CNAAG Stargazing Live 2015

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    CNAAG Stargazing 2015 – a revue of the events

    Our Stargazing 2015 programme managed to fit in nicely with the BBC Stargazing LIve programme , the Solar Eclipse and the Dark Sky Discovery award , we began with…
    Dr Allan Chapman
    In keeping, our first CNAAG SGLive event took place on Monday 16th in the Methodist rooms , Chipping Norton where we were entertained by the great historian and flamboyant character Dr Allan Chapman who gave us an enthralling look at Gallileo, Newton , the Telescope and the Church – coincidentally the title of his latest book. In true Oxford Don style Dr Chapman dispelled a few myths and gave us all food for thought , very professional and entertaining – hopefuly we can entice him back very soon. Well attended with approx 60 people.
    The Sun and Moon for Breakfast
    The event that all activities hinged around took place on the mornng of Friday 20th where we set up from around 7.30am in the town centre outside of Jaffe & Neales , anticipating the forcast clearance to occur. With first contact just before 8.30 , there were a few people biting their nails as the cloud stubbonly hung around with just the occasional burst of brightness. A few cameras managed to get a hazy solar outline but no one really caught the moment of first contact. However , we were vindicated when approx. 10 minutes later the sun shone through the clouds which provided enough filtration to see the moon slowly covering the solar disc . By this time there was a sizeable crowd forming . Some had brought collanders and cardboard boxes , useing them as pin hole cameras. Queues were forming around all the telescopes , refractors and reflectors , driven and undriven , direct viewing through filters or projected image and computer imaging , all solar observing methods were in obeyance – a formidable arsenal of observing equipment. As we approached the mid point of the eclipse ( 09.33)the air became increasingly cooler and a definite light breeze developed which flowed down the hill from the main road. A strange twilight shrouded the area , reminding us of the light levels of a late November afternoon . Throughout the event there was an unprecedented buzz of enthusiasm enhanced by the endless supply of coffee and cake from inside Jaffe & Neales , Patrick & Polly and staff went out of their way to ensure everyone was taken care of. All too soon this fleeting glimpse of the universe in visible motion drew to a close with last contact taking place at around 10.47 but as the sky cleared everyone enjoyed extended views of the solar disc and some sunspots before we carefully packed away , cleared the site and bade a fond farewell to our hosts . Many of us headed towards The Mill , close to the town hall where we enjoyed a tremendous breakfast , a fiiting end to an incredible morning. Lots of pictures taken plus a lovely short documentary filmed and edited by John Richards which will be made available shortly
    Oxford University – Dept of Astrophysics
    In conrast , our participation with the Dept of Astrophysics found us confined to an indoor display as the cloud remained stubbonly thick. This twice yearly event began a few years ago when we became part of Stargazing Oxfordshire which brings together CNAAG from the north , Abingdon from the south with Oxford in the middle. This was indeed a marathon which began with us offloading at 1pm and the event opening to the general public at 2pm , and carrying on until the planned end at 10pm – 9 hrs in total. Previous events have proven that when it is possible to observe outside there can be a huge attendance , sadly this time the cloud slowly thickened and the expected numbers did not materialise. However , as always we rose to the occasion and spent the time between talking to the interested visitors , sitting in on some of the lectures , eating in the canteen and visiting in the fascinating displays the Dept had organised . It became obvious that as the evening wore on , it was time to call it a day (?) and we were packed up and on our different ways home shortly after 9pm. Despite the numbers it was yet another team effort and we all kept each other going. As a bonus we managed to secure 2 more University speakers for CNAAG including the return of Chris Lintott.
    Cnaag Spring Moonwatch & Dark Sky Discovery evening
    Our final CNAAG Stargazing event took place on Saturday 28th March with a combined event between ourselves and The Rollright Trust to officially open our primary field observatory site as a Dark Sky Discovery site. The award was actually awarded in December 2014 but we chose this date for a suitable event and to open the site formally. Because of the weather we held the event in nearby Long Compton village hall where we were treated to a talk by George Lambrick , Head of the Rollright Trust and a fascinating presentation by CNAAG member and astrophotographer Mel Gigg. Following a showing of the Stargazing Live clip where astronomer Mark Thompson brought 4 London based astronomers out to the Rollright Stones to illustrate a really dark sky , the unveiling of the Dark Sky Discovery plaque took place . The highlight of the evening was a special showing of the documentary ‘Standing With Stones’ , a journey through some of the most famous stone circles in the UK , looking at the mythical and astronomical connections. We were lucky enough to have the co director Michael Bott as guest and he gave a short introduction and took Q&A’s after. As the event ended and just to pay fickle , the moon and Jupiter cameout into view as people made their way to their cars – another memorable evening for the 50 – 60 people who came.

    These 4 events , despite the weather , all went off successfully and we will certainly all remember the eclipse for a long time to come . We could not have had any measure of success with out the ongoing support of CNAAG members and it is this pool of enthusiasm , expertise and infatuation with astronomy which is the mainstay of CNAAG and will keep us going well into the future
    Well done to all , theres a yearful of great astronomy in the offing – all we have to do is go and get it

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