Arrived on site at 18.00 on Sunday evening- greeted by dense fog. The site was covered by a 3 inch layer of fresh snow covering the traces of snow clearing activity last Saturday. During the evening the visibility improved, from fog to a blanket of cloud which thinned over the next 6 hours. Just before the eclipse started the moon became visible to the delight of members. Observation and imaging was possible for some time then the clouds rolled in again before U2. Members commented on the differing cloud patterns/ layers resulting from wind shear on at least 3 levels !. At one stage during U1 a slight drizzle came down from somewhere, the Bob1 observatory had a rollover roof which protected the reflector and camera whilst a longer lens hood protected the 6" Refractor in the main dome from the damp.  U2,U3 and greatest eclipse were observed through thinner areas of cloud, but considering the complete cloud cover earlier the imagers were more than happy. An impressive blood red moon seen and imaged  at last - job done.  Very cold conditions on our moorland site made for a challenging morning but members were rewarded with a fairly clear U4 to bring the event to a close. Then right on cue the clouds rolled in again completely obscuring the moon ahead of the dawn. Brief glimpses of some stars but no chance of seeing Venus and Jupiter rising ahead of the sun. Domes closed about 06.30 under complete cloud cover. Some of the many images taken appear on the front page, with thanks to members.

AndyS

 

 

 

 

 

 

* A very good turn out for the event with visitors of all ages attending the AC. True to the weather forecast the sky conditions did not allow any observation  of the astronomical events predicted ( a very brief 10 seconds moon glow appeared through the clouds well after the lunar eclipse).Observations of Mars were certainly out of the question. We hope someone somewhere got a view?

For the rest of the evening visitors and members had informal discussions about general astronomy and future events at the AC.

Thanks to all for turning up inspite of the unhelpful weather. Maybe better luck at the 2018 Perseid Meteor shower in August... we plan to be open Saturday and Sunday evening/mornings.

 

The Astronomy Centre will be open to visitors on the night of the 27th July 2018 after 21.00.

The main feature should be the observation of the planet Mars which will be the brightest its been since Mars 2016. The approach will be only the second closest since the Stone age at about 35.7 million miles. In 2012 it was ~60 million miles from us at magnitude +1.2, on the 27th it will be -2.8 ( more than 40 times brighter). A very special event indeed.

As well as "Mars calling" we have some other events during the same night. At about 21.31 the moon will rise in eclipse ( the moon will be in the shadow of the earth), we should  see the second half of the event, cloud permitting.

Also throughout the night Venus, Saturn, Jupiter join the party , if we are lucky also Mercury just after sunset.

Join us for some planetary and lunar observing , the show starts at 21.30.

 

 

 

AC Stargazing week.

After a week of varied wintry weather we welcomed a range of hardy souls to the AC.

Visitors braving the conditions were able to engage with AC members who gave guided tours, sky tours and  illustrated talks. Junior visitors operated the `large ` AC telescopes and the main dome, also gaining an insight into basic astonomy using planetarium software. Our youngest visitor was about 18 months old and delighted in driving a 16" Meade telescope using the remote control.

Tuesday evening was blessed with fairly clear skies allowing visitors to observe a range of astronomical phenomena. Very cold conditions did not put off some enthuisiasts who engaged in imaging on the outside observing plateau ( - 6 C ! )

Wednesday weather was wet and windy all evening, junior visitors engaged in some Astro theory and basic telescope operation.

Thursday- scattered cloud with the odd break. Very good visitor turnout attending all talks. A practical intoduction to Astro Imaging was well received as well as help with equipment setup and operation.

Thanks to all members and visitors for turning up and helping inspite of the challenging conditions.

**This Saturday ( 17th) we have an additional opportunity for visitors to visit the Imaging facility operated by Bob and Matthew. They welcome `drop in` visitors to receive an outline of this interesting aspect of Astronomy. **

We hope to see some of our newer visitors again on our regular Saturday openings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well done to AC members for braving the bitterly cold Sunday morning weather in persuit of an early start for the planetary conjunction. Two observatories were in operation throughout the night making use of the clear sky conditions. Rising at 0412 from the AC a thin band of cloud on the SE horizon delayed observations briefly. By 0450 the pair of planets commanded the view well above the clouds and gave both members and visitors a well earned spectacle. Even by eye the pair were easily discernable as a bright pair of objects in the, now clear, sky.

Sky conditions were fairly favourable but the freezing moisture in the air put a limit of the observable detail. Jupiter , the upper planet of the two, appeared with two pairs of its moons appearing like quotation marks in the plane of their parent planet.

Mars, though the fainter of the two, showed its distincive red colouration both visually and especially when imaged.

As a brief diversion, visitors requested a view of the 67% moon in the 16",  a tour and discussion of the surface features ensued using a camera and large screen display.

Next on the agenda was an opportunity to observe Mercury ahead of a rapidly brightening sky. Again, a thin bank of cloud threatened to spoil the early appearance above our 3 degree horizon. Success, Mercury appeared alone at nearly 4 degrees elevation just above the thin cloud. Inspite of looking like a small coloured disc due to a thicker atmosphere at this low altitude, Mercury was a instant hit for visitors.

A long shot observation was of Saturn just after Mercury. The observing team were beaten , understandably, by a bright pre-dawn sky, no matter , main observing objectives done.

Team dispersed at 0846 for a well earned breakfast and bed.

See below for a sample of images taken- hope for more to follow.

Jupiter, Mars, Mercury composite. Dawn at the AC. Meade 16", NEX5R camera.

September 1st.. 2017. Meade 16" , Sony Nex5 camera.