OAS Academy Observatory, Northampton

Is most certainly soaked through with all the ice, we knew this would poor in when we removed the roof, in hindsight this was exactly the right thing to do. It took pressure off the roof which would have been ruined with snow.

Fortunately no more snow fell last night but its going to be freezing and windy, so given there is already still a lot of water in the obsy (i have tried to mop it dry i have taken the decision it is not safe to use it with electricals So i have levelled (again the pillar (fine tuning that was all) and now might polar align it tonight but otherwise i think really this needs to dry out thoroughly before it is used. A bit of a pain because i have a lot of things i would like to try.

The cover was bought in to dry off as has the roof of the obsy, at least i can replace the cover tonight with the knowledge it is at least dry. Tomorrow, a more concerted effort at drying it off.

Morel of the story, do not setup before heavy snow!

Mosaic of the Moon

In the media a lot of the time, they show a single picture that someone has taken of the Moon. Digital Cameras are pretty good at shooting the whole Moon in one picture. That is you take your shot and there it is in its entirety.

However, when you use a camera which will only show one part of the Moon at a time, it can be interesting as often we’re seeing parts of the Moon enlarged. However a nice excercise is to try to take multiple frames of the Moon.

What do i mean?

When you plug a webcamera into a laptop, it can take individual shots, but what its better at is taking short movies. in fact amateur astronomers use these to take images of the planets.

With the Moon, what we done in the past is, taken 1000 frames (you set the software to do this) capture a section of the Moon, then move to the next, getting reasonable overlap.

NOW, granted as a teacher or educator, this can be challenging without the right kit. So in light of this we have provided the images and the software to do it! How cool is that?

Files can be accessed here

You will also need the free Microsoft Image Composite Editor (Microsoft ICE) download here

If interested in actually doing this, you will need a webcam and free software called SharpCap download here

A nice little tutorial i did on it here

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Astronomy Yearbook 2018

Has to be said another great copy. Brian Jones has certainly surpassed 2017. Sure there are some issues some people point about about missing off the magnitudes of the planets and their paths through the night sky. But a quick telephone conversation with him, that will be fixed. Not sure which issue it will appear in as he already has 2019/20 about nailed.

An overall well written book with detailed sky notes (covering the seasons) then the usual monthly notes covering where the Planets are. Finished with some fascinating essays. Which are themselves timeless and make a great read if you want to pick up and read something during those cloudless nights.

One thing great thing i will say regarding these, excellent tool to plan your astronomy. Planetariums are fine to show you the now, but to read ahead and see what is good shows that these books still have a place in todays modern astronomy.

Keep up the good work Brian, and A star from us as always mate! Cant wait for the next edition!

STEM

As an online academy, the Online Astronomy Society Academy does everything it can to participate in local STEM. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The four main subjects where it is deemed the nation as a whole needs talent and expertise. In line with this we attend events and offer advice to schools and Home Educators.

Astronomy, though not itself a curriculum subject alongside Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, nevertheless is so important. Astronomy utilises skills from each of these sciences. The list is is extensive and include

Maths

Troubleshooting skills

Chemistry of stars and planets

Astrobiology (new emerging field)

Astrophysics

Photo processing skills

Planning

Time management

Social Skills

Observation and reporting skills

Setup skills

 

These are just some, an amateur astronomer has to be so many things before setting out to observe the night sky. They need to be aware of

Weather and atmospheric conditions

Setting up of equipment, which has to be done in the day

Calibration of kit (aligning the finder, ensuring everything all works!

Planning, what are we going to do.

Time management, ensuring we get to each task!

 

Shortly i will add some images for school kids to have a play with, along with guidance for the teacher/ educator

 

OASA and Astronomy Educators

As an academy we are well aware of the pressures of teaching, after all tutoring students (remotely!) is what we do. But did you also know we strive to support teachers too. How do we do this?

We have our Astronomy Educators program, which is essentially our GCSE Astronomy with all the formal exam and assessment bits taken out. Teachers still follow the material and earn their certificate at the end. The certificate which carries 40 CPD credits. Although we are hoping to increase these soon!

In addition we have a new singing and dancing classroom where we have made the specs and other documents relating to the GCSE Astronomy program available at no extra charge. Access to resources and above all expertise to assist.

We offer this completely FREE to schools who sign up with us for their pupils to do GCSE Astronomy.

More words on the AstroMount Pillar

I have not had much chance to test thing in anger since i picked it up from Matthew Armitage of Astromount.

I also purchased a tent observatory so its kind of a double whammy. Obviously i wheeled the pillar into the tent before assembly it would not have been easily possible to put it in otherwise owning to the weight.

Once in, it became clear to protect the ground sheet from the wheels and indeed the levelling bolts we needed something for the floor. So in came some spare tiles we’ve has in the garden, but cushioned on cardboard

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I had to use the bolt as well to get the mount level. This is one issue, we need  a pad at the end of the bolt (like you have on the end of the bolt in a vice).

I think too the user should get this as aligned to North as despite the pillar being mobile it would be hard i think to have to re level the pillar if its moved especially on uneven ground.

As you can see in the picture though i think we’re all set. Note the controller i have hung to the pillar. Something that simple has been on my wishlist for a while. I have also taped the power supply to the mount on the side of the pillar.

It all seems stable enough, there are a good few kilos of weight on it now!

Below is a pic of the overall setup.

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How will it go? Time will tell.

Here is the video i made on the pillar with my initial thoughts

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ft7_1OJcLBs