Page 1

! p U k o o L March 2010 Issue 18

Astronomy Magazine

ISSN 1758-2210

Hubble in your back garden! imaging the stars

Reviews Top iPhone Apps Iris v 5.58 StarGPS Out There Top 5 Messier Objects ShuttleWatch South Downs Planetarium Info on astronomy across the UK every month

news | reviews | views | AstroSouth | out there t

Look Up!

Advertising Editorial Images

contents Look Up! March 2010 issue 18 News + More News

Look Up! e-Zine ISSN 1758-2210

Page 4-6

HantsAstroTM - April 2009. More observing sites and the Passes overhauled

Submission dates: Advertising: 17th of the month


Page 8-9

MoonFest 2009 What to do with 160+ people in a park


Page 10-11

Richie Jarvis - gets all Christmassy


Editorial: 20th of the month Images: 23rd of the month

Page 14

Big, big icebergs


Page 16-17

IOWSTARPARTY - They should call it a StarFest! One year on - one year better.


Page 18-23

Graham Green’s top 5 Messier objects


Page 26

Page 28-33

Iris Imaging Software


Hubble in your Garden - Martin Saban-Smith


Page 36-39

Astronomy iPhone Apps


...if you want to get out and do something

For information on advertising with Look Up! Magazine and for a copy of our Advertising Rate Card please contact the Publisher David Woods: david.woods@iodesign.co.uk mobile: 07702 747385

Page 40

South Downs Planetarium

2010 UK Events

Page 42-43

Where to go in the UK


Page 44-45

All the missions, all the news

Out There

Page 46

What’s in the Sky for this month...

Out There


Look Up! March 2010

Page 47

For information on sending us your stories, images, reviews etc... please contact Sharon Rose: sharon.rose@iodesign.co.uk tel: 02392 617092

Cover image...

First Type Welcome to another new edition of Look Up! We’ve been away for awhile but in some ways it’s like we never left. Our sister publication the AstroSouth Directory has carried the flag until we were ready to return bigger, bolder and stronger than before. Talking of bolder – Barack Obama’s decision to commercialise space heralds a great boost for the UK space industry in general. (Early aviation contracts meant that the US post could be flown by small aviation companies, which also carried passengers; a few then went on to become some of today’s worldclass airlines).

Astrophotography - March 2009 @ IOW Star Party - Picture ©Graham Green 2009

His hope is that this move will do the same for the micro-satellite and space tourism industry. With the space shuttle completing its final missions any time soon, new solutions need to be found and I believe Great Britain has yet another chance to become “great” again. It’s an opportunity we cannot afford to miss. Enjoy the read. David Woods: Editor

First Contact


David Woods - Editor & Publisher iodesign ltd - www.iodesign.co.uk Look Up! Magazine Editorial David Woods - david.woods@hantsastro.org Web Site: - www.hantsastro.org Tel: 023 9261 7092 Fax: 023 9257 0283 Skype: HantsAstro Post: HantsAstro.org 11 Drift Road, Clanfield, Hants PO8 0JJ Look Up! Electronic Magazine is published 1st of the month ISSN 1758-2210 This eZine is published on behalf of the HantsAstro.orgTM. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Editor, Publisher, Sponsors or Advertisers of HantsAstro,org. HantsAstroTM is a society member of the Federation of Astronomical Societies (www.fedastro.org.uk). Where Links take you to other sites, the Editor, Publisher and Webmaster cannot be held responsible for the content of those sites. HantsAstro.orgTM, AstroSouth and Look Up! eZine and related devices are protected by registered copyright ©2009 All Rights Reserved. HantsAstroTM a trading name of I.O Design Limited. No reproduction of any material is permitted without express permission of the respective owners.

Contributors/behind the scenes: Graham Green, Sharon Rose, Martin Saban-Smith, Richie Jarvis, Astronomia, SPA, INTECH, volunteers and the HantsAstro CoreTeam. Thanks for a great magazine!

Look Up! March 2010


NEWS INTECH and most of our public been able to use them a great deal! events will still be free, however A number of astronomy groups some of our other events may be we’ve been talking to have expressed charged for and several workshops concern over decreasing membership are being planning for 2010/11.

levels, but our membership is still

We have managed to keep the Group steadily growing! The HantsAstro costs low through sponsorship and ‘Universe’ offers exceptional value in www.hantsastro.org/latestnews.html

HantsAstro All grown up. HantsAstro has moved on As you will probably see from the design of LookUp! It’s changed a bit. This edition marks a partial separation

contributions made via the magazine terms of online material, observing and the website. It’s the wish of every and events. With the addition of our member of the CoreTeam to make new forum, which has been created what we do the very best possible.

by Ady Jurd and Sean Holland, we are demonstrating more ways to help get

2010/11 Season

people into astronomy.

We’re about half way through the One particular benefit of the forum season and the weather has been will be the new telescope clinic, absolutely dreadful. We’ve been where you can post your telescope unable to open a couple of the sites problems on the forum and get a purely down to the fact that we’d speedy response (or two). I would

Last year LookUp! was threatening

get very little value from running like to take this opportunity to thank them. We have been able to reduce Ady and Sean for all their hard work

to overshadow the Group due to its


of the magazine from the Group.

success, but the magazines are still tied to the Group in many ways.


insurance over the past few weeks in building substantially through AstroSure, who and developing the HantsAstro we act as consultants to. Maintenance forum. of the telescopes has proven to be

The past several months have been

low over the last two years, but then

spent with the CoreTeam working

– over the last 6 months we haven’t

in the background restructuring the Group and moving things forward - the biggest change we have made

Astronomy is a numbers game. We always need new people to take amateur astronomy forward

is that we’ve simplified the Site Pass structure to just one annual fee of £15.00 per annum for a MultiSite Pass. The size and cost of the Group has escalated and, in order to continue the activities we have already committed ourselves to, a more equitable approach was required.

Picture: Graham Green


Look Up! March 2010

NEWS+ News from around the experienced, why not go along and still planning on going - alternative share what you know? accommodation is available – please Region.... check their website for details: New Observing Group

Just drop them an email if you’d like


We’d like to announce the formation to go along; please note parking can of a new group – the Salisbury Plain be an issue at Whitesheet Hill Observing Group (SPOG). They are meeting area: a small group of amateur astronomers spogastro@googlemail.com who meet up to enjoy the night sky. They started at the Salisbury Star Party when they realised that they Astronomy lived within half an hour or so of each Closes....


other and agreed to meet up, ideally Sadly, North East Astro, a at new Moon or when something small web-based astronomy interesting is in the sky. Since then group closed recently due they have grown and welcomed new to lack of interest. We have a friends.

number of readers from the

They’re informal, with no fees, no area and suggest that if you are looking to join a group, agenda, and no committee and, like HantsAstro, their only rule is to enjoy please visit the Federation of Astronomical Societies the night sky. website: SPOG meet at two venues, a site near http://www.fedastro.org.uk Tilshead which gives excellent views of the southern sky and Whitesheet Hill near Kilmington; so if you want IOW Star Party... to come along you will need warm At the time of writing it appears clothing and a flask.

that all chalets are now fully booked!

INTECH Space Lecture....

Tent pitches are still available (if you’re

In Pursuit of Pulsars by Prof. Jocelyn

Beginners are always welcome and the hardy type) at £5.00 per person Bell-Burnell DBE (Oxford University) per night; caravans are also welcome. Wednesday 10th March - 5pm to whether you have a telescope or binoculars, there will be someone to Many visitors were camping last year, 8pm observe with. They have a variety of

no doubt aided by a hearty breakfast

equipment and are always happy for from the onsite restaurant every newcomers to have a look. If you have morning.

Lecture: an accessible introduction to

observing experience, they prepare a

their amazing properties.

monthly observing list chosen in

The Star Party is from Thursday

pulsars (pulsating radio stars) and Like lighthouses in the sky they

rotation by the group and pick 11th March to Monday 15th March, may one day be used as navigation some easy objects, some moderate (new Moon) and is run by the Vectis beacons for interstellar travel. and some tough ones. If you are Astronomical Society. If you are Meanwhile they have (next page) Look Up! March 2010




We need more dark skies to observe from. Star Parties are one way to raise our profile as a pursuit (continued from P5) stretched our This evening is run in association with The Norman Lockyer Observatory Monthly Lecture.... understanding of the behaviour of the IOP. matter and serve as very accurate http://www.intech-uk.com As part of their monthly lecture series

clocks to check out Einstein’s theory of relativity.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich the NLO Society are putting on a - New Solar Exhibition....

the Open University, entitled ‘Life in

Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, as a postgraduate student, discovered the first radio

lecture by Prof. Charles Cockel from

The Royal Observatory Greenwich Extreme Environments’. It’s being held

pulsars with her thesis supervisor has opened a new solar exhibition on Monday 8th March at 7.30pm. Antony Hewish, for which Hewish that depicts the power of the Sun and Donations welcome. http://www. was awarded a Nobel Prize. Since its effects on Earth. Find out about the normanlockyer.org/ this time she has had a successful latest discoveries of our closest star. academic career studying stars and The exhibition runs from 16th other astronomical bodies; she has January to 19th May 2010. championed women in science, been h t t p : / / w w w. n m m . a c . u k / v i s i t / Please send any newsworthy items to sharon.rose@iodesign.co.uk president of the Royal Astronomical exhibitions/on-display/solar-story/ Society and is the current president

before the 21st of the month

of the Institute of Physics (IOP). She


has received many honours for her scientific research and for engaging the public; and was also made a CBE in 1999 and a Dame in 2007.


Look Up! March 2010

Growing a Group Infrastructure...

The New HantsAstro Forum Bigger on the inside. www.hantsastro.net


Look Up! March 2010



Pictures: Graham Green Words: Martin Saban-Smith

MoonFest 2010 - Alton The evening of Sunday 5th April 2009 was almost cloudless as

Magnus and Clavius. We were also kept coming out of the dark from showing



interesting all directions after folk already there

surface features as well as explaining made phone calls to friends to come about the relationship between the and see.

Hampshire based astronomy group Earth and the Moon. Not to mention One of the telescopes was connected HantsAstro launched its MoonFest showing visitors how the ‘scopes to a webcam and laptop computer to roadshow on The Butts Green and work and the different types available. allow for group observing, such was French Horn Pub.

There was a really good, fun vibe and the popularity of the event. a great air of expectation, I thoroughly ‘Saturn just looks like a star normally,

The Moon was clear and bright in the enjoyed it!’

sky from early on in the evening when The event was also supported by but through the telescopes, I could people started arriving to have a look astronomy

shop, Astronomia

in clearly see the rings and some of its

through 10 of the club’s telescopes Dorking. Managing Director, Neil moons, which was really interesting. from as early as 7 o’clock.

Phillipson commented on what a Our Moon looked magnificent too. success the evening had been and There were lots of people there and

Each of the telescopes was manned showed an interest in holding a similar everyone seemed to be enjoying by one of HantsAstro’s members and event around the Dorking area.

themselves’, said Alton resident, Mike

specially prepared Moon maps were


available for people to use to see An astrophotography talk by Martin where they were looking through the Saban-Smith in the skittle alley at the The curious nature of the event telescopes. Several members of the French Horn drew its own crowd carried on at the French Horn during public, including our own town Mayor, of 30 or so people and saw Martin the evening with chilly first-time brought along their own telescopes talking about how to capture images astronomers warming themselves by to do some observing of their own!

from objects in the sky invisible to the fire with a pint and discussing what the naked eye with and without a they had seen with their friends and

‘Across the course of the evening, we telescope. There were also many of learning more by talking to members had about 160 people, young and old his recent images to see. come along to have a look through our ‘scopes and I think they were all As the Sun sank below the horizon, impressed with what they saw’ said the views of the Moon just got better Martin Saban-Smith, HantsAstro’s and better. When it was completely media officer.‘The best features of the dark, some of the telescopes turned Moon to look at were the Apollo 11 their attention to Saturn and wowed landing site in the Sea of Tranquillity visitors with views of the ringed from 40 years ago this year, the Bay planet and the moons Enceladus, of Rainbows, the Sea of Rains along Titan, Dione plus others. Interested with the craters of Plato, Copernicus, people braved the chilly evening and


Look Up! March 2010

of the HantsAstro team.

2010 MoonFests are subject to change, so check the website for dates and times. Next due is Sunday 21st March 2010 at 7pm at The Butts, Alton, Hants http://www.moonfest.org

Small Scope, big sky which was clear until tear-down at 10pm As our first in the field Public Outreach event, it went quite smoothly and everyone enjoyed themselves with a relaxed atmosphere. Several families arrived with their telescopes and left armed with a little more knowledge. HantsAstro Member Richard Parker explaining the various seas of the Moon and the Lunar landing sites. The clouds gave way to some clear and crisp views Even on the Butts, there were many stars and crowds kept coming.

Astronomia who supported the event came along with their new eye catchingly liveried Freelander and were quite busy. It had nothing to do with the Carbon-fibre tubed Orion Optics OMC140 that Neil was using that attracted a small queue... It was the Landie! The OMC showed Saturn as a real treat through this compound telescope, that delighted many observers for the first time.

Look Up! March 2010


Members’ Images

NGC2264 - Christmas Tree and Cone - Richie Jarvis Date: 2010-02-12 - South Common Observatory Scope: Televue Genesis F/5 Refractor Camera: Starlight Xpress SXV-H9 Guide Scope: Williams Optics Zenithstar 66mm Guide Camera: SX Guidehead Exposure (SII - Red): 20 x 960 seconds Exposure (Ha - Green): 19 x 600 seconds Exposure (OIII - Blue): 8 x 600 seconds www.deepsky.org.uk


Look Up! March 2010

NGC2264 - Christmas Tree and Cone Constellation: Monoceros Distance: 2600 light years NGC 2264 is sometimes referred to as the Christmas Tree Cluster and the Cone Nebula. However, the designation of NGC 2264 in the New General Catalogue refers to both objects and not the cluster alone. We’re always looking for more great images to include in Look Up! - Get imaging and get e-mailing!

Look Up! March 2010


MoonFest FREE

Moon Observing 21st March 2010 7pm - 10pm The Butts Green, Alton Use our telescopes, or bring your own!

sponsored by www.astronomia.co.uk


Look Up! March 2010

For further information and weather updates, visit

www.hantsastro.org/moonfest sat nav - GU34 1RT

or call 07866 558616

Policy Benefits include: Cover for all Telescope related equipment, Laptops, Cameras etc. up to £5000 (higher values poa.) In-vehicle equipment cover Public Liability Insurance (non-Group) Dedicated Call Centre Optional: European Cover Worldwide Cover Observatory & Outbuildings

Gravity. You can’t knock it. AstroSure is a new comprehensive policy designed for astronomers who use their telescopes in a garden, at a star party, or even in a field. It covers you, your gear and and anyone who might bump into it, here or abroad. Because at the end of the day, your telescope is a bit of a strange beast, and needs specialist protection that a home policy might not provide... ... and you can’t knock that Call Karen Cowen on 023 9259 5922 or e-mail: karen.cowen@astrosure.com.

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AstroSure Look Up! March 2010



Pictures: NASA Words: David Woods

Icebergs the size of Dorset. Not good.

Southern Ocean

Mertz Tongue

B-09B iceberg

Mertz Glacier

â–˛ N The iceberg formed from the Mertz Glacier Tongue is 78 kilometers (48 miles) long by 39 kilometers (24 miles) wide and has a mass of 700800 billion tons, reported BBC News. The B-09B Iceberg collided with it on is the latest one taken by the MODIS



the 13th Feb 2010 and the above pic




n To

B-09B iceberg

Satellite on the 27th Feb. Both are now heading north and contain enough fresh water to supply 20% of the world’s population for a year. This amount of fresh water entering the system is enough to Top picture shows post-collision and bottom before impact. affect currents that could cut off warmer water to the UK, meaning possibly colder weather.


Look Up! March 2010

Images: NASA images by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center

PREVIEW Pictures: Graham Green Words: David Woods

IOWSTARPARTY 2010 The IOW Star Party at Brighstone will take place again on 11-15 March 2010

Organiser Stephen Griffith with an ‘Obsession 15’ - Very rare in the UK

Stephen Griffith and Lucy Rogers are The cloud fronts tried to do their set to pull off yet another spectacular best to dampen spirits on Saturday, series of observing nights, under skies but everyone just wanted the night that were measured by us last year at to begin. mag 21.3 per arc sec. Our thanks go out to both Lucy and The pictures here do little to perfectly Stephen and the other volunteers in illustrate the immeasurable vastness providing what is becoming a regular of the Cosmos. Transparency was real jewel in the South. quite good over the Channel facing south and many observers were up until the wee hours of the morning making

the most of the stunning

vistas that opened up above them.

... is this what they mean by ‘hands on’ astronomy?

Now in its third year this event is maturing quite nicely and over 50 people attended last year and were rewarded with great skies, good food and camaraderie. There were a number of informative talks and discussions during the day, with full on observing and imaging after dinner.


Look Up! March 2010

More traders are taking note of this star party

Away from the mainland and you get some of the South Coast’s darkest skies with a best of Mag 21.5 - SQL meters reportedly stop at 22.2...

Big guns were out in force as well as some of the smaller ones below -

Oh! for another night like this...

Chalet, tents or if you have one, this!

Apart from lectures there’s the chance to get creative

Look Up! March 2010


Out There Words: Graham Green Pictures: Various

This month’s top five - Messier Objects M42 - The Orion Nebula As Winter passes the baton to Spring we begin to lose the glories of the dark Winter sky. If you managed to do some observing over the Winter months then aren’t you the lucky one! The weather has been dreadful; there has been the odd break in the weather here and there but it isn’t always at a convenient time and when there is a break and a chance to grab your binoculars or set up your telescope, the cloud always seems to roll in the moment observing begins! Talking of cloud, there is plenty of it in interstellar space in the form of gravitationally-bound blobs of cold, neutral hydrogen intermixed with traces of other elements. The constellation Orion lies to the South West in the mid evening sky this month and contains plenty of gas and dust known as the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. Barnard’s Loop, the Horsehead Nebula, M43, M78 and the Flame Nebula are all related, but the most famous and easy-to-see object there is M42 which is located below Orion’s belt in the region known as the sword. The sword comprises three stars in a dark, light pollution-free sky the stars appear to look a little misty. Through a pair of binoculars


Look Up! March 2010

this misty patch begins to look more structured; the brighter part looks fan shaped but with a closer look the nebula appears quite spherical. This area is rich in young hot stars that help to illuminate M42 with their infrared and ultraviolet radiation. These stars form the Trapezium open star cluster and lie at an estimated distance of 1,800 light years. In 1993 the Hubble Space Telescope first observed M42 and ever since then M42 has been a regular target for the HST. This region hosts around 700 stars at various stages of evolution. The birth of stars and their Protoplanetary disks have been studied in detail and help to form theories on the formation of our own solar system and studies on the most massive stars that emit destructive high levels of ultraviolet energy. This is a large ‘bright’ object of 4th magnitude that extends across a 10° region of the sky; it is an easy object to find and view with a pair of 10 x 50 binoculars or small telescope with low magnification.


Image: Hubble Telescope -NASA

Look Up! March 2010


Out There

Pictures: Various Words: Graham Green

Point your telescope at this month’s targets...

M38, 36 and 37 There are three easy to find Messier objects to view in the constellation of Auriga. This, like Orion, is a Winter constellation but it is still high enough in the south-western sky to be seen and has three open star clusters that can be found easily with a pair of binoculars or a small telescope. If you locate Orion and look north you will come to the bright star Capella in the constellation of Auriga. Imagine a line a third of the way from Capella to Betelgeuse in Orion and you will find the first of the open clusters, M38. Like the stars that have been formed in the Orion Nebula, all other open star clusters were formed from a ‘giant molecular cloud’; the stars within them are loosely gravitationally bound to each other. M38’s brighter stars lie in a pattern resembling the Greek letter “Pi” (see if you can locate it). It lies at a distance of 3,420 light-years and was formed about 220 million years ago. It has an apparent magnitude of 7.4.


Look Up! March 2010


Image: 2MASS

Follow the imaginary line a little further and you will come to M36 and then M37. M36 is at a distance of about 4,100 light years away. This cluster has attracted some attention as the most likely origin of a massive OB star that exploded about 40,000 years ago; creating the supernova remnant Simeis 147, there is an on going search for planet-building stars within M36. The Spitzer space telescope will also be investigating it. This cluster is at a key stage in terrestrial planet formation and the survey will likely detect infrared excess emission from debris disks and transition disks. M37 is by far the most stellar populated cluster out of the three; there are at least 150 stars in this cluster. M37 has been around for about 300 million years, it is 20 to 25 light years across at a distance of 3,600 light years and hosts at least a dozen red giant stars. In the surrounding star field of around 12arcmin x 12arcmin there are up to 2,180 stars, a number of which are white dwarfs; a total of 24 variable stars have been identified too. Star clusters such as M37 are valuable in the study of stellar evolution. M37 has been studied as a part of the RACEOC project Rotation and ACtivity Evolution in Open Clusters) which is aimed at exploring the evolution of rotation and magnetic activity in the late-type star* members of open clusters of different ages.

Look Up! March 2010


Out There

Pictures: Various Words: Graham Green

Point your telescope at this month’s targets... M38

These three objects look just great through binoculars but if you can use the power of a telescope the stars in M37 will be visually rewarding! *A star of spectral type K, M, S, or C with a surface temperature lower than that of the Sun. The term dates from when astronomers thought that all cooler, redder stars like these were at a later stage of evolution than the hot blue, white and yellow-white stars of spectral types O, B, A, and F which were said to be called earlytype.

Image: Hubble NOAO_NASA


Image: 2MASS


Look Up! March 2010


Image: Richie Jarvis

M13 the Great Hercules Cluster

This isn’t a Spring sky object is it?” you may be thinking, but it is I tell you. Each season we get a chance to glimpse six months ahead if we are prepared to observe after midnight. This has the advantage of us not only being able to view the constellations six months earlier but, if you live in an urban area, at this time of night a lot of domestic lighting has been switched off thus reducing nuisance light pollution.

with modest magnification, is in fact a tight bundle of over a million stars packed into a 145 light year sphere at a distance of 25,100 light years. Not all the stars that make up this fine globular cluster belong to it, however; there is one star - Barnard Number 29 – a young, blue, type B2 star that has ‘hitched a ride’ during M13’s journey around our galaxy.

High in the south-eastern sky is the constellation of Hercules - look for the famous “Keystone” asterism. If you are using binoculars, take a look at the righthand side at about a third of the way down and you will be ‘grabbed’ by the view of a 5.8 magnitude fuzzy patch of light. This, when looking at it through a telescope Look Up! March 2010


INTECH Telescope Amnesty

Telescopes are people magnets and for some inexplicable reason, people take pictures of them. A photograph of two photographers taking photographs at a telescope amnesty... Ironic? Sort of.

Words: David Woods Pictures: Graham Green


Look Up! March 2010

The third INTECH Telescope Amnesty has proven beyond doubt that this format really does work. I’ll explain how.

Firstly, it has the

support of nearly all the groups within the vicinity of INTECH, and secondly, the telescope clinic has become a major draw to the event. On our stand at least, the majority of people visiting were amateur astronomers who wanted to get more out of their telescope.

The best place to get telescope advice is your local astronomy group

There was a broad range of challenges too, from old Newtonian telescopes through to the latest computerised compound systems.

There were

a lot of questions that needed answering! Dr Jenny Shipway and her team at INTECH provided an ideal platform for the astronomy groups to




Jenny also constructed an indoor ‘solar system’ with barely observable planets which people could train their telescopes on.

This facility

proved quite useful as, once again, the weather outside was inclement. The quality of the astronomy groups’ stands is improving with each outing and a real buzz was being generated within the building due to the

Over a dozen new members signed up at the HantsAstro stand groups had turned up, we would have INTECH Planetarium boasts one had a full house! of the most sophisticated imaging

The big highlight of the evening though systems in the UK, with 4000 pixel was Pete Lawrence and Ninian Boyle’s resolution and 6 digital projectors available and the range of ideas expert tour of the Spring Night Sky each linked to a computer, and it can being exchanged. The astronomy in the Planetarium, which was piloted even update with real-time weather groups that attended were Andover, by Jenny. The audience gasped as we mapping. Basingstoke, Cody, Guildford, flew faster than light towards Saturn, Hampshire Astronomical Group, through the rings and back again. For more information on this HantsAstro and Newbury. For us it Seeing how the stars looked from outstanding facility please visit: was the most successful Amnesty yet different points in space gives you an www.intech-uk.com with ten new members signing up almost unimaginable sense of scale. The next one is planned for on the night and by post a few days Space is one big place! November 2010. after the event. If a couple more local If you have not been before, the considerable amount of knowledge

Look Up! March 2010



Words & Pictures: Sean Holland

Image Freeware is good, especially when it’s this good. IRIS 5.58 is image processing software

help .pdf document and I would

IRIS 3MB download file

written by Christian Buil.

recommend reading this before use.

Version 5.58 current release

IRIS is an astronomical images

Although not for the beginner, there


processing program that provides a full

is plenty of help available from the

range of features to enhance, correct

Astrosurf website.

Windows XP or above only.

and process digital astronomical images, optimised for CCD captures.

Sean Holland

IRIS software is written for DSLR cameras enabling the camera to be remotely controlled from your PC/ Laptop. The program has been written for DSLRs and new, up and coming cameras that are best suited for astrophotography. The aid of this program is to reduce hands on operation, which can lead to camera shake, and also enables multiple shots to be taken. Below is the current version, which has new camera drivers. It can open

Selecting the camera set up icon brings up a menu for selecting various DSLR cameras, sadly no Nikon D40.

digital RAW formats, as well as BMP, FITS and PIC. The many features include noise suppression, distortion correction,




sequences, spectra processing, Sun chromospheres image processing, frame grabbing via web cam and much more. The licence for this graphic software is Freeware - you can download and use this graphic software for free. All in all a very well written piece of software from Astrosurf. It does have a separate Once your camera is set up new options are available to progam exposure times, focus, sequence of shots, etc.


Look Up! March 2010


Words: David Woods Main Picture: David Woods

GPS for your Telescope? Yes Sir. StarGPS AutoStar Handset Upgrade $99-199 via online GPS-NX-01 $149 or $249 for StarBook version

Know when and where you are...

Global Positioning Satellites are a real boon, especially if you move around a lot. If you own a Meade Telescope with an AutoStar handset controller then I guess you do too. But, every time you switch it on, it asks for date - OK.Time, check, lat and long of your location -Umm... Unless you researched your site(s) and found this info on the Internet, then the accuracy of your scanning of the heavens will be a bit frustrating when you start observing or imaging and objects start tracking out of your eyepiece. Now there is an answer. Flash upgrade your hand set via your PC and connect either a dedicated accurate polar alignment, to fully Autostar, LX200 Classic, Orion Atlas/ GPS module or a Garmin Etrex or a ensure correct tracking. Anything that Sirius GoTo, Sky-Watcher SynScan, Geko.

makes a telescope easier to set up Vixen StarBook and StarBook Type-S. gets my thumbs up! The standalone system is fast to get a

Once converted and connected, the

handset searches for a GPS signal But now, Chris Carson from StarGPS lock and great for my Meade LXD75 and sets date, time and position in has gone one better, in fact several set up. This a great upgrade for any GOTO system

a second or two, and that’s it! The times better. advantage is that now the telescope

can be more accurately guided via Instead of flashing your handset, you Highly recommended. Autostar and this means alignment can also buy a complete system that is quicker and more accurate. It just works on just about any mount and DW saves time all round. Not a cheap handset you care to mention. Their upgrade but useful if you travel and 16-channel



observe from multiple sites. On a works with the Astro-Physics GTO,

Website http://www.stargps.ca

German Equatorial mount the only Celestron NexStar, Losmandy Gemini, thing that will concern you will be

Meade 494/495/497/497EP Look Up! March 2010


Hubble in your back garden An Introduction to Astrophotography with a DSLR by Martin Saban-Smith

I don’t know if you’ve thought about it, but your

Words: Martin Saban-Smith Pictures: Graham Green

amazing in the great scheme of things, but your results are sure to amaze

telescope is not too dissimilar to you the first time you collect photons the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). that have travelled trillions of miles

Just not quite so posh. And with only to wind up being captured in that telescope you can take just as your camera. Then, as you get better, amazing pictures. Well, not quite so the amazement keeps on growing as your images become clearer, brighter and more ‘Wow’ worthy. Hubble, at a very basic level is a (rather larger) Newtonian Reflector with some cameras on it that are admittedly somewhat out of the range of an amateur astronomer’s budget. But who cares about that? If you have a digital SLR or a webcam, then there is nothing stopping you hooking it up to your telescope, pointing it at whatever you choose and capturing some images. That, in a nutshell, is what the HST does. Before we get into the nitty gritty of the different types of telescopes we can use for our astrophotography, I’ll be mentioning ‘focal ratio’ in each description. This is basically how fast a telescope is. Or, to put it another way, how much light it gathers for its focal length and aperture. The lower the number, the faster it is - i.e. an f4 scope gathers more light than an f12 scope….and another thing to remember is that the higher this ‘f ’ number is, the more ‘contrasty’ your image will be, which is great for planets and the moon. As







astrophotography with a digital SLR Look Up! March 2010

(DSLR), I’ll be keeping explanations brief and may not cover everything as thoroughly as perhaps I would like to, otherwise I could go on for hours and hours, which is what I hope to do a little later in the year with a series of workshops on this very subject! Rather important in your imaging set-up is the mount your scope and camera are put on. There are two types of mount on the market – the Alt/Az mount and the Equatorial

Photo: Nasa


Firstly, we should all know that the The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is one big 19 year old, 7.9 feet diameter sky appears to rotate around the Cassegrain Reflector telescope... It’s successor, the James Webb (JWST) will be earth from a point very close to

three times bigger with a 21.6 foot hexagonal mirror array. It’ll cost £2.3 Billion.

the pole star and as a result of this, the constellations rise and set in an called, is a different kettle of fish Basically, although you can photograph arc, just like the Sun and Moon do. altogether from the Alt/Az mount. with the Alt/Az mount, the EQ mount And this is where the two different It looks a bit odd first off and can is favoured by most people because it mounts really are different.

get the observer into some very gives you the flexibility of very short,

The Alt/Az Mount

awkward positions for viewing, but it or very long exposures without the

This type of mount may also be called is the most common choice of mount need for additional equipment. a fork mount because the scope is for astrophotography. But why? held between two arms called, er… Well, in a nutshell, the EQ mount To GoTo or not GoTo forks. These forks allow the telescope rotates round its own axis that Some of these mounts, both Alt/ to move up and down changing the is pointing to the pole star and Az and EQ, can now be computer Altitude it is pointing to whilst the therefore can keep your object in the controlled and take most, if not all whole mount, on top of the tripod, can field of view as the sky appears to of the star hopping and hoping out also move left and right in AZimuth. move around us. Once ‘locked on’ to of finding objects in the sky. They So, in order to find an object in the an object, the observer only needs to come with huge databases that can sky and a bit like playing “Battleships”, move the scope in one direction: east be updated from the internet and you need some basic coordinates to west (or left to right) to keep it in customised (and all sorts of other to find it – left or right, up or down. view. The Alt/Az user needs to move things), and point you straight at what They are measured in degrees from their mount up and down as well as you want. Then they’ll track it for you. North (0°) round to 359° in Azimuth left to right.

This is great! Or is it?

from 0° (your horizon) up to 90° in Not getting into too much detail at Well, some people argue that these Altitude. Just as the sky is divided into the moment - because the scope GoTo mounts are spoiling people’s degrees, each degree is divided into rotates around an axis parallel to that knowledge of the sky and the object minutes and seconds for pinpoint of the Earth’s own, the object you are locations, which to a point is true. But accuracy when moving the scope to looking at appears to be stationary why should it? So long as the person locate an object.

in the sky and therefore allows for observing researches what they are

The Equatorial Mount

long exposure photography to be looking at, they’ll learn where it is.

The EQ mount, as it is commonly undertaken. Look Up! March 2010


Small telescopes can now take some amazing images - like the one above taken by Richie Jarvis of the M51 Galaxy which was taken with a four-inch refractor and a dedicated CCD camera

These GoTo mounts are quite successfully capture, but that doesn’t Generally,




expensive too, so for many people really matter too much if you know refractors to astrophotography are it would be a prudent move to buy what your scope’s limitations are. Let’s apochromatic types that use special one of the motorised mounts (such have a quick look at the two most glass and coatings to ensure the as the Skywatcher Syntrek range or common types of amateur Hubbles different wavelengths of light focus Celestron’s CG range) that will move available and what they can do.

at the same point. The other types of

the scope and track the sky for you

refractors are achromatic which focus

without the computer control but Refractors

the light in slightly different places and

are upgradable when the individual These babies really look the part. can produce halos around stars and feels that they want to progress. This Not only do they look like most other objects which is a symptom of is how I started – motorised mount people imagine a telescope to look, the achromatic glass used. Having said for tracking and movement purposes, but they feel that way too. Some that, achromatic scopes still produce then moved up to a GoTo mount people love ‘em, others hate ‘em, fabulous images of almost anything in when I felt I had a reasonable enough instead preferring Isaac Newton’s the sky depending on how the scope knowledge of the sky. I still research contribution to observing aids.

is mounted and some other variables

what I am looking at to increase my They use glass lenses to bring the we’ll cover later. knowledge of the sky though.

different wavelengths of light into a point of focus; in this case, on your Reflectors

Your Own HST

DSLR CCD chip in order to produce Here we go with Sir Isaac Newton’s

So, what can you do with your the image you want.They have varying telescope design and the variations Hubble in the garden? Depending on focal lengths and apertures and can on that theme introduced over the the type of scope you have, the sky’s afford terrific contrast which makes decades. Again, some people go gaga the limit. (Every pun intended). There them ideal for lunar and planetary for them whilst other people’s fancies are some limiting factors though as photography. A fairly typical focal ratio are tickled by other types of scopes to what each type of telescope can for a refractor would be f8 or higher. on the market.


Look Up! March 2010

The design of the ‘Newt’ is very and/or Barlow lenses are required to very well, others not so well; and simple. Light enters a tube, hits a effectively increase the focal ratio of that is where the already discussed parabolic mirror at the bottom of the the scope and therefore the contrast differences lie. Refractors and ‘slower’ tube, reflects back up in a narrowing of the resolved image.

scopes do really well at planets and

cone shape to strike a flat secondary Other types of reflectors, such as the Moon and not so well with DSOs mirror and out through the side of Maksutov-Cassegrains or Schmidt- because all but the brightest ones the scope, into the focuser drawtube Cassegrains, fold the path of light up, are simply too dim to see, never and either your eye or camera. Simple producing very long focal lengths and mind photograph. On the other hand really.

very high focal ratios such as f10 and though, reflectors and ‘fast’ scopes

These Newt scopes, too, have higher. Although they are reflectors, can resolve DSOs very well indeed varying lengths and apertures with they are pretty slow compared but have a nasty habit of turning normally a fast focal ratio of f6 or to most Newts and therefore are planets into ultra bright bursts of light less which make them best suited to brilliantly suited to lunar and planetary because they collect so much of it. deep sky objects (DSOs) because observing.

You can compensate for these

they capture a lot more light than a I Want My Hubble to Look at DSOs shortfalls to a degree by using extra refractor. Their fast speed reduces the and Planets Too.

bits of equipment.

amount of contrast in the resulting OK, so you want your scope to look For example, you can increase the image which means that planetary at everything. That’s not too much of speed of your refractor (decrease the observations are generally below an issue as all types of telescope can focal ratio) by using a focal reducer what you would hope and the use take a peek at pretty much anything which essentially halves your scope’s of high magnification eyepieces (EPs) in the sky. Some things they can see ‘f ’ number. This pretty much doubles the field of view (FOV) and gives you more light to play with. But because your FOV has doubled, your object is half the size it was. Hmm, another compromise. Or, you can ‘slow down’ your Newt by employing high magnification EPs and Barlow lenses to effectively increase the focal ratio – turn it into a f10 scope instead of f5, for example. This additional magnification dramatically cuts the amount of light entering the eyepiece or camera resulting in a dimmer, but more contrasty image of the planet you are observing. You see, if you have an interest in everything in the sky or you are just starting out in astronomy or astrophotography, you may not have decided what, if anything, you’d like Bigger Telescopes can perform better like Martin’s Meade LXD75 SN-10, but take time to set up, cool-down and are not very ‘portable’. Among the best for astrophotography though it’s a very ‘fast’ f4 tube.

to specialise in. Not that you have to specialise in anything at all, but Look Up! March 2010


every telescope will be some form of compromise and no scope will do everything really well. But, there are ways to make this compromise easy to handle! All this information, and we’ve not even got a camera on the scope yet! Sorry, lots to get across first. The Best Telescope As far as your garden Hubble is concerned, bigger is not always better. ‘The best telescope’, somebody once said, ‘is the one you use most often’. And those are superb words of wisdom from somebody who may well have suffered from aperture fever. What is aperture fever? Basically,

DSLRs like the ubiquitous Canon EOS 350D do a great job of capturing images when connected to a small telescope. With a motorised mount, long exposures catches when they want to buy can be achieved.

aperture fever is what someone

bigger and bigger telescopes after part of half an hour or more setting developing a need to capture as Limiting Magnitude many of the faintest photons headed As we discussed above, the more it up. If I had a smaller (and lighter) their way as possible. And that heavily aperture you buy, the bigger the scope, I would get out more often. influences their buying criteria rather scope. But with that, the limiting Because of this, I don’t observe than perhaps the more sensible magnitude of the scope changes too. anywhere near as much as I’d like criteria of ‘how heavy is it?’ or ‘how This limiting magnitude is simply the to and that results in me looking at often will I use this super-whizzy 24” dimmest magnitude resolvable with my orrery from the other end of the Dobsonian?’ or, quite simply, ‘will it fit the scope in question. The bigger the room with my son’s plastic binoculars, in the shed?’

aperture, the dimmer the objects you simply to get my astro-fix. OK, I admit,

it’s not that bad, but sometimes, any There’s nothing wrong with aperture can look at, basically. fever as such, but it is costly as scopes So, although my own scope has a kind of observing is better than none get considerably more expensive limiting magnitude of 15, how often as I’m sure many of you would agree the more aperture you buy. They get do I look at objects anything like that given the past four or five months heavier too. Boy, do they get heavier. dim? Not too often. But because the worth of cloudy skies! I wonder how My 10” Meade Schmidt Newtonian 10” mirror grabs a huge amount of many other astronomers are closet optical tube assembly (OTA) for light, the objects I do look at are really orrery watchers. example, weighs in at 13.5kg (30lbs) very bright indeed. But with this size of In conclusion then (to this bit at least), and the tripod with mount weighs scope, it limits me on how often I can which scope is best for you? As the 25kg (55lbs). It’s a beefy piece of kit observe because of the time it takes wise, aperture fevered person said, it and not what you’d class as grab ‘n’ to set it up. You see, if the weather is the one you use most often and go – but I use it as such because I forecast says the sky will clear for a if you are thinking about buying your haven’t got a smaller scope to ‘grab few hours this evening, that is not first telescope, or indeed adding to enough to make me spend the best your collection, my advice would be ‘n’ go’ with!


Look Up! March 2010

this: Have a good think about what their infrared filters removed. Then they don’t connect. You’ll need some you like to observe and perhaps most there is the latest range of 400D, bits and bobs in order to join them importantly, how ‘dim’ you would 450D and 1000D, all of which have together and the basic requirements like to see, how often you want to a ‘live view’ function which enables are: observe, if you are going to use it as a you to focus by using the camera’s ‘grab ‘n’ go’ scope and then you need LCD screen or, if you’re really swish, to make a decision about reflector a laptop computer. This greatly helps or refractor. Budget will also play a the focussing process because you large part in what you buy and the don’t have to squint through the reviews in this magazine as well as all viewfinder, wobbling the scope as you the others will give you a good idea do so, trying to focus on something

1. A T-mount adaptor*. This is a piece of aluminium with a mount the same as your camera’s normal lenses with a thread in the middle instead of a lens for:

of how much of the big bang you’ll you can barely see. Instead, you can get for your buck.

adjust the focus with a bigger (but


still quite dim) image on one of the




about screens I mentioned.

astrophotography weren’t we? Yes, Also, DSLRs have a range of ISOs well, we need to have a quick look you can shoot at. The ISO is how at the cameras that will do the job sensitive you want the CCD chip to and as this is an introduction to be…the more sensitive you want it, astrophotography with a digital SLR, the quicker your exposures will be, but the noisier (grainier) they’ll be.

we’d better start there.

Briefly, an SLR (single lens reflex) Oh boy, there’s another subject there camera




utilises altogether. Not today though.

2. A Nose Piece. The nose piece screws into your T-mount and comes in 1¼” or 2” diameters and the ‘nose’ bit fits into your telescope focuser where your eyepieces usually do. They have a filter thread at the end so you can attach any number of different filters.

interchangeable lenses of different Anyway, whichever DSLR you already lengths and capabilities for ultimate have or decide to buy, you can still flexibility in a huge range of disciplines. use it during the day for normal It uses a mirror to reflect light coming photography; unless you have it into the lens through a prism and modified which is not a good idea if then out through the viewfinder.They you are new to this sport. It doesn’t

*Make sure you buy the correct adaptor for your camera.They are all different. The nose piece should fit any type of T-mount.

also do a lot of great things to make matter if you buy a Nikon, Canon, Fuji your job easier – auto focuses, auto or whatever; they will all do a fabulous These two are the most basic bits exposes, auto this and auto that and job at capturing images for you. It will and bobs needed to get you going plenty more besides: All of which are need a ‘Bulb’ function to give you the in astrophotography. You’ll also find a totally useless when attached to a greatest flexibility of exposure time. cable release for your camera useful telescope.

‘Bulb’ is a method used to keep the to avoid camera shake in ‘Bulb’ mode,

There are many different types of shutter open for longer than your spare batteries, long USB cable to DSLR available on the market and the camera’s pre-set longest exposure, connect to a laptop if you want to most popular of these is the Canon which is usually 30 seconds.

and memory cards.

EOS range of cameras. I don’t know Check before you buy!

You can also use webcams (modified

why, they just appear to be the DSLR

or otherwise) for planetary and lunar

astrophotographer’s pets. I use one Bits and Bobs

photography, and that in itself is an

myself. The stalwarts are the EOS GREAT! You’ve got your scope and almost totally different discipline and 300D and 350D, and I find that these your DSLR…now you need to join not one that I have much experience are now being modified by having them together, but surprise surprise, in, so we’ll go over it another time. Look Up! March 2010


For more business... look no further than

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Look Up! is an exciting new concept in astronomy publishing. Downloaded by thousands of astronomers in the UK and in over sixty countries, it’s still growing every month This free publication offers the best chance for your astronomy related business to promote itself in a truly cost effective way, with great results! AstroSouth directory throws a spotlight on astronomy in the South of England, from astronomy courses, education, career to regional news and space. Ask for a copy of our rate card today!

Call David Woods now! on Tel: 023 9261 7092 email: david.woods@iodesign.co.uk

...available from all good bookstores


Look Up! March 2010

we are ASTRONOMERS narrated by

David Tennant Do you know what an astronomer does? Today’s astronomer is not the lone observer of past centuries. We Are Astronomers reveals the global collaboration, technology and dedication required to answer the unresolved questions of the Universe. We Are Astronomers narrated by David Tennant is an exciting new 360° Fulldome digital planetarium show produced by NSC Creative with input from UK astronomers

A collaboration between Armagh Planetarium, Centre For Life, INTECH Science Centre & Planetarium, National Space Centre, Our Dynamic Earth, Royal Observatory Greenwich, Spaceport with funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Pictures: David Woods (ha!) Words: David Woods

Astronomy apps It’s not all fingers and thumbs y’know.

SkyVoyager 1.4 173MB -£8.99 One of the best apps at the moment is SkyVoyager at £8.99. At 173MB it’s a big download and the graphics and images are stunning, but it also has one massive advantage – telescope control! Carina also produce their SkyFi wireless



which is basically a bluetooth to serial adapter. This means that This new product is available for you can wirelessly control your shipping from March. telescope from your iPhone. Four AA batteries will allow SkyFi to Software package includes: operate for up to 12 hours, which Solar





is enough for a night or two’s Constellations, 110 Satellites, 298 viewing. The unit is available from Comets, 327 Asteroids, over 1400 the company’s website for $149 City locations, nearly 32,000 Star plus $25 shipping to Europe.

The ubiquitous Apple iPhone has set the standard for

Clusters, Nebulae & Galaxies and 312,088 Stars (or 2,560,704 with the Expansion Pack which now comes with this new version)!

mobile phones. As a marvellous little device it can do many things. But is it any good for astronomy? I checked out some apps to find out.

For more information and downloads visit the iTunes store 36

Look Up! March 2010

Distant Suns (Lite) – 16.1MB - Free I haven’t tried the full version but it’s pretty good for a free app. It looks a bit like Stellarium for the iPhone, with similar graphics.

Planets 1.7 – 8.6MB Free This free product lacks the slick interface of StarWalk and SkyVoyager. But one benefit is the visibility meter for the planets in our Solar System. IYA 2009 was well known also for its popular StarWalk app. I’ve been using this on and off for about a year now and for £1.79 (29.1MB) it’s a brilliant place to start. If you have a 3G S phone with a built in compass, it will also track the sky as you pan and tilt around.


Look Up! March 2010


Astronomy apps Astronomy Picture of the Day v.1.7


Other apps you should try out: Astronomy Picture of the Day v.1.7 - 0.6MB – Free Pocket Universe – 3.3MB - £1.79 StarMap – 16.4MB - £6.99 StarMap Pro. - 59.5MB - £11.49 MoonGlobe – 49.4MB – Free (Excellent!) ISS Visibility – 0.3MB - £1.19


Look Up! March 2010

StarMap Pro

Pocket Universe v.1.7



The Jodcast – This UK based astronomy podcast comes out twice a month with nearly 2 hours of astronomy related news and topics. It’s created by a team from the Jodrell Bank Observatory. AstronomyCast



which is released every week, is hosted by Fraser Cain (Universe Today) and Dr. Pamela Gay (SIUE/ Slacker Astronomy). There are over 200 episodes to download of a wide range of astronomy topics - there is

ISS Visibility

something here for everyone.

Look Up! March 2010



Words & Picture: David Woods

South Downs Planetarium, Chichester - Old Skool but in a good way. Entertaining and informative presentations from Dr John Mason. Well worth a visit.

The South Planetarium


plus a library, Information Technology Winter/Spring 2010 Shows Listing

is a centre for scientific excellence Centre and a laboratory/workshop.

It is requested that you arrive at least

and was officially opened in 2002 by

15 minutes before the start of the

Sir Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, They also offer remote observing show to allow your eyes to dark adapt; after many years of fund-raising, with robotic observatories, Hubble latecomers cannot be admitted. images and For more details visit their website hard work and planning. It’s one of Space Telescope the largest educational and scientific Satellite weather pictures, amongst or call Tel: 01243 774400 planetariums in the UK.

others. are

Their planetarium shows Ticket hotline: 07818 297292




They have a 100 seat Star Theatre educational. A list of shows for March http://www.southdowns.org.uk/sdpt/ index.htm 2010 is set out below. with a 10 metre diameter dome, MARCH SHOWS


The South Downs Planetarium and Science Centre - Sir Patrick Moore Building Kingsham Farm Kingsham Road Chichester West Sussex PO19 8RP

Friday, March 5th

7.30 pm

Sunday, March 7th

3.30 pm

Friday, March 19th Sunday, March 21st Friday, March 26th Sunday, March 28th

7.30 pm 3.30 pm 7.30 pm 3.30 pm

Look Up! March 2010

Stars on Frosty Winter Nights Destination Mars: The Red Planet The Northern Lights The Northern Lights The Stars This Month Those Magnificent Moons

Inflation Theory? We think it’s because you like us.

Get yourself a free copy today of the AstroSouth Directory. Published quarterly, it now covers over 80 Astronomy Groups, Planetariums and the regional Space Industry across Southern & Eastern England. At 76 pages and one year on and it’s nearly doubled in size. Clearly your astronomy universe is getting bigger all the time. www.AstroSouth.org

Published by HantsAstro TM

Look Up! March 2010


2010 - UK Events Astronomy and star-gazing treats night and day.

One of the largest star parties in Europe The Kelling Heath Spring Equinox 15-18 April 2010 http://www.starparty.org.uk

One of the great things about the International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009) is the growing popularity of Star Party events being held around the country. The question that often arises on most Forums is, how does one go about getting one started? HantsAstro has a growing reputation for organising and taking part in various events across the South of England. The success of our Telescope Amnesties and the recent MoonFests (which we are expanding on for this season by the way) initiated a steep learning curve but we have gained invaluable experience. So, this is a breakdown of what we’ve found so far.


Look Up! March 2010

MoonFest by HantsAstro As part of their DNA, IYA2009 kick started off these free public events across Hampshire and will be running until May 2010 and then starting again as from October to the following year. Please visit their website for details. http://www.hantasastro. org/moonfest 5-6 February 2010 AstroFest, London Run by Astronomy Now magazine, this London based 3 day event kicks off with some world-class seminars. Trade stands and talks create a very busy event. http://www.astronomynow.com/ astrofest/

Guildford Astronomical Society, Surrey Due to the overwhelming success of their free public events at Newlands Corner, Guildford, Surrey - Guildford AS will be holding more of these observing sessions throughout 2010. Please visit their website. http://www. guildfordas.org.uk 11-15 March 2010 – Isle of Wight Star Party This event is a real treat with some of the darkest skies in the South. At the Brighstone Holiday Centre you can either rough it in a tent or benefit from the creature comforts of a warm chalet. With lots of talks and things to do, it’s one of the highlights of the




For more info download a copy of AstroSouth Directory astronomy calendar. http://www. 6-17 Sept 2010 Kelling Heath Autumn Equinox iowstarparty.org These gatherings in September www.twitter.com/iowstarparty are often quoted as the largest 15-18 April 2010 - Kelling star parties in Europe. They are predominantly run and organised Heath Spring Equinox One of the first big star parties of by Loughton and Norwich Astronomical Societies. With over the year. 1000 astronomers pouring in from http://www.starparty.org.uk all over Europe, your reservation (May onwards) Summer has to be booked well in advance. 2010 – Royal Observatory For further details go to their website. http://www.starparty.org. Greenwich This is effectively the centre for uk astronomy during the summer with lots of events, and with Several events are already in their new planetarium (part of planning as a continuation of a £17.7m development) there last year’s IYA2009 activities, will also be some amazing shows unfortunately details were not on offer. http://www.nmm.ac.uk/ available at time of publication. places/royal-observatory/ This list is not exhaustive and 7 August 2010 – Norman is just a preview of some of the events to come in 2010. As they Lockyer Observatory Every year they run the South are being confirmed we will be West Astronomy Fair with publishing them throughout the some very eminent speakers, a year and on our new website planetarium show, trade stalls and which is currently in development. many activities on site. It also If you are a society and wish to gives you the chance to wander add your events to this list – then around their large site imbibing please email me: the history and technology dating back over 130 years. http://www. david.woods@hantsastro.org normanlockyer.org/ TBA- August 2010 Salisbury Star Party 2009 was a breakthrough year for this new star party. It has been taken over and will be run by StarGazers Lounge. Please visit their forum for more details. http://www.stargazerslounge.com

Planetarium shows and events take place across the South of England. Please check relevant website for updates and contact details. Norman Lockyer Observatory & Planetarium Sidmouth, Devon Various Monthly Visits Shows Check site for details + times and booking Cost - £5 Adults £2.50 under 16s http://projects.exeter.ac.uk/nlo/ Home~EN.php Space Odyssey Foxglove Banks, 35 Longmead, Hemyock, Devon, EX15 3SG phone: 0844 335 1353 website: www.spaceodyssey.co.uk email: info@spaceodyssey.co.uk Explore@Bristol Planetarium Bristol Various Monthly Visits Shows Check site for details + times and booking Cost - £11.90 Adults £7.70 under 16s http://www.at-bristol.org.uk/ Education/Planetarium.htm Events

If you have any talks or events you wish to be included in this listing then please get in touch.

Look Up! March 2010



Pictures: NASA Compiled by: Sharon Rose

Our monthly review of what is way over our heads. Commander George Zamka looks out from what has to be the best space view ever: The ISS Cupola.

Photo: ISS/NASA-

Mission: STS 130 - February 2010 Commander George Zamka led the STS-130 mission to the International Space Station aboard Endeavour. Terry Virts served as the pilot. Mission Specialists were Nicholas Patrick, Robert Behnken, Stephen Robinson and Kathryn Hire. Virts completed his first trip to space. Endeavour delivered a third connecting module - the Tranquility node - to the station and a seven-windowed cupola to be used as a control room for robotics. The mission featured three spacewalks. STS-130 was the 32nd shuttle mission to the station. Endeavour launched at 04:14 EST (09:14 UTC) on 8 February 2010 and landed at 10:20 p.m. EST on 21 February 2010 on runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility.


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NASA Shuttle and Rocket Launch Schedule 2010 Date: March 3 Mission: GOES-P Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta IV Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station - Launch Complex 37 Launch Window: 6:18 - 7:18 p.m. EST Description: GOES-P is the latest in a series of meteorological satellites designed to watch for storm development and weather conditions on Earth. Date: April 5 + Mission: STS-131 Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center - Launch Pad 39A Launch Time: 6:21 a.m. EDT Description: Space shuttle Discovery will carry a MultiPurpose Logistics Module filled with science racks that will be transferred to laboratories of the International Space Station. Date: May 14 + Mission: STS-132 Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Atlantis Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center - Launch Pad 39A Launch Time: 2:28 p.m. EDT Description: Space shuttle Atlantis mission will carry an integrated cargo carrier to deliver maintenance and assembly hardware, including spare parts for space station systems. In addition, the second in a series of new pressurized components for Russia, a Mini Research Module, will be permanently attached to the bottom port of the Zarya module.

Date: July 29 + Mission: STS-134 Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Endeavour Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center - Launch Pad 39A Launch Time: 7:51 a.m. EDT STS-134 Description: Space shuttle Endeavour will deliver an EXPRESS Logistics Carrier-3 (ELC-3) and an Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) to the International Space Station. Date: Sept. 16 + Mission: STS-133 Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center - Launch Pad 39A Launch Time: 11:57 a.m. EDT STS-133 Description: Space shuttle Discovery will deliver the Express Logistics Carrier 4 (ELC4), a MultiPurpose Logistics Module (MLPM) and critical spare components to the International Space Station. Date: Nov. 22 * Mission: Glory Launch Vehicle: Orbital Sciences Taurus Rocket Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base - Launch Pad SLC 576-E Description: The Glory Mission will help increase our understanding of the Earth’s energy balance by collecting data on the properties of aerosols and black carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere and how the Sun’s irradiance affects the Earth’s climate. Date: ** 2010 Mission: Aquarius Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta II 7320 Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base - SLC 2 Description: The Aquarius mission will provide the firstever global maps of salt concentrations in the ocean surface needed to understand heat transport and storage in the ocean.

Seen flying above part of North Island, New Zealand, the space shuttle Endeavour is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 22 crew member during STS-130 rendezvous and docking operations with the International Space Station. Docking occurred at 11:06 p.m. (CST) on Feb. 9, 2010.

Look Up! March 2010


Out There

Picture: Graham Green & Martin Saban-Smith

The night sky this month by Graham Green

March Sky The Planets Mercury will be unobservable until later this month. On the 14th the planet passes through superior conjunction. As we approach the end of the month you’ll be able to see Mercury after the Sun has set low down in the western sky. On the 26th Mercury lies below and to the right of Venus and then on the 29th Mercury and Venus are in conjunction. Venus – as March progresses, Venus pulls away from the Sun and once again becomes visible in the western evening twilight sky. In addition to its encounters with Mercury, Venus sits below the crescent Moon on the 17th. Mars is high in the sky throughout this month from evening until the early hours of the morning as it sinks down westward in the constellation of Cancer. The planet has been moving retrograde but on the 11th it becomes stationary before it once again moves against the backdrop


Look Up! March 2010

Moon - Watch

of star-studded deep space. Mars dims from magnitude -0.6 to +0.2. On the 31st Mars is at aphelion – its greatest New Moon: 15th March distance from the Sun – 249.2 million Full Moon: 30th March kilometers (154.8 million miles). The Moon makes a close pass to the star Antares on the morning of the 7th. Then Jupiter - we lost Jupiter to its conjunction on the morning of the 9th the star Kaus with the Sun at the end of February; sadly Borealis in Sagittarius will be occulted by we will have to wait until May before we the Moon, beginning just after 05:00 UT. see this gas giant again. See the crescent Moon ‘hanging’ above Venus in the evening twilight sky on the Saturn becomes the dominant planet 17th. throughout the night time sky this month as it drifts retrograde in the constellation The Pleiades open cluster ‘glitters’ above of Virgo at mag +0.6. The rings have the 5-day old crescent Moon in the closed to about 3°. Saturn is at opposition western evening sky of the 20th. to the Earth on the 22nd at a distance of 1,272 million kilometers - that’s 790 The Moon and Mars are in Cancer on million miles in old money! the 25th.



Equinox: 20th Again we have no showers this month. If you see anything it will probably be a Summer time begins on the 28th sporadic one or a piece of man-made space junk re-entering our Earth’s upper atmosphere. Compiled & Written by Graham Green

Out There Watch it from your PC - www.HantsAstro.org/videostream.html courtesy of spaceflightnow

NASA TV March 2010 NASA TV Daily Schedule – all times are US Eastern Time Zone (GMT-5)

March 1, Monday 7 p.m. - STS-131 Crew Arrival for Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test – KSC (Public and Media Channels) March 2, Tuesday 6:30 - 9:30 a.m. - STS-131 Rollout of Space Shuttle Discovery - KSC (Public and Media Channels) 11:35 – 11:55 a.m. - ISS Expedition 22 Educational Event with the Mueller Aerospace and Engineering Discovery Magnet School, Wichita, KS - JSC (All Channels) 2 p.m. - ISS Expedition 24 Crew News Conference – JSC (Public and Media Channels) March 3, Wednesday 4 p.m. - GOES-P Pre-Launch News Conference - KSC (Public and Media Channels) March 4, Thursday 8:40 a.m. - STS-131 Launch Pad Question and Answer Session with the Media – KSC (Public and Media Channels) 4 p.m. - GOES-P Commentary and Launch Coverage (Launch is scheduled for 6:17 p.m.) - KSC (Public and Media Channels) March 5, Friday 10:35 – 10:55 a.m. - ISS Expedition 22 Interviews In-Flight Event with MSNBC and Wall Street Journal Digital Network – JSC (Public and Media Channels) TBD - FIRST Washington, DC Regional HQ (Education Channel)

March 6, Saturday TBD - FIRST Washington, DC Regional HQ (Education Channel) March 9, Tuesday 8 a.m. - STS-131 Video B-Roll Feed - JSC (Public and Media Channels) 9 a.m. - Program Overview Briefing JSC (Public and Media Channels) 10:30 a.m. - STS-131 Mission Overview Briefing - JSC (Public and Media Channels) 12 p.m. - NASA TV Video File - HQ (Public and Media Channels) 12:30 p.m. - STS-131 Spacewalk Overview Briefing - JSC (Public and Media Channels) 2 p.m. - STS-131 Crew News Conference - JSC (Public and Media Channels) 6 p.m. - JAXA News Conference for Japanese Media with STS-131 Mission Specialist Naoko Yamazaki - JSC (Public and Media Channels) March 11, Thursday 6:55 – 7:15 a.m. - ISS Expedition 22 InFlight Educational for JAXA with the Kiyose City Office and Tamarokuto Science Center in Japan – JSC (Public and Media Channels) March 12, Friday TBD - FIRST Chesapeake Regional - HQ (Education Channel) March 13, Saturday TBD - FIRST Washington, DC Regional HQ (Education Channel) March 16, Friday TBD - FIRST Championship, Atlanta, GA - HQ (Education Channel) March 17, Wednesday TBD - ISS Expedition 22/23 Change of

Command Ceremony - JSC (Public and Media Channels) TBD - FIRST Championship, Atlanta, GA - HQ (Education Channel) March 18, Thursday 12:30 a.m. - ISS Expedition 22 Farewells and Hatch Closure (Hatch closure scheduled at 1:02 a.m. EDT) – JSC (Public and Media Channels) 3:45 a.m. - ISS Expedition 22 Undocking Coverage (Undocking scheduled at 4:10 a.m. EDT) – JSC (Public and Media Channels) 6:15 a.m. - ISS Expedition 22 Deorbit Burn and Landing Coverage (Deorbit burn scheduled at 6:40 a.m. EDT; Soyuz landing scheduled at 7:30 a.m. EDT) – JSC/Kazakhstan (Public and Media Channels) 8 a.m. - ISS Expedition 22 Post-Landing Video File – JSC (Public and Media Channels) March 22, Monday 12 p.m. - ISS Expedition 23 Star City, Russia Departure Ceremony Video File – JSC/Star City, Russia (Public and Media Channels) March 30, Tuesday 6:30 a.m. - STS-131 Video B-Roll Feed JSC (Public and Media Channels) 7 - 7:45 a.m. - Live Interviews with STS131 Lead Shuttle Flight Director Richard Jones - JSC (Public and Media Channels) 8 - 8:45 a.m. - Live Interviews with STS131 Lead ISS Flight Director Ron Spencer - JSC (Public and Media Channels) March 31, Wednesday 12 p.m. - ISS Expedition 23 Crew Activities in Baikonur, Kazakhstan and Soyuz TMA-18 Rollout Video File – JSC/ Baikonur (Public and Media Channels)

Look Up! March 2010


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Look Up! March 2010  

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Look Up! March 2010  

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