Wednesday, 4 December 2013

December - Quiz Night

December already and the last meeting for this year - where the does time go?

A meeting with an added dimension this time.

Brian hand-made this carbon fibre harp - even down to the moulding and here we have Liz, just before the meeting , giving an impromptu demonstration for us.

We had 24 in attendance, several back from fireworks duty last month but still a few of the (normally) faithful could not attend this time for various reasons.

Richard did his usual sterling job of manning the tearoom ably assisted by  Phil who arrived early and did pretty much a one-man job of sorting out the hall.

Both were a great help, particularly to me as I generally struggle to pull all things together before the meeting starts.
This time I was fairly relaxed.

Here we have the tea room where there is always a good gathering.

Mince pies were the added attraction tonight though surprisingly few were eaten.
Last year, I recollect, was much the same - perhaps astronomers are not mince pie people.

Still more for me - I bring 'em in , I take 'em home.
(which, I hasten to add, is quite fair because I paid for them as well!!).

Soon it was time for Jim to give his presentation of "What's Up in the December Sky."
The hi-light would have been Comet ISON but sadly it failed to survive perihelion at the end of November though as Jim reminded us we do still have a number of other comets currently on offer including Encke's and perhaps the brightest of the bunch comet Lovejoy.

Jupiter is the dominant planet on show this month - and indeed for the next few months so we are hoping for some clear skies to spot the dominant features and moons.
Winter constellations are now reminding us of the cold and dark time of year.
Wrap up warm Jim advised - sensible advice.
Other features prominent in December include the Andromeda galaxy M31 and also M33 the Triangulum galaxy which Jim has actually seen naked eye in Freystrop
M33 is arguable the most distant object visible to the naked eye though viewing conditions need to be excellent to see this one at magnitude 5.

Hi-lights over, we were entertained a little more on the harp and enticed by more tea and biscuits.


Look carefully - can you spot someone in the picture on the right who has other things on her mind!!

The December quiz last year gave some real problems so this year I attempted to make it somewhat easier - 37 questions that were either multi-choice or that had 1 word answers.

Here's the proof with question 1 - even 10 year old Nathan got this one right as well as many of the other questions.
Some questions or should I say answers proved contentious but then quizzes always do and as I stressed at the beginning - it is just a bit of fun.

Teams were made up of 4/5 members working together so no pressure there.

The best team scored 34 another 33 and yet another 32 so I think I got it about right this time.

Sadly the skies were cloudy with even some rain on our arrival though afterwards a few of us did glimpse Jupiter through the clouds.

A final look at the tea room and yes the guy on the right is still there - well done Jim.

***Will he still be there in January?***

 The BBC is doing "Stargazing Live" again in 2014 so we have moved our meeting day to Friday the 10th January, the same venue - Letterston Memorial Hall at 7.00p.m.
We will be covering the What's Up feature only at this meeting - hopefully allowing more time for viewing the night sky.

The poster below says it all - but note that it is 7.00 p.m. (the final print has been amended). We will be advertising this as a public event so let's hope for a good turn out and some good weather.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

November - Stellar Evolution & HR Diagram

Getting things ready - refreshment department.

I had to include this picture as it makes me look - well - slim!

Andrew, on the left, and yours truly setting up the tea and biscuits before the meeting.

 Perhaps because it was fireworks night our numbers were reduced this time – just 22 of the faithful attended.
Apologies were received from Rob976, Nathan, Yoroy, Rob the Secretary and Philt. Richard was back and forth juggling his firework duties at the other end of the village and other regulars – Mike, Liz, Brian, Gladys etc were sadly missed.

We look forward to seeing you all in December for the “Quiz” and mince pies! 

The “What’s Up in November” feature highlighted the fact that 4 comets would be in the early morning sky around the 9th – couple that with a conjunction of Mercury and Saturn on the 26th and a busy month was promised.

For those who prefer night-time astronomy November is a good time to look for M31 the Andromeda galaxy – the most distant object easily visible with the naked eye at 2.5 million light years (ish).
M33 – the Triangulum Galaxy is another contender for this title being a little further afield ( astronomically speaking) but  is a difficult galaxy to spot as its surface brightness is low and is spread over a large area of sky.
Mike also made mention of another evening constellation - Taurus (the bull) which houses the open clusters Pleiades and Hyades along with M1 the supernova remnant.

Following refreshments we were treated to Kim’s presentation - Stellar Evolution & HR Diagram.

A star’s lifespan & eventual fate are determined by the original mass of the star – bigger stars are doomed to an early death as they rip through nuclear reactions at a reckless rate.
Solar mass stars that Kim dealt with are more modest - they convert hydrogen to helium in the core and live considerably longer in astronomical terms! 

The summary picture reveals that, although 90% of the star’s life is spent on the main sequence, fusion reactions and gravitational contractions change the star to a red giant/supergiant.

Most stars probably change from red giants to pulsating variable stars (Cepheids or RR Lyrae) before they finally die.

Final life stages of a star like our Sun include planetary nebula, white dwarf followed by dead black dwarf.

This is a fascinating subject which gave rise to a number of questions which Kim eloquently answered in conclusion.
It was one of those subjects that we need to hear several times before we can grasp it fully. 
It would be good, once the website is back online, to have the words and pictures for this lecture made available for further viewing.
Our thanks to Kim for the hard work and research he put into making this such a meaningful and enlightening subject.

Question time continued after the meeting.

Here we have Kim doing an "Eric Morecombe" impression!!

For December it is “Quiz Night” – I’ll make it easier than last year!!

Hopefully we’ll have some clear skies also - and so add viewing to our agenda.   


Saturday, 5 October 2013

October Meeting - Comets

A good turnout for the October  meeting with 28 present including a couple from Australia, visiting locally just for a few days before going on to London prior to returning home.
They came  with Gladys arguably our oldest regular member.
I believe that's Gladys with her back to the camera - cameras do that to people I've discovered.

Richard did the sterling job of preparing refreshments for us all both  before and during the meeting.
Thanks for that Richard. :<)
After setting up the projector it was time to make a start with the item - "What's Up in October".

 Jim began by referring to the Summer Triangle - still a prominent feature for several weeks and followed up with mention of clusters that are now beginning to appear in the night sky - M13, Pleiades and the Double Cluster in Perseus.
Not much in the planet line is visible this month - Venus is available early evening though fairly low so a good vantage point is needed..
Jupiter is the "star" in the planetary line-up this month, being a bright object in Taurus rising around midnight and followed some 2 hours later by the much dimmer planet - Mars.
Jim also made mention of some of the October meteor showers - the  Taurids were of particular interest being associated with Comet Encke which is also showing this month.

Our thanks to Jim for drawing these features to our attention.

Following refreshments we moved into the main lecture on comets delivered by "yours truly".

Many comets including Hyakutake  on this opening image have the sobriquet "Great" as a result of their brightness/public awareness.

Mike took us through Comets in the past - on the Bayeux Tapestry for example we have a representation of what we now know to be Halley's comet!
Our present day understanding is that the short-period comets (< 200 years orbital period) emanate from the Kuiper belt beyond Neptune whereas long-period comets come from even further afield - a region called the Oort cloud.
Comets, which by the N.A.S.A definition must contain 85% ice often achieve huge tails - they can extend a distance equal to that of the Sun to the Earth - and we hope that Comet ISON, soon to grace our skies, will be equally impressive.
One little nugget that Mike shared with us was that Halley's Comet has been sighted back to 240 B.C.E.
The 1985 sighting, seen by a number in attendance, was the 30th of an unbroken series of sightings every 75-78 years for over two milleniums.

Before and after there was plenty of time to chat and browse the items on display.
For this meeting Mark brought along a number of his older/duplicate astronomy books for sale - that looks like Roy and Peter perusing them in the lower picture. 

I'm beginning to find that there are a number of faces I cannot put a name to so if you are fairly new-ish help me out - at the next meeting come and say hello.

No viewing of the night sky was possible at this meeting due to the cloud cover - perhaps in November!!

As a  reminder - the 5th November meeting main lecture is on the subject:

Stellar Evolution and the HR diagram - Part 2 and will be covered by my old friend Kim Gowney.
(Note: this covers low mass stars only)  

Saturday, 7 September 2013

September - Something of a Bizarre Affair

This was one of the titles suggested for the September meeting.
Confusion reigned as to who was giving the main lecture – the answer was cast in stone months previously and placed on the forum but to quote Jim our Chairman: 

“we muddled through and the evening could, of course, have been a disaster but we have a good bunch of understanding people.”

So the committee extends their thanks and apologies to that “good bunch” for bearing with us in difficult circumstances - including fetching the milk (Peter?) and biscuits (Mike?). (Something we should never be without!)

The one and only picture taken - I've tweaked it to improve the clarity but it's still no "Damien Peach." 
(Why does Brian always look so photogenic?)

The figure I was given was c 25 attended with a couple for the 1st time and that “good bunch” were – after some wrestling with the laptop/projector – treated to Jim covering the material “What’s Up in September.”
One of the  highlights Jim drew upon was the recent discovery of the nova in the constellation Delphinus – this was a particularly bright nova (magnitude 4.5 was one estimate) and was visible naked eye from a suitably dark sky.
More here:

The good news for the evening was the clear skies and Jim supplied these observations:

“Outside the sky was absolutely clear and as neither Phil or I had brought any instruments other than my 10 x 50 bins but as it happened two members had brought their telescopes which they set up in the car park to give some views of Venus which was readily visible even naked eye from inside the kitchen.
As the light changed to dark the stars started popping into view and eventually we had probably the best viewing session since we started using the memorial hall.
A few of us had brought green laser pointers so we were able to point out many of the sights and constellations to the less experienced members.”

and Kim Gowney (one of the two) supplied this insight:

“After tea, myself, and Bob had scopes so we set up and those members and guests who remained long enough had views of Venus, Albireo, the Ring Nebula, M31, and M13 with a lot of chatter thrown in by motormouth - we stayed until just before 10.”

So it would appear that even without  Sue, Andrew & yours truly, the evening ended well.

Just one reminder that in the confusion was omitted – The FAS asked us to mention the council vacancies that are forthcoming – details are at:

If anyone would like to be considered for any of these vacancies let us know as soon as possible.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

July Meeting - Variable Stars

Some wicked weather on Tuesday the 2nd kept many away but 16 faithful souls turned up to enjoy the programme.
Mike started the meeting with the review of "What's Up" in the current night sky.
First was a flashback to June when the "megamoon" of the 23rd was a highlight.

With the Moon at perihelion and at low elevation the moon illusion comes into play - we perceive it to be larger than it really is.

Though we didn't capture images as graphic as this (left) one from Wiltshire one of our members - Mark - did produce an image that was well received.(see below).

We also considered the stars of the Summer Triangle - Altair, Deneb & Vega which though of similar brightness are very different. Deneb, for example, is said to be 60,000 times brighter than our Sun & one of the  most brilliant stars known.
An interesting side thought was that Vega has the claim to fame of being the first star, other than the Sun, to be photographed (1850) and also the first to be analyzed by spectrograph.

For July a number of lunar features were suggested for viewing to coincide with 1st & 3rd quarters. For the planets - the latter part of July would appear the best time . Saturn & Venus are both available  after sunset early in the month but during the last week of July there is a nice grouping of Jupiter, Mars & Mercury - though the bad news is you will have to be around just after 4.00 BST to see it.

Another interesting line-up on 24th is the moons of Saturn - 6 of them make a nice show shortly after sunset.

This is it with Iapetus to the far left and Dione topmost - a fine imaging opportunity.

We also considered a number of specials - Sun dogs was one - sometimes truly spectacular and at other times not so striking but something different.
The left image (below) was taken in the USA, the right in St Ishmaels.
It must be said that this is an atmospheric event and not strictly astronomical.

We have to wonder just how many of these sorts of phenomenon we see but don't recognize?

We also made mention of other curiosities to be on the lookout for - our old favourite  Noctilucent Clouds being one - July is the best month for these. The Belt of Venus was the final atmospheric effect mentioned - these three are just some of the things we can look for in the night sky at a time when the skies are never truly dark!

The main lecture on Variable stars was covered enthusiastically by Jim - a subject he has made a personal study of over many years.
We looked first at the different categories of variables and followed that with a look at how to measure variable stars by either comparing them with a known star or more frequently these days by CCD cameras & computer analysis.
Light curves was another interesting insight and it was a startling revelation that back in 1786 only 10 variable stars were known compared with a 2009 figure of 47,811 with more being discovered all the time.
I, for one, was greatly inspired by this lecture and later looked at on-line resources including the AAVSO (google it!) - a wealth of material there and a book Jim recommended was David Levy's "Guide to Variable Stars."  £5 Jim said (that was likely 30 years ago!) - its available through "Amazon" for considerably more than that, though I have managed to locate a cheapie through good old ebay.

No meeting at the Letterston Memorial Hall in August though we do have an event at Newgale on the 10th August to coincide with the Perseids meteor shower - keep an eye on the forum for updates.

A final look at some of the faithful few who turned out on a grubby night.

With the nights now "drawing in" we are looking to add more viewing time to our meetings.
Starting with the October meeting (it will be dark when we meet then) - if the weather is clear  - we will just cover the "What's Up" material for the night and then get outside for what we all enjoy best - a good telescopic view of the sky. Of course if the sky is not clear we will revert to the planned lecture for the night.
Feel free to bring your own 'scopes on the night in anticipation - and of course we'll have plenty of tea/coffee/biscuits to top up with.:)

Saturday, 8 June 2013

June Meeting - Astro-imaging

Only 1 star on view this evening - our Sun, it's classified as a G2 star and here we see Phil our deputy Chairman (yes he is there!) using his telescope, plus solar filter, to give a practical demonstration before the meeting started.

His home-made solar finder was the real attraction - a film canister modified as only Phil can.  Very clever - patent it Phil we might get some cash.

To the right is our spotting 'scope plus solar funnel which impressed members after the meeting. We brought along 10 templates together with instructions on how to make these funnels. They went quickly - we probably should have made up 20 - they proved that popular!!
Incidentally the template was on the June "Sky at Night" CD and the write up in the magazine itself.

We will be making more copies of this for use at future meetings/public events we are holding.

Meanwhile others of our number got to grips with the serious matter of tea and biscuits.

Here we have (L-R) Phil, Andrew, Rob and Jim.
Rob brought along some copies of the latest FAS newsletter (I didn't get one either!) and only made a brief appearance before getting back to his marking of exams - yes it's that time of year again for many young ones.

We had 26 along for the night including a few newbies. We seem to get new people at every  meeting though the turn out is not consistent. I would imagine that if everyone turned up for every meeting we would have well in excess of 50 present each time. As it is we have a good solid nucleus which is heartwarming.

 Jim commenced the meeting with the regular "What's Up" feature.

He highlighted the planets on show, summer constellations and made particular mention of the prominent asterism the Summer Triangle.
Vega, Deneb and Altair are particularly prominent in July being directly overhead but even in June - stay up 'till midnight and you'll see them.

Jim also made mention of Noctilucent Clouds - more in the May blog write-up.

With the sky being light late at night and early in the morning stars  take a back seat at this time of year - but from now 'till August NLC's are a real possibility.
Watch the N and NW sky from 10.00 onwards and  N and NE after midnight and perhaps, just perhaps, you may see it.
Noctilucent clouds are allegedly becoming more frequent so a few pictures to show off at one of our meetings would be a real bonus.

Following the "What's Up" the scene had to be set up for Andrew's Astro - Imaging presentation. Many had been really looking forward to this one but first we made time for further refreshments and an interchange of comments.

In his lecture Andrew showed how much could be accomplished with just a DSLR camera.
Pictures of the Moon, Comets and many other subjects can be captured this way and by attaching the camera to a telescope a whole new world, invisible to the naked eye, is revealed.
The camera catches so much the eye cannot see and so, Andrew explained, much juggling with the ISO is needed to ensure the subject is in the field of view before a longer exposure is taken.

Here we have Andrew getting to grips the the mechanics.
For effective deep sky imaging multiple images have to be taken and stacking programs used to make a desirable end product.
This was demonstrated in the lecture and an additional class was provided after the main lecture  for those who wanted to get to grips with this technology.

A number of Andrew's own images were displayed along with the means to make such images.

Here we have the famed "Leo Trio"which was produced as a result of 12 x 5 minute exposures at ISO 800.

Andrew always makes it sound easy - and we thank him for this informative material.

Incidentally I noticed on the forum that, inspired by this lecture, one of our members - Crundale Rob imaged M31 and M57 the other night.
Cracking pictures they are too - well done Rob.

The evening passed all to quickly but before we closed Andrew made mention of our future plans to have a container outside to hold our equipment (currently ferried back & forth by members) and serve as a base for night-time observations. We already have the approval for this from the Memorial Hall Committee - all we need is the money.

Prior to our next monthly meeting we will be in attendance at the Letterston Carnival on Saturday afternoon 15th June. Join us if you can.

Our next monthly meeting, then, is on Tuesday 2nd July with the main lecture dealing with the subject of "Variable Stars."

Sunday, 12 May 2013

May Meeting - Archeo-Astronomy

Our May meeting on the usual 1st Tuesday of the month commenced with a little excitement!!

For the first time in 18 months we were locked out!!

Fortunately the caretaker lives very close and so a quick phone call had him on site to open up.
It was then a little more hurried to get the operations room set up with chairs, tables and the projector for the meeting to commence -  but not before ......................... ........................................................the compulsory/obligatory  tea and biscuits - always a welcoming treat for all.

Patiently waiting outside we have (from right to left) Roy (1st man to arrive), moi-meme, Gladys, Sue, Brenda (friend of Gladys and 1st time attendee), Brian & Liz.

Apologies to the other two I can't identify from the picture!!

The "What's Up" in the May sky feature commenced with the reminder of an excellent April meeting which concluded with most of us viewing comet PanStarrs.

A number of events to watch for were mentioned commencing with planet Venus which made its first appearance for several months just this week low in the west after sunset.
Mercury too reappears mid-month but the real hi-light is around 24th-28th when Venus Mercury & Jupiter come together to form a neat equilateral triangle.
Saturn is still the planet of the month and pointers were given to viewing it and its moons as well as mention of the hurricane storms currently raging at its north pole!!

 Mention was made of many other things - lunar and deep space with particular reference to the great Hercules globular cluster M13 - since photographed by one of our members - Rob from Crundale.

The Virgo galaxy cluster and M104 the sombrero galaxy were also given mention and will hopefully attract attention in the next few months also..

With less on view as a result of the lightening skies of summer (cough!) special mention was made of noctilucent clouds - a particular feature of May to August at our latitude that we are hoping to see.

Some have voiced the thought that these clouds are becoming more prominent as a result of global warming - whatever the cause they are certainly a sight to behold as this picture shows.

Following refreshments the main lecture on archeo-astronomy was covered by Rob the PAG secretary.
Rob commenced with the thought that there is still more that we don't know than what we do on this subject.
Stone circles from Orkney to Stonehenge raised some discussion - how did bluestones from Pembrokeshire weighing in at up to 2 tons get all the way to Wiltshire - a distance of 160 miles!

Machu Picchu -often referred to as the "Lost City of the Incas" - is perhaps the most familiar icon of Inca civilisation.

Machu Picchu appears to lie at the center of a network of related sites and trails—and many landmarks both man-made and mountainous appear to align with astronomical events like the solstice sunset. 

The Inca had no written language, so they left no record of why they built the site or how they used it before it was abandoned in the early 16th century.

 Still in Peru lies another enigma the Nazca Lines Monkey.

The Monkey, like many Nazca geoglyphs, is a single-line drawing -- if you step onto the Monkey’s hand, for example, you could walk all the way to the center of its tail without stepping off the line. 

The spiral-tailed Nazca Monkey is approximately 328 feet (100 m) long and 190 feet (58 m) tall but how it was drawn is a mystery. Only from above can it be identified!

Created by people of the Nazca culture the Nazca Lines were made between AD 400 and AD 650. 

Essentially, the lines were made by moving or turning desert-varnished rocks so that their lighter underside is visible.

One possible interpretations of the lines is that they are a solar or lunar calendar.

Many things could be mentioned but let's conclude with this one that has also been televised recently - the antikythera mechanism.

It is allegedly  an ancient analogue computer designed to calculate astronomical positions.

Recovered in 1900/1901 from the Antikythers wreck - the construction has been dated to the early 1st century BCE.

The action of turning the hand crank would have caused all interlocked gears within the mechanism to rotate, resulting in the calculation of the position of the Sun and Moon and other astronomical information, such as moon phases eclipse cycles, and theoretically the locations of planets.

There was a lively discussion of a number of these features and the whole lecture proved an absorbing and eye opening subject.

This was a lecture that was originally scheduled for some months back - this month it took the place of Andrew's lecture on Astro-Imaging which will take place next month instead.
A little juggling is needed on occasion but it was certainly a good thing that this particular lecture was finally given - Our thanks to Rob for this enlightening material.  


Sunday, 7 April 2013

April Meeting - Space Telescopes

 Our meeting on 2nd April was a memorable occasion due, in part, to the clear skies enjoyed later in the evening.
As is our custom we commenced the official proceedings (unofficial was the tea and biscuits beforehand!!) with the "What's Up" feature - a look at what is on offer in the April night sky.
Mike made special mention of Comet PanSTARRS currently in Andromeda but rising, as the month progresses, to Casseiopia and fading as it does so.
Also on show during April is the Lyrid meteor shower, a partial eclipse of the moon (very partial) minor planets Vesta and Ceres and the planet of the month - Saturn at a very  favorable opposition on the 28th.

Following refreshments our secretary, Rob covered the main lecture dealing with "Space Telescopes."
The number and variety of Space telescopes was an eye-opener to us all and the understanding of the term "Lagrangian Point" was another highlight
Here we have a sample of the 27 present on the night - and note Jim, our Chairman, looking very learned on the right..

A number of our regulars couldn't make it on the night - Kim & Jenny with visitors and our Vice Chairman Phil with car  problems and several more but, on a positive note, we again had a number for the first time including Brian 007 from Pembroke Dock who brought his reflector along to have the collimation looked at - hopefully that was resolved as a number of knowledgeable eyes  looked over it.
Another newcomer was Simon - we hope to meet these again in May along with the many others that could not make it this month.

Following refreshments it was time to look at the sky - Jim described things  eloquently:

The big attraction of the night however was the comet PANSTARRS which many of us had yet to see including myself.
After the meeting there were a number of telescopes and big binoculars set up in the car park and despite the distraction from the hall lighting I think we all got to see the comet. I know I was suitably impressed by it.
Jupiter was also well placed for viewing with the Galilean moons on display as were its cloud bands.
All in all it was the clearest night I think since we started using the hall at Letterston.
Unfortunately Phil couldn't make it due to car problems so our 10" telescope wasn't available.
I got the feeling that we all left for home with a satisfied feeling that we had managed to see this comet. 

If we add to that the views of the Hyades, Pleiades, M42 etc., - Kathy was in and out of her wheelchair like the proverbial jack in the box - it concluded the evening in a memorable fashion.

Next month the main lecture is to be on Archeo-Astronomy - and let's hope for a clear night again - though they are getting lighter!!   

Saturday, 9 March 2013

March Meeting - History of Astronomy

Display Board 1
 We arrived 30 minutes early (as is our custom) to set up the projector, telescope and tea room.       

Already Chairman Jim along with Andrew S., Edward and Jonathan  were in residence setting up a brilliant display on advertising boards..

Display Board 2
(What time did they arrive I wonder!)

Display Board 3

Plenty of enlightening information this time - don't forget to look at these at the next meeting. We often get sidetracked with other things but they contain plenty of ancillary material.

This was a quieter moment in the kitchen - Brian, Liz and Andrew S. getting refuelled.
Sue is doing the honours here though over time a number get involved in the tea and biscuit duties.
Volunteers are always needed to share the load so don't hold back - this is the job where you meet everyone ( and also, if you are like me, forget their names very quickly!!)

Here we have Gladys and Peter enjoying a cup of nectar before proceedings start.
Gladys is arguably our oldest member and came to the meeting equipped with a diagram showing the path of Comet C/2011 L4 Pannstarrs and a number of questions.

The meeting started, as is our custom, with a review of "What's Up" in the March night sky.
Jim, our Chairman, drew attention to a number of constellations that are prominent at this time of year but naturally special mention was made of the first comet of the year which should be in evidence in our skies very soon.
Here is a pointer:
 “After sunset, scan the horizon roughly in the western direction. On the 12 and 13 March, there is a nice association with the thin crescent Moon. You can use the Moon as a guide, and search just down or to the left of the Moon. Through binoculars you should be able to see the head of the comet and certainly the .... tail."

 Following further refreshments Mike provided the main lecture on - "Characters in The History of Astronomy - Tycho, Kepler and Galileo."
Characters was the right word. Tycho was the man with no nose (the result of losing a duel) who kept a dwarf named Jepp whom he believed had second sight and also a "tame" elk that had a fancy for strong beer. The list goes on.
Kepler was another "character" who calculated his mothers pregnancy to have lasted 224 days, 9 hours and 53 minutes. An indication of just how seriously he took astrology!
He also provided frank (and humorous) descriptions on how he viewed his grandmother, father and mother.
Also his selection of a wife gave insight into his unusual temperament.

Galileo the third "character" fell foul of the Catholic Church big time.
His findings agreed with Copernicus that the Earth was not the centre of the universe and he made it his mission to try to convince the hierarchy of the day the error of their way.
Putting his daughters in a convent for their protection gives an indication of the feeling he was battling and eventually he was made to recant though legend has it that on getting up from his knees he struck the earth and mumbled, “Eppur si muove! [And yet it does move!]”

We counted an attendance of 30 with a number attending for the first time - a regular feature of our meetings. Sadly a number of our "regulars" couldn't make it and we hope to see them in April.

Yet again cloud cover prevented our having an observing session - but keep watch on the forum as the thought was mooted that if the skies looked to be clear we would visit Newgale in the hopes of seeing the comet!
And - wouldn't it be grand if one of us could get a picture of it!! 

The PAG Skywatcher ED80 refractor, on the right, will be a useful tool one of these nights.

Just a reminder for the April meeting - Rob, our secretary, will be covering "Space Telecopes" - I'm sure he'll have some good pictures to show.

Talking pictures - mine seem to be getting worse on this blog so if anyone would like to be official photographer please give me a nudge!