Warwick Dark Sky Weekend – May 2019

Warwick Dark Sky Weekend – May 2019

After a 2018-19 summer that delivered little rain, but clouds just about every New Moon period, we finally had a win. BAS held its second 2019 Dark Sky Weekend at the Warwick Gliding Club (WGC) on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th of May. It looked doubtful leaving Brisbane in a drenching storm on Saturday afternoon, but the forecasts proved correct and the skies cleared for two fantastic nights under the stars and rising Milky Way. The WGC facilities were excellent and club members extremely welcoming. The only disappointment was the dismal show by the Eta Aquarid meteors. Let’s hope we now get a good run of cloud-free New Moons for the remainder of the year.

Is Orange Light a Better Colour than Red for Dark Adaptation?

Is Orange Light a Better Colour than Red for Dark Adaptation?

Maintenance of dark adaptation is critical for visual astronomers. Where artificial lighting has been necessary, astronomers have traditionally used red lighting. However there are sound reasons to suggest that this may not be the optimal colour. This study revealed that orange is the most appropriate colour for lighting for most astronomers, but there was considerable variation.

Learn much more about this issue in, BAS member, Dr Ken Wishaw’s research paper – available here

John Dobson & Sidewalk Astronomers

John Dobson & Sidewalk Astronomers

At our June 2019 monthly meeting, BAS member, John Pitts, delivered an excellent talk on one of the greatest influencers of amateur astronomy, Mr John Dobson. For those of you owning Dobsonian telescopes, John Dobson was the inventor of this simple to use telescope design. We learned how John Dobson was a monk in a Californian seminary while conducting a somewhat clandestine program of mirror grinding, telescope making and public astronomy outreach. Eventually the seminary, and John, decided their heavenly interests were a little too divergent and so John returned to the secular world and concentrated all his efforts on encouraging public interest in large aperture simple telescopes and casual observing. From his efforts the Sidewalk Astronomers initiative was born and spread across North America and far beyond. John Dobson also travelled widely to spread his message and even visited Queensland Astrofest in 1995.

BAS members have been continuing in the footsteps of John Dobson for many years. Our school nights and public observing evenings at Mt Coot-tha and Maleny perpetuate the philosophy of Sidewalk Astronomers. BAS members are encouraged to get their Dobsonian telescopes, and all other designs, out of the cupboard and actively support our version of Sidewalk Astronomy.

John Pitts sharing some of the life and achievements of John Dobson.

The Schmidt–Cassegrain Telescope – Explained

The Schmidt–Cassegrain Telescope – Explained

At our May 2019 general meeting, BAS member, Doug Edwards, delivered an excellent explanation of the design and features of the Schmidt–Cassegrain Telescope (SCT). Doug explained how the design was adapted for amateur telescope production and reviewed the design’s many positive attributes, and its few deficiencies. In short, the design is a good choice for planetary and deep-space observing when matched with a good tracking mount. It is capable of combining large aperture with ease of transport and setup while delivering excellent observing. Doug explained he concentrates on visual astronomy, rather than astrophotography, as the standard SCT has a very long focal length, and some field curvature issues, that can make astrophotography a little challenging. If you would like to learn more about the SCT you will often find Doug and his scope at one of our Maleny events – he’d be delighted to let you take a look through his scope and answer your questions.

Scenic Rim Star Party 2019

Scenic Rim Star Party 2019

The Scenic Rim Astronomy Association held their 2019 Star Party are their Laravale facility, just south of Beaudesert, in early June. As usual the event organisation was fantastic. SRAA pulled out all the stops to make this a major regional event and the largest public astronomy event in Queensland. They attracted a host of excellent speakers ranging from academic researchers to highly accomplished amateur astronomers and niche-topic specialists. Talks were running almost continuously through the afternoon and into the evening. There were plenty of food and drink options on offer from food trucks and local astro-equipment vendors also setup pop-up shops.

A big “thank you” to all the BAS members who attended and brought their telescopes along for the public observing evening. The skies looked hopeful until the sun started to set, but the clouds drifted in and dashed everyone’s hopes. The local rocketeers tried to punch a few holes in the clouds for us, but to no avail. Let’s hope 2020 from SRAA, and all of us, some better skies.

Congratulations again to SRAA for another wonderful public astronomy event.

SRAA President, Greg Campbell, explaining the range of astronomical equipment available for the public observing session.

Tripod Astrophotography

Tripod Astrophotography

At our June 2019 monthly meeting, Mark Culley, professional photographer and highly accomplished astrophotographer www.astro-photography.com.au , captured everyone’s attention with his stunning wide-field astro-photos and tutorial talk. Mark’s talk focused on tripod dslr astrophotography using tracked and untracked approaches. His tracked photos utilised the amazing Skywatcher Star Adventurer mount and his untracked photos just relied on a sturdy tripod and Rule of 500 https://bit.ly/2AYLB2b . Mark has scouted the Scenic Rim region, south-west of Brisbane, to locate many locations that can bring landscape and night sky together to stunning effect. You might almost say his photos are “out of this world”. Mark ended his talk with an offer to organise an evening, perhaps near Moogerah Dam, for BAS members to learn from the master. Thank you, Mark. All we need now is for the clouds to clear.

Mark Culley explaining one of his stunning astro-photos.

 

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