Beginners Course

New to astronomy? The Society holds 2 beginners courses during the winter months usually Oct/Nov and Feb/March.
Course places are limited to 20 per course.

See below for more information.

Countdown to the Transit of Mercury

On Monday 9th May 2016, there will be a special astronomical event which will be visible - if the sky is clear - from Huddersfield.

On the 6th June 2004, Huddersfield witnessed a much rarer event - the Transit of Venus - which happened again in 2012 - but was only visible from places like Hawaii.

Transit of Mercury happen on a more complicated pattern - every 7, 13 or 33 years between November events and every 13 or 33 years between May events.

Mercury is much smaller than Venus appears in the sky so its shadow on the Sun is more difficult to see.

However if the weather conditions are looking good the Observatory may be open with specially filtered telescopes to show you the event.

Tuesday Night Meetings

In addition to our weekly Friday events the Society also meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month.

These meetings are great for astronomy newcomers as well as for the more experienced, they are less structured than the Friday meetings and have a relaxed, sociable feel to them.

We chat about astronomy and science related subjects, share information, and help each other with advice on equipment matters, astrophotography, observing etc.

There is currently a telescope building project on the go (anyone can join in), we have a Tuesday night Facebook group, and we organise observing trips, both to our Observatory and to other dark sky sites in the area.

James Webb Space Telescope - the countdown begins

Many people have been wowed by the amazing images from the Hubble Space Telescope for more than two decades.

But in the not too distant future a new Space Telescope will be ready for launch.

The James Webb Space Telescope [JWST] has been under construction for more than 10 years and with increasing costs has faced many calls for it to be scrapped. However following a current spend of around $10 billion the JWST has got to the final hurdle before ground based testing begins.

Scheduled for launch some time in 2018, the components of the JWST have finally been married together recently with space-frame and mirrors made in the USA, Instruments in Europe - including the UK, and various important electronics and cameras from Canada.

Citizen Science needs you

Dopes your computer stay powered on for some time every day?

Does is stand idle while you go make a cup of tea?

Do you watch as the egg-timer trundles away while you download the latest movie across your slow internet connection?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions then you could release your PC to do something interesting and cool for the benefit of science.

Mass-participation offline number-crunching is the latest way to get involved in science investigation.

Just turn over your pc to use some of its spare capacity to crunch the numbers from a world-wide science collaboration.

To find out more check this out .... 

New HAPS Program

Thus is the new program of events.

Some of the speakers are still to be confirmed so this document will be updated when possible.

Keep checking back for updates.

4th May 2015

2016 - The Planets and other interesting night sky events

A new year - a new set of Planetary and other night sky events.

The year starts off on 4th January with the annual Quadrantids Meteor Shower.

Quadrans Muralis was for a time a constellation of the night sky but - in 1922 - it was absorbed into the existing constellation of Bootes the Herdsman.

So, on the the 4th January look towards the north and follow along the handle of the Plough. Continuing in an 'arc' find the next bright star which is Arcturus - the brightest star in Bootes.

If you watch in the general direction of this star at around midnight on and towards dawn on the 4th of January you may see some very bright quite colourful shooting stars - but the shower may only last for about 1 hour or so.

Pluto Encounter - Update 2 - Pluto and Charon begin to show details

New Horizons, the NASA/ESA probe to the dwarf Planet Pluto is starting the final stages of its  encounter with the 'ninth Planet' Pluto.

Recently images show that both Pluto and Charon have noticeable surface details - and also that Charon appears different to Pluto.

Check out the latest news here..... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-33369045

Here is a timeline of the encounter:

July 14th 2015 - Pluto, Charon system flyby including imaging of its other Moons Hydra, Nix, Kerberos and Styx

2016 onwards - possible encounter with other members of the Ice Dwarfs collectively known as Plutinos

​c. 2026 - New Horizons runs out of power

The Stars by Night - a guidebook to planning an evenings observations

Ever wondered about doing a  simple observing program.

This one is about as simple as it gets - observe one star each night - for every night for a whole year.

About 150 years ago this was the aim of a local amateur astronomer and he published a guidebook to help other observers undertake the observing plan.

Now the guidebook is being re-released by a local publisher.

For more details check out this blog....

http://www.starlight-nights.co.uk/stars-night-night

 

Meteor Showers

The Autumn and Winter of 2014-15 promise the potential for some good shooting star observing.
The first major shower of the Autumn are the Draconids - these are active around the 10th October. They are the left-overs from a well known comet Goacobini-Zinner and on occasion they can have quite a good showing.
The Moon will be nearly full so it will be a challenge to see this shower in 2014.
Next comes the Orionids - these are active from 16th to 27th October with a peak on the 20th/21st. There will be a nearly new Moon on this night so get ready for some hours spent tracking these down. Orion rises at around 11pm so you need to stay up late or get up very early to see this shower as they are best viewed after midnight.

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