Image credit: NASA  Hubble Heritage

Welcome to Astronomy in Herefordshire

Latest News:

News and items of interest to Herefordshire Astronomical Society members

Next Activity - Observing Session - TBC February 2024

Let's hope our February session has better luck. We will meet at our Lugg Meadows site - more information about our site and location here.

As always, look out for emails from Chris giving proposed date and details and look out for any last minute alterations. We will endeavour to stick to these dates unless weather means 'sliding' it, in which case it will likely be a few days earlier or later and members will of course be advised. Each date is centred on the first Thursday after Third Quarter.

If you are not on our emailing list, please contact Chris for the latest news - contact details here.

Chris's latest update:

February Observing - CANCELLED

Greyed out all week I'm afraid. Last chance next month. 

Watch this space (the one between the clouds!😉)

Thursday TBC February 2024

6:30 - 9 pm

Lugg Meadows

Practical observing and advice session

More information here

Visit - Jodrell Bank - June 2024:

At our AGM, Keith described our outline plan to visit Jodrell Bank with an overnight stay nearby. You'll have seen from his recent emails that we are now homing in on some dates in June. Keith's latest update indicates 11 members are interested in going on the trip. If you haven't yet put your name down yet, please contact Keith - contact details here.

Next Talk - Virtual Meeting - Thursday 7th March 2024

Our next meeting is a Virtual talk given by Professor James Hough, Research Professor at University of Hertfordshire - "Comets [the Rosetta Mission] and Asteroids".

As always, look out for emails from Chris with details of what HAS is doing next. If you are not on our emailing list, please contact Chris for the latest news - contact details here.

Thursday 1st February 2024

7 pm - Virtual Talk

Comets [the Rosetta Mission] and Asteroids

Professor James Hough, Research Professor at University of Hertfordshire

AGM - Thursday 4th January 2024

Our AGM at the Kindle Centre on 4th January was very well attended with 28 members turning out. Was it the exciting prospect of attending the AGM, the opportunity to meet up with old friends and fellow astronomers, or the promise of mince pies and Christmas goodies that brought you all in?

Chris led proceedings and gave warm thanks to Mark, our retiring Chair. Mark was one of the founding members of HAS and has enthusiastically supported the society over the last  fifteen years. As Chair and Observing secretary, Mark's knowledge and willingness to share that knowledge has helped many members, their families and, through wider outreach meetings, members of the public better understand the night sky. Thank you Mark! Don't worry, Mark isn't going anywhere - he'll still be with us at our meetings and observing sessions to help us understand the night sky better.

With Mark retiring, we needed a new Chair. Happily Chris accepted (multiple!) proposals to become HAS Chair. Other members of the committee were happy to remain in their current posts and were confirmed in their roles. Keith has added another role to his long list of responsibilities - I think he's now FAS Representative, Equipment Secretary, Visits Secretary and Tour Manager - did I miss anything? Committee members and contact details are here.

After more refreshments, mince pies and chocolate, members settled back down and hugely enjoyed another of Chris's mini-talks. This one was about the scale of things - from the tiniest to the whole universe. Chris explained that the talk was originally given to a group of young children ... I think he set it at exactly the right level for the post-Christmas/New Year audience!   

Members Discussion Group

We've set up an online community for HAS members where you can raise questions, share your experience and suggest topics for talks or visits. We've created a discussion group on the Groups.io platform. This is a "fremium" based platform and promotes itself as "We don't run advertising and your data is never submitted to any ad tracking networks.". There are a lot of other astronomy and expert groups using this platform - it looks like a safe place to be online.

We've set the permissions for the group to be listed publicly but content is private - only HAS members can see what you post. We are moderating new members joining the group to manage spam bots and spurious content. This means new member requests have to be approved by an Admin before being admitted to the group. 

Once admitted you can follow discussions and post entries. It's an email based platform by default - you'll receive new posts by email from other members. However, if you don't want individual emails you can go online and change your "Subscription" to turn off emails and receive digests etc.

Have fun!

FAS News

Look out for emails from Keith with the regular FAS Newsletter and news and information about other events and talks that you may be interested in attending at FAS and other Astronomical Societies

Member's Photos 

Taken any astronomy photos over the last few months? Share them here with HAS members! 

Take a look at what HAS members have managed to do over the years on our Images page (here). 

Francis has been busy and produced another set of wonderful images. For those interested in the more technical side, he's included some notes on how he took and processed the images. Enjoy!

LDN 1235 - The Shark Nebula

LDN 1235, the Shark Nebula, is a dark/reflection nebula in the constellation Cepheus. The Shark Nebula is made up of interstellar dust, which is so thick it hides most of the light from behind it. Dark nebulae like this one are often difficult to process because they are extremely faint, and are difficult to bring out from the background medium due to how dark they are. These deep sky objects are also almost colourless, so you really cannot enhance any of the individual colours throughout the image. (Galactic Hunter)

Francis' notes:

Imaged With RASA 8 inch scope. Baader UV/IR cut filter and 60 x 300second sub frames.

Sub frames sorted, aligned and stacked in PixInsight. Colour processing also in PI but using a grayscale luminance mask to control highlights and shadow areas. Reversing the mask to work on either highlights or shadows as required. Final crop and resizing.

NGC 7331 and Stephan's Quintet

NGC 7331, also known as Caldwell 30, is an unbarred spiral galaxy about 40 million light-years (12 Mpc) away in the constellation Pegasus. It was discovered by William Herschel in 1784. 

Bottom right you can see Stephan's Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies of which four form the first compact galaxy group ever discovered. The group was discovered by Édouard Stephan in 1877 at the Marseille Observatory. (Wikipedia)

Francis' notes:

10x 300s sub frames Orion Optics VX10 f4.8 Newtonian reflector. Camera ASI2600MC DUO one shot colour camera cooled to -5°C.

Frames were sorted, aligned and stacked in PI. the stars were then removed from the image and the background and star images worked on separately before being recombined.

NGC 7000 - The Wall


The North America Nebula (NGC 7000 or Caldwell 20) is a large emission nebula in the constellation Cygnus, close to Deneb. It is named because its shape resembles North America. The dramatic feature of the nebula captured by Francis is known as The Cygnus Wall (Wikipedia)

Francis' notes:

Shorter sub frames (15 x 60s) used for the Wall. Mainly to try and reduce the sky background as this was shot early September with a bright moon, a few days after its full phase.

Processing in PI. Masked for red and blue areas. Red to lift the nebula, blue to suppress the sky background.

Sharpless 122 (Sh2-122)

The Sharpless catalogue is a list of 313 H II regions (emission nebulae). The first edition was published in 1953 with 142 objects (Sh1), and the second and final version was published by US astronomer Stewart Sharpless in 1959 with 312 objects. Sharpless also includes some planetary nebulae and supernova remnants, in addition to H II regions.

Near the bright star Markab in Pegasus, SH-122 sits in a rich area of small galaxies. (Wikipedia)

Francis' notes:

10x 300s sub frames Orion Optics VX10 f4.8 newtonian reflector. Camera ASI2600MC DUO one shot colour camera cooled to -5°C.

An Askar Ha/OIII 6nm narrowband filter was used for this image to lift the nebula from the background. Frames were sorted, aligned and stacked in PI. the stars were then removed from the image and the background and star images worked on separately. Masks were also used for the background nebula image to maintain and enhance the colour contrast gained with the filter. The star image was given a saturation boost before being recombined with the background.

M20 - The Trifid Nebula

The Trifid Nebula (catalogued as Messier 20 and as NGC 6514) is an H II region in the north-west of Sagittarius in a star-forming region in the Milky Way's Scutum-Centaurus Arm. It was discovered by Charles Messier on June 5, 1764. Its name means 'three-lobe' (botany).  (Wikipedia)

Francis' notes:

Comprised 10 x 300s subframes through UV/IR Baader filter and an Altair RC8  reflector.

Processing in PixInsight. No masks just use of saturation and curve transformations to accentuate the different parts of the nebula.

Meetings:

With meetings now allowed indoors, we are delighted to be able to have a mix of virtual Zoom talks and talks back at the Kindle Centre. Our next meeting is:

Thursday 1st February 2024

7 pm - Virtual Talk

Surveying the sky for radio galaxies

Professor Martin Hardcastle BA MA PhD ScD FInstP FIMA FRAS FBS FHEA CPhys - Professor of Astrophysics, Head of Department of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics, at the University of Hertfordshire

Many of our speakers at the Virtual Talks have allowed us to record and share their talks for society members to view if they missed the meeting. We've started a HAS YouTube channel here where you can visit or subscribe to and watch these talks.

To watch recordings of previous talks, they are on the "Recordings" page  here.

Our last talk was given over Zoom and recorded:

Thursday 1st February 2024

A talk given by Martin Hardcastle to Herefordshire Astronomical Society on the 1st February 2024.

Martin Hardcastle is Professor of Astrophysics and Head of the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics at the University of Hertfordshire. 

Martin has specialised in radio astronomy with research interests in the physics of active galaxies, radio-loud AGN, and groups and clusters of galaxies. In his talk he tells us about radio galaxies, how to find and study them.

Observing Session:

Oh dear, we're still waiting for a clear night for a HAS observing sessions. Let's hope we have better luck with our February observing. We will meet at our Lugg Meadows site - more information about our site and location here.

As always, look out for emails from Chris giving proposed date and details and look out for any last minute alterations. We will endeavour to stick to these dates unless weather means 'sliding' it, in which case it will likely be a few days earlier or later and members will of course be advised. Each date is centred on the first Thursday after Third Quarter.

If you are not on our emailing list, please contact Chris for the latest news - contact details here.

Remember that there are some great online observing guides - a good one is run by Telescope House. Look out for the monthly night sky emails from Chris.

Thursday 8th February 2024

6:30 - 9 pm

Lugg Meadows

Practical observing and advice session

More information here

Visit:

Once or twice a year, members like to jump in cars or climb in a mini-bus and make their way to go and see something interesting outside of Herefordshire (passports not required - so far). Previous trips have been to the Spaceguard Centre, the International Astronomy Show, the National Space Centre, Jodrell Bank, the Norman Lockyer Observatory outside Sidmouth, the Herschel Museum in Bath and the Hanwell Community Observatory just outside Banbury.

At our September meeting, Keith described the potential sites we could visit and took a poll of those present. Based on your feedback we've now had a fab trip to visit to the Spaceguard Centre in Knighton and Keith is now looking to organise a longer visit to Jodrell Bank in 2024 with an overnight stay to make the travel easier.

Look out for emails from Keith explaining more about the proposed visits and asking members to register for the trips.

TBA June 2024

Jodrell Bank

More information here

Members pay for shared transport and any entrance fees as appropriate..

Star Party:

We hope to hold Star Parties again this session - Covid-19 allowing. Maybe we'll be able to run one at the Madley Environmental Study Centre (MESC) again.

MESC is right next door to the Madley Satellite Earth Station - a well known Herefordshire landmark. There are some location maps and directions to the MESC web site here.

TBC 

Star Party with MESC

More information here