MAS Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions about astronomy (see also MAS Beginners page)
This page answers many commonly asked questions about astronomy. If you have a question on a subject any not covered here, please help support this page by using our on-line enquiry form (requires Java Script to be enabled).
Much of the material here has been taken from topics presented at out monthly meetings. If any member has subject they would like to present for 15-20 miniutes as a 'second half' topic, please contact the Meetings Secretary (to contribute directly to this page, please contact the Webmaster
(+) 0001 How do I find a local Astronomical Society ?
(+) 0002 How is Star brightness measured ?
(+) 0003 What are the Constellations ?
(+) 0004 What is the shape of the Earth ?
(+) 0005 What equipment do I need to start astronomy ?
(+) 0007 What telescope should I buy ?
(+) 0008 How much Magnification can I get ?
(+) 0013 What are Equatorial and Alt Az mounts ?
(+) 0100 How do I use my first telescope ?
(+) 0109 What is a finder ?
(+) 0110 What is an eyepiece ?
(+) 0111 What is a Barlow ?
(+) 0112 What is a focal reducer ?
(+) 0114 What are Nebular filters ?
(+) 0116 How do I use Setting Circles ?
(+) 0120 What is collimation ?
(+) 0125 How can I safely observe the Sun ?
(+) 1030 How can I take photos of the stars ?
(+) 1033 How to take photos of the Aurora ? - (Northern Lights)
(+) 1036 How do I calculate FOV for Eyepiece projection ?
(+) 1038 What is Star trailing ?
(-) 1039 How can I take photos of Meteors ?
During a meteor shower, you set up your camera on a tripod with a wide angle lens and set it to take contineous series of 'long exposure' shots (typically 10-30s each) - the longer the exposue time, the brighter or more 'washed out' the background sky will appear, however the shorter the exposure time, the more likley it is you will 'miss' the meteor as the camera spends time 'saving' the last shot (befor starting the next) !
Note that some cameras have a special 'night mode', however this often means the camera wastes time taking multiple shots in an effort to 'reduce the noise'. More useful is the 'firework mode' some cameras have - the more advanced ones will 'spot' the meteor 'flash' and make sure it's captured.
Out of each hundred or so shots, you can expect two or 3 showing a Meteor track !
If you want to avoid 'star trailing', most MAS members will be happy to offer you the option of 'co-mounting' your camera on their 'go to' telescope.
If your camera does not have a built-in multi-exposure 'sequencer' (or you can't control it from your smart-phone / tablet), a cable conected 'remote control' can usually be purchased for £20 or so (eBay, from China) for most makes of camera (especially Nikon/Canon etc where the 'branded' remote controller can cost you £100's)
See also our Sept 2014 meeting, a talk from UKMON (UK Meteor Monitoring Network) for 'how to video' Meteor events using 'off the shelf' CCTV cameras.
This note last modified: 30th Oct 2016 18:14.
(+) 2100 What is Universal Time (UTC) ?
(+) 2114 What are AUs Parsecs and Light Years ?
(+) 2115 What is Bodes Law ?
(+) 3010 When was Neptune discovered ?
(+) 4000 How do I update Stellarium with new Comet data ?
(+) 5000 How To build the MAS (Raspberry Pi) photoframe ?