What’s Up

Observing evening at Wellow, Sat 22nd April

REPORT A hugely successful Saturday evening under the stars with Bath Astronomers at Wellow on Saturday night. The sky clouded over soon after meeting up at 21:30 but even the poor weather forecast by metcheck.com suggested the high cloud would clear. To fill the time, we looked at the two new scopes brought to the evening, a 5" Newtonian on an equatorial mount and an 8" Dobsonian. Problems with focusing, mount alignment and navigating the sky were all openly chatted about. Hopefully Marjorie, Rachel, Steve and Francis who attended with Simon found it helpful. After almost an hour, the skies...

Read more...

Publy gathering at the Raven, Bath, Thu 13th July

Venue: The Raven, Queen Street, Bath Date/Time: Thursday July 13 at 20:00 Attendees: Any keen members of the group Purpose: An informal chat on plans for observing and participation in outreach events as well as about astronomy in general.

Read more...

Informal group gathering at the Star Inn, Bath, Wed 12th April

Venue: The Star Inn, The Vineyards, The Paragon, Bath Date/Time: Wednesday April 12 at 20:00 Attendees: Any keen members of the group Purpose: An informal chat on plans for observing and participation in outreach events as well as about astronomy in general.

Read more...

Cancelled – The Life & Times of Mary Somerville, BRLSI, 10th April 2017

********************** Due to ill health, this event has been cancelled ********************** Venue: 7.30pm Monday 10th April 2017 at the BRLSI Title: The Life & Times of Mary Somerville Speaker: Dr Claire Brock of the University of Leicester Description: Mary Fairfax Somerville (26 December 1780 – 29 November 1872) was a Scottish science writer and polymath. She studied mathematics and astronomy, and was nominated to be jointly the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society at the same time as Caroline Herschel. In 1816 the Mary Somerville and her family...

Read more...

Observing at Wellow on Sat 1st April

Attendees - Jonathan, Charles, and about 8 visitors at Wellow, from 20:00 Dusk was still falling at 20:00, with a 3-day old moon, transparent skies, but also 50% cloud cover. Great views of the moon, and bright double stars (Castor, Mizar) as dusk descended, plus plenty of chat about telescope options. But the cloud cover increased to about 95%. Most departed by 21.30. Charles stayed on, and the skies got back to about 50% clear. This was good enough for a look at the bright Ursa Major galaxies (M51, M81, M82, even M101), and in Leo (M65, M66; M95, M96), M3, and a quick look at Jupiter....

Read more...

April Night Sky

For me, April is galaxy month. The Virgo and Coma galaxy clusters offer much the best galaxy field for amateur telescopes in the entire night sky, with scores of galaxies available to observers at a reasonably dark site with an 8" telescope; hundreds if you have a 12". April is on balance the best month to see them because they reach their highest elevation due south before midnight.(You can still see them in later months, but then you have less night time available as the evenings stay light so late.) The map below gives a sense of both galaxy clusters, as well as several groups of interesting...

Read more...

March Night Sky

March provides the best opportunity this year to see Mercury in the evening sky for us northerners. Mercury is never very far away from the sun in the sky, so for evening appearances you have to catch it after the sun has set, but before Mercury does. The geometry of our position on the earth's surface, and how that relates to the ecliptic (the plane in which  that the planets of the solar system orbit) means that the best opportunity for this is around March. This is when the sun is "moving" northwards in our sky at the maximum rate, and a planet setting after the sun is therefore approximately...

Read more...

February Night Sky

Mars is technically visible in the night sky for much of the year, but for reasons I have explained before, its distance from the earth varies by a huge factor, and much of the time it presents only a very small disc where your chances of seeing anything more than a bright red blob are small. That is true this month, but there is added interest, since at the end of the month Mars will pass very close - less than a degree, so in the same field of view at low power in some telescopes - from Uranus. The closest approach is on February 27. If you have never seen Uranus, or have difficulty in finding...

Read more...

January Night Sky

Our early evening skies this month  are dominated by Venus shining a brilliant white in the south west, setting at around 9pm. It is an impressive sight with the naked eye, but  a disappointing one in a telescope. The wall to wall toxic cloud cover of our near twin planet presents a uniformly white appearance over the illuminated part of the disc, which for most of this month resembles a half-moon. And that is all you will see. It is so bright that any variation in the tone of the cloud cover will be impossible to detect. If you want to observe Venus through a telescope it is better to do so in daytime....

Read more...

December Night Sky

The recent run of clear nights has been good for observing, but also, of course, cold. This will be a test of your cold weather clothing. I find people new to observing may bring sensible coats, hats, gloves etc, but often  neglect their feet. You really need to bring boots that provide some insulation, and ideally are waterproof, plus thick socks. Wellies won't do. Mountain walking boots are fine. If you have skiing gear, that should do very well. The other problem is the telescope. Lenses and mirrors exposed to the night sky will tend to dew up, though dew shields and various electrical heating...

Read more...