Observing postponed Wed 20th Feb

We have decided to postpone observing tonight because of possible cloud cover and a near full moon. We are hoping to arrange a session on Thursday 21st as a replacement as the forecast is better and the moon rises slightly later. Please check back tomorrow for further details.


Comet Iwamato

Our Chairman, Peter Hudson, sends the following information on Comet Iwamato:

Over the next few nights Comet Iwamato (C/2018 Y1) will be tracking through Leo so will be very well placed for observers in the Northern Hemisphere. It is closest to the Earth on 12th/13th.
Currently about magnitude +6.5 so an easy object for binoculars and small telescopes and an excellent target for photography/imaging.
A detailed start chart for its track is in the the recent SPA Newsletter No77, and the image below.
Fingers crossed for some clear spells this week and should be a prime target for the Observing Session on Wednesday.
Best Wishes,
Peter H.

C/2018 Y1 Iwamato path
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Venus, Jupiter and Crescent Moon Conjunction

Well, for a change, the weather did indeed play ball for the morning of the 31st January, and we were treated to a wonderful view of the conjunction.

It was a chilly start to the day – I recorded -6 on the Stewartby village green – but I think it was worth it! I did actually mis-time the event and got up an hour earlier than I needed to, so made sure I was full of hot tea before venturing out!!

Anyway, enough of that… We collected some excellent images from around Bedfordshire, so here they are!

Linton has kindly provided the following, hopefully some of you may find it useful for future imaging challenges:

The photo of the conjunction over Oakley church was taken with a Cannon 600D on a tripod.1/15th sec exposure ISO1600 f4 on the lens. It’s a zoom lens so I can’t tell you the exact focal length used. I just made the church fit!

The light level changes so quickly at dawn or dusk that I take dozens of exposures and then select the best.

I always make certain the brightness of the view screen on the camera is turned down dim. In the darkness your eyes adapt very well and you think things are much brighter than they are. I used to get home and find that my exposures were often too dark when viewed on the computer in normal light. Since I turned the view screen down I get a better range.

If anyone else has an image from the conjunction, please send it in, and we’ll feature it here!

Speaker Meeting : Wednesday 30th January

This month Rob Peeling will introduce us to the observational work of Admiral W. H. Smyth in compiling ‘The Bedford Catalogue’. This was the first widely published catalogue of many of the most interesting objects in the night sky.
The talk will start promptly at 7:30pm in the Old Theatre and will be followed by a refreshment break and a Sky diary for February.
All are welcome.


Total Lunar Eclipse

Sadly total cloud cover here in Bedford but we enjoyed watching the event live from Morocco and California. Let’s hope for better luck for the next time that all the stages of a Lunar Eclipse will be visible from the UK on December 20th 2029, don’t forget to put the date in your diary now!


Wednesday Observing : January 23rd

The weather forecast is promising for Wednesday, updates will be posted on Twitter as usual. Provided it is clear the Observatory will open 7:30-9:00pm.


Harpur Science Forum Lecture: Thursday January 24th

All BAS members and Visitors are welcome to the talk by Professor John Brown OBE, Astronomer Royal for Scotland. The lecture takes place in The Quarry Theatre, Bedford School 4:30-5:45pm. Details have been sent to members by email and are also available on the Bedford School website.


Total Lunar Eclipse January 21st

The Observatory will be open from 04:00-06:00 on Monday 21st January provided there is a prospect of some clear sky. Totality runs from 04:41-05:43.
Updates will be posted on Twitter and on the front page of the website.


New Year Observing

BAS Wednesday observing will recommence on January 2nd at 7:30pm provided the sky is clear. Updates will be posted on the Twitter feed as usual.

Best wishes to all Members and Guests for 2019 and hopefully many clear Wednesday observing sessions!


Monday December 3rd Observing

The weather forecast looks promising for tonight, Monday 3rd December and very poor for Wednesday. The Observatory will be open for observers from 8:30-9:30pm. Please don’t come on site before 8:30pm as we have an adult evening class from 7:00-8:30pm.
Check Twitter for weather updates if uncertain.