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Author Topic: Is the UK suitable for astronomy  (Read 8290 times)

Offline syhprum

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Is the UK suitable for astronomy
« on: 04/01/2011 08:38:24 »
I am endangering my eyesight by gazing into the southeast where the rising Sun is partially eclipsed.
But of course in the UK there is little real danger as there is the normall thick layer of cloud that is always present when anything of the slightest astronomical interest occurs


 

Offline Foolosophy

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« Reply #1 on: 04/01/2011 09:07:43 »
....surely there are areas of the UK that are far enough away from the city lights to allow reasonable light capture by a telescope?

Surely there are professional large scale observatories in the UK? Where are they situated?
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #2 on: 04/01/2011 09:22:05 »
Syphrum, did you see the bbc tv program with Brian Cox and Dara O'Briain last night? It was the usual pop-science but did show some remarkably good amateur pics. From a more sophisticated point of view, the UK is not really suitable for optical astronomy but at the top level, you really have to have a telescope on a mountain in Hawaii to get the best views. On the other hand, the leading edge is really about designing the experiments and deciding where to look and what to look for; where the telescope is actually situated is not the greatest concern. There are quite a few UK experiments done via Hubble for example. In any case, there is no reason not to continue with radio telescope work although this is not so easy for the amateur astronomer.
 

Offline syhprum

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Is the UK suitable for astronomy
« Reply #3 on: 04/01/2011 09:31:16 »
I am of course familiar we the interests with have in telescopes in more suitable locations but I was just having a gripe about all the events I have missed over the last eighty years.
I had the forsight to travel to Karlsruhe to view the 1997 eclipse which I had been waiting for since the thirties.
 

Offline Foolosophy

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« Reply #4 on: 04/01/2011 10:21:15 »
I am of course familiar we the interests with have in telescopes in more suitable locations but I was just having a gripe about all the events I have missed over the last eighty years.
I had the forsight to travel to Karlsruhe to view the 1997 eclipse which I had been waiting for since the thirties.

You are obviously in a built up urban area

This is a global problem with urban interference and heat effects limiting what you can see through a telescope.

Is your telescope portable ?
 

Offline syhprum

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Is the UK suitable for astronomy
« Reply #5 on: 04/01/2011 11:13:15 »
I do not own anything that could be considered an astronomical telescope, I have a spotting scope with which I was able to get good pictures of the recent transit of Venus but sadly the next transit is barely visable from my location even if cloud cover permitted it.
I would not invest in a large telescope to observe planets etc as there is always cloud and local lighting to contend with and the pictures from professional sources are readily available now.
 

Offline Foolosophy

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« Reply #6 on: 04/01/2011 11:55:59 »
I do not own anything that could be considered an astronomical telescope, I have a spotting scope with which I was able to get good pictures of the recent transit of Venus but sadly the next transit is barely visable from my location even if cloud cover permitted it.
I would not invest in a large telescope to observe planets etc as there is always cloud and local lighting to contend with and the pictures from professional sources are readily available now.

The first telescope I purchased was a 60mm Refractor.
Then bought a 8 inch Casegrain reflector for photography.
And in Asutralia it isnt difficult to drive out of the city with this instrument.
It takes about 1 hour to set up and align the the telescope.
All computerised - you can do a 2 star aligment by pointing the telescope to 2 known stars or objects in the night sky and the telescope can then find other objects in the sky automatically (depending on how many you have pre programed, I have at least 5000 objects and no where near looking at all of them)

I have a digital camera attached to the eyepiece lens and that feeds the image into my laptop.

Exposure times can be great due to the low light intensity, so you need a good motorised drive system that follows the star/object as the earth rotates

Great hobby (although can burn a hole on your pocket).

Venus is a great object to start with because its so bright (also called the evening star).

My favourites are Jupiter and some of its moons and Saturn.

Also Mars when there are no dust storms happening in the atmosphere

 

Offline CliffordK

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Is the UK suitable for astronomy
« Reply #7 on: 04/01/2011 12:09:58 »
I would imagine that you should get some good summer viewing.  

I'm getting lost on what happened to the Royal Greenwich Observatory, which part of it at least was moved to Cambridge, but perhaps part of it remains.

Here is an Observatory Science Center which has a couple of publicly viewable telescopes.
http://observatorysciencecentre.co.uk/telescopes

The Aldershot observatory is a very small observatory
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldershot_Observatory

Lockyer Observatory
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockyer_Observatory_and_Planetarium

Kielder Observatory
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kielder_Observatory

University of London Observatory
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_London_Observatory

Goldlee in Manchester
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godlee_Observatory

This one is a radio telescope, perhaps better on cloudy days.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jodrell_Bank_Observatory


 

Offline QuantumClue

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Is the UK suitable for astronomy
« Reply #8 on: 04/01/2011 12:48:56 »
Syphrum, did you see the bbc tv program with Brian Cox and Dara O'Briain last night? It was the usual pop-science but did show some remarkably good amateur pics. From a more sophisticated point of view, the UK is not really suitable for optical astronomy but at the top level, you really have to have a telescope on a mountain in Hawaii to get the best views. On the other hand, the leading edge is really about designing the experiments and deciding where to look and what to look for; where the telescope is actually situated is not the greatest concern. There are quite a few UK experiments done via Hubble for example. In any case, there is no reason not to continue with radio telescope work although this is not so easy for the amateur astronomer.

Brian cox was on this morning warning the public to take precautions concerning observation of the eclipse.
 

Offline Foolosophy

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Is the UK suitable for astronomy
« Reply #9 on: 04/01/2011 12:55:35 »
Syphrum, did you see the bbc tv program with Brian Cox and Dara O'Briain last night? It was the usual pop-science but did show some remarkably good amateur pics. From a more sophisticated point of view, the UK is not really suitable for optical astronomy but at the top level, you really have to have a telescope on a mountain in Hawaii to get the best views. On the other hand, the leading edge is really about designing the experiments and deciding where to look and what to look for; where the telescope is actually situated is not the greatest concern. There are quite a few UK experiments done via Hubble for example. In any case, there is no reason not to continue with radio telescope work although this is not so easy for the amateur astronomer.

Brian cox was on this morning warning the public to take precautions concerning observation of the eclipse.

Is this a solar or lunar eclipse?

Solar eclipses should always be viewed indirectly
 

Offline QuantumClue

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« Reply #10 on: 04/01/2011 13:01:39 »
Solar I believe. 
 

Offline Foolosophy

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« Reply #11 on: 04/01/2011 13:37:19 »
Solar I believe. 

even the corona during the peak of a total eclipse can be dangerous to gaze at with the naked eye
 

Offline syhprum

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« Reply #12 on: 04/01/2011 13:42:54 »
Foolosophy

The only time I have seen a decent number of stars was when I took a trip to Ularuh, I was most impressed by the milky way and Venus so bright it thru a shadow.
If I lived in Australia I would certainly own a telescope.

 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #13 on: 04/01/2011 14:20:37 »
As it happens the partial solar eclipse in the UK was very close to the horizon at sunrise so it was just possible to take a quick glimpse of it with the naked eye without suffering eye-damage. However, for most of us it was obscured by cloud. Apparently it would have appeared as a "smiley" (without the dots for eyes) at some point.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/8238281/Clouds-hamper-first-partial-solar-eclipse-of-2011.html
 

Offline Peteuplink

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« Reply #14 on: 04/01/2011 14:46:45 »
Every astronomical event that's occured in the UK recently, such as the partial solar eclipse, the Geminid's and the Lunar eclipse, has been a none event for me because of clouds. However there have been some exceptionally clear nights when I've been able to get outside with my scope. I think it's just the luck of the draw with the UK weather.
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #15 on: 04/01/2011 17:09:33 »
It's ironic that the world's most powerful telescope (from 1845 to 1908) was the 72" reflector at Birr castle in the west of Ireland. Worth a visit for those who have not been there. Sadly dismantled but a replica was being produced when I visited a few years ago.
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #16 on: 04/01/2011 17:16:40 »
We had a very nice little observatory in Paisley. I always wondered why. Mind you, Greenock would have been even worse.
 

Offline Foolosophy

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« Reply #17 on: 05/01/2011 12:24:31 »
Foolosophy

The only time I have seen a decent number of stars was when I took a trip to Ularuh, I was most impressed by the milky way and Venus so bright it thru a shadow.
If I lived in Australia I would certainly own a telescope.



In Australia you dont need to head off towards the centre of the continent to get clear skies.

About 1 hour drive out from the city centre and the night sky lights up like a christmas tree.

You just have to move away from the city lights and smog and highways as well as move towards a higher altitude.

I would imgaine the UK should be able to provide such spots

I spent some time in Cornwall  and the night skies were very clear when the clouds vanished
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #18 on: 05/01/2011 12:50:51 »
You do have to get some distance away from the city lights. I sailed across the English Channel a few months ago and mid channel (roughly between the Isle of Wight and Cherbourg) the view of the sky was superb. It would be hopeless trying to use a telescope on a 35 foot yacht though :-)
 

Offline Foolosophy

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« Reply #19 on: 05/01/2011 13:09:16 »
You do have to get some distance away from the city lights. I sailed across the English Channel a few months ago and mid channel (roughly between the Isle of Wight and Cherbourg) the view of the sky was superb. It would be hopeless trying to use a telescope on a 35 foot yacht though :-)

True  -  but the Englisj channel isnt very wide is it?

If I want very sharp skies I only need to drive about 1 hour out of the city centre and I can get a picture of most stuff in the southern sky.

Then again Australia has extremely clear skies generally - especially if you live in Tasmania etc
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #20 on: 05/01/2011 13:21:29 »
It's 60 to 70 miles wide where I was. Yes, an hour's drive should get you away far enough. The main problem in the UK is finding places an hour away from any conurbation, certainly in the south east. But if you get to Scotland, the lake district, Wales, Cornwall etc. it's OK, except that then you often get b*ggered by the weather.
 

Offline Foolosophy

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« Reply #21 on: 05/01/2011 13:32:41 »
It's 60 to 70 miles wide where I was. Yes, an hour's drive should get you away far enough. The main problem in the UK is finding places an hour away from any conurbation, certainly in the south east. But if you get to Scotland, the lake district, Wales, Cornwall etc. it's OK, except that then you often get b*ggered by the weather.

I can understand that - Australia supports about 22 million people and is a very large continent. Its still possible to keep driving here and eventually you can pitch a tent without worrying about paying anyone (although techinically a cheque to the Royal family should be sent. Apparently when the British invaded this land over 200 years ago and commenced a program of extermination and genocide, they had the temerity to simultaneously label this land vacant or terra nallus. Aboriginal people where officially recognised in about 1967 by the ASutralian parliament and legal system. Before that time technically an Aboriginal person was lumped into the same category as fauna - a plant, a mouse, a spider - maybe less. The only indigineous people anywhere in the world today not to have access to treaty coonditions and protection.)

This little babe is like laying beside a warm fire with luscious company and quality single malted whisley in hand
« Last Edit: 05/01/2011 13:50:08 by Foolosophy »
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #22 on: 05/01/2011 13:56:08 »
Yes, it's amazing that no treaty has been agreed despite it being debated for some decades now. I don't think the majority of Australians see any advantage to them, though of course that isn't the point. I think Canada makes a big effort now and one can sense a national guilt about what happened in past times. Though it will never be enough, and maybe cannot be, because you can never really undo the past. The moral concepts we have today are not wholly aligned with those of people in past times so it is also probably not right to punish the people today for the attitudes of their ancestors. Nonetheless a compromise should be found because, as the phrase goes, delay is the cruellest for of denial.

Hey, that's a hoopy reflector!!
 

Offline Foolosophy

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« Reply #23 on: 05/01/2011 14:25:35 »
Hey, that's a hoopy reflector!!

And resonably affordable for the basic set up

What costs plenty of dollars are accesories - lenses, digital cameras, accurate mounts, software etc.

These items can cost more than the initial outlay of the telescope.

A Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope is fantastic for general photography and is portable and fairly easy to set up and align
 

Offline syhprum

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« Reply #24 on: 05/01/2011 14:37:58 »
All I need now is an apartment is Brisbane and dispensation to live in our royal highness,s oversees land and my trusty BMW then maybe I could buy a telescope and get to see some stars.
 

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