Laser Pointer Safety and BAS Policy

Laser Pointer Safety and BAS Policy

Brisbane Astronomical Society has a duty of care for public safety at its astronomical events. One potential area of risk to BAS Members, and the public, is the use of laser pointers either attached to a telescope or operated by hand. This Laser Pointer Safety Training Lecture material, and 23-point Laser Safety Policy, is designed to alert BAS members to potential dangers and risks associated with laser pointer use, and to guide BAS members in laser operational procedures that should help minimize the potential for adverse incident or personal injury. BAS members seeking to use a laser pointer at a BAS astronomical event are required to be certified that they have undertaken basic training in the safe operation of a laser pointer and understand some of the common risks associated with laser pointer use. The BAS Laser Pointer Safety Training materials, and 23-point Laser Safety Policy, and Certification application form, are available for PDF document download: Click Here

The Certification application form, alone, is available as a PDF document download: Click Here

August 2018 Meeting – Astronomy in Antarctica

August 2018 Meeting – Astronomy in Antarctica

Astronomy in Antarctica. It seems a strange place to locate a telescope. Most of us find a SE Queensland winter a sufficient challenge to operate a telescope. However, BAS member, Mike Zupanc, who has actually lived and worked in Antarctica, explained to us just why the frozen continent is one of the best places on Earth for a few specific forms of astronomy. For one, the atmospheric turbulence we experience in temperate and tropical zones from jet streams and moving high and low-pressure systems and pestering clouds, are not an issue on the high dome regions of central Antarctica. Moisture is also never a problem as it instantly freezes to ice on the ice pack. So, telescopes are free of dust and condensation and can even track circumpolar objects continuously at certain times of the year. We even learned that the University of NSW has an entirely autonomous telescope operating in Antarctica. That is an impressive feat. Most of us have enough trouble keeping our telescopes operating for a few hours within arm’s reach.

Thank you Mike for a really informative talk.

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.

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