5-Feb meeting

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rwilkinson
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5-Feb meeting

#1 Post by rwilkinson » Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:52 pm

We have had a little snow here in Bolton over the last few hours, but it was quite light and the Met Office forecasters expect it to turn to rain later this afternoon, so we're still going ahead with our meeting for now.
Dave advises that the rain has arrived in Adlington already, and Keith says that the main roads on Ladybridge are OK there.
But there is a Met Office warning of "icy stretches on untreated surfaces" in force from 7pm tonight (until 11am tomorrow), so take it easy if you're coming along.

But if the situation changes, we'll post updates here.

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rwilkinson
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Location: Bolton
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Re: navigating around the sky

#2 Post by rwilkinson » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:52 am

It was good to see that so many came along to see Dean & Andy's thoroughly entertaining presentation.

Their points about Go-To mounts were well-made - I do agree that these aren't ideal for beginners - it's best to spend a couple of years (or 8 in my case) learning your way around the sky manually before thinking of getting one.
And I agree that the flimsy setting-circles on many mounts are more ornamental than useful. I've always found the star-hopping technique much easier - and this can be used with any mount (indeed it's the only option with alt-az systems) and even hand-held binoculars.

I've never used a smartphone, but I often use an old laptop running the Cartes du Ciel or Stellarium programs beside the 'scope. A few years back Carl and I used Stellarium to giude us in a very enjoyable Messier mini-marathon with his old 130P at Kelling Heath.
And programs like CdC are also ideal for planning an observing session (indoors in the warm!) - when set up with the details of my local horizon (i.e the areas blocked by nearby trees and houses) I'll know when my targets should come into view, and with it showing the fields of view of my cameras and eyepieces I can predict exactly what I should be able to see.

Incidentally, I'll be including a demonstration of Stellarium during my talk on comets next month.

Stellarium: http://www.stellarium.org/
Cartes du Ciel: http://www.ap-i.net/skychart/start

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