15th January 2015:  Members Evening

An opportunity for members to discuss their particular astronomical interests.
David Patterson Chaired the meeting
Bill Samson gave the first presentation explaining how he does afocal photography of the
Moon using his 102mm Maksutov telescope and a simple compact digital camera.
He showed us his setup and some examples of his work.  A very easy way to start astro
photography without the expense of DSLR or Video cameras.
His setup!
Nathan "Skully" Brooks told us about a space
course he attended along with delegates from
about 30 countries.  Part of this took place in
Ohio with lectures, including speakers from
NASA; various activities; and a team project
which involved building a rocket.  The pupose of
the exercise was for the rocket to carry a payload
as high as possible, and to safely return the
payload back to Earth.

I am not sure that making a payload of a
housebrick and an egg was a very good idea, but
it worked...almost!

He also travelled to Japan and took a telescope
into the mountains where he learned a great deal of
practical astronomy.  Next year’s course will take
place in Tromso (Norway) and will concentrate on
The second presentation was given by Richard Lerski who described his new observatory at Rait.  It houses a 10” Newtonian telescope with a Nova camera.  He showed us some nice images of the Moon and Jupiter that he has taken using this equipment.
Graham Young told members how he thought he had discovered a comet, but it turned out to be a fuel discharge cloud from a Russian rocket.  The rest of his talk was devoted to his experiences of photographing the sky for the past 40 years, mostly on 35mm film.  He showed photos of star trails around the pole and said that star trail images taken a decade apart showed the movement of the celestial pole - precession of the equinoxes.  Other photographs were of planets, eclipses and comet Lovejoy.  He also showed us photographs of observatories around the world.
"December 2014 I thought I had discovered a comet at long last! It was moving! Recorded onto Nortons then I took photos just in case - it moved so quickly from Serpens Caput to Corona to Hercules - was it a small fast moving close-by comet? But it was fading…..on phoning the BAA comet director in Cambridge he told me I had discovered a rocket booster fuel discharge! Well maybe next time!"
Below: Sequence showing the progress of the "comet" (not necessarily in the correct order)
Vilnius Observatory - the oldest observatory in use in Europe - Jeanette and I vsited this in July 2015 - on the very day New Horizons flew past ninth planet Pluto and Lithuania was my 100th country!
The planetary trio of Venus, Mars and Jupiter with Regulus from Sept to Nov 2015: the third photo also has the moon.
My detection of the precession of the equinoxes - 550mm Maksutov lens, 008 taken of north pole in Jan 1985 and 010 taken in 2012 - careful inspection of trails and polestar shows apparent shift of celestial pole! 009 is the Pleiades through same lens for comparison. (Unfortunately I have had to resize these photos so the Pleiades are not to the same scale as the precession ones)
Two excellent eclipses in 2015!
Comet Lovejoy in Jan 2015.
Vesta-Ceres conjunction in Virgo in April 2014
To round off the evening Graham, in his role as librarian, talked about Norton’s Star Atlas.
As Graham uses 35mm film it is not very practical to send pictures for inclusion in galleries so I met him on the following Monday and photocopied the photos he showed at the meeting.  Below I include these and Grahams accomanying words.
Richard Lerski
Bill Samson
Nathan "Skully" Brooks
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