scary insight into how dangerous our nearest star can be. The met office now has a dedicated site for this that is well worth keeping an eye on.
www.spaceweather.com


Around 8.45, miraculously, the sky had cleared somewhat and we set up binoculars and telecopes for a brief time.
Saturn was the easy target and low down so better for binocular viewing. The 25x 100's showed the ring system clearly to the delight of many.
We also managed to see M31, the Andromeda galaxy and the double cluster in Perseus.
Plenty of constellations were visible, Ursa Major, Hercules, Sagittarius, Ophiuchus (another of Kim's subjects, so good to have sight of), Bootes etc. etc.
Those that stayed had this extra treat - let's hope we have more clear skies on our meeting nights - it adds that extra ingredient that makes the evening worthwhile.

Next month the subject under consideration will be "Variable Stars" - join us if you can at our usual venue the Letterston Memorial Hall on Tuesday October 6th at 7.00 p.m.

Monday, 13 July 2015

July Meeting - Women in Astronomy

The July meeting was on our usual 1st Tuesday on the month - 7th July at 7.00pm at Letterston Memorial Hall.


We had 30 attending including at least 1 newcomer - Jasmine from Whitland. 
She has attended Swansea meetings but this time came straight to us from work - there's dedication for you!!

Here we have some of the early arrivers

Gladys is at the front along with her husband/taxi driver! - (that's what he calls himself).



We resurrected the notice boards for this meeting (though it had proved very useful during the Letterston Carnival a few weeks earlier also)

We really should take it to all meetings as it always has something of interest on it.

Now that we have a container (see forum) on site that should be more of a possibility!!

Jim, fresh from his holiday in Oz, commenced with the "What's Up" in July.

With little dark sky at this time of year actual astronomy is limited but for those that want to stay up late (or get up early) there are a few things visible.
One event Jim hilighted was the "New Horizons" probe to Pluto. When it left in 1996 Pluto was a fully fledged planet but then it was demoted and is now classified as a dwarf planet along with Ceres and a few others..
As I write this New Horizons is at its closest point (well, Tuesday actually)  to Pluto, taking pictures of the dwarf planet and its 5 moons, which will surely delight us in the months to come.

It is worth keeping an eye on our "Twitter" page as snippets get put on there also. Here's the link:

https://twitter.com/PreseliAstro

Kim followed this with the main item on "Women in Astronomy"
I'll arrange to have this put on the forum so that we can all benefit from it once more.

Some of the women Kim mentioned are the "unsung heroes of astronomy".
In the era of Caroline Herschel, for example, the woman could do little practical work but was allowed to document the work of her brother William.
She did, however, discover several comets and received a gold medal from the R.A.S. and another on her 96th birthday from the King of Prussia.
The account of Jocelyn Bell Burnell and the discovery of pulsars was another episode that showed that astronomy was very much a man's world until fairly recent times.

Strictly speaking this was true in many fields. If you have the opportunity find and read the books by PBM Allan on Moths. A really humorous chapter is the one which outlines just what the entomologists wife is permitted to do. I like to think it is somewhat tongue in cheek but it gives an  another insight into that bygone era.


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