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."