Past events 2013

Here is a list of past events and meetings where we have had a guest speaker. Other years: 20142013201220112010

Comments are closed.

  • 26th Dec 2013
    Only if clear and snow free. An informal gathering of available (or mad!) CNAAGers.
  • 16th Dec 2013
    (Restricted to members and guests of members only) The Fox Chipping Norton 7:30pm for 8:00pm start Subject “Planets Beyond the Solar system”
  • 11th Dec 2013
    CNAAG presentation, observing if possible
  • 5th Dec 2013
    CNAAG presentation to pupils and parents, observing if possible. Time to be confirmed
  • 27th Nov 2013
    Participation by CNAAG in Oxford University’s Department of Astrophysics, for their outreach event. 6:00 – 9:00 pm.
    Images from a previous event
  • 26th Nov 2013
    CNAAG presentation, observing if possible
  • 21st Nov 2013
    CNAAG presentation, observing if possible. Postponed till the New Year
  • 19th Nov 2013
    CNAAG presentation to pupils and parents, observing if possible
  • 18th Nov 2013
    The Fox Chipping Norton 7:30pm for 8:00pm start “Everything I Learnt about Astronomy from Doctor Who”
  • 14th Nov 2013
    CNAAG presentation to pupils and parents, observing if possible
  • 11th Nov 2013
    Talk and observing
  • 9th Nov 2013
    Talk and observing
  • 21st Oct 2013
    The Fox Chipping Norton 7:30pm for 8:00pm start Exoplanets: the search for other worlds
  • 13rd Oct 2013
    SOLAR SUNDAY at the Rollright Stones – very much weather permitting. From the stone circle side the Sun will be visible from 8am until we lose it behind the trees at around 4.30pm. If the weather is good bring a lunch and come along for a great afternoon, probably the last one in comfortable temperatures before the Autumn chills set in.
  • 12th Oct 2013
    ONLY IF OBSERVABLE we will be setting up in Chipping Norton, outside Jaffe & Neale, 5.30pm until about 9.30, to invite the public to come and take a look at the Moon. Its an international event and it will be great to get as many scopes there as possible . Let Robin know if you can make it.
  • 2nd Oct 2013
    Talk and observing – details to follow.
  • 29th Sep 2013
    Live broadcast from Radio Winchcomb as part of the Phill Bird Sunday show 107.1 FM or internet – Radio Winchcomb
  • 18th Sep 2013
    Following a cloudy and blustery day, the weather proved more than helpful on Wedneday 18th Sept for the first of our Autumn outreach events at Shipston on Stour Primary School. Setting up not long after 6pm, the skies were clearing from the North West and we had a perfect view of the Moon, one day off full, rising over the rooftops. Over 50 pupils and parents listened to a talk about ‘Other Worlds, the Possibility for Life & Travelling to the Stars’ which was very well received and everyone picked up the Moore Moon Marathon sheets to go home with. Outside, interest was buzzing and everyone managed a look at the Moon through the 3 telescopes set up, 2 Vixen refractors and a Cassegrain, and there were plenty of ‘Wows’ as it was viewed (filtered) at higher magnifications. A great start to the season and the school is already planning another event. Thanks to Kevin W & Dave H for their stalwart support.
  • 16th Sep 2013
    The Fox Chipping Norton 7:30pm for 8:00pm start Updates on comets ISON and Lovejoy, plus illustrated talk ‘A Brief History of Mars’
  • 31st Aug 2013
    More details to follow
  • 19th Aug 2013
    The Fox Chipping Norton 7:30pm for 8:00pm start Reviewing the Sky At Night, astronomical updates plus an illustrated talk ‘Interlopers from the Cosmic Depths’
  • 12th Aug 2013
    Sunday the 11th looked promising for observing from the airfield site and several astronomers met up in the ‘dip’ to get some shelter from an annoying wind. Increasingly, high cloud allowed only relatively short glimpses but meteors were seen and imaged successfully. The following night at the Rollright Stones found many CNAAGers and members of the public positioning themselves for a spectacular night of meteor spotting – no one was to be disappointed. As soon as the sky got dark enough streaks were to be seen in the cloudless sky. We were positioned in the stone circle side sheltered from the north wind and conditions remained calm and comfortable all evening. Bella and Rosa (now stars of the Sky at Night) started a count but gave up not long after the 100th meteor was spotted. A terrific night for the imagers who managed to capture some extraordinary shots. Two overhead passes of the ISS, numerous satellite sightings and deep sky objects complemented the evening’s viewing. Our CNAAG electronics guru Bryan (Lefty) Hunt arrived on site festooned not only with telescopes but with huge aerials and boxes of electronics, listening out for the characteristic sounds of incoming meteors – very impressive. The comedy was provided by Steve Levett with his hilarious ‘Collapsing Sun Lounger’ routine which had us all rolling about in laughter. Lots of interest from the visiting public and another fantastic turnout from CNAAG. everyone was rewarded in full by the sight of spectacular Perseid meteors, ionisation trails, lingering smoke trails and fireball meteors which made the evening one that will not be forgotten – as ever, terrific support by all, here’s to the next observing night.
  • 10th Aug 2013
    The six cars and occupants who made the trek down to Stonehenge on Saturday 10th August were rewarded on arrival with blue skies and only passing cloud which boded well for the evening ahead despite the gloomy forecast. However, that feeling of well-being slowly ebbed away as cloud cover gradually rolled in from the west as we were setting up on site. By the time the event was due to start there was complete cloud cover – but it remained dry and relatively pleasant. Our stalwart host, National Trust Warden Lizzie Bryant and her team set up the refreshments and comet-making facilities whilst CNAAG members set up telescopes; the gazebo with projector, screen and generator; and we were all ready for the 50 members of the public to arrive. Lizzie began the evening with her fascinating talk about the myths surrounding the stars and constellations, particularly with Perseus, Cassiopeia and Andromeda. After a short break we presented our talk about the search for life beyond the solar system and some of the problems with travelling to the stars, the sound system coming in very handy. Lots of questions from the audience after the talk underlined the strength of interest in space and the universe. We had one fleeting glimpse of the ISS as it tracked overhead through a momentary break in the clouds but at 11pm the event came to a close. Surprisingly the evening was a great success despite the weather and showed how we are able to cope with the unpredictable. A great effort from all concerned and we all arrived safely home before 2am, bleary eyed but with a well deserved sense of accomplishment – thanks to all concerned.
  • 28th Jul 2013
    On Sunday 28th July we held our 2nd SOLAR SUNDAY at the Rollright Stones. See Spacebook
  • 15th Jul 2013
    The Fox, Chipping Norton. 7:30pm for an 8:00pm start. 'The Accidental Death of an Anarchist'
  • 17th Jun 2013
    “Observing Galaxy Clusters”
  • 16th Jun 2013
    Our annual all-day pitch at Wellesbourne airfield, the day they fire up the mighty Vulcan bomber , taxi it around and run it up to take off speed. Vintage Car display plus lots of other stalls and attractions – come along either as visitor or volunteer , great fun – the CNAAG pitch is always popular. Wings and Wheels details and map
  • 1st Jun 2013
    A trip to Wellesbourne Airfield for an exclusive guided tour of the Vulcan bomber being prepped for its annual public outing on the 16th.
  • 20th May 2013
    Citizen Science with the Zooniverse
  • 17th May 2013
    May 17-18 2013 Took place at the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre at Leamington Spa.
  • 20th Apr 2013
    The first of our trips to Stonehenge courtesy of the National Trust has been cancelled due to poor ticket sales.
  • 15th Apr 2013
    On Monday 15th April, Dr Leigh Fletcher treated us to an intriguing look at the atmospheric processes taking place on the gas planets and gave us an insight into the work going on to explore those atmospheres and Jupiter's moons, his talk entitled ‘Strange Weather – Exploring the Giants of our Solar System’. Compared to the ‘rough’ surface of Earth which disrupts our weather patterns , the featureless surfaces of the gas giants allow the smooth flow of gases to be studied almost as a liquid allowing the dynamics of those alien atmospheres to be understood. Heat sources from within plus the outside effects of the Sun combine to separate out the different gases into layers, whilst impacts by asteroids and comets burrow deep into the thick layers churning and disrupting the atmospheres. Whilst our understanding of Jupiter and Saturn has been enhanced by the Galileo and Cassini space probes, our scant knowledge of the icy gas giants, Uranus and Neptune, is still based on the information of the Voyager probes of 40 years ago. Acknowledging that there is so much more we need to learn about the gas giants, Leigh made a strong point of highlighting the amount of attention (and money) being spent on Mars at the expense of exploring the gas giants. Juno, currently on its way to further explore Jupiter from 2016, looks like being the last major NASA project out to the gas planets. The European Space Agency’s JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) project, scheduled to launch in 2022 is specifically designed to study Jupiter's moons in detail – sadly, Leigh lamented, there are no further plans to visit the gas planets after that. Altogether a fascinating and well presented talk which sparked off a flurry of questions, Dr Leigh Fletcher made us focus on our solar system companions – and to contemplate just how much more there is that we need to know about them. By Robin Smitten
  • 14th Apr 2013
    CNAAG’s combined Spring Star & Moonwatch at the Rollright Stones, POSTPONED. Sadly this has been postponed as the weather forecast is for 20-25 knot winds and heavy rain from 1-6pm. We will schedule another date before too long.
  • 20th Mar 2013
    Talk and observing if clear
  • 19th Mar 2013
    With a very negative forecast in prospect, we were pleasantly surprised to arrive at Bidford on Avon Primary School under a blue sky with the quarter Moon riding high to the south. Approximately 40 parents and pupils came along bringing a selection of telescopes which ranged from the low range plastic models up to Skywatchers on equatorial mounts. With people struggling with their scopes up it was great that we were able demostrate the process of setting up, get the owners to do the same and watch them pick up and target the Moon with ease. Many common problems were evident: out of balance tubes, incorrect latitude settings, polar alignment, plastic eyepieces to name a few. Hopefully David H, Kevin W and myself have done something to help with the observing. The best comment from one parent (Skywatcher 130) was "Ive found out more in the last 15 minutes than I have all year" – job done! The illustrated talk about Comet Pannstars and the objects of the Orion constellation was well received with plenty of questions from the keen youngsters – the astronomers of the future. This event brought to a head our outreach work which began in November and once again illustrated the commitment of the CNAAG membership (other members were simultaneously representing the group at Oxford University) as well the overall appeal of astronomy.
  • 19th Mar 2013
    CNAAG presentation to pupils and parents, observing if possible
  • 19th Mar 2013
    Brian and I were there first and we were ushered up to the top floor to set up our scopes. The weather did not look promising but the helpers supplied us with some covers to use in case it rained. Good job they did as it rained for a good hour or so. Mel and Sarah set up camp in the room right at the end of the corridor where the Abingdon society were last time – I suppose to make it fair on all. Between checking the weather and the scopes on the roof Brian and I spent a bit of time with Mel and Sarah but from what I could tell we did not get that many visitors. Later in the evening we did however get about 45 minutes of broken cloud – luckily right overhead – and were able to observe the moon and Jupiter for a while, and probably about 30 – 40 different visitors were able to have a brief view through the scopes – always difficult to judge exactly how many different people are there because they come and go and of course it is dark. There was one other scope up there as well as mine and Brian's as one of the Abingdon crew set his up as well. Talked to quite a few people and think I have persuaded some to come along to the Spring Moonwatch. One gentleman in particular said that he has had a 10 inch reflector with an EQ5 mount and tripod for about 2 years but has never managed to set it up, I told him to bring it along and we would show him 🙂 By Doug Wells
  • 18th Mar 2013
    “Galactic Archaeology: Understanding the Universe’s past by looking at the present” On Monday we were very lucky to have Dr Chris Lintott give a talk to the group. The main theme of his talk was learning about the past universe from studying the remnants that remain visible today, which he described as a sort of galactic archaology. He began by describing how the universe is expanding, with more distant objects moving further away than nearer ones. This relationship between distance and velocity is known as the Hubble constant. Of course as things move away, the Doppler effect causes the wavelength of the light these objects emit to lengthen. So visible light moves to the red end of the spectrum, and beyond, which is why many of the current batch of telescopes are designed to look in the infrared. The very oldest objects have accelerated away for so long that the ‘light’ as we receive it has a wavelength in the microwave part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Dr Lintott showed us the now famous CMB (Cosmic Microwave Background) map of the early universe. The CMB radiation seems to come from the whole sky, but when temperature differences of a fraction of a degree are colour coded, the image seems quite mottled, revealing the beginnings of some structure emerging out of the uniformity. He talked about the data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the 2 Degree Field projects, which gives us a structure of the universe with images of galaxy clusters and super clusters. The areas of stringiness/clumpiness showed where local gravity between galaxies won the battle with Dark Energy, that force which is causing the universe to expand. The thing that is still a bit of a puzzle (apart from Dark Energy) is that this clumpiness appears to have been achieved in a much shorter time than the physics would predict was possible. There is a project under way to find an explanation as to why some galaxies no longer had much dust or star forming regions within them. It may be that the jets of material and radiation emitted from the central black holes have the effect of stopping or otherwise preventing new star formation. He talked about the distribution of galaxy types, where their ages were plotted against their mass. ‘Blue’ galaxies, ie those containing mostly younger stars, occupied thier own space at the bottom of the graph, while ‘red’ galaxies containing older stars were predominantly in the top half of the diagram. Dr Lintott explained that the graph showed that the more massive ‘red’ galaxies could only have been formed by merger of other old galaxies, and not directly by the aging of ‘blue’ ones. Finally, Dr Lintott presented a possible explanation for the Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB), a period when the many of the craters were formed. Usually in a solar system that is relatively established many of the rougue bits of rock would have been hoovered up long before by the presence of the planets, so the fact that the LHB should happen was puzzling, unless an event happened that disrupted the orbits of some Kuiper Belt Objects and sent them into the inner solar system. One possibility is that the outer planets were much closer to the sun than they are now, with the orbit of Uranus being outside that of Neptune. Over time, the relative periods of Jupiter and Saturn’s orbits caused them to line up in the same place on several occasions, and this ‘resonance’ produced a regular gravitational kick that perturbed the orbits of Neptune and Uranus causing them to swap places. This would have disrupted the nearer KBOs causing some of them to have much more elongated orbits, taking them within range of the inner planets. An animation of this idea is shown here. All in all a very enjoyable presentation, a few concepts explained very well indeed. By Oliver Stogdon
  • 18th Mar 2013
    Talk and observing if clear
  • 5th Mar 2013
    Movie of comet setting. This comet, discovered in June 2011 by the Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawaii, passed closest to the Earth on 5th March, then the Sun on the 10th, and is now heading back out of the solar system. The closest it will get to the Earth is about 1.1 AU which is 10% greater than the earth-sun distance of 93 million miles (150 million km). Best seen from the Northern Hemisphere during March, starting low in the sky after sunset, in Pisces, and climbing gradually throught Pegasus and Andromeda as the month progresses. It should be visible to the naked eye. The comet is considered to be non-periodic, having originated from the Oort cloud, but after it passes the sun it will have a measurable orbit of about 110,000 years. More details and images are on the EarthSky website.
  • 3rd Mar 2013
    Wisely taking shelter from the south east wind in the lee of the Rollright Stone trees, 7 plucky astronomers made the most of a fine evening to take a look at Jupiter which is still a terrific sight. Early thin high cloud cleared as the temperature dropped throughout the evening and a haze gradually developed obscuring most stars up to about 20 degrees or so above the horizon. We all managed to watch Io as it slipped behind Jupiter whose gas belts stood out really well with more than a definite hint of a 3rd belt. Various magnifications were tried out with combinations of Barlow lenses which illustrated just how badly the image quality drops off once the capabilities of the optics are exceeded. Oliver was steering his Vixen with a bluetooth gamepad and Mel Gigg gave his new Takahashi refractor an airing, very nice – the scope that is, not Mel! Kevin H provided the evenings entertainment by (a) lining up on a star which was not Polaris and (b) getting North and South mixed up and wondering why things were not going fully to plan (but I promised I would never reveal that to anyone!) Don't worry Kevin, we have all been there. We were all packed up and leaving by 11.30pm, last man standing was Steve from Witney whose wide angle exposures suffered from the headlights of passing traffic. As we packed away, a film of frost on the grass and cars, and the flashing lights of gritting lorries reminded us that winter was far from over – a great enthusiastic turnout from everyone and, as usual Jupiter and astronomy won the evening.
  • 21st Feb 2013
    After an earlier postponement because of the snow a small and optimistic CNAAG contingent made its way to the 2nd Banbury Scouts camp site near Horley to the North West of Banbury. After some difficulty we located the entrance to the site which turned out to be about half a mile down possibly the most rutted and potholed muddy track any of us had seen. The cloud put paid to any observing but the illustrated talk dealing with the search for Earth-like planets, travelling to the stars and the problems inherent with travelling at light speed was well received by the 20+ scouts, leaders and parents with the promise of our return on another occasion. Due thanks to Doug W & Kevin W for coming along and acting as roadies.
  • 20th Feb 2013
    On a cold, windy and partly cloudy evening, CNAAG were pleased to be hosted by about 75 pupils and their parents at one of the many ‘outreach’ events we have run this winter. The evening began with a very fine overhead pass of the ISS before moving inside for a very well received, illustrated talk by Robin on the changes the digital revolution has made to astronomy and how amateurs can use quite basic equipment to achieve remarkable results. The evening moved outside again for a view of a –8 Iridium flare but by now the cloud had rolled in which took the edge of this potentially fine site. As the temperature dropped still further, the event drew to a close but nobody drifted away without seeing fine views of the Moon and Jupiter provided by Kevin, David and John. It was a very rewarding evening with lots of enthusiastic youngsters, very appreciative parents and a very warm welcome from all the staff at Enstone Primary School.
  • 18th Feb 2013
    The Fox, Chipping Norton. 7:30pm for an 8:00pm start.
  • 18th Feb 2013
    Talk, and observing if clear.
  • 15th Feb 2013
    Asteroid observing, check emails for details of when and where.
  • 15th Feb 2013
    THE CNAAG EVENT Putting our trust in the forecast which gave us almost ideal conditions to observe the close pass of Asteroid 2012 DA14, 9 telescopes were set up at Chipping Norton airfield in eager anticipation of the event. The asteroid weighing 130,000 tons and travelling at about 6km per second was calculated to pass within 18000 miles of the Earth and be visible through binoculars and promised to be a great target for the astrophotographers. With great irritation and testing our patience to the full , the encroaching cloud, which initially gave enough breaks to view the ISS, Moon, Jupiter and Orion, instead of clearing continued to thicken to the point where even the most optimistic CNAAGer had to admit defeat. Despite that setback an evening of astro chat and interviews by Barry and Laura of Witney Radio and the crew of Witney TV ensured that we all got something out of the evening. It appears that due to extensive cloud cover there were very few people that got a good view from the UK but one thing is for certain it will not be the last close shave for us all. THE RUSSIAN EVENT News broke in the early hours of Friday 15th Feb of a meteorite plunging to Earth in Northern Russia with an escalating number of reported injuries, ending up at over 1000. This object was originally estimated to have been around 10 tons in weight, this has since been revised and re estimated to have been closer to a staggering 10,000 tons. With a 500 kiloton blast the object exploded, the resultant shock wave shattering windows and showering people with shards of flying glass and causing one factory wall to collapse. By the sound of it, as many media people headed for the area as did rescue workers as the event headlined globally. The videos taken by people from their dashboard cams and mobile phones were fascinating and an edited selection can be seen on YouTube here – a truly staggering and spectacular rare event which can only serve as a warning to us all that these objects are lurking out there somewhere. For sheer timing it could have not been better as we prepared ourselves for the close pass of Asteroid 2012 DA14 that same evening. Both events carried a strange irony in as much as the interloping asteroid was something we detected some time ago and knew about well in advance, but we were not able to see; and the meteorite we had no warning of and knew nothing about at all was seen by thousands as it reached the ground.
  • 7th Feb 2013
  • 7th Feb 2013
  • 2nd Feb 2013
    Not sure yet about how clear it was at the Rollrights. It was clear but very cold near Ipswich!
  • 24th Jan 2013
    After the most dismal run of observing weather for our planned public Stargazing Live 2013 events, it was a relief to see the sky clearing as we drove towards Bidford on Avon school for our last SGL outreach event on Thursday 24th January. With lying snow everywhere, the sight of the Moon 3 days away from full, plus magnificent Jupiter high to the South East the evening promised to be clear but very cold. A bit of a rushed set up of the projector and screen in the lobby plus 2 telescopes outside and we were ready to go just after 6pm.’Other Worlds’ was the subject of the illustrated talk where the search for life in the solar system and some of the problems of travelling to the stars were discussed. Following the talk the 25 – 30 pupils parents & teachers quickly managed to view the Moon and Jupiter through the 8″ reflector and David Henderson's new Celestron Sky Prodigy 6 Cassegrain before encroaching cloud, tired youngsters and frosty air put an end to proceedings. However, everyone enjoyed the evening and the recieved comment from the organisers was ‘Thank you all for another fantastic evening’. Thanks to Kevin W and David H for coming along and the pub meal afterwards was a great way to round off our Stargazing Live 2013 events.
  • 23rd Jan 2013
    Talk – will be rescheduled for February
  • 22nd Jan 2013
    Sunday 20th and Tuesday 22nd January 2013 5:00pm – 9:00pm. From the forecourt of Jaffe & Neale’s Bookshop. This is also being postponed due to the ongoing weather and pavement conditions, but the plan is to reschedule it at a later date.
  • 21st Jan 2013
    It’s important to develop ideas about a planet by examining images of its surface, and the talk stressed the importance of looking at such evidence, and comparing it with the surfaces of the other rocky planets – still most of what we know. James Hutton proposed in 1785 that by looking at the relationships between rocks exposed at the Earth’s surface, we could identify repeated cycles of deposition, uplift and erosion, showing a continuity of geological processes over an immense time-scale, contradicting many contemporaries who wanted to argue that catastrophic events governed the Earth’s history. Hutton’s ideas implied that large-scale dynamic processes produce these ‘earth-movements’, but it wasn’t until the last few decades that we have been able to look at the topography of the oceans, and this led to the hypothesis of plate-tectonics, where basalts are erupted to form new ocean crust at volcanic ridges and this crust first spreads to form the oceans then dives below adjacent plates at great linear features marked by deep trenches. Importantly, the lines of volcanoes which mark this ‘subduction’ process typically produce andesite rather than basalt – while basalt is the product of melting essentially-dry mantle rock, water is needed to allow melting at lower temperatures to give the more silica-rich andesite. The Earth has a unique supply of liquid water in its oceans, and this may be essential for plate tectonics as well as life. There remain many things we don’t know about plate tectonics – just how it’s driven and even whether in fact its processes only involve relatively shallow depths of a few hundred metres into the mantle. Nor do we know if the process can be tracked close to the formation of the Earth’s crust over 4 billion years ago, although we do find very ancient rocks of types we now associate with plate tectonics. So ideas about other planets need to be guarded. On Mars and the Moon we seem to see large old (because heavily impact-cratered) upland areas which we might infer represent the earliest crust, not subject to the deformation and erosion processes seen by Hutton, and smoother areas – the North polar region on Mars, the ‘maria’ on the Moon. Both regions are relatively low and filled with basalt (we’re sure of this on the Moon). This phase of impact and volcanism is 3.9 billion years old, and on Mars it seems to have partly erased weak (?) magnetism in the crust of Mars. This apparently-similar geological ‘history’ could only be plausible if the impact event was widespread at least in the inner solar system, and its timing would leave little scope for Mars to have developed an atmosphere and liquid water, essential for life. No doubt Curiosity and its successors will add greatly to what we know, and it will be interesting to find out more about the huge martian volcanoes and whether the other large rocky planet, Venus, shares some of the Earth’s features; who knows? – plate tectonics of a sort, perhaps.
  • 20th Jan 2013
    Sadly this had to be cancelled due to the slippiness of the sloping pavement. Clutching at the nearest telescope in order to avoid falling over is never advisable!
  • 17th Jan 2013
    More like ‘All Snow and Waiters’!
    Alas, despite our best pleas, the weather put paid to our proposed ‘All Gas & Craters’ observing meeting at the Red Lion, Little Compton on Thursday 17th. A couple of plucky CNAAGers got there early for a bite to eat in the vain hope that there may be a chance of a glimpse of the Moon at least, but sadly it was not to be. However, one member of the public had come along just in case and had a meal and our good friends of WitneyTV & Witney Radio dropped in, also on the off chance to have a good chat about an exciting new project that I will update everyone on in due course. With the snow coming down harder by the minute we said our fond farewells and headed out into the frozen wastes; conclusively there was snow/no observing to be had. We will try again at a later date, probably in the early Spring.
  • 16th Jan 2013
    Talk and observing, with Jeanette Cotterill
  • 12th Jan 2013
    The CNAAG stand was situated in the lobby area one floor above the entrance to the Oxford University’s Department of Astrophysics.
    About eight members were on hand throughout the day to answer questions, which meant that when the cloud did start to break towards the end of the event, a group were able to take some telescopes up on to the roof to look at Jupiter, at the same time maintaining a presence at the stand. Towards the end there was a queue of people from the floor below waiting to get up to the roof and to the observatory.
    The stand was quite busy throughout the day, with people mostly asking about equipment, and how to get started in astrophotography. The images on display at the back of the stand impressed many people.
  • 6th Jan 2013
    The forecast for Sunday 6th Jan did not bode well for our first solar observing event, the first of four public events as our part in BBC Stargazing Live 2013. I had left the village of Little Compton behind under patches of blue sky and the sun breaking through, the further I motored up Harrow Hill the lower the mists descended and I ventured into the darkening hill fog, already obscuring the leafless tree tops.
    Occasional lighter patches in the murk and the breeze from the west hinted that the mist may disperse enough to permit some glimpses of our own star. Upon my arrival, to my great surprise the two laybys were already nearly full of cars and equipment was being set up in front of the King’s Men stone circle and the atmosphere already had an enthusiastic buzz. With British aplomb, teapots and china cups were the first thing you saw on entering the grounds as Sarah Withey and son Bert set up the welcome tea stand and already a steaming kettle was issuing forth, needless to say a small but orderly queue was already forming.
    Within the hour, 10 telescopes were assembled with polar axis pointing toward an invisible Polaris, aperture covers firmly on waiting for that elusive clearance. Visitors to the Rollright Stone monuments began to arrive, not great in number, but were warmly greeted by Warden Mary Edginton who had volunteered for the day. Most took advantage of tea and biscuits and took great interest in the astronomical display and took away the relevant literature. Hopefully we may see them again at our other Stargazing Live meetings. Barry Clack and his team from Witney TV spent a long time on site, interviewing and videoing the proceedings with the promise that they will be covering all of our SGL events. Despite several lighter patches developing the mist and low cloud never dispersed and, after 3 hours with feet starting to feel the cold and the temperature dropping, by 2pm astronomers were slowly packing away their equipment.
    The last pieces were packed away by approx 2.50 and, right on cue, the hazy disc of the sun poked its way through thinning cloud. Such is the power of the Sun in this mystical ancient setting that it caused 3 CNAAG members to behave in a very strange fashion, performing strange Neolithic dances, as depicted in the pictures. At this point I feared for my safety and took refuge in my warm motor car. As is advised to all visitors to the Rollright Stones – we left it as we found it, taking nothing but memories.
    Despite the weather and lack of any observing opportunities, enthusiasm and camaraderie won the day and to meet outside this early in January was a unique experience. A triumph for enthusiasm and a day for terrific people – we all took away some great memories . Here's to the next meeting and the fantastic astronomy to come. Link to the Witney TV item