Welcome to another edition of

Astronomy Wise online magazine. This month is a limited publication with Xmas and New Year we decided last minute to run the Edition. A big thanks to Edward Dutton and Rob Watson for putting the publication together for Jan 2013.

Andy Devey Solar Explorer

Heather Dawn Extreme Planets And T

John Harper The Night Sky, Occultati

Pepe Gallardo Eye of Sauron, VV 340 Paul Rumsby Scope Review PT 2

Happy New Year to all……

Mike Greenham Lunar/Planetary Ima

Michael Knowles: Total Solar Eclipse

Dave Bood

James Adams: Voyager Mission

Jason Ives: Voyager Mission, Brief Hi

A big thank you to all for supporting AW in 2012 and here is to 2013

Rouges Gallery. David Bood Education

Editor: Edward Dutton & Rob Watson


4. Eye of Sauron 6. Total Solar Eclipse - Palm Cove Australia 8. NGC 7635 - The Bubble Nebula 10. The Solar Explorer 12. Rouges Gallery 16. Sir Patrick Moore Tribute 18. VV 340 20. Astronomy Education 24. ERESO - UK 30. Scope Review Pt. 2 34. Apollo Unseen 38. A Brief History Of The Telescope 49. Lunar/Planetary Imaging 44. The Solar System– Beginners Guide 46. Extreme Planets And Their Orbits 48. Voyager The Mission 54. The Night Sky 56.Occultations 60. Sky Chart

Their Orbits

ions, Sir Patrick Moore


aging/ Images


istory Of Telescopes


Mike Greenham: Andromeda with the Canon 500D and Skywatcher ED100. 90 to 240 second exposures @ iso800 giving a total of 120 mins


In the "Eye of Sauron"
It may seem that we are not going to write about "The Lord of the Rings" or something related with the astronomy in the novel. The astronomers have a very rich imagination and so they have called so this galaxy which is properly labeled as NGC 4151 ("NGC" stands for New General Catalogue of nebulae and clusters of stars). It is 43 million light years away from the Earth and is one of the nearest galaxies that is known to contain an actively growing black hole at its central region.

You can mainly see three colors in the composite image: red (radio emission from NSF's Very Large Array), blue (X-rays as Chandra observatory recorded), yellow (optical data from Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope on La Palma) and white (the central region of the galaxy where the black hole is). The image is only the 'pupil' of the Eye not the entire one.

An study has shown that the X-ray emission is caused by an outburst coming from a super massive black hole in the center of the galaxy (the white region in the image). Two theories have been proposed: as the matter falls onto the black hole it emits an intense bright radiation which strips electrons away from the atoms in the gas. These electrons recombine again with the ionized atoms and the recombination produces Xrays. This situation may be caused by an abnormal growth of the central black hole. Other theory suggests that the material falling onto the black hole releases energy which is heated to X-ray emitting temperatures. Since NGC 4151 is near to the Earth it offers a very good chance to study the interaction between a super massive black hole and the surrounding gas in its host galaxy.

Pepe Gallardo @aechmu


Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/P.Slane, et al.


Total Solar Eclipse 14th Novembe
November 2012 people from all over the world besieged North Queensland Australia to witness a total solar eclipse. After viewing two previous total solar eclipses I was hooked. Travelling half way round the world did not deter me. Eager anticipation gripped thousands of people desperate to view the wondrous spectacle. I chose Palm Cove beach as my Eclipse vantage point. Trepidation filled the air as each wave rolled in. Increasing numbers of people staked out their beach position in the early hours. Cloud masked the horizon all through the partial eclipse phases. Hopes were diminishing with the ever decreasing light. Uncannily a few minutes prior Palm Beach crowd build up prior to solar eclipse. to second contact the clouds parted revealing the most awesome solar totality that I’ve ever experienced. The bailies beads effect were the most prominent I’ve witnessed out of two previous total solar eclipses chases I’ve done. The Pacific Ocean provided an awesome backdrop which fused together with the deep uncanny rich totality gave a deep greenish, purple sombre spectacle. It is not surprising ancient civilisations feared this spectacle due to lack of knowledge. Totality occurred at 06:38:35 at Palm Cove beach.

Prior to second contact phase.

After third contact phase.


er 2012 Palm Cove Australia.
Total disbelief scoured Palm Cove beach esplanade as clouds vacated to show thousands a wondrous total solar eclipse. Dr. John Mason MBE was our professional astronomer.

Frequency of Eclipses
The conditions for an eclipse to occur are similar to those for transits of planets across the Sun. That is at the time of New Moon (for Solar eclipses) or Full Moon (for Lunar eclipses) the Moon must be close to one of the points (nodes) at which it crosses the ecliptic. The positions of the Moon's nodes effectively revolve round the Earth relative to the Sun with a period of just over 18 years. As a result there is no fixed time of the year at which eclipses occur. The nodes are revolving in a retrograde direction (opposite to the direction of rotation of the Earth about the Sun). The "eclipse year" is therefore shorter than a calendar year approx 346.6 days. Eclipses tend to occur earlier each successive year. They must occur at New or Full Moon. Australian Nov 14th 2012 Total Solar Eclipse Track After 18 years (6585 and a third days, i.e. 18 years and 11 and a third days) the Lunar nodes return to the same place enabling similar eclipses to occur. This period of time is known as the Saros. Due to the third of a day involved positions of the eclipses on the Earth's surface move round by about 120° of longitude. Similar eclipses recur at a similar position on the Earth after 3 Saros. However changes of latitude occur. The Nov 14th 2012 was a Saros

Michael Knowles.
Radio Programmer




Capturing the Suns large scale suspended magnetic structures.
This month I thought that I should cover how to capture the Sun’s suspended magnetic structures such as filaments, prominences and post flare loops. These are spectacular targets that can offer excellent views of plasma flowing through them from the Corona back to the Chromosphere. These structures can exhibit some tremendous diversification in movement and in some instances they lift off as coronal mass ejections. As with active regions, I initially get a reasonable idea of the dynamics of the current suspended structures from the GONG site movies before selecting which areas to photograph. On a few occasions, I have been able to predict when a large filament/prominence is becoming unstable and ready to lift off. When these huge structures start to escape they can trigger ribbon flares, a beautiful spectacle to record. I consider that capturing a time lapse of such an event a real bonus as they are far less frequent than solar flares. When I am trying to capture such a structure, I always consider its initial size and try to allow for any lift off potential before I choose the F-ratio and how much solar disc to include in the frame. I was caught out on one occasion when for the first 30 minutes I was at F40 and then had to quickly switch to F20 during mid sequence so as to capture the expanding arc as a huge prominence lifted off. I later had to double the image scale of the F20 images to make the final movie. The final movie speed will depend on the interval between individual still [I rarely go above 4 minutes] and the frame rate selected to run the sequence. These escaping events can develop into gigantic but very tenuous strucPhoto 1: Here a large prominence has tures as their form detached from the north-west limb on 4 gradually starts to September 2012 and is in the process of expand and evapolifting off, I captured the whole event at rate as their mag1.6m focal length over a 3 ½ hour duranetic connections to tion. the solar surface become severed. Their proportions can extend for hundreds of thousands of kilometres and estimated as a proportion of the Suns diameter (1,500,000km). The duration of such an event depends upon its size and escape velocity. Its form is a just a matter of its position either prominence ejections if located on the limb or as irruptive filaments if face on.
Photo 2: Here another large prominence has detached from the north-west limb on 13 April 2010. Its height is equivalent to the distance from the Earth to the Moon. This is a mosaic combining a disc and an edge image.


The slinky post flare loop structures that follow large flares are best imaged on the limb, they can last for hours and in time-lapse can show the plasma flowing from the centre of the loop and simultaneously down both sides to the chromosphere. When imaging limb features always consider whether you want to concenPhoto 3: Here is a large filament that lifted split trate the eye on into two and then reformed. the feature itself and if so over expose your image so that later you will achieve bright featureless disc or use a black blanking disc as some imagers chose. You will need to double stack or use a 12 or 16 bit grey scale camera to get disc and prominence features on the same exposure setting unless they are very bright. The alternative is to take two images one of the disc and the other for the limb and merge them into a mosaic.


Photo 4: Here is a large post flare structure photographed on the 19 July 2012.

Out in the garden I always use the British Astronomical Association seeing scale as a reference and generally only attempt to image from grade 1 to grade 3 seeing, unless a major flare/event goes off that I just have to try to capture! I have found that my local seeing often seems to deteriorate during the peak period of the larger solar flares. There are quite a number of free download image processing programs such as Registax 6, Avistax or Autostakkert that produce higher quality still pictures from averages of the captured video data to help reduce the effects of the local atmospheric shimmer. I build my kit up outside and use a homemade wooden observing box. My longest continuous solar imaging session to Photograph 5: An observing session in the UK. date was 6 hours so comfort is vital. My observing box is The box has the fan cut into the far side. The lined with black cloth and the outside is painted white to resmall triple solar scope has the two PST’s flect the heat. I fitted the rear top with a hinged flap housing mounted on a piece of laminate floor boarding a small solar panel to recharge the internal 12v-battery that while the larger triple set up is assembled on powers a 100mm fan to keep the laptop and my head cool. to a homemade aluminium cradle. The box has a Velcro strip around the front opening to attach an observing blanket. This box has proved excellent for lengthy imaging sessions even in 45ºC temperatures!
Have fun with the Sun!

Andy Devey


Image: James Lennie


David Lupton

Our Christmas Day Occultation: From L to R: Callisto, Ganymede, Jupiter, Europa & our Moon




Patrick Moore FRAS 1923 - 2012
It was my honour and privilege to be invited to say a few words on all the local BBC radio stations in this area, following the sad news of the death of Patrick Moore, earlier this month. Undoubtedly he is the man who will be forever known as the ‘Father of Amateur Astronomy. Patrick was unique, not only because he was the presenter of the longest running BBC television series, The Sky at Night which made available astronomy to everyone, but also because he was one of the founder members of the Junior Astronomical Society, which later became, and is now known as the Society for Popular Astronomy, one of the three UK nation-wide astronomical societies we currently have, the others being: The Royal Astronomical Society, and the British Astronomical Association, in all of which Patrick was a long serving and renowned member. I first met him at the old City Museum in Park Row, Leeds, (HSBC bank now stands on the site), when at the tender age of 16, I was enthralled by a lecture given by an enthusiastic young man, the presenter of Sky at Night, a ‘short’ series which had just started on BBC TV. He clearly knew his stuff, and his enthusiasm was infectious. I vividly remember coming away from the lecture with the thought that one day we would know whether or not there were aliens like those shown in the slide of one of his mother’s paintings, on the planet Mars! So the decades passed, and we now know the answer, there are not! At the beginning of the 21 st century I was able to bring Patrick up to North Yorkshire to open the Astronomy Facility in the North York Moors National Park in Dalby Forest. The event was well attended and everyone fell silent as I escorted the larger than life Celebrity of Astronomy to the gathering of people around the two domes which the Scarborough and Ryedale Astronomical |Society had constructed, near the old Visitors’ Centre. Everyone was surprised and amused as Patrick started taking photos with his old ‘Brownie’ camera as he approached the multitude. The event was well covered by the local press and radio, and everyone had the chance to speak with the maestro during the ‘bun feast’ that followed the ‘opening ceremony’.


Afterwards, we drove him back to ‘Farthings’ in Selsey, his home on the Channel coast, south of Chichester, to be entertained by him for the rest of the weekend. Reminiscing about that occasion, several amusing things come to mind. Firstly, the surreal occasion, when after arriving late at night, I had the opportunity to sit with Patrick in his lounge watching an edition of BBC’s Sky of Night at one in the morning, sipping a triple brandy which he insisted I pour out for myself, after pouring his! Patrick’s famous xylophone keeping us company in the corner. The second occasion was when I was with him in his study. There on the wall was a huge frames display of all the honours he had achieved, including his ‘spurs’ of knighthood. He said to me “--and do you see that one?” pointing to a rather beautiful badge-like object. “Yes” I replied and wondered what award it might be. “Oh”, he replied, “That fell out of a Christmas Cracker!” Patrick Moore, was an unique individual who has inspired scientists and amateurs alike to look at the stars. There will never be another Patrick Moore! We are so fortunate to have lived during the time of this great man. The next time you look at the moon, try to spot the greyish patch right on the western limb (new lunar nomenclature) of the lunar limb, at full or during the moon’s waning phase. If you can, then raise your ski hat and remember Patrick! That feature was discovered and named by him- and is the Mare Orientale. I have one of the moon maps he made, which he gave me on one of my walls at home, and I am reminded that Patrick was an avid moon observer. NASA used his maps when they were deciding where the Apollo missions should land. How strange that both he and Neil Armstrong departed this world and this life in the very same year. Both will be remembered. Rest in peace, Sir Patrick!

John Harper, F.R.A.S
Former Director, Occultation Section, Society for Popular Astronomy


Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/P.Slane, et al.


VV 340
Sometimes the Universe seems strange, fussy or even funny. If you look at this image for a moment you will realize that these two galaxies form an exclamation point! Beyond this fun fact there are deeper reasons to study the image. This "object" known as VV 340 or Arp 302 is an example of two galaxies colliding. One of its interesting features is that it seems to emit energy at a rate much larger than a typical galaxy. What is the reason of this? One is that a supermassive black hole is growing and swallowing the galaxies. This black hole seems to be in the upper galaxy (technically VV 340 North). This part produces the most part of infrared energy (more intense that the lower part, or VV 340 South). Another reason is that an intense burst of star formation is taking place out there. In any case the galaxies are in an early stage of their interaction. Because of its bright in infrared light this object is classified as LIRG (Luminous InfraRed Galaxy). Most of this images are formed by a combination of infrared and optical light. In this case, X-ray bright in purple and th optical light is shown in red, green and blue. It is an astonishing chance to view how two galaxies melt down in a similar way as our Milky Way and Andromeda galaxy will likely do in about billions of years from now on. You can find VV 340 in the constellation Boötes and it is about 450 light years far away.

Pepe Gallardo @aechmu


Astronomy Education
In recent years education has become more accessible, this is mainly down to the internet. Many Universities are offering distance learning courses, the market for providers has opened up. Any budding scientist can now apply to many Universities worldwide. For this article I am not going to look at the cost of these courses, but what courses are available and where. However I will have a look at free courses available. For those of you who are looking for a career in Astronomy, Cosmology, Astrobiology and other physics based courses then it is possible you will be looking at one of the Universities, which I will include the Open University. However later on in the article we will have a look at distance learning. With most of the physics based courses a good level of maths is required, mainly algebra. The ability to take a formula and transpose it is a skill required.

(Greek- Astro meaning star, Physics meaning nature)

Astrophysics deals with the physics of the universe, which include the structure, properties and motion of the planets, stars and galaxies. Astrophysics can be broken down into Observational and Theoretical.

Astrobiology is the study of the origin and evolution of life, here on planet Earth, the solar system and galaxy. It looks at possible life in the future here and elsewhere.

Cosmology is the study of the origins and the fate of the universe. It also looks at the natural laws that keep the universe in order.

Planetary Science
Planetary science is the study of the planets, including moons. If you are looking to study from home then the OU (Open University) is a good place to start. The OU offers a wide range of courses, from Certificates in Astronomy to Degree courses. Here is a link to a search I did for Astronomy: http://search.open.ac.uk/public/search/C.view=default/results?


Another option is http://www.studyastronomy.com/. Like the OU they offer certificate courses in Astronomy, Cosmology, Planetary Science and Astrobiology. They also offer Degree courses. With both providers look at the pros and cons on what is on offer, look at the costs, most of these courses carry a fee. The following is an example of an Astronomy Course via studyastronomy.com provided by UCLAN (University of Central Lancashire).

Course at a Glance
All modules can be combined towards the BSc(Hons) degree. Level 1 modules (equivalent to Year 1 of a full-time degree) can be combined towards a Certificate of Higher Education, while the addition of the Level 2 modules (equivalent to Year 2 of a full-time degree) can lead to a Diploma of Higher Education. Some modules are prerequisites for other modules, and students must complete study at lower levels before progressing to higher levels. Not all modules run every year. The Level 3 modules (equivalent to Year 3 of a full-time degree) are only available on the BSc(Hons) degree programme.

Year 1
(Level 1 - not necessarily taken in Year 1) Introduction to Astronomy 1 Introduction to Cosmology 1 Introduction to Astrobiology 1 Sun, Earth & Climate 1 Great Astronomers in History 1 Energy, Matter & the Universe 1 IT for Astronomy 1 Investigations in Astronomy

Year 2
(Level 2 - not necessarily taken in Year 2) The Milky Way 2 Galaxies beyond the Milky Way 2 UV, optical & infrared astronomy 2 Exploring the solar system 2 Solar Astrophysics 2 Solar-Stellar Connection 2

Year 3
(Level 3 - not necessarily taken in Year 3) Cosmology & Relativity Extreme States of Matter Origins Collaborative Investigation Astronomy Dissertation

1. Available as a University Certificate 2. Available as part of a University Advanced Certificate Modules contributing to smaller awards can be later combined into larger awards of the appropriate Level.


Links with Professional Bodies:
The programme is recognised by the Royal Astronomical Society.

All assessment is completed from home, with no need to attend exam centres. Course work includes question sheets, essays & reports on practical work. Practicals include naked eye observing, data analysis & experiments suitable for the home.

Learning Environment:
The course materials, assessments and other resources are provided online via the University's elearning facility, with bandwidth-hungry material provided on CD-ROM. Tutorial support is available by telephone, by email via a dedicated address or online using the elearning facility. Students can interact with tutors and each other online, and assessed work is returned after marking with extensive, supportive feedback. While most of the modules have no attendance requirement, an optional observatory weekend is offered, and staff attend astronomy fairs around the country. Every module has a dedicated tutor, supported by one or more other tutors and the course leader for all the Astronomy programmes.

Most of our students are studying for the interest, but some of those completing these courses have used them professionally for example to meet their employers’ IT training requirements. The good full BSc(Hons) degree may qualify a student to progress to a research degree upon completion, provided they choose appropriate options and final dissertation.

Other Opportunities:
Students can also study with our partners Jodrell Bank Observatory and Liverpool John Moores' University, incorporating modules from those institutes into our awards. Contact the course team for more details of this arrangement. It is worth noting that a good level of maths is required with most university courses, the ability to understand formulas and transpose to get the elements you need.


Free Courses
We all love something free. Well there is a new provider called Coursera, www.coursera.org . Coursera provide free courses which last between 5 and 9 weeks long. They have linked up with universities from all over the world. One course astrobiology which is run by the University of Edinburgh https://www.coursera.org/course/astrobio which i have signed for runs for 5 weeks. These courses offer no qualification, and some offer a certificate after completion. What these courses do is give you a taster of what a fully course would be. I looked at the Astronomy Course which was mostly astrophysics and the science of the universe. The content consists of weekly video lectures followed by homework. Each week to get full credits you must complete the video lectures and homework to the hand in date set.

The courses are interesting but they do require time to watch the content, maybe more than once and complete the tasks. There are forums for help.

UK Space Education
Next month we are going to look at Universities, however the ESERO-UK have kindly provided us an article for their education program.

Dave Bood
Image: http://hannibalphysics.wikispaces.com/Ch+4+Newton%


Astronomy teaching resources and the UK Space Education Office - ESERO-UK
ESERO-UK, also known as the UK Space Education Office, aims to promote the use of space to enhance and support the teaching and learning of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in schools and colleges throughout the UK. The project is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Department for Education, and the office has been established at the National STEM Centre at the University of York. The ESERO-UK office is part of a larger family of offices spread throughout Europe and established by ESA in collaboration with national and institutional partners active in science education. The National STEM Centre, which hosts the ESERO-UK office, also houses the largest open collection of resources for teachers of STEM subjects. Resources for use with early years to post-16 students are freely available as physical and eLibrary collections. The eLibrary currently contains over 5,800 teaching resources for the STEM subjects of which over 250 have a space theme. These materials include:  Contemporary print, multimedia, interactive and practical teaching materials  Digitised archive resources drawn from recent decades  Research publications with bearing on classroom practice  Cross-curricular resources to aid innovative STEM teaching approaches The UK Space Education Office (ESERO-UK) collection of space education resources

Space-themed resources from the Astronomy and Cosmology sub-collection: A vital part of the project is the ESERO-UK collection of space resources. ESERO-UK has built a collection of space-themed teaching and learning resources. Below are some examples that you may find of interest:


All About Telescopes Produced by ESERO-UK, these short video clips look at a range of different telescopes and give advice and guidance on choosing a telescope particularly for schools, as well as advice on how to make use of remote telescopes.

Space - Careers Our article on the STEM careers site, Future Morph, is part of their section dedicated to careers related to space.

Life of a Star: Planetary Nebula Lithograph This resource from NASA describes how low-mass stars expand in size and become red giants at the end of their lives. Then they shed their outer layers and become planetary nebulae. The image of NGC 2440, a planetary nebula, is on the first page of the lithograph.

Stars and Forces This Nature of Science book looks at the history of astronomy and how scientists’ understanding of the solar system, forces and gravity has developed. The story includes the revolutionary ideas of Copernicus, Galileo and Newton and the theory of magnetism.

Resources from the Royal Astronomical Society The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science.

Cosmology: the Origin and Development of the Universe This book introduces the history of measurements in cosmology, from Aristotle to Galileo and Newton.

Stonehenge and Ancient Astronomy This booklet describes how the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge appears to be an ancient astronomical observatory. In recent years, by combining evidence from archaeology and astronomy, some researchers believe that the monument could have been an observatory, calendar or device for calculating.


If you are doing activities with schools then these teaching resources, from the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, contain some good practical activities related to astronomy: Exoplanets Galaxies

CPD for teachers ESERO-UK works with other partners in the UK to provide continuing professional development for teachers. We promote these via the events section of our website.

For further information and to access the resources visit www.esero.org.uk


Allan Clements ESERO-UK Manager

Tom Lyons ESERO-UK Teacher Fellow

Alice Coates STEM Project Officer


Image http://www.esero.org.uk/


The UK branch of the European Space Education Resource Office (ESERO-UK), also known as the UK Space Education Office, has been established to promote the use of space to enhance and support the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects in schools and colleges throughout the UK.

The project is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Department for Education, and the office has been established at the National STEM Centre at the University of York.

The principal aims of ESERO-UK are to:  share good practice, and space-related teaching and learning resources, with teachers and college lecturers;  be the first point of contact for the education and space communities when seeking information about space education and careers; raise the profile of the education work of ESA, the UK Space Agency and the wider UK space community with schools and colleges.
You can find out more and access teacher support at www.esero.org.uk



Welcome to

Scope Review Part 2
This is the second of three articles covering astronomical telescopes. In December’s edition of Astronomy Wise we took a look at beginner’s telescopes around the £150 mark as well as discussing some of the terminology that may be encountered during a first time buyers search for a telescope. This month we will look at intermediate scopes currently on the market before moving on to more advanced and of coarse more expensive equipment next month. As you can imagine, competition for this share of the market is fierce which is good for the buyer, bringing a raft of features but also a multitude of possibilities. You will be parting with a sizable chuck of cash so it is strongly recommended to define your budget and stick to it and also to ask yourself a few questions. What do you want to achieve with the telescope? What objects do you intend to observe, the moon and bright planets or feint nebula and galaxies, or a combination of the two? The answers to these questions will define the scope you buy so take some time and consider them before purchasing. You may also want to consider what you will be doing with the scope in a year’s time or harder, five years. Is your goal to carry out serious amateur astronomy or to remain a casual observer? Consideration should be given to spending additional money on features you may not necessarily use right now but will later on, an extra few hundred pounds spent now may negate the need to sell on and buy better equipment later. The Skywatcher Skymax 127 Telescope comes with SupaTrakTM, a motorised multi-speed alt-azimuth mount with hand paddle for easy slewing to and tracking of astronomical objects. The 127mm or 5” primary mirror will give bright views of planetary and deep sky objects. The telescope comes with two eyepieces 10mm and 25mm which gives magnifications of x60, x120, x150 and x300 when combined with the x2 barlow lens. The Maksutov-Cassegrain design of this scope gives a long focal length of 1500mm and a focal ratio of F11.8. The mount is made of aluminium and is supplied with an accessory tray, simple and well designed this scope, at around £340.00 is ideal as a lower end intermediate scope for the casual observer. The Celestron Nexstar 102 SLT Computerised Telescope at around £360.00 is a great package that is highly portable for observers in light polluted areas that need to travel to dark sites or for those that want to be up and observing in a few minutes.


The hand held GOTO computer has over 4,000 objects in its data base and the 102mm or 4” lens provide crisp views of the moon and bright planets with some surface detail visible on larger objects. At F5 the scope gives a wide 1.7 degree field of view so comes into its own for sweeping stellar fields. Short exposure photography is possible with an attachment for digital cameras. SkyWatcher Explorer-200P 8" Reflector Telescope is a superb instrument when combined with the robust heavy duty EQ-5 mount. The telescope costs around £450.00 and ships with the normal accessories: 10mm and 25mm eyepieces along with the x2 barlow give magnifications of x40, x80, x80 and x100 with the highest practical power of x400. The 200mm or 8” primary mirror allows 77% more light gathering capacity than 150mm or 6” mirrors and with a focal length of 1000mm gives a focal ratio of F5. The tripod is manufactured from 1.75” stainless tube and has hardly any flex providing a solid base. Unfortunately motors to drive the RA and Dec axis are not included so will be an additional cost (£90) and essential if long exposure photography is being considered. The BBC Sky at Night Magazine said “The Explorer-200P passed all our tests with flying colours and was a delight to use both optically and mechanically... The overall stability of the system impressed us” Next we have the Skyliner-250PX 10" Parabolic Dobsonian Telescope which at around £450.00 gives a fantastic aperture to cost ratio, an incredible 254mm or 10” primary for under £500! These telescopes are simple by design and are meant to be driven by hand but can be motorised if required. The Skyliner comes with the familiar 10mm and 25mm eyepieces giving magnifications of x48 and x120 but has a highest practical power of over x500. With a focal length of 1200mm, giving a focal ratio of F5, and the larger aperture this scope will be a good all round performer. This telescope is Ideal for the traditional, hands on observer, who wants to explore and learn the night sky the old fashioned way and be rewarded with incredible views. The scope is portable and easy to set up…light gathering at its best.


The Bresser Refractor 102/1000 EXOS 2 is a 102mm or 4” achromatic refractor that will give outstanding views of the moon and planets. The 1000mm focal length gives a focal ratio of F9.8 and comes with a single 26mm 2” plossl eyepiece with a highest practical power of x200. This is a well designed, well built piece of equipment costing around £670.00 that will give years of enjoyment for the astronomer with a bigger budget Lets stay with Bresser and finish this selection with the 102’s bigger sibling the Bresser Refractor 152/1200 EXOS 2. For around £950.00 you get the same design and build quality but with an eye popping 152mm or 6” primary. This is a serious piece of equipment and until recently would have been beyond all but the most dedicated of astronomers. The additional light gathering capacity of this telescope compared with the 102 will deliver stunningly contrasted, high resolution images of nebula and galaxies as well as the moon and planets. The 1200mm focal length gives a nice focal ratio of F7.9 and a highest practical power of x300. The telescope comes with the same 26mm 2” eyepiece for beautiful wide field views and the sturdy Exos 2 equatorial mount. To sum up: for under a thousand pounds you can get a truly stunning, robust, well engineered piece of equipment. The message here I think, is aperture. Go for the largest you can afford. For me, the 10” dobsonian and 6” refractor stand out and as the former costs roughly half that of the latter should suite budgets at both ends of the scale. You may be surprised at the lack of computerised telescopes in this selection but I think for true computerised, GOTO telescopes you have to go above the one thousand price bracket, into the realms of large apertures and larger price tags. That’s where we are headed next month as we conclude this short series of articles with a look at equipment for the advanced astronomer.

Paul Rumsby








Jason Ives


Lunar/Planetary imaging Pt. 1
Firstly let me introduce myself. I’m Mike and ever since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated with the universe. How can something be so large, if I flew in a straight line for long enough would I reach the edge of the universe and if so what would I find? Is there intelligent life out there? I’d watch and read anything I could to help me better understand the environment we find ourselves occupying. I don’t know why but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I purchased my first telescope and instantly became hooked. Being able to see with my own eyes things that I had seen in books and on the television was incredible. Before long I had upgraded to a larger telescope in order to gain better views. I was observing the moon one day and wanted to show the family what I could see so put my phone against the eyepiece and took a blurred image of the moon. On the right is that first picture. I was amazed that I could capture that amount of detail on my phone and began researching how to take better images. It seemed a lot of people were using digital SLR’s for astrophotography so I brought a Canon 500D and the adaptor needed to connect it to telescope and could be found every clear night in the garden playing with my new toy. All of a sudden I was able to capture detailed views of the complete moon and with an eyepiece projection can could take very nice close ups along with the planets. Anyone with a telescope and a mobile phone can take pictures of the moon as I did above. I’ve seen pictures taken this way with phones, Ipads and point & shoot cameras. Try it, next time your out put whatever device you have against the eyepiece and take a shot. There are brackets available that allow you to connect your point and shoot camera to the eyepiece that will obviously give the camera stability and improve the results. If you already have a DSLR then all you need is a T ring to connect to the telescope. Connecting in this way will allow you to capture the complete moon in a single shot as shown on the left. Any DSLR has this capacity but you really want one that supports Live View. Live view allows you to connect the camera to a laptop and view a live feed on the laptop screen from the camera sensor. This makes focusing much easier than relying on the camera’s small LCD screen. You can zoom in on a region and adjust the focus until the craters appear to be in best focus. Alternatively you can purchase a Brathinov mask, shown below, and focus on a bright star. Brathinov masks are great and remove all the guesswork out of focusing. They produce a pattern on the screen that clearly shows you when perfect focus is achieved.


If you want to achieve more detailed images you have a few options open to you. Firstly you can purchase a Barlow lens and add this into the optical path. Basically a Barlow lens increases the focal length of the telescope. The focal length tells us how much of the sky the telescope can see. The longer the focal length the smaller area of sky it can see. A x2 Barlow doubles the focal length, x3 triples it and so on. Another method would be eyepiece projection. This works by projecting the image seen in the eyepiece onto the camera sensor so the higher magnification the eyepiece is the closer into the moon the image will appear. Some eyepieces such as the Baader Hyperions allow direct connection of a DSLR but even cheap standard eyepieces can be used. In order to use these you need an eyepiece projection can that you slide the eyepiece into. The DSLR then attaches to the can and is placed into the eyepiece tube of the telescope.

The Image on the left shows a Canon 500 connected to a Revelation 32mm eyepiece. The image on the right shows the camera with an eyepiece projection can attached.

The image on the right was taken with a standard eyepiece that came with the telescope using the eyepiece projection method. As you can see we are now getting in nice and close and if we wanted we could take a series of images covering the entire moon and create a mosaic. I use a free program called Microsoft Ice for stitching images of a mosaic together. I can’t really go into exposure and Iso settings as its going to be different for each scope so it’s really dependant on your setup. What I will say is try to keep exposure times down to a minimum to minimise the effects of a turbulent atmosphere. And remember as we increase the focal length with Barlows and eyepieces we increase the F number which results in a required longer exposure. Let me rewind a bit and just explain. The f number of a telescope is the focal length divided by the aperture. So a telescope with a 200mm aperture and 1200mm focal length has a F number of 6 (1200 divided by 200). F6 is a nice fast scope but a 1200mm focal length isn’t going to get you the close ups of the moon you want. Add a x3 Barlow and it has tripled our focal length to 3600mm so now our F number is 18 (3600 divided by 200). Trouble is the exposure required isn’t tripled. Roughly it would require 14 x the exposure time in order to capture the same amount of light. So if we were using 1/500s exposure at F6 we would need 1/36s at F18. The knock on effect of this longer exposure is it is more susceptible to turbulent air (what we call seeing). So as you can see it’s a bit of a trade-off. Ok so now we can take complete moon shots, close up shots and stitch them together. You can now have a try at stacking images to increase the sharpness. I use two free programs called Registax and Autostakkert. Both allow you to put your captured stills into and will align and stack them for you. I’m not going to go into depth in the use of the software as there are tutorials already out there explaining it much better than I can. So what if you want to take it another step. Lots of people modify standard webcams to use with the scope. This is something I haven’t done but have read a bit on when considering doing one myself so know there is lots of info out there on the web. If you choose to modify a webcam the following section detailing capture and processing is pretty much the same.


There are a lot of different dedicated planetary/lunar cameras available but they all do basically the same thing. They attach to the telescope in place of the eyepiece and allow you to capture a movie containing lots of individual stills in a short space of time. So what benefits does this have. Well the more images we stack the more sharpening we can apply and the less noise will be visible. Not only that but if I have a movie of 2000 images some of the images will be much sharper than others due to seeing so you can cherry pick the best ones. It’s not something you have to do manually, just tell Registax or Autostakkert what percentage of images to use and it’ll do it all for you. Once it has stacked them we can then adjust the wavelets in order to sharpen the image. When considering a camera think about what you want to image. Colour cameras allow you to quickly produce a colour image of the planets but the trade-off for this convenience is they are less sensitive. This is because they have a Bayer matrix in front of the imaging chip turning the pixels either red, blue or green. Mono camera‘s obviously don’t have this and are therefore more sensitive but in order to obtain a colour image we need to take red, green and blue images to combine by using filters. So do you want a convenient way to grab a quick image or are you a perfectionist? Another consideration is the imaging chip size. A 6mm chip acts much the same as a 6mm eyepiece. To work out the magnification with an eyepiece we divide the focal length of the telescope by the eyepiece size so a 6mm eyepiece on a 1200mm focal length telescope gives us a 200x magnification. Therefore a camera with a 6mm diagonal chip also achieves roughly a 200x magnification. The resolution of the camera has no impact on the magnification it is just the resolution that you will achieve at that given magnification. Also look at the speed that the camera can capture at. Faster is better especially if you using a non-driven mount. You need to capture as many frames as possible before your target leaves the field of view. Below is a series of images of the Copernicus Crater captured at varying focal lengths with a 6mm diagonal chip. The first one is at a focal length of 1200mm, the second at 2700mm and the final one at 6000mm. The process for capturing these images is exactly the same. The only thing that varies is the exposure time and gain setting on the camera. I try to keep the gain nice and low while not exceeding 30ms exposure. If you up the gain you up the noise and that’s something we want to try and avoid.

Even after saying above about colour cameras being less sensitive some great images can still be obtained. Here is Jupiter captured using the QHY IMG132e, a colour camera. The exposure used to capture this was 32ms and the gain was set at around 30%. An avi of 2000 stills was captured and I stacked the top 1000 in Registax.


I frequently get asked which telescope is the best but in short I don’t believe there is such a thing. For the moon and planets we want the long focal lengths found in Mak’s and Schmidt Cassegrain’s while for deep space photography we want a fast scope with a low F number in order to catch as many light photons as possible in the shortest amount of time. For this reason many astronomers find themselves owning a number of telescopes. The same is true for cameras. No one camera will do everything well. I own a mono and a colour planetary camera along with the DSLR for deep space objects and still find myself wanting a dedicated mono CCD for deep space. It really depends how far you want to take this hobby. As I’ve shown the DSLR is very versatile and capable of doing both but limited when you want to get in really close for individual craters. My advice to any wannabe astrophotographer would be to get yourself a second hand DSLR, play with it and see how you get on. It will be capable of producing images such as this M31 Andromeda galaxy below so will serve you for many years before you outgrow it.

Mike Greenham




Extreme Planets and their Orbits
As I as I stepped out into the cold winter rain it trickled down my unbuttoned coat and wet my warm chest, I began to wonder about temperature and how it varies in our galaxy and the universe all around us and the extreme orbits occurring in other solar systems. Gravity is universal it is responsible for holding together our Solar system and binding the entire universe. Our solar system consists of 8 planets (poor Pluto) and over 300 moons but what is actually unusual is that all these heavenly bodies have a very stable orbit and travel around the sun and indeed one another like clockwork, some in circular orbits others elliptical. The universe is a very hostile place and there's lots of chaos and violence going on in deep space, there are extreme orbits, colliding galaxies and stars tearing other stars apart, what I find most interesting is that the Kepler telescope recently discovered Hot Jupiter's ,Gas giants orbiting extremely close to their parent star, I decided to investigate how this could have possibly occurred. Large gas giants actually commonly migrate in towards their inner solar system like surfers riding a wave, their wave is a gravitational force pulling them towards their parent star, thank goodness our gas giants don't appear to be on this path! Some planets get so close to their star that they are devoured by it as the atmosphere is stripped away and then eventually the remaining matter. Some planets are so large and hot that as they approach the inner solar system they deflect the terrestrial planets and send them off into deep space turning them into orphan rogue planets in search of a new star some forever to be lonely rocky bodies surrounded by darkness, these planets may well become moons to other mighty planets. Other earth like planets are destroyed in the immense heat given off by the large intruders, so unlike our Jupiter which is stable and keeps its distance from Earth there are huge wanderers looking for a hot spot to home in on near their parent star. I personally find it remarkable how there are so many diverse systems out in the far regions of deep space but isn't it more wondrous that we as humans on this modest blue planet have developed the technology to make these huge telescopes and computer systems that give us the capacity to gather information in such volume about the unknown reaches of space, alien stars and their solar systems and everyday we are developing our knowledge to provide answers we so long to receive. I for one am looking forward to seeing what information the future holds for us and what magic awaits our questioning minds.

Heather Dawn


Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona








The Night Sky
By John Harper
All times are in UT (GMT) January On January 2nd at 04h38 the Earth is at perihelion, its very nearest to the Sun, when the solar distance is 147,098161 km from the earth’s centre. At the start of January, the Sun lies in the constellation of Sagittarius until, on the 19th at around 18h, it crosses the astronomical border into Capricornus, where it remains for the rest of the month. The Moon During January, the moon is at its furthest from the earth (apogee) at 10h52 on the 22nd, and is at its nearest to the earth (perigee) on the 10th at 10h26. Last Quarter is at 03h58 on the 5th, just north of the Virgo/Corvus border, 7° to the west of Spica. New Moon is on Jan 11th at 19h44 in Sagittarius, passing north of the sun. First Quarter on Jan 18th at 23h46 on the Pisces/Aries border. Full Moon, on Jan 27th at 04h39 in Cancer, and is one of the highest full moons of the year. Look for earthshine on the night hemisphere of the waning crescent moon 6th to 9th and on the 13th to the 17th on the waxing crescent moon. Earthshine is the faint glow on the night hemisphere of the moon caused by reflected sunlight from the earth. Planets Mercury starts the year 10° west of the sun, but rising only 30 mins before it. Superior conjunction, when the planet passes beyond and behind the sun is on the 18th, so for most of the month the innermost planet cannot be seen. However, at the end of the month it begins to reappear in the evening sky and at this time sets an hour after the sun. The final apparition of Venus as the ancient ‘morning star’ Phosphorus takes place this month before it disappears into morning sunlight. There is a good opportunity to see Venus in conjunction with the thin waning crescent moon on the morning of the 10th as the two objects rise at around 07h. After this time as they rise higher in the SE in the dawn light, they lie 2° apart (4 moon widths). The thin crescent moon with earthshine illuminating its night hemisphere will be seen immediately above the brightest of all the planets. As the month progresses it is very noticeable that Venus is apparently moving in towards the sun.

Back image provided by Dave Walker (Flickr—TheDaveWalker)


As Mars climbs higher through the zodiacal constellation of Capricornus, it sets one hour after the sun at the start of January, and so may be looked for as a bright first magnitude ‘star’ as bright as Deneb in Cygnus but with a reddish tinge, which makes it immediately noticeable. There are no bright starts in this area of the sky so there should be no problem in identifying the red planet. The very thin waxing crescent moon with earthshine illuminating its night hemisphere may be seen just over 6°, immediately above Mars on the 13th. Look towards the SW, with a clear horizon, and you will see Mars half way between the waxing crescent and the horizon. Jupiter was in Opposition, (opposite the sun in the sky), and therefore at its nearest to the earth last month. During January therefore, it is visible for most of the night lying in the constellation of Taurus the Bull, to the upper right of Orion. The Pleiades are some 7° to the upper right of the bright planet, which by the end of the month sets at around 04h in the morning. The waxing gibbous moon may be seen approaching Jupiter during the evening of the 21st, and passing just over 1° (2 moon widths) south of the planet at 03h on the morning of the 22nd, when the pair are 10° above the WNW horizon. During January, a pair of well focussed, firmly fixed binoculars are capable of showing Jupiter’s four largest satellites, as tiny star-like points on either side of Jupiter’s disc, changing positions in relation to the planet on a nightly basis.

Saturn is a morning object in the western part of Libra. At the beginning of January it rises at around 03h, but by the end of the month it rises just an hour after midnight. The northern surface of the rings are well presented during 2013 and will delight observers of any age, especially on seeing it for the first time through even a small telescope. At around 04h on the 7th, the rising broad waning crescent moon may be seen 5° below Saturn which is as bright as Spica, Virgo’s brightest star over 15° to the upper right of Saturn. To enhance the spectacle, half way up in the sky above the moon and Saturn, is Arcturus, the brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere; whilst opposite them bright Jupiter is setting in the WNW.

Uranus is an evening object, at the limit of naked eye visibility in the constellation of Pisces, some 10° east of the circlet of stars, which marks the position of the western ‘fish’. At the beginning of January, Uranus sets at around midnight, but by the end of the month sets two hours earlier. The two eastern stars of the great Square of Pegasus (Alpheratz, in Andromeda and Algenib in Pegasus) point directly towards Uranus, which lies the same distance below these two stars as they are apart. Use binoculars and you will identify Uranus as the brightest star-like point in the field of view at that position.

Neptune is a much more difficult object to spot, lower in the sky, in the preceding constellation of Aquarius. The outermost major planet in the solar system sets at 20h at the beginning of the month and at around 18h30 at the end. Currently it lies between thetaand iota- Aquarii.


Recent research has shown that the parent body of the Quadrantids was an ‘asteroid’ 2003 EH1, which broke up some 500 years ago. The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks at 12h00 on the 3rd, when a Zenithal Hourly Rate of up to 80 shooting stars an hour may be seen from the night hemisphere of the earth. The best time to look is early morning of the 3rd, before dawn. Turn your back on the gibbous waning moon and look up into the northern quadrant of the sky. These tiny fragments of dust appear to radiate from a point to the lower left of Alkaid, the most easterly star of the Plough. It has been suggested that the Quadrantids show colours, blue and yellow amongst them.

Constellations visible in the South, around midnight, mid-month are as follows: Gemini, Cancer, Canis Minor and the ‘head’ of Hydra. All times are GMT 1° is one finger width at arm’s length.

© John Harper



Date d m y 01-012013 01-012013 01-012013 01-012013 03-012013 03-012013 04-012013 04-012013 05-012013 06-012013 07-012013 08-012013 08-012013 08-012013 09-012013 14-012013 14-012013 14-012013 16-012013 16-012013 17-012013 17-012013 18-012013 18-012013 20-012013 21-012013 21-012013 22-012013 22-012013

Time UT h m s

Mag P


Al °

Az °

Sun's Alt °

XZ Cat No.

Proper Name

Zodiacal Cat. No.

PA °

Tue Tue Tue Tue Thu Thu Fri Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Tue Tue Wed Mon Mon Mon Wed Wed Thu Thu Fri Fri Sun Mon Mon Tue Tue

01:31:40 05:56:54 08:07:04 22:20:04 02:35:44 07:59:45 03:07:14 07:04:14 02:26:53 04:41:08 06:35:47 07:09:16 07:42:44 07:53:51 06:27:08 16:22:09 17:33:09 18:14:25 17:41:29 22:12:44 17:01:47 18:18:39 20:33:08 20:45:53 16:58:22 23:02:41 23:07:42 01:05:41 03:13:54

5.5 7.3 7.4 7.3 7.9 6.6 6.7 7.2 7.6 6.9 7.3 7.8 7.9 7.8 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.8 7.7 7.9 8 7.8 5.5 6.8 7.7 7.8 5.5 7.8 7.2



42 31 13 12 32 19 26 26 14 17 17 13 14 15 4 26 19 15 36 4 43 41 37 35 45 42 41 25 8

154 -55 236 -20 264 -3 98 -53

14350 14490 14570 15311 16686 16905 17853 17985 18778 19682 20590 21676 21717 21711 22661 30469 30505 30506 32079 21 921 967 2250 2264 4130 5380 5396 5467 5541

omega Leonis EI Leonis

1397 1412

323 295 279 294 285

150 -48 239 -3 147 -44 212 -10 128 -49 149 -31 164 -14 159 -9 166 -5 169 -4 137 -15 209 -3 226 -12 236 -18 208 -13 271 -50 182 -7 207 -18 234 -37 237 -39 132 -6 242 -53 243 -53 269 -54 294 -41

1629 1726

260 315 349

1835 1968 2104 2255

319 236 325 276 348 296

V2106 Ophiuchi

2415 3259

228 74 113 351 23


133 86 69

pi Piscium

240 241

44 69 117 14

omega 1 Tauri


64 85 49


Wed Wed Wed Wed Thu Thu Thu Thu Thu Fri Fri Fri Fri Fri Sat Sat Sun Mon Mon Mon Tue Tue Tue Tue Thu Thu


03:59:19 20:17:42 20:34:24 23:57:43 00:17:13 01:28:59 05:32:19 18:54:22 19:44:01 00:07:47 01:46:04 02:33:26 17:17:21 22:18:59 00:21:16 20:24:06 21:01:45 00:30:23 04:02:09 23:08:33 03:25:07 05:44:49 06:57:49 20:28:27 01:49:38 04:13:60

6.5 7.6 7.1 6 7.7 5.9 5.1 7.6 7.6 7.5 7.1 7.3 7.2 5.4 7.8 7.9 5.2 7.8 7.2 7.6 6.2 7.3 5.8 6.3 7.6 7.6



8 53 54 47 45 35 2 37 44 50 39 32 16 51 51 33 29 46 32 34 36 21 10 5 30 30

293 -35 149 -33 155 -36 231 -55 236 -55 254 -52 302 -21 111 -21 124 -28 218 -55 246 -51 257 -46 82 -7

6577 7580 7583 7762 7767 7851 8178 9384 9433 9695 9773 9810 10991 11245 11331 12564 13869 13988 14131 15070 15225 15311 15340 16106 17573 17649

107 Tauri

769 873

148 77 47

NSV 16714


120 152

57 Orionis, NSV 02722 64 Orionis, NSV 02803

895 913

126 62 113 70 127


41 166

1116 1141

54 47 18 105

159 -48 211 -54 113 -34 114 -39 174 -54 239 -34 136 -52 215 -39 249 -19 264 -8 92 -34

kappa Cancri

1359 1372 1384 1469

271 309 355 275 308 343

14 Sextantis


19 Sextantis 36 Sextantis

1495 1566

233 349 250

159 -49 200 -32




A big thanks to www.Astronomy-Wise.comprovidingDave Walker for the image.

January 2013’s Sky Map


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