Tuesday, 14 October 2014

October Meeting & FAS

In the beginning......

We did have some problems early on - the laptop wanted to install updates which went on and on and ...........

We are wiser now and we won't let it  happen again.

As is our custom we began with a review of "What's Up" in the October sky.
Jupiter is the planet of the month - shining at magnitude -1.9 it rises at around 2:30 BST. Later in the month early risers should be able to see the equatorial bands in the atmosphere and the four Galilean moons as they weave their way around it. 

The Moon has good things to offer currently - best seen just before Third Quarter, Mons Piton is an isolated lunar mountain located in the eastern part of Mare Imbrium, south-east of the crater Plato and west of the crater Cassini.  

Deep sky the Andromeda galaxy, M31, is well placed for viewing as is M33 the Triangulum Galaxy, arguably the most distant object visible to the naked eye at 3 million light years!!

The constellation of Cassiopeia has many great sights to look for including the Heart and Soul Nebula, the Dragon-fly cluster, 2 Messier objects and 2 supernova remnants!!

Finally Mike made mention of the Orionid meteor shower peaking on the 21st.

Following refreshments Andrew delighted us with his information on astrophotography.

Numbers had increased from the setting up period - we counted 38 with a number of apologies for absence. Over 40 would have been within our grasp for this month with several there for the first time.
From the emails to the website and postings to facebook we know there is great potential out there.

Andrew demonstrated how even with a DSLR great shots can be taken but for quality imaging the equipment list and software requirements increase.

One point stressed several times was the need to learn how your kit works in daylight as by torchlight and in the dark we are destined for frustration and likely disaster also.

Andrew did comment that if the weather was more agreeable he would cut down the theory side of his presentation - move outside and give a practical demonstration of how good results can be achieved.

Perhaps something for another occasion.

On Saturday I went to the FAS convention and AGM and just to mention a few hilights:

 This is the venue - the University of Birmingham - they even have their own railway station, the University!!!

A good place to get lost especially as my car park was about a mile away.

Some of the talks were extremely topical - especially one to do with "Solar Superstorms".
Some feel that the threats from space threaten life on earth , others view it as the proverbial "storm in a teacup"
This particular image interested me:

Note the caption at the bottom left - Aurora reported as far south as ....Honolulu. Imagine that - on the beach and witnessing an aurora.
Though nothing, as yet, compares to the 1859 Carrington event, there have been a significant number of notable storms - 1921, 1956, 1972, 1986, 1989, 2000, 2003.
One probably occurred on 23/07/2012 but missed Earth.
Interestingly, and showing just how topical this subject is, just a few days ago the Met Office opened a new forecast centre dedicated to "space weather". Read all about it here -

Another really interesting talk was given by a 3rd year PhD student Maggie Lieu.
Her talk was on "Human Exploration of Mars."

Maggie is shortlisted for Mars-One which has the vision to colonise Mars from 2025.
This is to be a one way trip for those involved - they don't come home, ever. 
4 persons per year are proposed for this - 2 male & 2 female. The final number visualised is 40 people - 20 men and 20 women.

Because skills of participants are lacking they all have to be briefed on many subjects vital to their future  including plumbing, electricity, medicine etc.
Communication time is between 3 minutes and 22 minutes. Imagine - you say "Hello Mum" and 3 minutes later the reply comes back!!

 Next year Maggie will find out if she has a place but currently she is very much living the dream.