Wednesday 2 December 2015

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Free Lecture: Liverpool John Moores University

There will be a free astronomy lecture at the Astrophysics Research Institute of Liverpool John Moores University on Tuesday, 10-Nov-15 at 6pm.  The lecture, titled First Light, will be given by Professor James Dunlop (University of Edinburgh).




After the Big Bang the Universe expanded and cooled, and for a while there was only darkness.  But then gravity caused the most dense regions of the universe to collapse and form the first stars and galaxies.

In this talk I will describe how recent advances in observational astronomy, especially the refurbishment of the Hubble Space Telescope, have enabled us to look back in time to within 500 million years of the Big Bang, and directly observe the emergence of the first galaxies.

I will also explain how the next generation of facilities, including the long-awaited James Webb Space Telescope, can be expected to shed new light on how today's highly-structured and beautiful Universe emerged from the initial chaos of creation.




You can registration and find directions via this link: Tickets.

Friday 25 September 2015

Meeting Presentations

If you have ever thought about coming to hear the presentations given at regular society meetings but were unsure if it would all just "go over my head" and didn't want to ask (we've all been there!), or perhaps just wondered what our speakers talk about at meetings, you may find the Meeting Presentations pages helpful.

The Meeting Presentations pages contain short summaries of some past talks given to the society;  they give an insight into the kind of talks given at the society.

Lunar Eclipse: Monday, 28-Sep-2015

There is a total eclipse of the Moon on Monday morning 28-Sep-2015.  

The complete eclipse will be visible from the whole of the UK if the skies are clear.  (The MetCheck astronomical weather forecast on Friday, 25-Sep-2015 forecasts clear skies.)  Times of eclipse are:

Time (UTC)
Time (BST)
Penumbral Eclipse begins
28 Sep, 00:11
28 Sep, 01:11
Partial Eclipse begins
28 Sep, 01:07
28 Sep, 02:07
Full Eclipse begins
28 Sep, 02:11
28 Sep, 03:11
Maximum Eclipse
28 Sep, 02:47
28 Sep, 03:47
Full Eclipse ends
28 Sep, 03:23
28 Sep, 04:23
Partial Eclipse ends
28 Sep, 04:27
28 Sep, 05:27
Penumbral Eclipse ends
28 Sep, 05:22
28 Sep, 06:22

This will be an unusual eclipse as it occurs when the moon is at it's closest to the Earth in it's orbit.  Technically this is called the Earth-Moon perigee-syzygy.  Because the moon is closer to the Earth it appears larger than an average full moon.  This will not happen again until 2033.

The full moon nearest the Autumnal Equinox is traditionally known as the Harvest moon and is known for it's brightness.  This year it should be quite memorable:  Since the moon is closer to the Earth it appears larger than an average full moon by about 7% (diameter), 15% (area) and will be totally eclipsed by the Earth.

During a lunar eclipse the moon turns a lovely dark, ruddy colour. The depth of colour depends on how deeply the moon enters the Earth’s shadow. 

Friday 18 September 2015

Free Online Astronomy Courses

An organisation called Future Learn, a subsidiary of the Open University, offers free internet based courses designed by various universities and cultural organisations around the world.  They require little or no knowledge of the subject, just curiosity!

Courses starting soon include:

19-Oct-2015  Moons ......................................................... (Open University)   8 weeks, 3 hrs/week
26-Oct-2015  Gravity! From the Big Bang to Black Holes ... (Open University)   6 weeks, 2 hrs/week
04-Jan-2016   In The Night Sky: Orion ............................... (Open University)   4 weeks, 4 hrs/week

Further details are available in the science section of the Future Learn website:

BAA Meeting: 10-Oct-2015 at St. Asaph

There is a British Astronomical Association Back to Basics workshop on Saturday, 10th October 2015 at St. Asaph.

The event is hosted by North Wales Astronomical Society, Gwynedd Astronomical Society and Llandyrnog Astronomical Society.  The venue is OpTIC Technium, Glynd┼Ár University, St. Asaph  LL17 0JD.

Although aimed at beginners the programme includes talks and workshops on:
  • What astronomy can I do?
  • What equipment and books are needed;
  • Solar Astronomy;
  • Radio Astronomy;
  • Lunar Observing;
  • Imaging for beginners.
There is also a tour of the OpTIC Technium facilities and you will be able to meet the next BAA President - our very own Dr Jeremy Shears.

The cost is £13 for BAA members, £15 for non members.  Details, location map and booking form are here:

Friday 17 July 2015

Pluto flyby: New Horizons

The New Horizons spacecraft successfully flew past Pluto on 14-Jul-2015.  Remarkable pictures have been returned generating much surprise and debate among astronomers;  we now know Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, have ice mountains higher than the Rockies and a gorge 5 times as deep as the Grand canyon.  Lots of information and detail about the mission can be found on the NASA New Horizons web site here: NASA New Horizons

Saturday 30 May 2015

Programme Changes

The programmes for the June and July meetings have now been fixed.

Details can be found in the 2015 Programme.

Friday 20 March 2015


Members of Chester Astronomical Society will be outside Chester town hall from about 8.30 AM to view the eclipse.  Members of the public are most welcome to join them.

Special viewing glasses and equipment will be available to allow safe viewing.

This is a historical occasion as a similar eclipse was viewed from the same location over 100 years ago.

Friday 13 February 2015

2015 Programme

Wednesday 28th January
Astronomical Events of 2015   
Richard Sargent   (Chester Astronomical Society)

Wednesday 25th February
Professor Sarah Bridle   (University of Manchester)

Wednesday 25th March

The Zodiacal Cloud
Dr Mark Jones   (Open University)

Wednesday 29th April
Historical Novae
Mr Gary Poyner   (British Astronomical Association)

Wednesday 27th May
A census of dust in early-type galaxies from Herschel and ground-based surveys
Dr Anne Sansom   (University of Central Lancashire)

Wednesday 24th June
Planetary Imaging using a One-Shot Colour Camera                     ***   Confirmed.   ***
Kevin Wildgoose   (Shropshire Astronomical Society)

Wednesday 29th July   
Planets and Pulsations                                                                     ***   Confirmed.   ***
Professor Don Kurtz   (University of Central Lancashire)

No Meeting       

Wednesday 30th September

The Space Shipping Forecast – The Sun and Space Weather
Professor Phillipa Browning   (Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics)

Wednesday 28th October
Dark Matter
Ros Flinn   (Chester Astronomical Society)

Wednesday 25th November
"Shooting while you Sleep – Modern Methods for Detecting and Analysing Meteors"
Mr. William Stewart   (British Astronomical Association)

No Meeting       

Friday 23 January 2015

How to Find Comet Lovejoy

Lost Beagle 2 probe found 'intact' on Mars

The missing Mars robot Beagle 2 has been found on the surface of the Red Planet, apparently intact.

The UK-led probe tried to make a soft touchdown on the dusty world on Christmas Day, 2003, using parachutes and airbags - but no radio contact was ever made with the probe.

Images taken from orbit have found where the British-built robot landed, and it looks like it's intact.

The probe, called Beagle2, tried to land softly on Mars back in 2003, using parachutes and airbags. But scientists were never able to get radio contact with the robot. Many thought it had hit the planet's surface too fast and had been destroyed.

What happened to the probe remained a mystery for 11 years - until earlier this month. The new pictures, from a NASA satellite orbiting Mars, show Beagle2 wasn't destroyed after all, and may have solved one of the biggest space mysteries of recent years.

The lander had a number of solar panels that were meant to unfold when it touched down. The new images suggest these didn't work properly, meaning radio signals couldn't be sent back to Earth. Scientists behind the project believe it was just sheer bad luck that things didn't work out, and the mission was frustratingly close to being a success. 

Sadly there's nothing that can be done to revive the probe, meaning it'll remain silent forever in the red dust of its Martian home.

Monday 12 January 2015


Wednesday 28th January
The Chester Astronomical Society Annual General Meeting

All meetings begin at 7.30pm.

The 2015 programme has not been finalised yet.  The 2014 programme can still be viewed here.

If you cannot wait for the new programme and are bored (very bored) - and you have lots of time on your hands - you might like to see just how big our solar system is:  Take a look at this:  Our solar system.