MINUTES | 2006

6th January 2006

 

The 412th Meeting of the Altrincham and District Astronomical Society, held at Timperley Village Club on Friday 6th of January 2006 at 8pm

Those present were:
Paul Clark, Kevin Thurstan, Mark Crossley,
Tony Aremia, Mike Tyrrell, Philip Masding,
Norman Thurstan, Richard Bullock, Terry Bailey,
Geoff Flood, Colin Eaves, Geoffrey Walton,
Graham Sinagola, Nick Dixon, Nick Odom,
Ged Birbeck, Stuart Oldbury, Adam Oldbury,
Paul Brierly, Chris Suddick, 2 others.
(Total 21)

The chairman Paul Clark opened the meeting by welcoming everyone to the meeting and commented on what a good turn out it was for a January meeting. He told us that there was no speaker tonight but that we would be seeing some lunar pictures by Paul Brierly and a DVD about David Malin.
We were told that next month Mike Cook would be bringing in some of his equipment to tell us about and explain some equipment pitfalls.
We then started with the DVD about David Malin the acclaimed astronomer and astrophotographer on colour in the universe. It told the story of his astrophotography, mostly with the Anglo Australian Telescope, but also from telescopes in the Canaries and Hawaii, using glass plate photography in three different colours to create spectacular pictures of great scientific value. How over the years his experiments with processing, printing and later with newer processes such as unsharp masking, had enabled him to make many new discoveries and obtain new information off photographic plates taken many years ago.
The Chairman then thanked Geoff for providing the original video and Chris for transferring it onto the DVD that we watched.
We then had our tea break.
We restarted the meeting with some of Paul Brierly’s new Lunar pictures, the results of his first experiments with his new Philips tou cam pro & laptop and some of the problems he had experienced. Mark Crossley then recommended various software packages you could use to stitch them together into a mosaic.
Next to business. The minutes of the last meeting were taken as read. The Secretary went through the post and reminded everyone that the area-planning meeting for the Stockport sky beam was on Monday evening 9th January. He and Geoff Walton would be going and anyone else who could go would be welcome, the Chairman apologised for not being able to go because of work commitments.
The treasurer reported that society funds were currently just over £2000 but that bills just received would take it back under that figure.
We were then brought up to date on the situation with the obs site and a possible move. The council had inspected the site and were waiting for an answer from the leisure department. Feedback from the Scout hut committee was mostly favourable but one or two were not sure at a rent of £400- £450.
We said we would keep our eyes on the weather for a possible group-observing trip maybe to Clough House.
The meeting was then brought to a close.

3rd February 2006

 

The 413th Meeting of the Altrincham and District Astronomical Society, held at Timperley Village Club on Friday 3rd of February 2006 at 8pm

Those present were:
Paul Clark, Kevin Thurstan, Mark Crossley,
Tony Aremia, Mike Cook, Norman Thurstan,
Richard Bullock, Terry Bailey, Geoff Flood,
Colin Eaves, Geoffrey Walton, Graham Sinagola,
Nick Dixon, Ged Birbeck, Paul Brierly,
Chris Suddick, Peter Baugh, Don Utton,
Colin Bowler, John Tipping, Andy Carroll,
Barry Carroll, 4 Others
(Total 26)

The chairman Paul Clark opened the meeting by welcoming everyone to the 413th meeting and announced that tonight’s talk was one man and his telescopes by mike cook, telling the story of his experience with the telescopes he has owned over the last six years.

His interest was kicked off by his uncle Malcolm and he bought himself a pair of 50mm binoculars, but soon wanted more. So he went to buy some larger 80mm binoculars and came away with a 5 inch Macksutov-Cassegrain.
Mike then went on to describe his buying, selling and sold ownership of at least 24 telescopes of various designs and sizes over the past six years. These included a 5” Darkstar reflector, 10” & 14” home made Dobsonions, Nexstar 114, Celestron 80mm refractor, Konus 80mm refractor, ETX 70 tube assembly, Intes MN56 5” Maksutov Newtonian, Orion 6” tube assembly, Helios 8” reflector and 77mm Borg refractor. Next he sold everything he still had and got a 12” Meade LX200 with a Takahashi FS102 as a finder. Soon after he took it down to Devon for a star party and returned home with a TMB 105 triplet refractor instead.
After the tea break he continued with some of the other scopes he has owned since including a Celestron C5, a 7” Mirage Maksutov with a Takahashi FS60 as a finder, 63mm Karl Zeis refractor, Takahashi FS70.
Currently he has an 8.3” Takahashi CN212 Cassegrain/Newtonian, a Takahashi Sky 90 refractor and a Celestron C14 Schmidt Cassegrain.
He also owned, for a short while, a 6-foot observatory dome, which didn’t make it into his own garden before being sold.

Mike was thanked for his talk and we move don to the society business.

First was the news that the Stockport sky beam planning application had been refused by the full planning council on environmental grounds.

There was no news as yet from the council and the possible surrender of the obs lease.

The meeting was then brought to a close.

7th April 2006

 

The 415th Meeting of the Altrincham and District Astronomical Society, held at Timperley Village Club on Friday 7th of April 2006 at 8pm

Those present were:Paul Clark, Kevin Thurstan, Mark Crossley,Richard Bullock, Colin Eaves, Geoffrey Walton,Graham Sinagola, Nick Dixon, Ged Birbeck +2, Chris Suddick, Peter Baugh, Don Utton,Philip Masding Roger Livermore B Hetly ? 1 other,(Total 18)

The chairman Paul Clark opened the meeting by welcoming everyone to the 415th meeting and announced that tonight we were fortunate to have David Ratledge from Bolton AS to give a talk on advances in digital astrophotography. David started by explaining how CCD chips work. He told us some of the advantages of silicon over film were that silicon is ten to twenty times more sensitive, no reciprocity failure and substantial subtraction of light pollution. David then talked about web cams. They are cheap but you need a laptop or computer to run one. They are good for imaging the Moon, planets, sunspots and can be used for double stars.

Next was the digital darkroom he said that he used Iris software which is one of the ones that is free on the internet and that using parts of it he could get two to three times more resolution in the final image which was good for galaxies and planetary nebulae. We then heard about infrared imaging. Infrared imaging done through black glass cuts out all light pollution and penetrates the Milky way’s dust clouds, allowing you to see through the Milky way to otherwise hidden galaxies. It also lets you image quasars and the early universe.

His next topic was digital SLR cameras. One advantage is that they have big CCD chips, in fact the same chip is used in some £500 DSLR cameras as in some £4000 dedicated astro CCD cameras. However they do have some problems of their own, they are poor at the red end of the spectrum as they have a filter over the CCD chip to give better flesh tones, but you can get one over the internet where the filter has been replaced with a clear one. Other problems include generally coming with poor quality lenses, exposure noise, dewing up and difficulty aiming through the viewfinder.

Lastly he spoke about hybrid images where a close up image was pasted onto a wide field image for a more detailed composite image.

We were shown lots of great images throughout the talk and were told if we wanted to see more to visit his website at www.deep-sky.co.uk. Paul thanked him for his talk and we then had a break.

On resuming the meeting Paul Clark showed us four images of Saturn through his 6” scope with a webcam, to show his improvement over the last month. He then talked briefly about the viewing possibilities for the fragmented comet 73P/Shcwassmann-Wachmann over the next couple of months. Following this we went onto society business. The Secretary noted that we had received the new BAA journal and thanked Paul Brierly for donating a book on the moon for the society’s library. He also thanked all those who went to help and support at the recent astronomy evening at Delamere Forest Park. Ged Birbeck reported that as yet we had no prices for the clearing of the obs site. It was stated that there was a card for Tony Aremia, who was in hospital, for anyone who wished to sign it and had not yet done so, sending him our best wishes.

For our next Meeting, on May 5th at 8.00pm, we would be changing venue and trying out the Scout hut. The meeting was then brought to a close.

5th May 2006

 

The 416th Meeting of the Altrincham and District Astronomical Society, held at Timperley Village Scout hut on Friday 5th May 2006 at 8pm

Those present were:
Paul Clark, Kevin Thurstan, Mark Crossley,
Tony Aremia, Philip Masding, Don Utton,
Norman Thurstan, Colin Eaves, Geoffrey Walton,
Graham Sinagola, Nick Dixon, Ged Birbeck,
John Tipping, John Gartshore, Roger Livermore,
Stuart Oldbury, Paul Brierly, Chris Suddick,
Peter Baugh, Richard Bullock.

(Total 20)

The chairman Paul Clark opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and apologising for being late. He then thanked everyone who had helped sort out for tonight’s new venue, announcing that tonight we would start with a talk by Phil Masding called spy satellites.
Phil started by saying, “Lets see what we can find in the public domain”.
First Is the International space station, “ been there, seen that, got the T-shirt”.
What else can you see? All the rest are very small in comparison, the next largest is the European satellite Envisat, however some of the others he has been trying to observe are the US Lacrosse satellites.
The orbits for these 5 satellites are not published by the US and the orbits are only known because of amateur observations. He told us that given just a few observations from around the world that it was quite easy to calculate a satellites orbit.
We were then given the known details on the satellites & their side looking radar systems.
Phil then detailed his own successful attempts to image some of them, and using software he wrote himself, to use those images to work out some of the satellites true dimensions.
Using his new diffraction grating he has now taken the spectrum of a different satellite, which may be an amateur first.
The secretary thanked Phil for his talk and the meeting had a tea break.
When the meeting resumed Mark Crossley gave us an update as to what has been happening with comet 73P and showed us some images of it taken by himself prior to it’s latest break up.
After thanking Mark the secretary started on club business :-
The society’s application to the Timperley village fair was being sent.
The society now has a copy of David Ratledge’s new book for it’s library, and the society has received £50 from the Forestry Commission for our March talk at Delamere.
Ged has received a quote for clearance of the obs site of £3000 and we are still waiting for a quote from the council themselves. It was suggested that we may hold a working party in June or July to do some of the work, fair warning was given “if it’s yours – take it out or it will be cleared”. It has also been confirmed that we do not need an asbestos survey.
Next were opinions on the new venue, the general consensus was good.
Chris Suddick told us the Adas website was up for renewal and he would do this for 2 years. 
Paul Brierly suggested we might wish to join him on the 19th/20th May at Clough House, possibly our last chance to observe galaxies until after the summer.
Tony Aremia thanked everybody for his card and their kind thoughts.The meeting was then brought to a close.

1st September 2006

 

The 418th Meeting and 41st AGM of the Altrincham and District Astronomical Society, held at Timperley Village Scout hut on Friday 1st September 2006 at 8pm
Those present were:
Paul Clark, Kevin Thurstan, Richard Bullock
Mark Crossley, Tony Aremia, Philip Masding,
Don Utton, Norman Thurstan, Colin Eaves,
Geoffrey Walton, John Tipping, Roger Livermore,
Paul Brierly, Colin Bowler, Geoff Flood,
Chris Suddick, Peter Baugh, Sarabani Datta,
Richard Sargent.
The chairman welcomed everybody to the 41st AGM and announced that we would conduct the usual AGM business after the break, but first we had a talk from Richard Sargent from Chester AS.
Richard told us that the talk was on The Astronomical observations of Henry Prescott, Deputy Registrar of the Diocese of Chester, who was born 9th June 1649 and died 9th June 1719 aged 70.
A few years ago Richard attended a local history talk and found out that they knew of the era because of the diaries of a man called Henry Prescott. Interested he went to the library and found a 3 volume copy of the diaries.
Henry was not an astronomer but did make quite a few astronomical entries in his diaries.
The originals are loose pages and many are missing ,however from 1704 onwards they are just about complete.
Henry Prescott was a lawyer by trade but he was also an antiquarian and a collector of antiquities including a large roman altar stone.
He was appointed Deputy Registrar of the Diocese of Chester in 1686, his boss was Walter Pope who was also professor of astronomy at Oxford university, appointed by his brother in law John Wilkins scientist and co founder of the Royal Society.
His first astronomical entry was the 26th January 1697. Indisposed after an evening with a friend where they consumed 17 pints of claret ,he spent most of the day abed. That evening after a stroll he was at Mr Robert Davies’s house and saw the moon through a telescope (the moon was only one day past full). Telescopes then were poor and it was probably a poor quality single lens refractor so they may not have seen much of interest..
His other astronomical entries included on 25th February 1706 an aurora and on 18th May 1710 he noted a bright meteor. In 1711 Henry also took on the post of registrar of the St Asaph diocese.
His next entry was the total solar eclipse of 22nd April 1715 from the falcon coffee house which still stands as a public house.
He next noted aurora on the 6th and 31st of March 1716, a halo around the moon on the 13th March 1717, aurora again on 30th March 1717 and 25th November 1718.
On 19th March 1719 he reported a fire ball that he didn’t see himself as he was indoors at the time, but this was reported to him. The same phenomena was noted by Edmund Halley.
Isaac Newton was put in charge of re-coinage and offered a job to Edmund Halley in the Chester mint so did Halley know of Henry Prescott?.
In Henry’s diary on January 10th 1697 Henry reported spending the evening with Mr Davies and Mr Halley. Halley’s own letter of 26th October 1696 mentions a Mr Prescott and his alter stone as well as other items.
The alter stone still exists and is on display at the Grosvenor museum in Chester.
We then heard of Edmund Halley’s predictions and observations of the total lunar eclipse of 31st October 1696 and partial lunar eclipse of the 19th October 1697.
We then broke for tea.
In the business section of the meeting Paul Clark stated that next months talk would be on the South African trip he and Mike Cook had just taken. He also recommended the Sky and Telescope pocket sky Atlas.
Over the summer the society surrendered its lease on the observatory site. Many thanks to Ged for sorting out the contractor and to Don, Chris and others for their trips to the tip with the excess rubbish. We now have the final paper work and the surrender of the lease is complete.
The treasurer reported a £384 surplus over the year and at the year end in June the society had £1843, the surplus was due mainly to a tax refund on subs backdated several years and the sale of the binocular parallel mount.
Since then the demolition and clearance of the old site at the cost of £1200, a cost of £200 for surrender of the lease, £430 for disconnection of the electric and the fact that we are owed £278 from powergen for overpayment of the electricity bill will leave the club with approximately £250.
There was then a discussion on incomings and outgoings including subs , cost of scout hut, Delamere and the country fair.
We were reminded that the Timperley fair is tomorrow and help was needed.
The meeting then came to the election of committee members. Kevin Thurstan was re-elected as secretary, Richard Bullock was elected as the treasurer and Paul Clark was re-elected as chairman.
The society thanked Mark Crossley for his work as treasurer over the past few years.
We then discussed new ideas for future meetings. It was also noted that the secretary would take over responsibility for the society’s equipment list and that what was left of the 14 inch scope and its mount would be going to Moorley Green AS for storage.
The next meeting will take place on Friday 6th October 2006 and we will still meet every Friday for a chat, tea and coffee at the scout hut.
The meeting was then brought to a close.

6th October 2006

 

The 419th Meeting of the Altrincham and District Astronomical Society, held at Timperley Village Scout hut on Friday 6th October 2006 at 8pm
Those present were:
Paul Clark, Kevin Thurstan, Richard Bullock
Mark Crossley, Philip Masding, Paul Brierly,
Geoffrey Walton, Graham Sinagola, Nick Dixon,
Ged Birbeck, John Tipping, Roger Livermore,
Peter Baugh, Colin Bowler, Geoff Flood,
Mike Cook, Norman Thurstan, Nick Odam,
Jordan Odam, Stephen McHugh, Ken Simons.
(Total 21)
The Chairman welcomed us all to the meeting and announced that this month Mike Cook and himself would be doing a presentation on what they did on their recent trip to Sutherland in South Africa.
Mike began by telling us of his latest equipment changes and orders, he then began the first part of the evenings talk.
Their first morning in South Africa saw a blood red sunrise as the sun rose through the distant cloud on the horizon.
We were told that the man they were staying with Dave, got them into all the observatories on the SALT site and Mike went on to show us some pictures of and describe some of the ones they visited, including a tour of the SALT facility. He explained they were a 350 mile drive from Cape Town and that the observatories all do their own maintenance and re-aluminising in house. We were also given a description of the area and local town.
Mike Informed us that they were given the keys to a large shed with a complete roll off roof containing a 16” LX 200 and a C14.
He also told us to get the best view of the Milky Way was to lay down in the dirt road on the carpet they took from the boot of the hire car.
We then stopped for a tea break.
Paul restarted by describing how at the onset of darkness the Milky Way was right overhead, all the northern constellations were upside down and moved the wrong way across the sky because Sutherland was 32 degrees south of the equator.
He explained that the Milky Way was so bright you could see your shadow by it but that even though the sky was not dark there was no light pollution. We were then shown various pictures of parts of and the whole of the Milky Way in colour and monochrome and given vivid descriptions.
There was then time for some questions on what we had seen and heard of the trip.
Next we covered the societies business
The secretary said that the planned October trip to Delamere was not happening and that he was also waiting for news of a possible donation from the Altrincham Festival Committee.
Paul mentioned that coming up were the Keilder Star party and Peak star party III.
He told us that next month we would have a talk by Peter Schick and brought the meeting to a close.

1st December 2006

 

The 421st Meeting of the Altrincham and District Astronomical Society, held at Timperley Village Scout hut on Friday 1st December 2006 at 8pm

Those present were:
Paul Clark, Kevin Thurstan, Mark Crossley,
Tony Aremia, Don Utton, Norman Thurstan,
Colin Eaves, Geoffrey Walton, Graham Sinagola,
Nick Dixon, Ged Birbeck, Roger Livermore,
Paul Brierly, Chris Suddick, Colin Bowler,
Stephen McHugh, Mike Cook, Nick Odom,
Jordan Odam. 1 other (total 20)

The Chairman opened by welcoming everyone to the 421st meeting and told us that this evening would start with a little show & tell.
Geoff Walton gave us a demonstration of his new Vixen Skypod with a 110mm modified Maksutov optical tube. This computer controlled mount comes with a planetarium unit which contains various astronomical catalogues. He went on to describe the set up and alignment procedures which were not as intuitive as he had hoped but eventually he got it moving, taking questions during the demonstration.
Next was Paul Brierly showing his Vixen GPDX mount on a heavy Meade field tripod with a special Alt and Dec interface from Chris Heapy to help polar alignment. It has sky sensor PC and uses it to mount various scopes including 70mm Teleview ranger used with a web cam as a guide scope, Zenith Star 66mm for CCD work. He explained he had had some problems which Mike and Mark had sorted out for him before PSP3, the mount will take his SPX200 but not his 300.

Paul Clark then showed us some photographs from peak star party III and reported on the weekends events.

We then had a break.

After the break Paul Clark then spent some time on a sky diary of what we should be able to see over the next month with various pieces of equipment.

It was put to the meeting that we would not be using the room over the next two Fridays (either side of Christmas) and was stated that the next meeting would be Friday the 5th January 2007 and any offers of a talk would be considered.

The meeting was then brought to a close.