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  *** HOT NEWS ***   MAS Stargazing Live !   *** HOT NEWS ***  

Our 2017 Stargazing Live ! event will be held on 1st April at White Waltham Airfield
(home of the West London Aero Club)

See our Events page for more information about all our Events
Click here for MAS Facebook page
Photo: Members of MAS gather to observe the ransit of Mercury
Monday, 9 May 2016: Transit of Mercury, members of MAS gathered in Ockwells Park to show the Transit to the public. For more details, see report on Events page
WARNING: never look at the Sun through a normal telescope !!
Doing so, WILL BLIND YOU !!!

Members announcement:
The MAS Members 2017 Photo Competition starts now. To enter, send your photo, with information (date taken etc.) to the Chairman (and specify category, our Sun/Moon, Planet/other Solar System, Deep Sky, Local or International). Closing date is the May 2017 meeting, judging will be external and prizes awarded at the AGM in June.


  Next Meeting  

  Friday, 3rd March 2017    Pseudoastronomy    (Stephen Tonkin)  

All our indoor meetings run from 7.30 to 10pm in the Church Hall, St James-the-Less, Stubbings, Maidenhead, SL6 6QW (for directions, see our About & Contact page)

Meetings are normally on the first Friday of the month, September to June. There are no indoor meetings in July or August (unless indicated)

Beginners and visitors are always welcome at our indoor meetings (you don't have to join, however a 2 contribution toward the costs of the hall hire would be most welcome !)

To contact the society between meetings, please complete the on-line General Enquiry form

If you would like to receive, by email, advanced notification of our free public events, or you would like further information about the Society please use the Enquiry form mentioned above - or just turn up at any meeting and speak to any member of the Committee.

We also have a page on the Maidenhead Arts Council web site (where you will find details of other local clubs and societies if, for some inexplicable reason, Astronomy fails to fire your imagination and seize your interest :-) )


  This seasons meetings  

  Friday, 2nd September 2016

  Rosetta Space Mission   (Andrew Morse)  

  Friday, 3rd February 2017

  Members short stories   ( )  

  Friday, 7th October 2016

  Astro tourism   (David Phillips)  

  Friday, 3rd March 2017

  Pseudoastronomy   (Stephen Tonkin)  

  Friday, 4th November 2016

  Observing Planetary Nebulae   (Owen Brazell)  

  Friday, 7th April 2017

  TBA   ( )  

  Friday, 9th December 2016

  (note 2nd Friday) Christmas Quiz   (and members shorts)  

  Friday, 5th May 2017

  TBA   ( )  

  Friday, 6th January 2017

  Telescope Parade   (exhibition by members)  

  Friday, 2nd June 2017

  MAS 60th AGM   (agm and PhotoComp prizes)  

(Table: http://www.maidenhead-astro.net/public/Home/index#2_bm)  


  Next Public Event  

1 Apr 2017 Stargazing Live

Saturday, 1st April 2017, Observing from 7pm at White Waltham Airfield, Maidenhead, SL6 3NJ (home of the West London Aero Club). Maidenhead Astronomical Society presents:- Stargazing Live ! This event is totally free (free entry, free parking) and we will be open to the public from about 6.30 and will run to after 10pm. Observing (Moon watch) from about 7pm (sunset is 7.30). MAS members will be setting up their telescopes for public viewing and talks will be held in the Conference Room that opens directly out to the airfield where our telescopes will be (look for the MAS / 'Star Gazing Live' banners) NOTE. This event will go ahead even if the weather is a bit 'iffy' (should it actually rain, we will bring our telescopes indoors and talk to anyone who is interested). Facilities The Restaurant closes at 6pm, however the Club has a fully licensed bar. The 'Snacks' Menu is available up to 7pm (order from the bar), after which the kitchen is closed (although toasted sandwiches may still be available from the bar).  Cakes and confectionery are also available. Talks etc. Will take place in the conference room next to the bar. Talk topics are still being planned and are TBA. Each talk will be about 20-30 mins and will be delivered 'on demand' multiple times during the evening. There will be a written 'Quiz' (and a small prize), following the talks. Viewing MAS members will be on hand with their telescopes setup to view some of the many objects visible in the night sky (weather permitting). In the early evening, before it gets really dark, high in the SW we will see the 5 day old waxing Crescent Moon. As the Sun sets in the west, at about 7:30, it will be followed by the planet Uranus (which will have totally disappeared by 8:30 = the chances of catching a glimpse depends on an unobstructed view to the western horizon). Looking to the South, from dusk, we will see  Sirius rising above the horizon (the brightest star in the Northern Hemisphere, Sirius is frequently mistaken for Venus, however Venus (like Mercury) will always be found near the Sun - either in the West at dusk (following the Sun down), or, as at present, rising in the East before the Sun, at dawn) Photo: ../Events/photos/2017-04-01-8-40-looking-west.jpg
Following the Sun down to the west, we will see a half phase Mercury (at it's greatest W Elongation), however it will have disappeared below the horizon before 9:30.

About 1/3rd the distance from Mercury to the Moon we will find Mars (which will be visible until 10pm).

Then, roughly half way between Mars and the Moon (forming the hoof of the right leg of Taurus) is the Pleiades, a bright cluster of 7 new stars (hence the popular name '7 sisters'). In the days before light pollution, all 7 of the 'sisters' could be seen by keen eyes = the most I've ever managed without a telescope is 5  = how many can you see ?

Continuing to the east, nicely placed between the Moon and Sirius, is the constellation of Orion with it's famous nebula, M42. This is visible to the naked eye as a 'fuzzy patch' in Orion's 'sword' (or dagger') below the 'belt' (it's the 3rd of the 4 'objects' making up the sword - the first is the open cluster NGC1981) The 'biggie' planet of the evening will be Jupiter. This will be rising from the horizon in the East at about 8:30pm (but is still only 20 degrees above the SE horizon by 10:30pm as Sirius sets in the SW) so to view Jupiter we will need a clear path to the southern horizon. To find the nearest Galaxy to our own, Andromeda (M31) - which will appear upright ('standing on it's edge') - locate the constellation of Andromeda (about half way between Mercury and the 'big W' of Cassiopeia) and follow the 3 stars in the 'arm' to the right'. The Andromeda Galaxy is just off the end of the arm, slightly down and to the right (shown [ ] in the image above)
For a Report on one of our previous Stargazing Live events see here This event, consisting of public talks and observing, is organised in conjunction with the BBC StarGazing Live !
This note last modified: 22nd Feb 2017 10:36.

Members :- Please log-in to the Members Only section for details of our next members only Event


  Most recent Event Report  

Details of all our planned and past activities can be found on the Events pages.
Note that Outreach events are not usually open to the public, so are reported here only AFTER the event (Members can see planned Outreach dates in the Members Only section, Activity planning pages)

21 Feb 2017 Furze Platt Cub Pack - (Outreach)

Tuesday, 21st Feb. 2017 - Furze Platt Cub Pack (Outreach)
Present: Robin, Andy, Steve (report by Steve)
A flurry of emails before the event eventually settled on a 6.15pm arrival for a target start of 6.45 - even so we all turned up early (although I initially missed the hall, ended up at a nearby school and, after phoning Robin, had to turn back to find the venue). The Furze Platt Cubs meet upstairs - never good news when you have a 10" Dob. a 2m screen and half-a-dozen other things to shift :-) Anyway, the 'pack leader' Juliet needed us to stick to a 1 hr. time-scale as she had a lot of 'investitures' and badges to hand out .. so, with a bit of effort, we were soon set up and ready to go by 6.40 ! Tonight's group consisted of 17 cubs (aged about 8), two uniformed leaders and two helpers - a good ratio to keep the cubs 'focused' we were told. I noted that this 'pack' had an 'award' system with tokens earned for good behaviour that allowed the 3 teams (Red, Blue and Yellow - or Tiger, Eagle and ??) to compete with one another. Robin kicked off with with 'finding North', identifying the Great Bear (Ursa Major), Cassiopeia and Orion (making the 3 necessary for the Cubs 'Star Watcher' badge). He also showed the constellation 'art' and mentioned how Orion the Hunter looked as if he was hunting Taurus the Bull. He then ran Stellarium at speed showing how the stars changed position during the night (and over the year) rotating about the North Star (Polaris). A quick check with Andy and I was up next with the Solar System layout. The cubs were all quick with their answers, sometimes shouting answers before I had even finished the question ! Andy assisted with the planets layout, after which I took a few questions before it was Andy's turn with the Moon. Unfortunately he was without his usual 'props', however Robin stepped in with Stellarium and a screen projection of the Moon, so not all was lost. Andy described the meteor impacts and lava 'seas' of the Moon and even identified the Sea of Tranquility (landing site of Apollo 11) - as expected the cubs all knew Neil Armstrong and (I think) even Buzz Aldrin, however none could name Michael Collins (the Apollo 11 command module pilot) who remained in orbit. We then went on to describe our telescopes, showing the mirrors and lenses. As usual the cubs found the mirrors much more interesting ! Andy passed a couple of 'cardboard telescope' kits to Juliet, the construction of which should further help the cubs understanding of how telescopes 'work'. After a few more questions, we finished up at 7:44 with one minute to spare ! The investitures followed (which included Robin's grandson) after which a large number of earned badges were awarded. We started loading at about 8pm and I was away first at about 8.20 as I had to drop off the screen and projector at Tim's for the next monthly meeting. All in, we covered lots of ground and were impressed with how attentive the cubs were and the high level of knowledge shown in their questions - all they need now is a chance to do some real observing and they will be ready for their Badge Exam !
This note last modified: 23rd Feb 2017 22:50.



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We now have our own Facebook page !

exit to: Maidenhead Astronomical Society on Facebook


  Laser Pens  

Maidenhead Astronomical Society may use Laser Pens as a pointer during outreach events and talks. Any such use will comply with our Laser Pen Policy, which may be downloaded from here (.pdf)

Essentially, only responsible adults pre-approved by MAS are allowed to use a pointer at an outreach event. Children under the age of 18 and non-approved adults are not be allowed to use the laser pen at any time. Any member of the public bringing their own device (without pre-approval) is asked not to use it during one of our events (and will be asked to leave if they are not willing to comply with this request).



Robotic Telescopes (MAS Links page)
Where we meet (MAS About page)
'Frequently Asked Questions' (FAQ, MAS Beginners page)
exit to: Maidenhead Arts Council (MADAC) MAS web page
exit to: Tim's list of Asteroid Occultation observation opportunities
exit to: European Asteroidal Occultation Network
exit to: Space Weather
exit to: Heavens-Above - times of everything passing overhead, especially ISS, satellites and Iridium flares
exit to: The Astronomer on-line - magazine for the advanced amateur
exit to: BAA (British Astronomical Association)
exit to: SPA (Society for Popular Astronomy) - especially suitable for younger stargazers !


Benefactors and supporters

O2 (award report)
exit to Cash-for-the-community (Baylis Trust)
Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Lottery grant
RBWM-Education Directorate
Mr B.Smith of Shottesbrooke
Mrs P.Haymes
The Telegraph newspaper
exit to Oregon Scientific
exit to Telescope house


Members images

Members = if your 'just uploaded' photo does not appear here, make sure it has a 'normal' sized thumbnail (and don't forget to re-visit the Members Home page and click 'update public site with my latest images' !)

Latest photo:
Photo: Comet Catalina 2013

Above: Comet Catalina 2013 returns ! First image (above) was by GeorgeB on 1st January. TimH spotted the comet on the morning of the 4th in Bootes between 4 and 5.30am and reports as follows :- Visible in 10x50 Bins at magnitude 6. It appears as a small fuzzy blob. No tail, but there is a hint of one in images with a 200mm lens ( 4 x 90s stack). There was a small amount of haze and cloud, but not serious. There is also a thin Moon, but this will gone now for 2 weeks. Report by: Tim H. Photo by: George B.

ObsTransitofMercury ( 9 May 2016)11 08 39 590 alun sunspot (13 Apr 2016)
IMG ( 1 Jan 2016)1488 (24 Oct 2015)
MAS Members at Ockwells (20 Mar 2015)MAS Members at Ockwells (20 Mar 2015)