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The X-Ray Sky

October Night Sky

IAU Meeting China

Monochrome solar photography

Lets Talk Intereview


What’s new?

What’s new?

stronomy Wise



Credits Ed & Arrangements Dave Bood

Rouges Gallery Jason Ives

The Sky AT Night

John Harper

Template Edward Dutton

Articles Caroline Scott Heather Dawn Zantippy Skiphop John Harper Dave Bood Jason Ives James Adams (Bob the Alien) James Lennie Andy Devey Pepe Gallardo Ralph Wilkins Plekhanov Andrey Sophia Nasr Claire Smith

4. What are comets? 6. Astro Camp 10. Lets talk interview 14. News 15. Carolian Astro Society 16. SpaceX news 18. IAU China 22. The Night Sky 28. Monochrome solar photography 32. The Dolphin of The Skies 36. Astrophotography for Beginners by a Relative Beginner 42. Our Moon and The coincidence of Mars 44. The X-Ray Universe 50. Lunar Occultation October 2012 52. Asteroids 58. Rouges Gallery 63. Halloween Across The Universe 68. Mars One News 70. Occultations 80. Competition Time 82. Android Wise 86. Dark Matter 90. Featured Astronomer– Claire Smith

Astronomy Wise was founded in March 2012 by David Bood & Jason Ives. The EZIne is a free online magazine. The concept of the website and EZine is to bring astronomy to all and is a truly community based project. Our motto

“ Astronomy For All ”

To contact us send an email to Twitter: @AstronomyWise @jasonives101

Image: Brian Ritchie


Welcome…… October is here, the nights are drawing in and there is a chill in the air, perfect, astronomy season is here. This month Rouges gallery returns. We have The Night Sky, news features, guest writers and a review from the IAU meeting in China. Astronomy wise is running it’s first ever competition. We are giving away 3 books from our 3 featured authors.

We have Astronomy by Paul Rumsby, In The Lion’s Paw by Ninian Boyle and Edge of the Universe by Paul Halpern. See page 80 for more details. We have articles on photography from Andy Devey and James Lennie. A special thank you to Sheila Kanani for her interview. So sit back and relax and enjoy the October edition of Astronomy Wise EZine. ED: Dave Bood Cover Image: Andy Devey

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The Baker Street Irregular Astronomers (BSIA) have spent the last two years bringing free and informal astronomy events to Central London. Getting established as a society and attracting hundreds of people to each monthly stargazing event in Regent’s Park has only led to ever more ambitious plans to bring astronomy into people’s lives. Last year we launched Astronomers in the Pub to add an alcohol-enabled event to our growing list of free outreach endeavours. Here, guest speakers deliver talks on topics ranging from Aurorae to commercial spaceflight, punctuated with the occasional astronomy pub quiz. But this year, three of the BSIA committee (Paul Hill, Tom Kerss & Ralph Wilkins) took the plunge and decided to take our relaxed brand of astronomy into the countryside and throw a camping weekend in Wales. This wasn’t intended as competition to the established star parties such as Kelling Heath and Kielder (in fact Richard Deighton, who arranges the Kelling Autumn Equinox events, was happy to offer invaluable advice), rather it was an attempt to shake up the formula and make star parties more welcoming for all… The 2012 AstroCamp was born. So why Wales? Well, it’s central, the skies are incredibly dark, the valleys provide protection from the wind and the campsite we found in Cwmdu was just perfect (we Londoners don’t like to be away from wifi!). The campsite and local pub owners couldn’t do enough to help us out either. After a few months of nervous anticipation, we found ourselves pitching tents on the 7th September in glorious sunshine amidst the beauty of the Brecon Beacons’ Black Mountains to the chorus of wildlife – another first for we urban astronomers. Dawn at AstroCamp – just a bit of dew for the sun to burn away

We’d deliberately spread the word on Twitter and Facebook as well as communicating with our 2,000+ BSIA members because we wanted to bring friendly and relaxed astronomy to a wider audience – especially absolute beginners who might find themselves too intimidated to go to one of the established astronomy events - and most of all, meet new people. The attendees ranged from curious children to dedicated astroimagers, so we set up a child friendly area, an astrophotography section and most successfully a telescope deck (or ‘Hub’) right in the centre of the site for people to socialise, share telescope views and experiences with others; whether solar and lunar observing during the day or deep sky object hunting at night.

7 The Hub at AstroCamp

But the real treat for all of us was the sky! People used to observing under pristine skies had the opportunity to learn new tricks and see objects through other people’s equipment. Those of us who rarely see such inky black skies could enjoy the naked eye sights of regular meteors, the occasional fireball, faint satellites balletically criss -crossing the sky and the ever present seam of the Milky Way glowing overhead. Being able to see the Andromeda Galaxy and the Double Cluster in Perseus without any optical aid was quite a treat too. And the clear skies stayed with us for both nights. On the Saturday we caught up on some sleep and did what anyone would’ve done to kill a few hours – we headed for the pub - a lovely local country pub that we hijacked for breakfasts and our Astronomers in the Pub event in the afternoon. Paul Hill gave a talk on Herschel and Uranus, complete with a toilet roll that had each sheet representing an Astronomical Unit. Tom Kerss gave us a tour of the Hawaiian telescopes and treated us to his Transit of Venus images from earlier this year, and I gave away two scopes and a pair of binoculars to the winners and losers (ahem, ‘beginners’ please!) of an astronomy themed pub quiz. Astronomers in the Pub – Paul and Tom entertain the room


Hoping we’d not drunk too much at the pub, the BBC joined us to film for October’s Sky at Night. Dr Chris North and the ever- present cameraman wandered around the site interviewing the organisers and attendees and then settled down to some observing at the Hub - the Moore Marathon providing some quick-fire sky tours. I’d always felt that the faint summer nebulae and teasing more detail out of nearby galaxies would be the observing highlights for the AstroCamp – especially for those of us that don’t have the luxury of truly dark skies from our gardens, but I was surprised to find just how dynamic the familiar star clusters actually look under these conditions. The Pleiades, Double Cluster and the globular clusters in Hercules jumped out of the eyepiece and threatened to steal the show. The stars and dust lanes of the Milky Way ever-present overhead

We hooked a scope up to a laptop and streamed lunar tutorials over the internet once the moon had risen. The local animals weren’t spared either – magnified SheepWatch, CowCast and PigeonView were streamed during the day! Alongside this, Paul blogged about the event on his Astronomer’s Den website and Tom & Ralph were recording for their Awesome Astronomy podcast. The feedback is already in, anonymous of course, and everyone greatly enjoyed the spectacular views, the advice and social ambience. With such good reactions, we’d be crazy not to do it again. So what’s next? Well, Tom’s starting his unbiased astronomy equipment reviews website at, which I’m particularly excited about – having nearly bought equipment on the back of magazine reviews that give overly-favourable accounts to ensure getting more equipment to review. But the big news is that the feedback was so good that we’re going to make the AstroCamp a biannual event in April and September and that means more friendly astronomy each year! If you want to see more of the amazing pictures from this year’s AstroCamp, go to and you can book your places for next year at You can follow Paul, Tom & Ralph’s astronomy education feeds on Twitter at @Astro_Den, @TomKerss & @ActiveAstro.



Welcome to the October Lets Talk, This months interview is with a multi talented young lady who is not only a planetary scientist but also does abit of science comedy too. So let me introduce Sheila Kanani aka Saturn Sheila. AW: When did you get interested in Astronomy & Science? SK: I first became interested in science when I was quite young, as I come from a medical science family. When I was really little I wanted to be a vet but when I was 13 I saw ‘apollo 13’ and I realised that I wanted to be an astronaut. I went home and read about Michael foale, a British-American astronaut, and learnt that he became an astronaut by following quite an academic path. He had a degree in physics and a PhD in astrophysics, and it was then I

decided to pursue an academic career! AW: What is a planetary Scientist? SK: Planetary science is a broad field of science that doesn’t have to just be about physics. It covers anything related to planets, inside and outside of our solar system! If you study the geology of Mars, the moons of Saturn or hunt for exoplanets, you can call yourself a planetary scientist. In fact, we are all planetary scientists because we are all interested in studying the Earth, aren’t we!

AW: I have an interest in Titan what new discoveries are being made about his exciting moon? SK:Titan is a very cool moon! A very new discovery that was recently seen on Titan was a huge whirling gas cloud at the south pole. The cloud is green, made up of methane, carbon and nitrogen. It appeared quite suddenly! We think it is because summer is approaching. This would also explain why we hadn’t seen the cloud before, because it is the first time a human spacecraft has been at Saturn in saturnian summer, so the first time we could ever have a look at Titan in the summer! titanvortex_cassini_960.jpg


AW: On your website you say you are studying Saturn’s magnetosphere, can you tell us what the magnetosphere is? SK: Some of the planets in our solar system are magnetised, like our Earth. Magnetised planets have magnetic field lines, just like a bar magnet. The magnetosphere is a ‘bubble’ in space around a planet which contains these magnetic field lines. The magnetosphere can protect the planet from the solar wind and aid the formation of an atmosphere. AW: Tell us about your presenting work SK: I love presenting! I enjoy giving talks on anything physics related, especially space! I have talked at music festivals, in pubs, in theatres, schools and I was even asked to give a talk at a pharmaceutical conference in india! AW: What would you like to do once your PhD has been completed? SK: I finished my phd in july, so I am now ‘dr’ Saturn sheila J this year I am completing my teaching qualification (in physics) so that I have another string to my bow! I think having a teaching qualification is a very valuable thing if you want to be able to present science properly. I loved doing my phd but I got very bogged down in the tiny pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, and with teaching I am able to take a step back and have a look at the bigger picture. By looking at science in this way I hope to be able to inspire the future generation of scientists, in the same way my physics teacher wowed me. After this year, I'm not entirely sure what I’ll do next! AW: Could you tell us about your gigs? SK: I’ve somehow managed to become involved with stand up science comedy gigs over the past few years and ive weirdly found that a) I enjoy them and b) people seem to enjoy them too! I never ever thought I’d be able to make people laugh, especially not about science, but I seem to manage for short amounts of time. Its a scary but exciting experience. I once stood in front of 440 people with a microphone and got them all to shout ‘Uranus’ at me! AW: What is Space school SK: Space school is a residential summer camp run by Leicester university for under 18s who love physics and space. they spend their days building rockets, going to space-y lectures and learning what it really is like to be an astronaut. I went as a student in 2000 and I won the ‘star student’ award while I was there, which got me a place at space camp usa! Now I teach and provide pastoral care for current students.


AW: What is it like to work at Jodrell bank Observatory? SK: Working at JBO was fun because I got to go inside the dish! It had just been repainted and I got white paint all over my top! You also had to make sure your mobiles were turned off within a 2 mile radius otherwise they interfere with the radio waves. At lunchtime the microwave oven was kept in a big lead box so that wouldn’t interfere with data as well. How funny would it be if you thought you’d found aliens when in actual fact it was a scientist warming up their dinner! And Finally……. Come and see a gig of mine! You’ll find all my info on my website I’ll be doing ‘science uncovered’ at the natural history museum on the 28th September 3A_science_uncovered_2012.html a talk during the Physics in Perspective conference for the IoP next February page_41717.html and I’m in a science calendar in 2013


Checkout Sheila Kanani Videos

A big thank you to Sheila for taking time to answer our questions, good luck to her in the future. Astronomy Wise


The news is back for October, in this part of the EZine we have a look at news around the internet.

Asteroid 2012 QG42 Near Pass to Earth! On September the 13-14th a modest size asteroid will have passed earth at a mere 1,770,000 miles from our planet. The asteroid is about 800m across and was discovered on August 26th. The Slooh camera tracked its approach.

Jupiter Impact Spotted by Astronomers Jupiter Impact 10 Sept. 2012 11:35 UT Dallas, USA. Dan Peterson is reported to observed and photographed the impact. The video was captured with a 12" LX200GPS, 3x Televue Barlow, and Point Grey Flea 3 camera. The capture software was Astro IIDC. More details at Click the Image to see the Video



GRASSHOPPER TAKES ITS FIRST HOP On Friday, September 21, SpaceX’s Grasshopper vertical takeoff and landing test vehicle (VTVL) took its first test flight hop from the company’s rocket testing facility in McGregor, Texas.

Click the image above to watch video of Grasshopper's first test flight hop.

The short hop of approximately 6 feet is the first major milestone for Grasshopper, and a critical step toward a reusable first stage for SpaceX’s proven Falcon 9 rocket. As seen in the video, Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 first stage, a Merlin-1D engine, four steel landing legs, and a steel support structure. SpaceX is working to develop vehicles that are fully and rapidly reusable, a key element to radically reducing cost and increasing the efficiency of spaceflight. Testing of Grasshopper continues, with the next big milestone – a hover at roughly 100 feet -- expected in the next several months.



NASA and SpaceX have announced October 7, 2012 as the target launch date for SpaceX’s first resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft is scheduled for 8:34 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral, Florida. October 8 is the backup date. The launch represents the first of 12 SpaceX flights to the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract, and follows a successful demonstration mission in May when SpaceX became the first private company ever to attach to the ISS and return safely to Earth. The SpaceX CRS-1 mission also represents restoration of American capability to deliver and return cargo to the ISS—a feat not achievable since the retirement of the space shuttle. SpaceX is also contracted to develop Dragon to send crew to the space station. SpaceX’s first manned flight is expected to take place in 2015. On this mission, Dragon will be filled with supplies, which include materials to support 166 experiments in plant cell biology, human biotechnology, and materials technology. One experiment will examine the effects of microgravity on the

opportunistic yeast Candida albicans, which is present on all humans. Another will evaluate how microgravity affects the growth of cell walls in a plant called Arabidopsis. Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of NASA and Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will use a robotic arm to grapple Dragon following its rendezvous with the station, expected on October 10. They will attach Dragon to the Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony module for a few weeks while crew members unload cargo and load experiment samples for return to Earth. Dragon is scheduled to return in late October for a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California. Dragon will fly back carrying scientific materials and space station hardware.


International Astronomical Union-Beijing-China By Caroline Scott Last month (August) saw the 28th General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union. It took place in Beijing, China and was attended by astronomers from around the world. I was lucky enough to attend the event with another two representatives from Imperial College’s astrophysics group. One particular highlight was the Opening Ceremony (..the ‘other’ Beijing Opening Ceremony..) which saw speeches by Xi Jinping (Vice President of China), Robert Williams (IAU President), Xiangqun Cui (Chinese Astronomical Society President), Jocelyn Bell-Burnell and a whole host of other entertainment by Chinese drummers, singers, dancers and acrobatics. Many interesting research presentation sessions, plenaries and joint discussions followed. Here are some photos I took from the General Assembly to share with you all. Caroline Scott Astrophysics PhD Student, Imperial College & Harvard

Top Image: Jocelyn Bell-Burnell’s speech at the Opening Ceremony Left: Other entertainment at Opening Ceremony

All Images By Caroline Scott




The Astronomy Centre

"Dedicated to the furtherance of Amateur Astronomy"

The Astronomy Centre is a major resource for both amateur astronomers and the general public. Based above Todmorden in the North West of England, we have facilities and on-site equipment for both members and visitors, plus remote access via the Internet for members. The site offers a good compromise providing a reasonably dark site, while remaining close to the major conurbations of Manchester and Leeds. The Observatory is open to the public every Saturday evening from 7:30pm onwards. Visitors are advised to wrap up warmly, with sensible footwear, as the site can get very cold at any time of year. There is a nominal charge for nonmember visitors of £2 per person (£1 for children and concessions), though further donations are always welcome! Groups visits can also be made at other times by arrangement. Please park on the lower plateau, next to the caravans. Access for unloading of telescopes etc. and disabled parking is available at the highest point of the site, next to the main dome. Further details are on our Location Information Page. Membership of the Centre is £15 per year, which allows full access to the Web Site, including the discussion forums, full-resolution images from the 'scope cameras etc. See the Membership Page for more details. The pictures above show an aerial view of the main observatory, beside images of the Moon, M42 in Orion and one of the Meade 16" telescopes. For scale, the main dome is about 8.5m (28ft) in diameter.


The nights are drawing in and the clear winter nights are on the way. Welcome to the October 2012 sky notes from John Harper. During all of the month, except the very last day, the Sun is passing through the constellation of Virgo. This constellation is the second largest, area-wise, in the entire sky – the largest being Hydra (the swamp snake). On October 31st around 00h00, it passes into Libra.

THE MOON The Moon is at apogee, its furthest from the earth, on the 5th at 00h44, and at perigee its nearest to the earth at 01h03 on the 17th. Last Quarter Moon is on the 8th at 07h34 high in the constellation of Gemini, to the upper left of Orion and is one of the highest Last Quarter moons of the year.

October’s New Moon takes place on the 15th at 12h03, in Virgo, near the constellation’s brightest star, Spica. The moon passes 3° south of the sun at this time.

The First Quarter Moon occurs on the 22nd at 03h33 in the eastern part of Sagittarius.

The Full Moon, at 18h50 on the 29th , is often called the Hunter’s Moon. It is named after Herne the Hunter, who leads the Yell Hounds across the early winter sky, whose ‘yelping’ can be heard in the skeins of wild geese migrating at this time. Alternative ideas have been put forward for the name given to this Full Moon, however; one is that as the moon is now higher in the sky when full, it gives more light for poachers to stalk their prey. Another is that when the moon is high in the south at midnight, the constellation of Orion the Hunter is completely clear of the SE horizon for the first time since last winter. Look for the Hunter’s Moon this year in the constellation of Aries, 9° below the constellation’s brightest star Hamal. You may observe the morning cone of the zodiacal light during the second half of the month. Look for its ethereal glow in the morning sky from 15th to the 27th


THE PLANETS Although Mercury is an evening object reaching its greatest angular elongation of 24° east of the sun on the 27th, its low position near the SW horizon prevents it from being seen. Indeed, at the time of greatest elongation it sets just 25 mins after the sun.

Throughout October Venus continues to shine splendidly as the morning star, rising around 4 hours before the sun. It is the brightest star-like object in the night sky and casts a perceptible shadow on a sheet of white paper. To see the shadow, hold your finger up between Venus and the paper in a dark corner of the garden, away from external lights. At the start of twilight, around 04h30 on the 12th, Venus will be seen at an altitude of 15° in the east below the figure of Leo, with the thin waning crescent moon 10° below the planet, near to the horizon. Mars continues to fade during October and is always low in the SW sky, almost lost in evening twilight. On the 6th, it leaves the constellation of Libra and enters Scorpius, and on the 18th the planet enters Ophiuchus and is a little dimmer than most of the true bright stars in the sky. Mid month, Mars is two astronomical units from earth (1 a.u. is the mean sun-earth distance). At the end of October Mars climbs a little higher in the sky and sets almost two hours after the sun, and is marginally easier to see. There is an opportunity to spot the thin waxing crescent moon and Mars within 5° of the SW horizon on the 18th at 18h. At that time, Mars lies 2° to the lower right of the crescent. Jupiter rises by 20h at the beginning of October and by 18h at the end of the month, and is now shining steadily and serenely all night long, between the horns of Taurus the Bull. Before Venus rises, Jupiter is by far the brightest object in the night sky. On the evening of the 5th, the gibbous waning moon may be seen rising 2° below Jupiter in the NE, when a pretty conjunction may be witnessed around 21h. Look for the Galilean satellites in the usual well-focussed and firmly fixed binoculars.


THE PLANETS Saturn is lost in evening twilight and on the 26th lies in conjunction with, and far beyond, the sun, to reappear next month as a morning object.

Neptune is crossing the south meridian, i.e., is due south in the sky at around 21h during October. It is difficult to locate unless you have star maps as it is over five times fainter than the faintest star visible to the naked eye, so is not excessively bright in binoculars. This is not so with Uranus, which on the darkest nights is just visible to the unaided eye. Once again though, it is necessary to know where the planet is, in order to see it. Neptune is currently in Aquarius, and Uranus in western Pisces.

Some more remnants of Halley’s comet may be seen in the early hours of the 21st, when the earth encounters the Orionid meteor stream. Up to 25 shooting stars an hour are expected. These meteors are fast moving and often leave persistent trains. This year’s event should be favourable, as the moon, a broad waxing crescent, will have set earlier in the evening. The biggest number of Orionids will be visible just before dawn, when the constellation of Orion is high in the south. The radiant, or point of origin of the shooting stars is some 10° above Betelgeuse, the star which marks the right shoulder of the Giant Hunter. Earlier in the month on the morning of the 8th, a slight increase in the number of shooting stars overnight marks the peak of the Draconid or Giacobinid (whose parent body is the comet Giacobini-Zinner) meteor shower, with its radiant in the constellation of Draco the Dragon. Last year the earth passed through some concentrated filaments of particles, producing a high rate of about 500 meteors an hour. It is not likely, although not impossible, that there is a repeat this year. The moon is at last quarter later on in the day, and so may interfere with the number of Draconids seen. The meteors have the reputation of being slow moving, but faint. Constellations visible in the south around midnight, mid-month, are as follows: Cetus, Pisces, Aries, Triangulum and Andromeda. Cassiopeia and the Milky Way lie at the zenith, with the Milky Way spanning the sky from east to west. All times are GMT 1° is one finger width at arm’s length.


Words: John Harper Images: Planets Wikipedia




Monochrome solar photography – a real opportunity to push the focal length of your telescope(s) and get the very best out of your solar imaging sessions! By Andy Devey

Hi Guys, for October 2012, I thought I would show you how you could maximise with your photographic results from your existing solar equipment and maybe help you generate a little more enthusiasm with your solar imaging activities? Don’t get too obsessed though or you could end up neglecting the night sky – lots of my friends will laugh at that one? I mentioned in my article last month that I use a monochrome web camera [DMK21]. The reason for this is that such a camera has a CCD chip without a Bayer colour mask placed above it to separate and produce the red, blue and green sensitive pixels that would enable it to capture and then produce colour images. Essentially, if you use a colour CCD to photograph the Sun in hydrogen-alpha wavelength you will only be utilising 25% of your pixels [the red ones] so the bulk of your camera pixels [50% green and 25% blue] are doing absolutely nothing. By using a colour camera on the Sun, is like trying to image through a thick net – your image will also look very weak and flat! Seeing conditions The first thing you must consider even before you think about imaging is that you initially check your local atmospheric seeing conditions. You can check and estimate these at the eyepiece of your PST or filtered white light telescope when you initially look at the Sun.

BAA – Seeing scale. 1 Clear fine structure in sunspots, granulation easily seen and no visible limb motion. 2 Some fine structure in sunspots, small spots easily seen, granulation visible, slight limb motion. 3 Granulation barely visible, limb motion looks like it is boiling. 4 Umbra and penumbra of large spots just separable, no granulation visible. Some bad limb boiling 5 Large spots only can be seen, very bad limb boiling. The BAA have produced an excellent book called OBSERVING GUIDE TO THE SUN, it is not expensive, it has been written by some of the top amateur solar observers/imagers in the world and it certainly is well worth a read. You can buy it through the BAA website at this link.


How to get the best out of your solarscope? Most solar telescopes as manufactured have an Focal-ratio of about F10 [PST as an example] or slightly less. To calculate the F-ratio for your own telescope simply divide its focal length by the diameter of its aperture. You may have visually used a 2 x Barlow lens with your eyepiece? This combination effectively doubles the F-ratio of your system pushing it towards F-20 and most people stop there! This also doubles the magnification of your system and also reduces your field of view [or that of your CCD chip] to ¼ of the original. You have to remember your CCD chip is very sensitive for capturing light and image processing programs such as Registax 6 or Avistax can compensate to some extent for atmospheric shimmer. I did some experimentation earlier this year with my PST using two separate 2 x Barlows! You will need seeing of grade 3 or better to get any worthwhile results here. I removed the lens element from one of my Barlows and screwed it directly into the nose adaptor on my DMK21 mono camera – this is the only way you will get your PST into focus with a web camera and you are starting at 0.8m focal length. I then inserted this configuration into a second [complete] 2 x Barlow unit. My trusted PST was now at a focal length of 1.6m [F-40]. I calculated that at that focal length each pixel in an image represents just less than 600km x 600km on the surface of the Sun that is approximately 150,000,000km from Earth. I was amazed and stunned by the results as I consider that they are outstanding for the most introductory of hydrogen-alpha telescopes and also that they put it way beyond its value for money! [Photo 1 taken with PST at 0.8m focal length F-20 this is an M2-class flare with attendant shock wave] [Photo 2 taken with PST at 1.6m focal length F-40 this is an M6.1-class solar flare] I then made a huge number of solar movies using that configuration [check out the “Recent PST Animations” on my website. This set up will obviously never match that of a larger aperture telescope [when pushed to its limit] but you certainly get the best out of the equipment that you have and possibly exceed the performance of a larger aperture telescope that is Photo 1: being used under normal conditions! Naturally, when my SM90’s then became available for me to use again, I just had to have a go at a similar configuration to boost their normal focal length from 0.8 right up to 3.2m or just under F-35. I have been able to achieve an even better result; with this configuration and I have since calculated that each pixel is just about 260km


x 260km on the surface of the Sun and the system holds it really well but only in good to reasonable seeing conditions! [Photo 3 taken with Triple-stacked SM90 at 1.6m focal length approx F-17 this is a C8-class solar flare] [Photo 4 taken with Triple-stacked SM90 at 3.2m focal length approx F-35 you can see the surface structure resembles a corn field in some places] I shall keep a movie of one of my high-resolution sequences shot at 3.2m

Photo 2:

focal length on the top of my home page. The results are there to be seen and I trust that they will serve to inspire you to experiment and push those boundaries even further? An interesting solar event during September 2012. Here is a look at a huge prominence that detached from the Suns north-west limb on the morning of 4 September 2012 between 09:48 and 12:28UT – I was lucky enough to capture and make a crisp movie of the whole event [reasonable seeing and no clouds all day, I love Spain for this]. Here I present a mosaic still of this event. The UT stands for Universal Time and is used by Astronomers world-wide it is the same as Greenwich Mean Time [GMT]. [Photo 5 taken with Double-stacked SM90 at 1.6m focal length approx F-17 at 11:54UT] The movie I created shows the evolution of this prominence as it lifts off and it can be viewed near the top of the home page of my website. I shall discuss double and triple-stacking techniques in hydrogen-alpha systems amongst other things in the forth coming November issue. Have fun with our Sun Very best wishes Andy Devey



DELPHINUS, THE DOLPHIN --The Dolphin of The Skies. One of the smallest but easily recognisable constellations of autumn evenings is Delphinus, the Dolphin. During October evenings, its pattern is quite easy to find although its stars are not so very bright. At around 8.30 PM, find the “Summer Triangle” consisting of the bright stars Vega, Deneb, and Altair. At the time I mention, all three are to be found in the southern sky, with Deneb, quite near to the zenith, the

overhead point, Vega to the right (west) of Deneb, and Altair below. Having found the “Triangle” look at the lowest star, Altair, which is the second brightest star of the trio, and about half way up in the southern sky. Now, in order to find Delphinus, you should hold your open right hand out at arm’s length with your little finger covering Altair. Then, at about the 10 o’clock position, to the upper left of Altair,

“An old print showing Arion and a most unusual representation of a dolphin!”

your thumb will be near the distinctive pattern of the celestial dolphin. The shape of the dolphin is outlined by five stars of almost equal brightness, four of them in a diamond shape marking the body of the dolphin, whilst the fifth star, to the lower right, is the animal’s tail. You must of course use your imagination as the ancient people did to “see” a dolphin there in the night sky, but I think you will agree with me that the pattern is quite a distinctive one. Delphinus is worth looking at through binoculars as there are many faint stars in the region of the constellation, lying as it does close to the Milky Way, the “River of Heaven”. Two of the stars in the diamond shape have proper names, which were something of a mystery to astronomers. Most star names are either Arabic or Latin/Greek; but the names, Sualocin and Rotanev, seem to be neither. Eventually the famous 19th century visual astronomer, the reverend Thomas William Webb, solved the mystery. He noticed that if the two names are read backwards they are: Nicolaus Venator, which is the Latinised form of the name Nicolo Cacciatore, assistant to, and successor of Giuseppi Piazzi, discoverer of the first asteroid called Ceres, and director of the Palermo Observatory in Sicily. Visually, in sharply focussed, firmly fixed binoculars, Sualocin is seen to be a close double star, of contrasting colours so it is said. However, you will need the higher powers of a small telescope to detect the pale yellow and green contrast the components are said to show. The top star of the diamond shape is also a double star, but because the distance


between the two components is far less than in the case of Sualocin, a small telescope is required to split them. Let me conclude with one of the ancient stories about how the dolphin got up there into the sky: Once, around 600 BC there was an accomplished musician called Arion who played the lyre, a harp like instrument and sang so well that he gained notoriety and great wealth. One day on a sea journey to his homeland, he fell foul of the sailors, who knowing that he was rich decided that they would kill him and share the money out amongst themselves. Arion however overheard what the sailors were planning and so quite unperturbed, said, “I will jump overboard, but grant me one request, that I may play my lyre one last time!” The sailors had no objection. Arion therefore played and sang a wonderful song in praise of Apollo, the god of music, who listened greatly pleased. As soon as the song finished the sailors threw poor Arion into the sea! Apollo, however saw all that was happening, and summoned a gentle dolphin to go to Arion’s rescue, which it did, and plunged under Arion and lifted him safely, so that he would not sink beneath the waves. The dolphin then swam with its unusual cargo to Greece where Arion was deposited unharmed by his ordeal. Arion then thanked

Apollo for the safe return to his homeland, and had a little statue of the dolphin placed in Apollo’s temple as a memento of the event. Apollo eventually placed the statue amongst the stars so that mankind would see the brave and friendly little

Words: John Harper Former director of the occultation section, S.P.A, (Society for Popular Astronomy).




Astrophotography for Beginners by a Relative Beginner A Four Part Guide by Jim Lennie The majesty of a clear night sky in winter. The moon shining brilliantly at night and against a daytime sky. Mars glowering red when at opposition. The flash of a meteor. The sun, our nearest star. The ISS sailing silently across the heavenly vista.

Many of us have seen these things and have tried to photograph them usually with disappointing results. I have been actively photographing the night sky for almost a year now and have picked up lots of tips on how to improve pictures taken of these objects. I have been a keen amateur astronomer since I was 8 years old but have been mainly an observer and not a photographer. Now that digital cameras are the norm it makes this learning curve much easier to negotiate as you can see almost immediately what you have just photographed and at no cost to you, save for the time and initial outlay of the equipment. I am going to concentrate on the DSLR ( digital single reflex camera ) as that is what I have most experience with. It doesn’t matter what make it is and what lenses you have for it as the basics will apply to all of them. ( Left: Example DSLR Camera) In this first instalment I’m going to go through some basic fundamentals which when understood and practiced will give the newcomer to this fascinating and rewarding hobby a good foundation upon which to build from. This understanding will be essential later on when we start to use the camera attached to a telescope as this brings a whole host of new problems for us solve and work around. It will be fun ! Since astrophotography will normally be undertaken in the dark I’m going to list the things that you need to be aware of and be familiar with to maximise your enjoyment and the resulting photographs.



You need to be comfortable with using your camera in full manual mode and that will include focussing. This will be especially true when your camera is connected at prime focus of a telescope. Full manual will mean setting your aperture ( when using a camera lens ) and shutter speed and ISO speed. As things in the sky are at infinity depth of field is not important.


Be familiar with your camera’s controls and buttons so that you know where they all are without having to continually look for them in the dark. Have a red light torch available so you don’t ruin your night vision. I place red cellophane over the liveview screen on my camera to stop it dazzling me at night.

Image: DSLR connected to a telescope: astronomy/celestron-nexstar-5se.html

3) Focussing will be a problem at night when using camera lenses as the autofocus feature likely won’t work on stars. The camera live view screen, if you have one, will not show stars either. You may be able to see brighter stars through the viewfinder but not clearly enough to focus on properly in manual mode. What I do when using camera lenses is this, if the moon is available or brighter planets such as Venus, Jupiter are visible I get focus lock on them and then turn autofocus off, it’s usually a slider switch on the lens, this then leaves the lens pre-focussed at infinity so your star shots will be nice and sharp. If your lens is a zoom then decide what level of zoom you are going to use before doing the focus lock and if your lens has a zoom lock button then lock it. What do you do if there is no moon or brighter objects to get focus lock on ? I focus on a distant streetlight at least 300 meters away and turn autofocus off as described earlier. If going to a truly dark site then pre focus your lenses before you go. Most lenses have a infinity mark on them for focus but it’s easy to go past this mark or it’s not accurate. Astrophotography needs a sharp focus. 4) You will need a tripod to mount your camera on as star pictures require long exposures compared to normal photography. Get used to making sure the tripod is


level and if you have IS ( image stabilisation ) either in your lenses or in the camera body then turn it OFF, some lenses, bodies will auto detect a tripod and turn IS off, check to see if yours does. If you don’t you will likely get soft images. 5) Focal Length, I’m now going to explain what this is and how it applies to both camera lenses and telescopes and it is important to understand how this varies and what impact it will have on your photographs. Focal length is the distance from the light collecting lens or mirror that the image is formed at. In a telescope this distance where the image is formed is then magnified by an eyepiece. If we have a 150mm F8 telescope then this point would be 1200mm from the lens or mirror. We multiply the diameter of the lens/mirror ( 150mm ) by 8 to give 1200mm focal length. So, if the focal length was 900mm the F ratio of this scope would then be F6. This telescope is collecting exactly the same amount of light at F8 as it is at F6 but the image at F6 is much brighter so would need less exposure time to capture it, how can this be ?. The answer is that the image at F8 is much larger than it is at F6 so appears dimmer because the light has been spread over a larger area than it does at F6. In other words at F8 1200mm the image is magnified more. I’m often asked how much a lens when used with a dslr magnifies as telescopes, binoculars etc are always expressed as x7, x10 etc for binoculars and x40, x200 etc for telescopes. The answer depends on the sensor size that is used with your particular camera and is known as the crop value. It’s all based on 35mm film when that was the dominant media for photography. Most DSLR’s have sensors smaller than 35mm so are known as cropped cameras. Full frame DSLR’s have a sensor size equivalent to 35mm film but are very expensive and for astronomical purposes don’t provide the needed reach of the cropped sensors. Ok, I am now going to fit a 200mm zoom to my full frame DSLR, this will magnify the image at x4.6 . The same lens when fitted to my Canon cropped sensor DSLR will now magnify at x7.5 so a useful gain. The crop value of Canon sensors is x1.6 so that 200mm lens becomes 320mm because the sensor is smaller and sees only a cropped light cone from the lens. Nikon crop bodies usually have a crop value of x1.5 and Olympus 4/3rds sensors have a crop value of x2. This will become clear over the next 3 parts of this guide as to why you need to be aware of these differences. 6) To conclude this first part of the guide get used to taking your pictures in RAW, this format captures all the data from your camera’s sensor when you take a picture and is not compressed in any way. Regard RAW as your digital negative from which you can generate tiffs and jpg’s from without altering your original capture data. I will go into a lot more detail with this when we come to the image processing part of this guide. Next part is using your camera under a night sky with suggested targets and settings and what to expect ! Also an introduction to using a telescope with your dslr and why focal length is so important. Finally, an introduction to the rule of 600 in which you will see why I have mentioned focal length and crop values so often !.


Examples of DSLR for astrophotography. Image Credit: Pentax Forums

Image Credit: OptexCom


In the Lion's Paw

Ninian G Boyle




Recent Discoveries & Developments cent

From the Reviews: This book is packed with interesting new topics in easily readable chunks. No maths, just plenty of illustrations in glorious colour, sprinkled with explanations and anecdotes. An excellent read for kids and grown-ups alike, ideal for browsing on a journey. Can't wait for the next edition‌ ‌Margarita

Although the lifetimes of stars and galaxies are played out over hundreds and thousands of millennia, the field of Astronomy itself is fast paced, with hardly a week going by without a new discovery or development hitting the headlines. This book delves into the most significant, ground breaking, headline making stories that have come out of Astronomy throughout 2011-12 and presents them in an easy to read, easy to understand format. The Perfect Introduction The Perfect Catch-up Available from Amazon in Kindle and Paperback Formats

For more information go to Facebook page: Follow the Author on Twitter @PMRumsby


Our Moon and The coincidence of Mars During one of my regular evenings laying in my gold silk sheets looking up at a clear sky, stars twinkling back at me, I got to thinking about time. The earth takes just over 24 hrs to rotate giving us our day, I have previously been educated that our moon plays a huge part in the length of an earth day. 4 1/2 billion years ago earth was assaulted by rocks and comets and some hypothesise that a smaller planet impacted the earth creating an enormous fountain molten rock that formed a sphere 40 thousand miles from earth creating our moon, if this debris had been any closer to earth it would have crashed back down due to the gravitational pull of our planet and we would not have our moon today. Millions maybe even billions of years ago when the Moon was much closer to earth a day was only 6 hours long and as it has drifted further away over the years our rotation has slowed down, I was quite taken aback to find a day on Mars is extremely similar to earths at just 24 hours and 37 minutes and as it has no large moon I set out to discover the answer to how this could be! Taking into consideration that Mars is much smaller than earth would surely mean that it would rotate more quickly not take slightly longer? Due to its distance from the sun being further away than that of earths you can expect the year to be much longer, but the day would surely be much different especially with no gravitational influence from a large moon. I decided that as a full time mum and freelance writer I was in no position to answer these questions so I decided to ask some professionals including an Astro biologist and Professional Astronomer, I was taken aback slightly upon reading their answers because they both agreed that the conclusion is that it's a pure coincidence! How can this be? does this mean the moon actually has no influence over our rotation here on earth I wondered. Ok so what actual influence does the moon have over our planet? I wanted to find someone with a computer that could simulate mars with a moon like ours placed in a position that represented earths relationship with our moon but apparently the calculations of this experiment could not equate an accurate reading. I find it very baffling that earth and mars have such similar day lengths when they are so different and am going to carry on my investigations to try discover why. I hope this article gets some of you thinking about the solar system and it's "coincidences" although that word doesn't sit too well with my questioning mind. Venus has an extremely slow day at a rotation of 243 earth days which also gives food for thought. Heather Dawn freelance.


Book Review This month we are reviewing Paul Halperns new book ‘Edge of the Universe’ A voyage to the cosmic horizon and beyond. The universe is a vast and complex place. It is full of mystery and wonder. We can peer out into the galaxy from our back gardens with small telescopes and see the stars and planets. However have you ever thought when gazing up how did this magnificent spectacle begin? How big is the universe? Is there more than one Universe?

Like you I have asked myself these and many more questions. Dr Paul Halpern who is an American Professor of Physics and a well publisher author may have the answers I am looking for. I downloaded the book onto my Galaxy Pad, using the Kindle app from amazon. Firstly the book is well laid out and easy to follow. It is not over complex and the beginner to Astronomy and those with an interest of the universe will quickly be absorbed into the pages. We soon learn that the universe is full of dark energy and dark matter. There are ideas on multi-universe and unseen dimensions. Download this book, buy this book in traditional form, which ever you choose get yourself comfortable and begin your journey to the cosmos. Astronomy Wise Rating 5/5 We are offering this book as part of our competition.



We can view many wonders through our telescopes on a dark clear night. Even using a small telescope in the back garden we can view stars, planets and our nearest neighbour the Moon. Just sitting and looking up with the naked eye we can see the milky way. The light we see or visible light is a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Our instruments can see a wider range of the electromagnetic spectrum and part of this spectrum are x rays. Over the next few issues Pepe Gallardo from Spain will introduce us to the X Ray sky.

Images: Right: Nasa Below:


When we look at our Universe through a telescope we get amazed by its beauty, but we are not viewing the whole story. The Universe has an invisible face which cannot be detected by the naked eye but can be by other instruments. These observations give new details about our current Universe and the past. This is one of the most striking results from observing the x-ray universe. The aim of studying the X-ray Universe comes from the fact that these rays are absorbed by our atmosphere. Though it may seem empty and scattered, the global atmosphere is thick. If we want to collect data from X-ray we have to launch a telescope into outer space. Not the first but NASA's Chandra observatory, is observing the X Ray universe, named in honour of the great cosmologist, Indian-born Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. Looking at X-rays is to look for high energy and short wavelengths, smaller than those wavelengths the eye can detect. These high energy beams have to come from high energy events in the Universe. For example, if a neutron star is orbiting another star it will catch gas from the companion. Intense gravity moves the gas and heats it up. This produces an X-ray glow which can be detect, not by our earthly telescopes though. These kind of events are where X-ray astrophysics focuses. Binary systems, black holes and supernova remnants. Usually the image X-ray telescopes see, are not as dramatic as you will see here. The glow, whose emission spectrum astronomers can study. From these studies astronomers can see the early make up of the universe. These observations not only provide beautiful images (composed with another ones) but are a crucial key to study our Universe and its origin. We can try to solve the puzzle called dark


matter and dark energy and, finally, to give new clues to that fundamental moment called 'big bang'.

Welcome to the journey with X-rays through Universe! [Credit for Kepler's supernova: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/D.Patnaude, Optical: DSS]

Words: Pepe Gallardo (Spain) Images: NASA

Image: -space-telescope.html


What you see is a dramatic image showing Galaxy M100, which is a spiral one (like our Milky Way) in the constellation Coma Berenices. M100 is about 50 millions light-years far away. It is among the first galaxies spirals ever discovered in 1850. It is reported

that this galaxy may contain the youngest black hole in our neighbourhood. The image is a composite one, meaning that it is not as if you could see it through a telescope. The components are the following:

Image ESO Very Large Telescope Optical data, from ESO's Very Large Telescope, shown in yellow-white and blue colors. X-Ray, from Chandra, show colors in golden yellow. Infrared, from Spitzer, in red colors. In the arms you can see blue stars, formed recently; they are hot and young. The galaxy shows some kind of asymetry, as on the lower side (the southern most) where new stars are also formed. Just in that southern arm you can see (labelled) an object called SN 1979C which is a supernova discovered in 1979 (so its name). Astronomers think that this supernova formed when a star of about 20 times our Sun's mass collapsed. Data from several observatories revealed that a bright and steady (from 1995 to 2007) source of X-rays. Details from this source tend to think that in the core of SN 1979C there is a black hole and either the material falling into it or a binary companion feed it. Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/D.Patnaude et al, Optical: ESO/VLT, Infrared: NASA/JPL/Caltech Words:Pepe Gallardo (Spain) @aechmu



Lunar Occultation October 2012 by John Harper


Key to the Occultation Table The columns of the table give data specific to each of the Lunar Occultation events listed. From left to right they are: 1 Day of the Week 2 DATE in the format: dd-mm-yyyy 3 Universal Time of the event (add one hour when British Summer Time is in force for Local Time. The predictions are for Scarborough, which lies midway between London and Edinburgh, on the North Sea coast of the UK. (N54.27 deg., W00.43 deg.) 4 Occulted star’s visual magnitude 5 P = Phase tells you whether the event is a disappearance (D) or reappearance (R) or a Graze (C). 6 L = Limb. This indicates whether the event takes place at the dark (D) or bright (B) lunar limb. 7 Al. = the Altitude of the moon at the time of the occultation event. 8 Az. = The azimuth (angular distance along the horizon, measured from the North Point, clockwise. 9 Sun Alt = the angular distance of the sun, below the horizon at the time of the event. 10, 11 & 12 the name or catalogue number of the star being occulted. XZ Cat No. This is the star’s designation in the US Naval Observatory catalogue of over 32,000 stars that can be occulted by the moon. Proper Name. This is the star’ more common name, if it has one! ZC No. The Zodiacal Catalogue of 3539 stars brighter than visual magnitude +7, within 8 degrees of the ecliptic. Some fainter stars are included in this total as well. 13 PA = Position Angle. This is the angular position on the limb of the moon where the reappearance or disappearance will occur it helps you look at the right part of the moon’s limb. Position Angle is measured from Celestial North (the line of Right Ascension running through the centre of the moon’s disc. It is measured clockwise through west, south , east and back to north, a total of 360 degrees. John Harper Former director of the occultation section, S.P.A, (Society for Popular Astronomy).




Image: NASA


Rouges of the Solar System D Bood In September an asteroid called 2012 QG42 swung past the Earth. It passed the Earth at a distance of 7.5 moon distances. Astronomers call this a near earth asteroid. The solar system contains many asteroids, these lumps of rock orbit our sun much like the planets do. However asteroids seem to be concentrated in two main locations, the main or inner asteroid belt and the Kuiper belt. The main or inner asteroid belt lies between the planets Mars and Jupiter. There are many bodies in this belt which range from small pieces of rock to dwarf planet size such as Ceres. Not To Scale:

Most asteroids are irregular in shape however Ceres is almost spherical. Asteroids are thought to be left overs from the formation of the solar system, over time they have collided and formed the cratered and pitted Objects we see today. Some astronomers think it is possible that the formation of Jupiter prevented a planet from forming. The huge gravitational force of The main asteroid belt or the inner asteroid belt which lies between Jupiter may have caused the lumps of rock to collide Mars and Jupiter. and prevented larger Source: Images Wikipedia Layout: D Bood Software: MS Paint bodies forming.

Unlike the movies, the asteroid belt is Meteoroids are generally quite small, not a dense orbiting body of rocks less than 50km in size. orbiting our sun (Sol). Spacecraft such as DAWN have been able to fly through and visit different larger asteroids such as Vesta. There are some collisions and asteroids have clumped together to from bigger bodies. The belt is home to asteroids, dwarf planet and meteoroids.


Facts about the Asteroid Belt * Area: The main asteroid belt extends from 255 to 600 million km (2.15 to 3.3 astronomical units) from the Sun and may contain over a million objects bigger than 1 km across. * Diameter: The largest objects are Ceres (1,003 km), Pallas (608 km) and Vesta (538 km). * Total Mass: The total mass of all the asteroids is less than that of the Moon. There are 26 known asteroids larger than 200 km across. 

Location: The Asteroid Belt is a region between the inner planets and outer planets where thousands of asteroids are found orbiting around the Sun.


NASA's Dawn spacecraft obtained this image of the giant asteroid Vesta Image Source: There are some asteroids that do not orbit in the inner asteroid belt, some orbit near Jupiter called ‘Jupiter Trojans’ and some orbit near Mars called ‘Martian Trojans’. Others orbit close to the sun and some orbit near Earth, called Near Earth Asteroids.

So far we have looked at the asteroid orbits of the inner main belt, but what are asteroids made of?

able to classify asteroids depending on there composition, orbits ,spectra and albedo.

We now they contain rock, but what else? Scientist have been able to look at the structure and composition of asteroids. They have done this by collecting specimens when they have crashed through our atmosphere and fallen to earth. From the research carried out scientists and astronomers have been


Albedo the ratio of the amount of light reflected by an object and the amount of incident light; a measure of the reflectivity or intrinsic brightness of an object (a white, perfectly reflecting surface would have an albedo of 1.0; a black perfectly absorbing surface would have an albedo of 0.0).


Source: Image Source: Buko Blog

Beyond the orbit of Neptune sits the huge disc shaped region of the Kuiper Belt. Here icy cold worlds billions of Kilometres from the sun orbit. Like the main asteroid belt, objects of all sizes and composition can be found here. Some well known dwarf planets such as Pluto and Eris can found in this region. Image opposite: Eris taken the Hubble telescope

Objects in the Kupier belt are referred to as KBOs (Kuiper Belt Objects). Beyond this region we also have the Oort cloud. Together as well as other objects astronomers refer to them collectively as TNOs (Trans Netunian Objects). These objects are called TNOs because they orbit the sun beyond Neptune.

Image: http://


Image Source:







Halloween Across The Universe BY

Zantippy Skiphop

Halloween is all about laughing in the face of Death, pretending it won't actually happen to us, but inwardly knowing that from stardust we came, and to stardust we will return. The universe knows this, and has placed heartless reminders in the form of nebulae, the churning nurseries and graveyards of stars. When we look at the horrific beauty in a nebula, we know that is our awful fate - we will one day be in a cosmic cemetery. So here are some creepy nebula pictures to help you remember that no matter how cheerful you are at this moment, the universe is impatiently waiting to call you home. Image Left: The Witch Head Nebula (IC 2118). That bright blue star she is wearing as an earring is the supergiant star, Rigel. This nebula is in the constellation Eridanus (the river), while Rigel is the left foot of the Orion constellation. I actually think she looks sweet but apparently she gives a lot of people nightmares. Credit: NASA/STScl/ Digitized Sky Survey/Noel Carboni

“Waning moon” around the chilly mist of the Orion cloud: Barnard's Loop (SH 2-276) . Barnard's Loop may be the ionized inner surface of a hydrogen cloud. The bright star hanging off to the lower right of the “moon” is the star, Rigel. Credit Peter Erdman.


This part of the Orion B molecular cloud looks to me like a werewolf, with a scorpion for a tail. It includes the nebulae M78 (blue cloud near the curve in the werewolf's tail), NGC 2071 (next to the werewolf's left ear) and the bright area near the top of the tail is McNeil's Nebula, a nebula just recognized in 2004, although back research shows it in some older exposures, at least from the 1960s. Credit: Griffin/Hunter Observatory

This looks like a Death Eater was casting a cosmic Dark Mark. And that's what it is! This image is of xrays ejected from an unfathomably huge black hole in the middle of the Perseus Cluster of galaxies as the center galaxy gobbles up others. There is no empathy in those eyes at all. In fact, they look kind of eager for our flesh. Credit: A. Fabian (IoA Cambridge) et al., and NASA.


“Ghost of the Cepheus Flare” (SH2-136). This one seriously creeps me out. Those two people on the left are running away from something scary, something wrapped in a burial shroud made of cosmic dust. It looks like they are caught in the shroud like a bug in a web. Maybe the creature needs to capture them in order to feed the binary star system hidden in his cloak. *SHIVER* Credit: Adam Block, NOAO, AURA, NSF. Yikes. The Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) Credit: ESA/ VISTA/ J. Emerson; Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit.

Dragon! A dragon attacking the Tarantula Nebula! Credit: ESO/ MR, Cioni/VISTA Magellanic Cloud Survey.


Ghosts playing poker in nebula IRAS 05437+2502. Credit: NASA/ ESA/Hubble/R. Sahai (JPL). I'm glad I could share our grim but exquisite future with you all. Have a great Halloween!


Words: Zantippy Skiphop


Mars One Announces First Sponsors Press Release

AMERSFOORT, THE NETHERLANDS, 29 August 2012 – Mars One is pleased to announce receipt of initial funding through sponsorship revenue, a major step towards sending a manned mission to Mars. Mars One is a private Dutch organization whose intent is to land the first humans on Mars in 2023. Following a fully robotic construction of a habitable outpost between 2016 and 2020, subsequent crew arrivals will occur every two years. The existing technical plan of Mars One is unique in that it requires incorporation of only readily available technologies developed by major, established aerospace companies from around the world. As such, Mars One is a non-political integrator capable of delivering humans to Mars with less overhead, less total risk, and faster than any other existing organization. Bas Lansdorp, founder and President of Mars-One offers, “Receipt of initial sponsorship marks the next step to humans setting foot on Mars. A little more than a year ago we embarked down this path, calling upon industry experts to share in our bold dream. Today, we have moved from a technical plan into the first stage of funding, giving our dream a foundation in reality.” Self-funded for the prior eighteen months, conceptual development and initial technical development is complete. In the latter half of 2012 and early 2013 Mars One will move to enable growth of its technical and management staff. From mid 2013 forward, funding will largely be generated through a growing, global media event built around the selection and training of astronauts for the manned mission. Dan Petrovic, General Director of Dejan SEO: "Mars One is not just a daring project, but the core of what drives human spirit towards exploration of the unknown. We are privileged to be a supporter of this incredible project." Mars One corporate sponsorship funds will be used primarily to finance the conceptual design studies provided by the aerospace suppliers. These design studies demand 500 to 2500 man-hours each, a comprehensive technical design of the various components of the Mission to Mars. Conceptual design studies will be completed for all components of the mission, from robotic construction of the outpost to the arrival of the first humans. "We consider landing humans on Mars an imperative mission for the future of human exploration. We are proud to support this initiative and in a small way, help Mars One achieve it … having invested in a prior initiative headed by Lansdorp, we have confidence in the success of this bold, challenging objective,” states Gruus van Woerkom, General Director for Byte Internet. Once the conceptual design studies are complete, the selection of astronauts will commence. Unlike anything ever conducted in the history of space exploration, Mars One intends to make possible the opportunity for any qualified applicant from any nation to become an astronaut. Mary Roach, author of best selling Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, states, “The Mars One concept takes [colonizing Mars] to another level by adding an element of global audience participation. Yet at their core the Mars One team are aerospace professionals with the background and contacts to pull together the technical aspects of the mission.”


Initial sponsors include: Byte Internet – Silver Sponsor ( VBC Notarissen – Contributor ( MeetIn – Contributor ( – Contributor ( Dejan SEO – Contributor ( Roelf van Til, owner of “New Energy also stands for facing the future, believing in progress and the ancient human dream to discover unknown lands.” Aart Veldhuizen, notary at VBC Notarissen: “This project may sound fantastic, but bright enthusiastic minds are working on realizing this dream. VBC notarissen is proud that we can contribute to this ambitious plan.”

About Mars One Mars One is a non-government, private organization whose intent is to establish a colony on Mars through the integration of existing, readily available technologies from industry leaders world-wide. Unique in its approach, Mars One intends to fund this decade-long endeavor through an interactive, reality TV style broadcast from astronaut selection to robotic construction of the outpost; from the seven month flight through the first years on Mars. The Media may contact Mars One at:












Well I hope you have enjoyed the October Edition. So for the first time, Astronomy Wise is hosting it’s first competition. The prize is 3 signed books (as shown above). All you have to do is answer this question.

”what is the closest star to Earth” Rules: i. ii. iii. iv.

Open to UK residents only Answers must be emailed to All correct answers will be placed into a bucket and drawn out Winner must take a photo of themselves on books for the EZIne v. Winner will be notified by email and/or phone vi. Email Subject line: Astronomy Wise Competition

Good Luck!



Android Wise By D Bood

Welcome to Android Wise, looking at apps available on the Android system. All listed on these pages have been tried, tested and tweeted on my Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet. Most apps featured are free however now and again I will have a look at paid for apps.

Meteor Shower Calendar Screen Shots


The meteor shower calendar is a nice free application. It works nicely on the Galaxy tablet. The calendar will give you the meteor shower name, date it starts, the peak and the end date. If you press on a shower you wish more details on it will take you too a screen and give you the moon phase. Other bits of information are also available such as, Average velocity at peak and Zenith hourly rate. You can also go to search and with an internet connection, it will take you to Google. Where you can get more info. Now if you download another free program called SkEye it will help you find the meteor shower location. Google User Rating



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Average rating: 4.4 742 AW Rating 5/5


Android Wise

SkEye SkEye can be used with the Meteor Shower Calendar or as a standalone application. You can manually set your location. Once set up you can search the skies for objects.


Explore the night sky with your Android. SkEye is an advanced Planetarium that can also be used as a PUSHTO guide for telescopes. Ever been on a camping trip and wondered what objects are up in the sky? Now you can get familiar with Astronomy by identifying stars, constellations and deep sky objects from the Messier and NGC catalogs. If you have a telescope, just strap the phone onto the OTA and you get a PUSHTO guide! (Google Play). The app. Is not bad however there are better paid for applications, for a free app it is well worth a download. Google User Ratings

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Average rating 4.5 2,051 AW RATING 4.0/5.0

Images: Google Play


DARK MATTER My name is Sophia Nasr, and I am studying astrophysics at York University. I find many things in the astronomical field fascinating. However, one of the mysteries that I find truly captivating is dark matter. But, what is dark matter? The answer to this question may surprise you: we just don’t know yet. We are aware of its effects on objects in space, and we have an idea of what it may be. However, the particle responsible for dark matter has yet to be observed directly, and remains a mystery in the realm of physics and astronomy. But after the Higgs boson (a particle predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics) was finally discovered on July 4, 2012, nearly 50

years after physicist Peter Higgs proposed it, particle physicists at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) will undoubtedly be vigorously working on finding the particle responsible for dark matter. When you observe objects orbiting the Sun in our solar system, you will find that the gravitational force between the Sun and the planet or object is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. That is, the most distant the orbiting object is from the Sun, the slower its orbital velocity.

Plot of orbital velocities of objects in the Solar System. Image source: astro801/content/ l8_p8.html)

It is natural to expect to observe the same behaviour to be exhibited in a galaxy (the farther the object is from the galactic centre, the slower its orbit about the central mass). However, that is not what is observed. Plotting the orbital velocities of objects in the Milky Way from those closest to the centre to those at the edge of the galactic disk on a graph called a rotation curve reveals a curve that is nearly flat.


Rotation curve of the Milky Way; red dashed line represents expected speeds according to “Keplerian” orbits like objects orbiting our Sun; blue line represents actual speeds of objects orbiting the central mass in the Milky Way, suspected to be a supermassive black hole, named Sagittarius A* Image source: ~js/ast123/lectures/ lec16.html)

What this means is that all objects orbit the central mass in the Milky Way at nearly the same speeds throughout the galactic disk! This was one of the observations that led astronomers to postulate a particle that gives the additional mass necessary for such behavior—dark matter. Additionally, the amount of observable matter within galaxies providing a gravitational force to bind galaxy clusters and superclusters together (that is, galaxies gravitationally bound together to form galaxy clusters, and clusters of galaxies gravitationally bound together to form superclusters) is not enough to explain the amount of mass necessary for gravity to prevent them from flying apart ( darkmatter/dm.html). These observations have prompted astronomers and physicists to infer a particle that is responsible for the behavior observed in the universe.

You may be wondering why this particle is called “dark matter”. Well, it may seem that it was named such since it cannot be seen. But rather, it is that it is veiled in mystery, and is something unknown, that earned it that name. There is said to be about 10 times as much dark matter in the Milky Way galaxy as there is normal matter ( educate/scimodule/Cosmogony/ CosmogonyPDF/ MilkyWaySurpriseST.pdf). While some of the dark matter can be accounted for by MACHOs (Massive Compact Halo

Objects) in the form of black holes, neutron stars, and brown dwarfs, these objects only contribute to about 20% of dark matter (http:// galaxies/imagine/dark_matter.html). While we have yet to discover the particle and do not know exactly what it is, physicists and astronomers are certain of what it cannot be. Analyses of the CMB (Cosmic Microwave Background) have revealed that dark matter is definitely not in the form of normal baryonic matter (in other words, matter composed of protons and neutrons, like


stars, planets, and interstellar matter) ( dark_matter/index5.html). The reason for this is because clouds of baryonic matter are detectable by an absorption spectrum, and dark matter has not yet been detected in this manner ( Antimatter has also been ruled out as a candidate for dark matter, as none of the unique gamma rays produced upon the collision and subsequent annihilation between antimatter and matter have been observed with respect to dark matter ( What astronomers and physicists think is that it must be is a particle that is massive (predicted to be 100 times as massive as the hydrogen atom), but does not interact with normal matter ( dark_matter/index5.html). These particles have been named WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles). Because it is weakly interacting, dark matter has not yet been discovered, and will be difficult to detect. While WIMPs are not predicted in the Standard Model of particle physics, attempts at constructing a unified theory of all elementary particles suggest that they were produced in mass abundances only a fraction of a second after the Big Bang ( xray_astro/dark_matter/index5.html).


If the dark matter particle is a WIMP, then it would make the search for it difficult, as it does not interact with matter. However, billions of these particles would be passing through our bodies (and the Earth) every second ( It is also possible that WIMPs may at times knock a nucleus out of its atom upon a collision—and THIS is what the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search, located half a mile underground in a Minnesota iron mine, is looking for. However, they have yet to detect a WIMP. Since direct and indirect observations of a dark matter particle have failed, physicists have proposed a method akin to that which revealed the Higgs boson—create the particle at the LHC by reproducing the conditions that were present only a fraction of a second after the Big Bang ( xray_astro/dark_matter/index6.html). Since the particle is predicted to have been created in large quantities just a fraction of a second after the Big Bang that gave rise to our universe, when everything was an extremely hot soup at a temperature of a quadrillion degrees, the LHC, which accelerates particles at nearly the speed of light (299,792,458 m/s) and reproduces just these conditions, may be our best bet of finding the particle.

follow Sophia on twitter @pharaoness


Featured Astronomer—Claire Smith When I was about 6 years old, I loved and used to delve into two subjects, science and art, especially physics, astronomy and art. At about the same age, someone in my family gave me a book called ‘The Wonder Book of Science’ by Harry Golding this book set me off on a journey into the wonderful world of science and ultimately astronomy. I remember seeing a fantastic picture of an electricity bolt near the front and a saying at the start of the book, referring to science as a wonderful ‘carpet’ and this was enough for me to read more! The book was printed in 1931 so the science then was very different to about the early to mid 70’s but it served as a precursor to what became an interest that I could never stop. It was later, at about age 7-8 years old, that I was in my Aunt and Uncles house, that I came across a copy of Scientific American magazine, that took most of my afternoon and evening away, which was lead me into yet another world of interest and wonder! This time it was an article in the magazine about light and lasers complete with diagrams, then another article further into the magazine, which got me into astronomy, which was about Black Holes and radiation. I remember reading about the fact that at that time, there was a theory about them emitting radiation and I read a small caption near the picture and thought this was the best thing I have ever thought about ever! I couldn’t put the magazine down and ended up taking it home with me. Jump forward another 30 or so years and I still have that same magazine, be it rolled up in my drawer! At around the time of school age, I had still had an interest in astronomy and science and kept a notebook that I used to jot ideas down onto, which I still have. I also used to create a lot of art and loved space pictures. Jump forward to the early 90’s. At about this time I bought a small bright yellow telescope, called a short tube 3” Catadioptric. I already had a hand held captain cook type of telescope, but the Catadioptric was the next step up. I used to stack the normal eye pieces on, then put the lowest magnification one loosely onto the main one and got great Moon pictures, but I quickly learned they moved across the frame very fast! It also had a small bit of chromatic aberration by the time I had done all that, but it was worth seeing the Moon craters, even if that did move past very quickly! In about 1999 I decided to set up a website that had all my passions rolled into one this website was really a spin off from a free non-profit internet magazine called FTL that a friend had started, which also did well at the time, and it all started to fire up really well since then. My website has my ideas about science and some space art that I used to create with an art programme. Later some of my work was used in books and exhibitions and one of my ideas was put into another book. The website has generated lots of other things since, as I continue to build it now. One example was that I went to a party at astronomer Sir Patrick Moore’s house in 2008 due to being interested in astronomy and having a


friend who had his work regularly shown on the BBC programme, The Sky at Night. There is more about this fantastic event on my site. In about 2006 I went to my first Astronomy Society, which wasn’t in my hometown at that time, but near a place of work. At the time I thought there must be one nearer, so looked online and joined that too. I am now only a member of my local town astronomy club where I live. At about the same time I bought another telescope which was a 6” white Russian Tal 2 reflector. With this I got many images of the Moon and stars. It has a motor mount so it can get clearer pictures which have been good to capture since. In November 2011, I thought about doing my local Astronomy Society’s twitter page, and it’s taken off since then. It has attracted lots of followers because of our unique location, Blackpool! I will always be interested in astronomy because it combines so many subjects, mainly science, physics, art, photography etc. Astronomy is very accessible and ‘live ‘because anybody can just go and look at the night sky, and see, for free, how amazing the stars and planets are and not only that, it makes you think how wonderful our universe really is.

Women in Astronomy I think women have a very important part to play in astronomy because; we can capture the imagination of the public using social clues that make the subject welcoming and interesting. For example, Carolyn C. Porco, an American planetary scientist, who is in the area of exploration of the outer solar system, has great reaching power that communicates the subject on more concrete levels because there is directness in her work that can reach beginners and professionals alike. I also think that, because women are closely tied to children, they have a unique capability to connect the two together, astronomy and children. Because women can easily get children’s interest at an early age, it enables the use of astronomy as a vehicle, as a way to make children see the relevance of science in general, which is an even greater thing. It is an art and science in itself to capture people’s imagination into astronomy, and women have that unique talent in making that happen. At my local astronomy society, I have noticed over the time that I have been a member, that there are more women attending the group, so something must be going right! Claire Smith


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