Visiting CAS

Trial Visits
If you are unsure about joining, you are welcome to attend a maximum of 2 monthly meetings as a visitor to see what you think of the Society. There is a small charge of £2 per person per visit, but if you join the Society during the evening of your visit the charge for that evening will be fully refunded. If you wish to continue beyond those 2 visits we will require you to become a member.

Our monthly meetings take place at Deer Park Archers, Shurdington.
See the map below or use the What Three Words app to obtain a precise location, using “shudders.stewing.genetics”. what3words.com/shudders.stewing.genetics

The turning off the A46 is rather hidden. Looking rather like a lay-by here is a photo:


Visitors are welcome!

Reference material on Globular Clusters

Following on from the excellent talk last night (13 April 2024) by Owen Brazell, here are some links to sources of further reading that were given in the talk.

haroldcorwin.net globulars

British Astronomical Society Observing Programmes

astronomy-mall.com Adventures In Deep Space

faintfuzzies.com Globular Clusters PDF

There is more information in a PDF document, including some book titles, available to members. (The link is available when logged in to the website).

Members only - please login to view

CAS Sky Notes for April 2024

The change in the clocks and lighter nights become an increasing problem for observing.

Planets:

Mercury:  Mercury will still be visible in the evening sky at the very start of the month. This month, having reached greatest eastern elongation on the 24th March. It starts the month with an elongation of +17o, but rapidly drops to +11o by the 5th April. It will then rapidly be lost as it reaches inferior conjunction on 11th April; therefore, look for it early in the month.

Venus:  Venus is still a morning object but is rather difficult to see. Its elongation drops to -10o by the end of the month. Its magnitude remains at -3.8 as the phase increases to 98% by the end of the month as it approaches superior conjunction in June. The diameter remains around 10 arcsec during this month.

Mars: It remains a difficult morning object throughout at magnitude +1.1 and diameter of 4.7 arcsec. Its declination increases this month to +1o putting it a bit higher in the sky.

Jupiter:  Jupiter is becoming difficult this month, being low in the western sky after sunset. It is approaching conjunction in mid-May.

Saturn is not observable this month as it is still too close to the Sun in the morning sky.

Uranus is no longer visible this month as it sets not long after the Sun.

Neptune. Neptune is not observable this month.

The Sun

Solar activity is still increasing, and solar observations are a good idea.

Take great care to never look directly at the Sun, or directly through an optical instrument.

Aurora Borealis:  Increasing solar activity increases the chance of seeing an aurora. There are a number of Apps that can give you warnings and chances of seeing Aurorae. Mine is called Aurora Pro.

Meteor Showers:  The Lyrid meteor shower occurs between the 14th and 30th April. The peak is on the 22nd April, so the full Moon makes this rather unfavourable.

Moon

2nd   April:  Moon is at last quarter.              8th April:  New Moon**

15th April:  Moon is at First Quarter             23rd April:  Full Moon      

**There will be a total solar eclipse on the 8th April. This will not be visible at all in the UK.

Comet 12P Pons-Brooks This comet reaches perihelion on 21st April but may be visible low in the west after sunset. It could reach magnitude 4 and be visible to the naked eye, or at least in binoculars. Its brightness is unpredictable and prone to outbursts. I recommend you look online for the latest up to date information.

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CAS Sky Notes for March 2024

Planets:

Mercury:  Mercury moves into the evening sky this month, having passed through superior conjunction on the 28th February.  It also moves north of the celestial equator and becomes well placed later in the month.  It reaches greatest eastern elongation of 19o on 24th March when it will be visible in the west after sunset. A week either side of the 24th may also see it relatively easy to find.

Venus:  Venus is still a morning object, but is less well placed.  Its elongation drops to 17o by the end of the month.  Its magnitude remains at -3.8 as the phase increases to 96% by the end of the month.  The diameter decreases to around 10 arcsec during this month.  Also, it remains well south of the celestial equator and so is low in the morning sky. 

Mars: It remains a difficult morning object throughout at magnitude +1.2 and diameter of 4.4 arcsec. Being well south of the equator renders it hard to find.

Jupiter:  Jupiter is still visible in the western sky after sunset and early evening.  It is quite high in the sky and unmistakeable. Look out for the 4 Galilean moons. Various websites will help you to identify them, www.shallowsky.com is worth using as it also shows the position of the Great Red Spot (GRS) and when it is visible.

Saturn is not observable this month as it has only just passed through conjunction.

Uranus is still observable.  It is situated roughly half way between Jupiter and the Pleiades and so is fairly easy to find.  R.A. 03h 05m, Dec +17o.  It lies to the west of the Pleiades. If anyone wants more details, please email Neil at coord@cotswoldas.org.uk

Neptune is not observable this month.

The Sun

Solar activity is still increasing and solar observations are a good idea.  Take great care to never look directly at the Sun, or directly through an optical instrument.

Aurora Borealis:  Increasing solar activity increases the chance of seeing an aurora.  There are a number of Apps that can give you warnings and chances of seeing Aurorae.  Mine is called Aurora Pro.

Meteor Showers:  There are no prominent meteor showers this month, but watch out for sporadic ones at any time

Moon

3rd March:  Moon is at last quarter.              10th March:  New Moon

17th March:  Moon is at First Quarter            25th March:  Full Moon**       

**There will be a penumbral eclipse of the Moon on the 25th March.  This occurs when the Moon passes through the fainter outer part of the Earth’s shadow.

It enters the penumbra at 04:53m UT. The Moon sets at 06:01 UT and the end of the eclipse, at 09:32, is therefore not visible in the UK.

Deep Sky Objects:  The Orion Nebula is an easy target throughout the night.  It is the middle ‘star’ in the sword, below the belt of three stars. The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is well placed as is our other neighbour, the Triangulum Galaxy (M33).

Astrophotography Challenge: Try to get a really good photo of the Double Cluster in Perseus. RA: 2h 20m Dec: +57.08, almost overhead. You don’t need a powerful telescope, just a zoom lens as each cluster covers nearly 0.5o.

To view this post in PDF format please CLICK HERE

CAS Sky Notes for February 2024

Planets:

Mercury:  Mercury is very poorly placed this month and reaches superior conjunction on the 28th February. 

Venus:  Venus is still a morning object. Its elongation drops to 25o by the end of the month.  Its magnitude remains at -3.9 as the phase increases to 90% by the end of the month.  The diameter decreases to around 11 arcsec during this month.  Also, it remains well south of the celestial equator and so is low in the morning sky. 

Mars: On the 22nd Mars will 0.6o S of Venus. That should make it easier to find.

Jupiter:  Jupiter is still fairly well placed and visible throughout the evening.  It is quite high in the sky and unmistakeable. Look out for the 4 Galilean moons. Various websites will help you to identify them, www.shallowsky.com is worth using as it also shows the position of the Great Red Spot (GRS) and when it is visible.

Saturn is not observable this month as it reaches conjunction on the 28th February.

Uranus  is well placed throughout February.  It is situated roughly half way between Jupiter and the Pleiades and so is fairly easy to find.  R.A. 03h 05m, Dec +17o.  It lies to the west of the Pleiades. If anyone wants more details, please email Neil at coord@cotswoldas.org.uk

Neptune.  Neptune is not really observable as it sets by 7pm.  You may be able to find it on the 12th as it will be 0.7oN of the crescent Moon.

The Sun

Solar activity is still increasing and solar observations are a good idea.  Take great care to never look directly at the Sun, or directly through an optical instrument.

Aurora Borealis:  Increasing solar activity increases the chance of seeing an aurora.  There are a number of Apps that can give you warnings and chances of seeing Aurorae.  Mine is called Aurora Pro.

Meteor Showers:  There are no prominent meteor showers this month, but watch out for sporadic ones at any time

Moon

2nd February:  Moon is at last quarter.          9th February:  New Moon

16th February:  Moon is at First Quarter       24th February:  Full Moon.       

Deep Sky Objects:  The Orion Nebula is an easy target throughout the night.  It is the middle ‘star’ in the sword, below the belt of three stars. The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is well placed as is our other neighbour, the Triangulum Galaxy (M33).

Astrophotography Challenge: Try to get a really good photo of the Double Cluster in Perseus. RA: 2h 20m Dec: +57.08, almost overhead. You don’t need a powerful telescope, just a zoom lens as each cluster covers nearly 0.5o.

To view this post in PDF format please CLICK HERE

Observing the Aurora Borealis

By Alan Turton

Excerpt:

One February, about 10 years ago, we took a short break to Iceland staying in Reykjavik and taking trips out around the island. We did all the tourist trips that included visiting the hot pools where you can bathe in the open air where the temperature was about freezing, yet the water was as warm as a bath. We also took the Golden Circle coach tour visiting the spectacular rift valley where Europe touches America, the original named Geyser and the magnificent Gullfoss Falls that were frozen at that time. The highlight of the tour for me was an evening coach trip to a car park at a service station about 10 miles outside Reykjavik. There was nothing special about the site, it was quite unspectacular, yet the sky was dark enough to see a spectacularly clear night sky. On time, as predicted by the tour guide, the sky changed colour and was filled with wonderful dancing curtains of green and red.

The full article can be read in the members area under Mercury Articles.

CAS Sky Notes for January 2024

Planets:

Mercury:  Mercury is in the morning sky and reaches greatest western elongation of 23o on the 12th January.  You might be able to pick it up if you have a really clear eastern horizon.  However, it is well south of the celestial equator and won’t be an easy object.

Venus:  Venus is still a morning object. Its elongation drops to around 30o throughout the month.  Its magnitude drops from -4.1 to -3.9 as the phase increases to 85% by the end of the month.  The diameter decreases to around 13 arcsec during this month.  Also, it is well south of the celestial equator and so is much lower in the sky. 

Mars: Although moving into the morning sky, it is still a very difficult object this month.

Jupiter:  Jupiter is still fairly well placed and visible throughout the night.  It is quite high in the sky by mid evening and unmistakeable. Look out for the 4 Galilean moons. Various websites will help you to identify them, www.shallowsky.com is worth using as it also shows the position of the Great Red Spot (GRS) and when it is visible.

Saturn is still observable in the early evening, but sets around 7 pm.  It is low in the sky, but is well worth viewing.  The rings are at a shallow angle and it is a beautiful sight if you have a clear evening and a clear western horizon.  There is an interactive map of the moons available at skyandtelescope.org

Uranus is well placed throughout December.  It is situated roughly half way between Jupiter and the Pleiades and so is fairly easy to find.  R.A. 03h 02m, Dec +17o.  If anyone wants more details, please email Neil at coord@cotswoldas.org.uk

Neptune.  Neptune is still just observable, but sets mid evening. It is at R.A. 23h 42m and Dec. -3.3o.  Contact your Coordinator if you want more ephemeris to find it.

The Sun

Solar activity is still increasing and solar observations are a good idea.  Take great care to never look directly at the Sun, or directly through an optical instrument.

We reach Perihelion (closest to the Sun) on the 4th January.

Aurora Borealis:  Increasing solar activity increases the chance of seeing an aurora.  There are a number of Apps that can give you warnings and chances of seeing Aurorae.  Mine is called Aurora Pro.

Meteor Showers:  The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks on the 4th of January, but some may be seen a few days either side of this.  The radiant is in Draco, just above the handle of the Plough.  This shower has sometimes produced huge numbers in the past, but there is no guarantee.  One to watch out for.

Moon

4th January:  Moon is at last quarter              11th January:  New Moon

18th January:  Moon is at First Quarter          25th January:  Full Moon

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Recent views of The Sun and Saturn

By James Weightman

Spotty Sun, taken with Nikon Coolpix camera + solar filter

Saturn with 6″ telescope, “lucky” imaging from video of 500 frames. The decreasing tilt of rings now makes Cassini division harder.

Then the clouds rolled in…

CAS Sky Notes for December 2023

If only the clouds would clear, the dark nights would be great for observing!

Planets:

 Mercury:  Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation of 21o on the 4th December.  You might be able to pick it up if you have a really clear western horizon.  However, it is well south of the celestial equator and won’t be an easy object.

Venus:  Venus is still a prominent morning object. Its elongation drops to around 40o throughout the month.  Its magnitude drops from -4.2 to -4.1 as the phase increases from 68% to 75% by the end of the month.  The diameter decreases from 18 arcsec to 14.5 arcsec during this month.  Also, it is moving well south of the celestial equator and so is much lower in the sky.

 Mars: Although moving into the morning sky, it is not really visible this month.

Jupiter:  Jupiter is very well placed and visible throughout the night.  It is quite high in the sky by mid evening and unmistakeable. Look out for the 4 Galilean moons. Various websites will help you to identify them, www.shallowsky.com is worth using as it also shows the position of the Great Red Spot (GRS) and when it is visible.

 Saturn is well past opposition, but is still observable in the early to mid evening.  It is low in the sky, but is well worth viewing.  The rings are at a shallow angle and it is a beautiful sight if you have a clear evening and a clear southern horizon.  There is an interactive map of the moons available at skyandtelescope.org

Uranus  is well placed throughout December.  It is situated roughly half way between Jupiter and the Pleiades and so is fairly easy to find.  If anyone wants more details, please email Neil at coord@cotswoldas.org.uk

 Neptune.  Neptune is fairly well placed for observation. It is at R.A. 23h 43m and Dec. -3.2o Contact your Coordinator if you want more ephemeris to find it.

The Sun

Solar activity is still increasing and solar observations are a good idea.  Take great care to never look directly at the Sun, or directly through an optical instrument.

Ensure a proper filter is in place or project the image onto card. 

Aurora Borealis:  Increasing solar activity increases the chance of seeing an aurora.  There are a number of Apps that can give you warnings and chances of seeing Aurorae.  Mine is called Aurora Pro.

Although this is daytime, it is still observable and worth looking out for or photographing. Let’s hope for clear skies

Meteor Showers:  The Geminid meteor shower lasts from the 4th to the 17th.  The maximum is on the 14th December. The ZHR (Zenith Hourly Rate) is around 100. The meteors are slow and fairly bright.  This is the richest of the annual showers and well worth watching.  This shower is favourable as the Moon is not a  problem, reaching new moon on the 12th.

Moon

5th December:  Moon is at last quarter.        12th December:  New Moon

19th December:  Moon is at First Quarter     27th December:  Full Moon.       

Vesta: This reaches opposition on 21st December at approx. RA 6hr, Dec +20o.

The winter solstice occurs on the 22nd December

As a point of interest, the earliest sunset occurs on the 16th December and the latest sunrise on the 1st January.  If you’re interested as to why, Google it as it’s not easy to explain here!

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