Heather Lomas

International Astronomy Show and Meal Afterwards!

I have to thank Andy, he persuaded me to go along to the event – which I think I enjoyed more having not been the previous year!

I had hoped to get along to at least one talk, but there were so many new things to see that we didn’t manage it! I didn’t intend to buy anything either, but I couldn’t resist in the end…  😉

The buying even started as we entered the event (after having had a chat with two local astronomy groups with tables in the foyer – good to get an idea of the type of leaflets others produce), when we came across some nice-hand made, stained glass, astro-themed decorations at £18 a pop!

a bit cheaper than the larger artworks, like this black hole inspired piece…

http://www.dolittleglass.co.uk/index.html

I was amazed to see (and get to play with), the new Nikon full frame D850 (£3500) as it only came out a few weeks ago, plus the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 ‘Art’ lens (£1650).

I had been thinking it was time to upgrade the old 12Mp D3, but having talked to astrophotographer Nigel Ball (he had a stand at the show and was one of the lecturers on Friday), who uses a 12Mp D3s and newer 36Mp D810A with the same Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens I have, he said I may be better off looking for a second hand 16Mp D4s instead…. we’ll have to see…

As well as all the nice camera gear, I especially like the Panther Alt/Az mounts which I’d seen two years ago… I got to chat to the UK distributer, but more importantly the Danish designer. He explained how it tracks, how to use the superb hand controller and with the addition of the extra field de-rotator. how they got around the problem of long exposure photography on an alt/at mount.

Andy even challenged him to set up the mount within their advertised time frame (around 5 minutes). He managed it in half that time whilst Andy did his best to put him off – taking pictures of the poor chap!!!

But with the poor weather we’re having, dropping another £5k on a new mount, no matter how cool… seems rather crazy… I still like it though 🙄😀😳

http://www.peak2valleyinstruments.co.uk/page_3569452.html

It was cheaper though than the Austrian made ‘ASA’ Direct Drive mount (uses magnets rather than gears or a disc) that caught mine and Andy’s eye at the show, a ‘snip’ at a discounted……  £11.5K !

Something else that caught my eye (and a nice change from all the usual gear you expect to see), keeping with the artistic slant, was some astro-themed paintings… The one here on the lower right looked far better in real life than that printed in the show guide. Is it a galaxy or globular cluster… that’s for the observer to interpret!

We had a good chat to the artist and talked about how to break into this market – difficult when the work was selling at £700-800 for the smaller works and £2-3k for the bigger ones. Such a purchase in our household would include the two of us. At this sort of show, mostly men…. is ‘he’ really going to buy without the OK from the wife..?!

After the event we all got back together for an Italian at ‘Pizza By Goli’ in Lichfield – thanks to Stephen for organising and to Heather who we toasted for her work on RAGs new Charity Status!

Ooh yes, my purchase – a pair of Vixen SG  2.1 x 42mm ‘Galilean’ binoculars. Down to £199 from £259 from The Widescreen Centre. I remember seeing these when first released 4 years ago or so for around £229.

I even got a very quick chance to use them Saturday night once home before the clouds rolled in. The huge field of view is around 25 degrees, which allows you to see the entire ‘Square pf Pegasus’!

I added the below to show you the comparison with a Telrad view…

Only the central 40-50% is really clear, but it did allow me to see stars within ‘the square’ that I couldn’t see naked eye very clearly, if at all – these were around Mag 4.5-5.5. On a good night, especially in the summer when viewing the Milky Way from Hereford, Wales or on holiday in Austria – they should really come into their own and be good fun!

Damian

Rosliston Science Discovery Day 7/10/2017

Thanks to Peter (Hill), Ed, Bob, Roger, Geoff, Terry, Heather and Damian, who along with myself talked to 50+ members of the public about astronomy at the science discovery day today at Rosliston Forestry Centre.

The weather remained dry although persistent cloud meant that solar observing was limited to a few precious moments in the first hour. I ought along my LOMO polarising microscope and folks were excited to look at the birefrigement colour patterns on meteor thin microscope sections and at microfossils in thin sections of fossil-containing rock. Problems with my power inverter left my laptop out of action but Ed’s battery saved the day for the microscope illuminator so that the public could continue to look through the microscope!

Andy

 

The picture below was taken today through the LOMO microscope using my Bresser MikrOkular camera – it shows microfossils in rock thin section. Birefringence in the crystals of minerals in the fossil-bearing rock is evident:

Observatory working party 8/4/2017

Now that the money has been raised to build the observatory, the first step is the look at the observatory dome we purchased – is it still in good condition?

Ed Mann has organised two working parties to repair the dome – the first was this morning.

All in all, the dome is in good condition – the team did sterling work – thanks to everyone who took part!

The photo below – After two years, while Mike, Dave and Julian looked the other way…..Chris helped Ed out of the Capsule!

Heather

“Introducing Astronomy” meetings

By Heather Lomas:

RAG held the first ‘Introducing Astronomy’ Meeting on Friday, 11th November. It was a very successful meeting, led by our Training Officers, Lee Bale and Pete Hill. It was well attended by a combination of RAG Members, some of whom new to Astronomy, and potential new members for RAG, all new to Astronomy. In addition, from the meeting we welcome a very enthusiastic Junior Member to the Group.

The content of the Meeting was very well received and promoted interesting discussion between everyone there. With Christmas approaching, and possible ‘present lists’ needing to be drawn up …the various types of Telescope, and suitable mounts, in a variety of price ranges, were clearly explained, giving the pros and cons of each, along with their strengths regarding specific observing targets, e.g.solar, lunar, deep sky, etc.
The striking features of the evening for me were the overall atmosphere of ‘cameraderie’ that backed up the whole meeting, and the friendship links that formed over a cuppa!

An excellent start ! We look forward to the next meeting in this series. This will be on Friday, 13th January, 2017 at 7.30pm – as December sees the return of RAG’s ‘Grand Christmas Quiz’.
Heather