Tuesday 16 February 2016

Gravitational Waves detected

100 years after Albert Einstein predicted their existence, researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), in the U.S.A. believe they have detected gravitational waves.

Back in September 2012 Dr. Ed Daw of Sheffield University gave a talk on gravitational waves to Chester Astronomical Society.  He was a member of the LIGO scientific team and a world leader on gravitational wave data analysis.  At the time he was confident gravitational waves would be detected within ten years saying:
"Now that the Higgs Boson is 'out of the way', the direct detection of gravitational waves is the next frontier in cosmic physics.  If they're out there, we'll find them."

Major advances in physics do not come often - perhaps once in 30 years, Dr. Daw thinks - and here we have confirmation of a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity made in 1915.

You can read the announcements from the University of Sheffield here and LIGO here.

British Astronomical Association survey

The British Astronomical Association (BAA), now in its 126th year, is conducting a survey to improve the usefulness of its web site (www.britastro.org) to all amateur astronomers, not just members of the BAA.  Many of you will know the president of the BAA is Jeremy Shears, a member of Chester Astronomical Society and a keen observer of variable stars.  You can read what Jeremy says about the survey here: www.britastro.org/node/7140.

The survey takes just a few minutes to complete and, as an incentive, the BAA is offering a year’s free membership to the BAA to one lucky (but randomly chosen) participant.  The survey is anonymous but to be eligible for the prize you must leave an email address for them to contact you if you win.  The survey closes on Sunday, 28th February 2016 so hurry if you want a chance to win!  The winner will be selected on Tuesday, 1st March 2016.

You can take part in the survey here: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HG9SCBV

Thursday 4 February 2016

Inpromptu observing sessions

Following each meeting an inpromptu observing session is usually held - provided the weather is suitable.  Details are given out at the meeting if it is to go ahead.