Castle Point Astronomy Club
Castle Point Astronomy Club Diary
November 2017 by Dave Stratton
Castle Point Astronomy Club


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Wednesday 1st November 2017

Andrew said that next week we have a quiz with himself and Martine running the show.

Peter said there was going to be the Geminid Meteor shower on 14th Dec. The peak would be at 02.00 on 15th and the ZHR could be 130. He was planning a group event to our Dark Site and would put notes out nearer the time.

Andrew chose Ed as our first participant in the Stikfest.

We saw a nice sketch of Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy. It showed the comet in two locations as it moved in time and said that it was theoretically possible to compute the orbit from its changing position.

We also saw his sketch of Comet 2014 E2 Jaques showing its positional change in an hour.

He also showed us some pics from the last village fair including several of our worthy members including Paul and his lady wife.

We also saw a star chart showing the retro section of the orbits of both Uranus and Neptune. They are in the same area of sky. He pointed out their locations and said he actually managed to see them both. He used 200 times power and saw a tiny disc.

Jim had a star trail image that was actually showing Comet 2017 01 ASSASSN – he explained that it was a stacked image. We also saw the Little Dumbbell and NGC1501. Also Saturn from 26th March 2007 when it was well placed and Jupiter in April when it was near opposition.

Cosmin was next with some images achieved with a hand held DSLR whilst visiting his parents in Bulgaria. He said the area had splendid skies with no light pollution so his image of the nearly full moon was stunning. We also saw some shots showing the Milky Way where he had illuminated foreground buildings in one case and some forest trees in another creating an excellent scene. The shots included M31 and the Double Cluster. He included a pic of himself and his fiancιe with a large heart shape that he engineered with his mobile screen.

Andy Duffield had a super image of Mellotte 15 which needed 30 hours of exposure. Another image showed Venus, Mars and Mercury. He also showed us some eclipse images from his recent trip to see the one in America. He stayed in Madras, Oregon he showed us the location on his map depicting the track. We saw a series of images from first contact with some wonderful shots of the Diamond Ring effect and of the total eclipse with a super corona – he finished with a superb panorama showing the images in sequence. He also had several moon images showing earthshine plus the California Nebula which took 20 hours of exposure.

Dave Smith had some superb sunset images taken from his garden in Maldon.

Wednesday 8th November 2017

Andrew said that we still need ideas for our programme. Ron said he would do a brief guide to our kit. Concern was raised over photos that are marketed as if by Patrick Moore, but it appears to be a con so beware.

Gord said that as we were discussing cons we should not be tricked into buying a star.

Andrew said that this evening´s entertainment was to be provided by Martine and himself with a quiz:

CPAC Astronomy Quiz

We were split into four teams with Mike adjusting the membership to make it fairer.

Round 1 - Solar System

  1. How Many degrees is the Earth´s axis tilted by? 23.54 (will accept 23)
  2. Which part of the Earth´s surface is spinning fastest? The equator
  3. What is a superior planet? A planet whos orbit is outside the Earth´s (e.g. Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune)
  4. What is a transit? When one planet passes in front of another. (e.g. Mercury or Venus across the Sun´s disc)
  5. What is an Occultation? When a transit blocks out the light from another body. Normally used to describe the Moon obscuring a planet or a star. An eclipse can be described as an occultation.
  6. Which planet does Triton orbit? Neptune
  7. Which planet´s moons are named after Shakespearean characters and characters from Alexander Pope? Uranus
  8. Which is the least dense of the gas planets? Saturn
  9. How many officially named dwarf planets are there in our solar system? 5
  10. Which planet exhibits extreme global warming due to its thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide? Venus

Round 2 - Constellations. What do the following represent:

  1. Taurus? The Bull
  2. Cygnus? The Swan
  3. Cassiopeia? The Queen of Ethiopia, Andromeda´s mother.
  4. Cetus? The sea monster/whale
  5. Hydrus? The water snake
  6. Vulpecula? The fox
  7. Delphinus? The dolphin
  8. Monoceros? The unicorn
  9. Camelopardis? The giraffe
  10. Norma? The carpenter´s square

Round 3 - Cosmology

  1. How old is the universe by current estimates? 13.8 billion (accept +or – 0.1)
  2. What is z a measurement of? Redshift
  3. What is an Einstein-Rosen bridge commonly known as? A wormhole.
  4. What is big G? The gravitational constant? 6.67408 x 10 -11 meters cubed/kg-1/s-2
  5. What does the Hubble constant describe? The expansion rate of the universe.
  6. What is quasar short for? Quasi-stellar object
  7. What do telescopes located in salt mines detect? Neutrinos
  8. What caused the CMBR? The Big Bang
  9. What are Top, Bottom, Up, Down, Strange, Charm descriptions of? Quarks – sub-atomic particles (Fermions)
  10. What do cosmologists believe is responsible for most of the matter in the Universe? Dark matter

Round 4 - Spaceflight

  1. How many people have visited the Moon´s surface? 12
  2. If you were launching a rocket from the equator, in which direction would you launch for the greatest thrust? Due East
  3. Which planet is entirely populated by robots? Mars
  4. Which Apollo crew went furthest from the earth? Apollo 13 crew
  5. What was the name of the first probe to go through the asteroid belt? Pioneer 10 15th July 1972
  6. Which was the first space probe to record sound on a solar system body other than the Earth? Huygens
  7. What does SOHO stand for? Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
  8. What is the name of the probe currently orbiting Jupiter? Juno
  9. Which company launched the Falcon 9 rocket? Space x
  10. What is the fastest probe ever? Helios 2 probe heading for Sun at 70.22 km/sec

Round 5 This was an evil one as we were told that the answers had to be exactly correct or we would lose all points for the round – nasty. Pot Luck Round

  1. The ecliptic runs through 13 constellations in a band, which were named by the ancient Greeks, 12 of these are known today as what? Zodiacal band
  2. What is the missing 13th constellation called? Ophiuchus
  3. What are Amor, Aten and Apollo examples of? Near Earth asteroids
  4. Rosetta carried a landing probe, what was it called? Philae
  5. A Russian town was hit by an airburst meteorite in February 2013. What was the name of the town? Chelyabinsk
  6. Who created the Caldwell catalogue? Patrick Caldwell Moore (will accept Patrick Moore)
  7. Who first proposed the heliocentric model in the 16th century? Nicolas Copernicus
  8. Which wavelength of light is the longest? Red or blue? Red
  9. Which definition of twilight occurs immediately after sunset? Civil
  10. State Newton´s third law. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Results - The scores were 28, 37, 49 and 51. I´m proud to say that our team got the 49 and we had our youngest and newest member Ella (12) with Michelle and Chris her parents on the team.

Great stuff

Wednesday 15th November 2017

Ted said he anticipated needing some help in early January 2018 involving some cubs getting badges.

Andrew introduced Ron with his talk:

Club Equipment

Ron explained that we had a lot of kit that members could borrow and his plan this evening was to tell us about it. He said the range of equipment was large to cater for everyone needs and was available free of charge – all you had to do was ask Ron.

We saw a slide showing 17 items.

He began with our 16 inch Dob. This was made by Ron and me and several others in 2003 from a mirror donated by Brian and refigured by Jim to shorten the focal length to f4.3. This was to ensure the instrument was not too tall so could be used without steps for outreach. It is equipped with setting circles so it can find stuff accurately. It is not available for loan sadly as it´s worth too much.

All the rest are available to everyone.

The largest is a 12 inch Dob f8 which is a powerful device.

Next was an 8 inch Dob f8 this started life as a Newtonian normally mounted instrument, but was modified by ourselves to make it easier to use.

Then we saw a 6 inch Meade equatorial mounted f8 Newtonian reflector which boasts a drive so it can track objects.

Another 6 inch Newtonian, but this is f5 so is a faster rich field device – however this is just the tube so needs someone with a mount.

Then we had a brilliant LX90 SCT f10 GoTo this was donated to the club by Sandra Sexton, Bruce´s wife when he passed away. She also gave us an ETX90 Meade Maksutov GoTo – both excellent scopes.

We also have another ETX90, but this is unmounted.

And now for some refractors – a SkyWatcher 90mm f10, and a Bresser 70mm f12.5.

Then we saw our giant 20 by 80 Vixen bins they are mounted on a rather sturdy speaker stand that does a splendid job.

Next was our splendid 50mm HA Solarscope – this was bought with the help of a Lottery Grant. Ron showed a super image from it.

We have two other solar scopes from Coronado one is another HA and the other a Calcium K – Ron said this was best used with a camera as the image was dim he showed an image from it.

Next we saw our Denkmier Binoviewers he said they were best suited to refractors and comes with a pair of 8 – 24mm zoom eyepieces – they work very well on planets.

We even have a Spc900nc Webcam complete with cabling.

Last but not least we have a Paton Hawksley Grating which is a spectroscopy grating kit. We saw an image of Vega taken using it with the image expanded into a spectrograph.

Ron added that all the instruments come with eyepieces and instruction will be provided as required. All that is needed is to talk to him.

Mike finished by saying that the Programme is essential to us getting enjoyment from the club.

We should certainly use the kit more.

Wednesday 22nd

Ted said he had a range of Sky at Night magazines and some CDs which he was keen to give away.

Andrew introduced Peter for his talk:

Observing Highlights for December 2017

He began with a chart showing the Moon phases throughout December. He reminded us that observing was best done when the Moon was absent or very thin. If however you were looking at the Moon then it was better to observe when there was a terminator present – this marks the extent of the illuminated surface. It appears to be in 3D and mountain tops can be seen that are in the dark part.

Peter said that it was not a good time for planets – the only one well placed is Uranus.

He used a star chart for 6th Dec at 20.30 – we saw that Uranus was on the Meridian and therefore culminating, it is in Pisces. It can be seen with bins but is best observed with a scope when a disc will be seen.

Peter recommended the site in-the-sky.org to find out where stuff is.

He showed a chart for 06.45 on 14th Dec. In the SE there is a delightful grouping of Jupiter, Mars and a new Moon which is showing Earthshine. He added that Jupiter is mag -1.7 which is brighter than the brightest star Sirius which is mag 0.

On 14th Dec we have the Geminid Meteor Shower and on 22nd/23rd the Ursids these are an under observed shower with a ZHR of 10.

Comet 201701 ASASSIN is mag 9 to 9.5 it is findable but best observed with a photograph. It is within 50 of Polaris so there is no need to guide a 20 minute exposure should suffice.

On 9th September a nova was discovered by George Carey in M31. Peter showed his own image of the nova. Since then two more have been found one by George and another by an astronomer in Japan. Peter said it was frustrating because all you needed to do was keep imaging the galaxy and be lucky.

Andrew was on next with his own talk:

How to Give a Talk

He began by emphasising that preparation was vital and you must know your subject.

He said that giving a talk was a great way to learn – it should be not too complex and always remember the Pareto Rule 80/20 was always applicable i.e. 20% of the audience could well know 80% as much as you do! You should always keep something back for the questions at the end. Sometimes you can leave out something fundamental so that it will be asked and you can confidently deal with it. Always be enthusiastic.

Know your audience be they friends, associates or strangers.

Should you teach or entertain? – Both. There are three ways we learn – looking, listening and doing. The last is difficult with a group, but can be dipped into with care.

Be aware of your audience´s concentration span which tails off after 10 minutes. Do something to break the flow and therefore refresh the situation. This can be achieved by perhaps passing something round – a distraction, have an aside to cause a discussion.

Presentation Technique:- Power Point is useful, but not mandatory. Use notes but not a script, memory works well if you have one. Imagine you are having a chat and look around but do not engage any individual.

General tips include speaking clearly, not standing in front of the screen, talk to the audience not the screen, move about, don;´t use irritating words like innit, if you need to just pause and don´t worry if you fluff a bit.

PowerPoint is an excellent tool, but do not use it as an autocue, use bullet points and talk around them and be prepared for stuff to go wrong.

Lay out what you are going to do. Describe what you are going to do, do it, summarise what you covered and invite questions.

Always check your spelling by all means use spell checker, but this is not foolproof you may have used a perfectly good word just the wrong one. Ideally get another person to proof read it.

Think about colour combinations – black text on white looks great on a small screen but horrid on a large screen, white or yellow on blue works well.

Do not have too much stuff on a slide, use clear fonts and large characters – 24 point is good. Also be careful with special affects they can be most annoying.

Diagrams are useful but must be kept simple and easy to understand, discuss them and avoid large tables of figures.

A picture is indeed worth a thousand words but still talk about them don’t just leave the audience to interpret - they need to be guided. He emphasised that pictures should be linked rather than inserted into the presentation. This will allow the device to run faster.

Never display a slide or diagram that you have to apologise for. If this is the case, don´t use it!

Handouts can be useful but be mindful of when they are handed out.

Movies are great, but ensure the computer can handle them and always run from the computer not a USB stick.

With respect to questions think about when you want them either during the talk or at the end and make this clear at the start.

Andrew said the finest way to learn is to just have a go.

Excellent, but scary!

Wednesday 29th

Peter said that on 5th December Asteroid 8 Flora will be 20° East of the Moon closing to 0.5° on 6th December.

Mike announced that he was doing the talk this evening:

Where is Everybody?

Mike said that this had been a puzzle for many years.

In September 1959 physicists Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison published an article in the journal Nature with the provocative title ‘Searching for Interstellar Communications.’

In 1961 Frank Drake wrote an equation as a way of stimulating scientific discussion at a meeting at the Green Bank Observatory. It had the following elements:

Mike said we should split up into groups and have a go at it ourselves.

He handed out a form to each group which was a slight adaption to Frank’s original and got us started by putting in some of the initial numbers.

After a rather rowdy time when each group gave it some thought we compared our results.

They were: 30,000, 0.00125, 3, 0.0000002, 28,000, 42 and finally 0.15.

So somewhat varied! Mike said that when this was done in 1961 the results were 20 to 50,000,000. So again somewhat varied.

The Fermi Paradox or Fermi´s Paradox, named after physicist Enrico Fermi, is the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence and high probability estimates for the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations. The basic points of the argument, made by physicists Enrico Fermi (1901–1954) and Michael H. Hart (born 1932), are:

According to this line of reasoning, the Earth should have already been visited by extraterrestrial aliens. In an informal conversation, Fermi noted no convincing evidence of this, leading him to ask, ‘Where is everybody?’

There have been many attempts to explain the Fermi Paradox, primarily either suggesting that intelligent extraterrestrial life is extremely rare or proposing reasons that such civilizations have not contacted or visited Earth. These include:

Fascinating food for thought. Perhaps AI stands for Aliens Indeed


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