The BAA had a stand at the inaugural International Astronomy Show held at the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre near Leamington Spa on May 17th and 18th.
There was a great turnout with most of the UK equipment sellers exhibiting in the hall, and a few from overseas too.
The BAA stand was manned on Friday by Ann Davies, Callum Potter, Geoffrey Johnstone, Roger Pickard and David Arditti, and on Saturday by Ann Davies, Callum Potter, David Boyd, Mike Frost and Alan Lorraine. Much thanks goes to all for making the event a big success.
Here are a few photos.
BAA member Nick James reports they were fortunate to see the total eclipse on 2012 November 13 (morning of 14 in Australia) from Palm Cove, where visibility of totality was a very close run thing. The location and sky were very dramatic.
Here are some initial pictures of the eclipse from Nick – all frame grabs from various HD videos.
BAA member Denis Buczynski reports:
This comet (with period of 6.9 years) first discovered by Carl Hergenrother at Catalina in 1998 is now at perihelion and has undergone an outburst which makes it currently the brightest comet in Northern skies. It is well situated for study all night located in Pegasus with an altutude of more than 50 degrees and due south at midnight. The predicted magnitude at this time was around 15 but recent estimates have shown the comet to be more than 5 magnitudes brighter than that at around 9-10. This means that visual sightings including binocular observations are possible and DSLR photography will show the comet easily. CCD images show a bright elongated coma and a short broad southward pointing tail. This curent outburst coincides with the waning moon becoming less prominent and the next dark moon period beckoning. The Comet Section invites all observations(visual estimates and descriptions, drawings and images) to be submitted to email@example.com.
There are some images of this comet available for viewing on the Comet Gallery at the BAA Website.
A recent quote from the discoverer on Yahoo groups comet-ml on 2012 OCT 3
“I’d like to thank everyone who has been observing “my” comet during this outburst-filled apparition.
Last night I was able to spot the comet in my 30×125s and 12″ dob. The comet was around 9.8-9.9, highly condensed with a short tail to the south.
- Carl Hergenrother”
An image taken on Oct 5 by myself is here:
A colour image taken on Oct 3 by Micheal Jager is here:
Skyhound.com has generated this Finder Chart.
Tom Boles made his 150th supernova discovery on 2012/08/18.104 in NGC 1213, magnitude 17.7
Designated 2012eg it has proved to be of type IIP.
Here is Tom’s discovery image:
Dublin based David Grennan has discovered his second supernova on an image of galaxy IC2166/UGC3463 (PGC19064) taken on 2012/08/22.009.
Designated PSNJ06265101+5905026, it was confirmed by Tom Boles. Spectra confirmed it to be of type 1c.
Denis Buczynski was able to make an observation too:
Neptune comes to opposition on August 24 in the constellation of Aquarius and lies just over a degree to the east of 38 Aquarii. At opposition, its magnitude will be +7.8 and so it can be seen with just a pair of binoculars or a very mall telescope. A chart for finding Neptune can be found in the BAA Handbook.
Observers with larger instruments may be able to see the planet’s disk which is only 2”.4 across.
Its largest satellite is Triton. Although this is only about 13 magnitude, it should be seen visually in large amateur telescopes or via digital imaging techniques such as shown in the attached image taken by Maurice Gavin on 2010 August 30.
By Mike Foulkes, Saturn Section Director
Always the summer’s main attraction for meteor observers, this August’s display of the Perseid meteors should be quite favourable given that the peak occurs just a few days before new Moon. Consequently, there will be only slight interference from the waning crescent Moon (on the Taurus/Gemini border) just before dawn.
It is hoped that observers will make every effort to cover the peak of the shower well this year. Meteor observing is a particularly good activity for local societies and the BAA Meteor Section welcomes reports from such groups.
Experienced observers have already reported early activity from the Perseid shower. Peter Meadows and Nick James managed to capture a nice bright Perseid (displaying in-flight and terminal bursts) with their video imaging systems on Saturday, 4th August at 23:56 UT. (See pictures)
When to Observe
Perseid rates normally take a marked ‘kick’ upwards around August 8, and with the Moon now on the wane, watches may be carried out in darkening skies from now right through until the end of the shower’s normal period of activity on August 20, a few days after New Moon. It is hoped that, weather permitting, observers will cover shower activity throughout this period, even on nights away from the maximum.
The Perseids are expected to peak around 10h UT on Sunday, August 12, making the late evening and pre-dawn hours of August 11/12 and the following night of August 12/13 probably the most productive for observers in the UK this year. Good observed rates may also be expected in the early morning hours on August 10/11 and 13/14 as the shower radiant (RA 03h 04m Dec +58o) climbs high into the eastern sky. Perseid shower activity will be starting to decline by the time darkness falls on August 14.
All else being equal, the best observed rates are found when the Perseid radiant – near the ‘Sword Handle’ star cluster on the Perseus-Cassiopeia border – is highest in the sky during the pre-dawn hours. However, even in the early evening (when there will be absolutely no interference from moonlight), the radiant is already at quite a favourable elevation above the horizon.
With cloudless skies, and in a dark viewing site, observers can expect to see between 50 and 70 meteors each hour near the peak. Even in light polluted towns or cities observed rates may still be around ten an hour in the early morning hours when the radiant is high.
The BAA’s visual meteor report forms, available as downloads in both PDF and Excel formats, enable observers to record the time of occurrence, apparent magnitude, shower membership (or if sporadic), constellation in which seen, and details of any persistent train or other characteristics, for each meteor seen. Watches should ideally be of an hour’s duration or longer (in multiples of 30 minutes). Observers should also carefully record the observing conditions and the stellar limiting magnitude.
Visual observers are invited to submit their observations electronically, using the new BAA report forms, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Perseids are well known for the abundance of fast, bright meteors close to their maximum. Perseid meteoroids enter the atmosphere at a velocity of 60 km/sec, and the resulting meteors often leave behind persistent ionisation trains.
The large numbers of bright events in the five-day interval centred on Perseid maximum makes this an excellent target for digital imaging, considering the low level of interference from moonlight this year. Conventional film is now the medium of choice for very few observers, with most having made the transition to digital SLR cameras.
With a tripod-mounted camera, lens (usually a wide-angle) at full aperture and a high ISO setting, the observer hopes that a bright meteor will flash through the field of view while the shutter is open. Digital SLRs (DSLRs) are very efficient at collecting background light from the sky, particularly at a setting of ISO 1600, so exposures should generally be kept relatively short – no more than five minutes’ duration in a really dark, rural location, and probably only 10 to 30 seconds from a more typical observing site. With some DSLRs, the camera can be operated using a programmable timer attached to the shutter control to take repeated exposures one after the other for as long as required, provided the battery is fully-charged beforehand.
Such a set up, under good sky conditions, can capture meteors of magnitude 1 and brighter. Ideal aiming directions are about 20-30 degrees to one side of the radiant at 50 degrees altitude above the horizon – Cygnus in the early evening, the Square of Pegasus later in the night, or towards the north celestial pole, for best results.
Images of meteor tails may be emailed to email@example.com. Image labels should include the name of the imager and the date and time (UT) of the exposure.
Written by John Mason – Section Direcor, Meteor Section
On 15th July, there could be seen an occultation, a grazing occultation, or a conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter depending on your location in the British Isles.
John Vetterlein in Orkney was able to capture a nice range of photos of the conjunction.
You can see more of John’s photos on his own Blog
On Sunday morning, 2012 July 15, observers in southern Britain will have the chance to see a rare and splendid sight: Jupiter and its moons gliding behind the rugged horizon of the Moon’s north pole. This is one of a series of lunar occultations of Jupiter, and the only one which will be visible in a dark or twilight sky from the UK. The northern limit crosses England, giving a grazing occultation along a broad band from East Anglia to SE Wales and Cornwall. Times will vary considerably from place to place, but the full event spans approx. 01:51 to 02:22 UT (02:51 to 03:22 BST) (from disappearance of the first satellite to reappearance of the last satellite at Greenwich).
Full details of the grazing occultation were published by Jan Meeus in the Journal of the BAA, vol.122, p.31 (2012 Feb.).
The full occultation is visible for observers all over Europe except Scandinavia, and details are posted at:
Imaging the event will be a challenge, as the movement will be too fast for normal planetary imaging techniques, and it will be at low altitude in the dawn sky. Short monochrome exposures with a red or infrared filter would optimise the sharpness and brightness of Jupiter. These could then be combined with colour channels from longer exposures just before or after the occultation, to produce L(IR)RGB images. If you produce images, please record how they were made. Drawings will also be welcome.
BAA Jupiter Section Director
Martin Mobberley was able to capture this new nova in Sagittarius via iTelescope.net on July 8th.
The field was only about 22 degrees high, even from New Mexico, at the time.
At Dec -27 it’s difficult (near impossible) to observe from the UK. It’s not really possible to estimate the brightness from this image as the star is saturated but visual observers were reporting a brightness of around mag. 8.