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MAS archive

  We are back at our normal venue from 3rd Sept. 2021  

Photo: jpeg (meeting in progress)
This page lists our monthly meetings. For other events open to the general public, see our Events page

Dates are set well in advance but the 'content' of the meeting is only updated (from our 'meetings database') when details are entered, so 'blank' or 'TBA' may be shown when data has not yet been entered (please be assured that the meeting will take place and a talk on (some) Subject will be delivered by (some) Speaker ! )

Photo: MAS Meeting
During the COVID-19 restrictions, all meetings are being held on-line using ZOOM. Meetings are normally held at the Church Hall (aka 'The Soltau Center') of St James-the-Less, Stubbings, Maidenhead SL6 6QW, from 7.30 (for a ZOOM link, or map and directions, see the About MAS (Where we meet) page

The Main Topic is usually delivered by an invited guest speaker. We aim to provide a diverse range of subjects linked (in some way) to Astronomy - whilst the 'Second Session' is typically delivered by one of our members. If time allows, the evening concludes with a short 'What to see this month'.

Details of a typical evening (times are approximate) :-
7.30pm. The evening starts with the Chairman delivering any important Announcements and then introducing the main speaker.
7.45pm (latest). Main Topic Speaker gets up and the lights are turned off.
If you arrive after 7.45, please enter the Hall by the first door (on the right, after the entrance) and please be extra careful when finding a seat at the back of the Hall as members often setup telescopes there !
8.45-9pm +. Coffee break during which visitors often chat with members who have set-up their telescopes at the back of the hall. If the weather is good, sometimes members will nip out for a quick look at the sky.
Smoking is permitted outside the Hall, however smokers are asked to avoid any 'observers' (smoke particles always seem to get into optical equipment, no matter how well 'sealed' it may be)
9.15pm (at the latest). The 'Second Session' then runs for about 45 mins, typically ending with "What's Up !" (what to look out for in the sky this month)
10pm. We aim to clear the hall by 10pm.
Post meeting Observing. If the weather is good, the Observing Organiser then leads the way to our chosen observing site, or (if the weather looks even a slight bit 'iffy) members sneak off to the local Pub instead :-)

Next meeting :

(+)  2 Dec 2022 Xmas Social Photo Comp and Quiz - (set by members)

(+)  6 Jan 2023 Telescope Parade - (by members)

(+)  3 Feb 2023 The Galaxy without a dark side - (Barry Kellett)

(+)  3 Mar 2023 TBA


(+)  5 May 2023 Pioneers of spectroscopy - (Jack Martin)

(+)  2 Jun 2023 MAS 66th AGM - (Annual General Meeting)

  Meetings Archive  

The meetings archive gives an 'overview' of the Society activities over the past 10 years (see also the Events page).

Members have access to the full 'History of MAS' (including AGM minutes going back to 1957) along with full names and photos

The MAS 'year' runs from September of one year to June of the following. The end of year AGM in June elects the Committee for the following year (there are no meetings in July and August - although often members will meet informally at the local pub - which gives the new Committee time to 'get a grip' on running the Society)

The "short cuts" (in the 'title bar', at the very top of this page) will take you to the June AGM entry for the end of that MAS year

The Maidenhead Astronomical Society meetings archive (last 10 years only)

Missed a meeting, or can't remember when a topic was last covered ? Here is the archive of past MAS meetings.
Note that this list covers only our monthly meetings and AGM's. Reports on Observing and Other Events are separate pages

If notes were taken at the meeting, the date below is underlined and shown with a '(+)' = click to see the notes (if no '(+)' is shown, no notes were taken - or, more likely, the webmaster hasn't found them and posted them up yet :-) )

(+)  4 Nov 2022 Exploration of Jupiter - (Dr Mike Legett)

(+)  7 Oct 2022 The Lunar 100 - (Dr Lilian Hobbs)

(+)  2 Sep 2022 InfraRed Astronomy - (Dr Eric Dunford)

(+) 10 Jun 2022 MAS 65th AGM - (NOTE 2nd Friday)

(+)  6 May 2022 Gravitational Waves - (Joshua Pooley)

(+)  1 Apr 2022 Saturn - (Michael Foulkes)

(+)  4 Mar 2022 Update on the Exploration of Mars - (Jim House)

(+)  4 Feb 2022 What Astronomy Tells Us About The Origins of Life On Earth ? - (James Hough)

(+)  7 Jan 2022 Telescope Parade and informal equipment discussion - (by Members)

(+)  3 Dec 2021 Christmas Quiz set by members - (followed by Social Evening)

(+)  5 Nov 2021 CANCELLED - (Hall closed)

(+)  1 Oct 2021 Dark Nebulae - (Owen Brazell)

(+)  3 Sep 2021 How we reached the Moon - (Jerry Stone)

(+)  4 Jun 2021 63rd AGM (ZOOM on line meeting)

(+)  7 May 2021 Milestones in Astronomy - (Rod Hine (ZOOM on line meeting))

(+)  2 Apr 2021 The Red Sun - (Lyn Smith (ZOOM on line meeting))

(+)  5 Mar 2021 Tour of the Universe - (Jane Green (ZOOM on line meeting))

(+)  5 Feb 2021 Space Vehicles - (Graham Bryant (ZOOM on line meeting))

(+)  8 Jan 2021 The Astronomer's Toolkit - (Dr Lee Anne Willson (ZOOM on line meeting))

(+)  4 Dec 2020 Xmas Quiz - (set by members (ZOOM on line meeting))

(+)  6 Nov 2020 The Monster in the Crab - (Gary Poyner (ZOOM on line meeting))

(+)  2 Oct 2020 Is there anyone out there ? - (Bob Mizon (ZOOM on line meeting))

(+)  4 Sep 2020 Two eyes are better than one - (Stephen Tonkin (ZOOM on line meeting))

(+)  5 Jun 2020 COVID19 Postponed MAS 62nd AGM

(+)  1 May 2020 COVID19 Postponed The Monster in the Crab - (Gary Poyner)

(+)  3 Apr 2020 COVID19 meeting CANCELLED

(+)  6 Mar 2020 Recent Developments in Gravity Wave Research - (Martin Dyer)

(+)  7 Feb 2020 Ask an expert Q and A panel - (By Members)

(+)  3 Jan 2020 Equipment Parade - (By members)

(+)  6 Dec 2019 Xmas Quiz and social - (By members)

(+)  1 Nov 2019 The Origin of the Solar System - (James Fradgley)

(+)  4 Oct 2019 Kew Observatory and the origins of modern solar physics - (Dr Lee Macdonald)

(+)  6 Sep 2019 History of Mars Exploration - (Jim House)

(+) Aug 2019 Summer break - (no meeting)

(+) Jul 2019 Summer break - (no meeting)

(+)  7 Jun 2019 MAS 61st AGM - (and Photo Competition prizes)

(+)  3 May 2019 13 Journeys in Space and Time - (Colin Stuart)

(+)  5 Apr 2019 Space Weather - (Dr Colin Forsyth)

(+)  1 Mar 2019 The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) - (Dr Aprajita Verma)

(+)  1 Feb 2019 Ask the Expert - (members panel)

(+)  4 Jan 2019 Equipment exhibition - (and EGM)

(+)  7 Dec 2018 Christmas Quiz and Social

(+)  2 Nov 2018 Short talks - (by members)

(+)  5 Oct 2018 The Future is out of this World - ( Dr Stuart Eves FRAS)

(+)  7 Sep 2018 13 Journeys through space and Time - (Postponed new date TBA)

(+) Aug 2018 Summer break - (no meeting)

(+) Jul 2018 Summer break - (no meeting)

(+)  1 Jun 2018 MAS 61st AGM - (and Photo Competition prizes)

(+)  4 May 2018 Using Video and an Aurora Encounter - (by members)

(+)  6 Apr 2018 Berkshire Astronomers - (Kenelm England FRAS)

(+) 16 Mar 2018 NEW DATE Jupiter and the Juno Mission - (Dr John Rogers)

(+)  2 Feb 2018 Talks by Members

(+)  5 Jan 2018 Telescope and Equipment workshop - (Q and A with members)

(+)  1 Dec 2017 Xmas Quiz and Social - (Quiz Master Tim H)

(+)  3 Nov 2017 Wonders of the Deep Sky - (Callum Potter)

(+)  6 Oct 2017 Observing the Sun - (by MAS members)

(+)  1 Sep 2017 Gravity Waves - (a recap by Martin Dyer)

(+)  2 Jun 2017 MAS 60th AGM - (and Photo Competition prizes)

(+)  5 May 2017 Novae - (Jim H)

(+)  7 Apr 2017 Comets - (Kenelm England)

(+)  3 Mar 2017 Pseudoastronomy - (Stephen Tonkin)

(+)  3 Feb 2017 Members short stories

(+)  6 Jan 2017 Telescope Parade - (exhibition by members)

(+)  9 Dec 2016 (note 2nd Friday) Christmas Quiz - (and members shorts)

(+)  4 Nov 2016 Observing Planetary Nebulae - (Owen Brazell)

(+)  7 Oct 2016 Astro tourism - (David Phillips)

(+)  2 Sep 2016 Rosetta Space Mission - (Andrew Morse)

(+)  3 Jun 2016 MAS 59th AGM - (and Photo competition results)

(+)  6 May 2016 Build a recording spectrometer John Paraskeva - (2nd half Spectrometer results Alun Halsey)

(+)  1 Apr 2016 The Universe in multiple wavelengths - (2nd half Gravity Waves)

(+)  4 Mar 2016 Astronomy and the Weather - (Robin Oldman)

(+)  5 Feb 2016 Sungrazing Comets - (Kenelm England FRAS)

(+)  8 Jan 2016 (note 8th as 1st is New Year) Practical Astrophotography - (and Telescope Parade)

(+) 11 Dec 2015 Xmas Quiz and members shorts - (NOTE DATE CHANGE)

(+)  6 Nov 2015 The Big Bang Theory - (Kevin Pretorius)

(+)  2 Oct 2015 Starting Astrophotography - (short talks by members)

(+)  4 Sep 2015 Basketballs and Beyond - (Jane Green)

(+)  5 Jun 2015 agm

(+)  8 May 2015 (NOTE 2nd Friday) Talks by Members

(+) 10 Apr 2015 (2nd Friday) planned meeting replaced by - (talks from members)

(+)  6 Mar 2015 Astronomy in Namibia - (Scott Marley)

(+)  6 Feb 2015 Did the Moon sink the Titanic ? - (Dr Barry Kellett)

(+)  7 Nov 2014 Guest stars ancient and modern - (Guy Hurst)

(+)  3 Oct 2014 Measuring the Universe - (Kevin Pretorius)

(-)  5 Sep 2014 UKMON - (Richard Kacerek)

Richard Kacerek - UKMON (UK Meteor Observation Network) Each observing site hosts one or more 'standard' (low light, i.e. no IR filter) CCTV cameras (eg. the VF-6047EFosd, approx £40 from China, with lens (approx £30) Computar TG3Z2910-CS IR2.9 8.2MM F1.0 LENS) to monitor the sky. The total set-up cost is about £450-£500 per 'camera set' (depending on cost of PC) since you need both an AVI capture card (or USB dongle ?) plus a s/w licence at £120 (see Software below) NOTE that the lens has a shutter that (auto) closes when power is removed (on a timer) during the day (to avoid sunlight burning the camera chip) The Camera must be mounted in weatherproof (IP65 minimum, IP67 better) box (any 'professional standard' CCTV enclosure will do = see the UKMON site for some recommendations) with a 'dew heater' (if you want to avoid having to let the water out when it fills up or having to wipe the lens/cover at regular intervals :-) ). Best (indeed, only) results are obtained by aiming at about 70 degrees from the horizontal (i.e. NOT 'straight up') and restricting the FOV (Field of View) to no more than 60-70 degrees max (180 'all sky' FOV doesn't work due to the relatively low pixel count of standard CCTV cameras = 720x576 PAL 25fps) If multiple sites 'see' the same event, it can be triangulated = dozens of sites over the UK (and much of Europe) have multiple cameras = typ. 3 or 4 per ... if at least 2 sites over 30 miles apart 'see' the meteor, it can be 'positioned' and it's track (and thus it's orbit) calculated as well as it's speed. This helps 'identify' the shower (Perseid's, for example, are relatively slow, in the 30-40kps range) Camera software captures all 'flashes' - non-meteor events (eg fireworks) have to be 'filtered out' by hand, but unexpected events ('Sprites' = lightning 'up flashes') have been captured that proved to be of interest to University researchers. Software The software used to 'capture' the events, Sonota 'UFO Capture', is a commercial product (for Win 2000, XP, or 7) and the licence costs approx £120 (although that is 'per person', so (I assume) that means you can run it on as many PC's = as many cameras that you have). It looks for the 'flash' of a meteor and records (from a few seconds before to a few seconds after). The analysis s/w that 'solves' the sky map (stars) for location etc. is free, however it has to be 'manually guided', although (with practice) even during a meteor showers it need only take a few hours each week to process the results. [ED. Analysis needs a lot of 'manual guidance' because UFO Capture is very prone to 'false positives'. An alternative capture software, 'ASGARD' (which is used in Canada = see here) may be 'open source' (it runs on Debian GNU/Linux (only) with a specific capture card ?) but shows far fewer 'false positives' (see comparison here). Interestingly, Richard showed us a clip of his cat getting in the way of the camera = which rather suggests that 'event capture' algorithms used by 'UFO Capture' may be as simple as just looking for any change in the FOV (and not for 'bright streaks' at all !). If so, free CCTV 'motion capture' software (such as 'iSpy' or the Open Source 'Motion' utility) might perform just as well (see also at end, Ramblings by the Editor)] Posting the results UKMON maintains a database of all events and 'catalogues' the positions etc. forming 'orbit' maps showing where the meteors are coming from within the Solar System. Social networking (Twitter @UKMeteorNetwork, Google+ and Facebook) is used to publicise results which are held in a pan-European database (ex. France, who's data is incompatible with rest of Europe and who insist on 'pointing straight up') There is also a 'Live' feed (*find on web). Contact Richard or Peter Campbell-Burns for more info. on ukmeteornetwork@gmail.com) News media often calls on UKMON to supply photos / footage (2 1/2 seconds of a recent 'fireball' was shown on national TV (BBC? ))
Second half. Tim,  Occultation of asteroid 391 Ingleborg (observed by Adrian whilst Tim away == see Tims website)
End-piece = more ramblings from the Editor The well known Open Source 'iSpy' recording suite (free for local use) may be a possible alternative (for those that would rather spend £120 on more camera's rather than lining the pockets of the some commercial organisation). This runs on  Windows and supports 'motion capture' - however since it's aimed at CCTV security camera systems the number of options seems almost infinite = so setting it up to capture 'just meteor footage' is likely to be an infinite series of trial and error :-).] For an even lower cost per camera solution, how about using the Raspberry Pi board (and the Pi 'NoIR Camera') instead of a PC with a CCTV camera ? The Pi's camera has 5 Mpixels and can capture that at 15fps (2592x1944), or HD at 30fps (1920x1080p30 = which is about 2 M pixels), so you can get between 5 and 10 times what a CCTV camera outputs (typically, CCTV max is 720x576 'PAL' = 0.4 M pixels, to match the ancient 'video tape' based recording system). A CCTV camera delivers AVI (AVI is an 'uncompressed' video format, it records each individual 'frame' at full accuracy but requires lots of bandwidth and lots of storage, hence the need to 'only record the event'). The Pi camera can be run in 'RAW' mode to deliver YUV, however the data rates are extreme - each full frame will be 7.5Mb (5Mb Y luminance, 1.25Mb ea. U & V chrominance). At 15fps, this is 112.5 Mb/s and there is just no way to get that off the Pi (the best it can do is save to SDHC at about 20Mb/s). Since the Pi Model B is fitted with 512Mb RAM and 3/4 of that is needed for the GPU / system), you can expect to 'save' about 1 second in RAM, which MAY be enough for meteor 'streak' = but only if you can save the 'right' second :-) [and you won't get the 2.5 second fireball mentioned above - however all you realy need is the start frame and end frame (of a 'streak'), so if you are REALLY clever, maybe something can be done] If you want to save full frames, you end up having to run 'streak detect' on the Pi itself, which MAY be possible with some clever code (the GPU is capable of generating 'thumbnails' at the same time as full resolution images, and a meteor track should really stand out no matter how small a thumbnail you take = the problem is that the 'detect' has to be done before the images in the Pi's RAM are over written by new ones, so you need to 'spot' the 'start' of a streak when it's only a few frames 'old') The alternative is to have the Pi deliver a compressed image stream (just like the movies that you see on your TV which are mpeg or (for HD) h.264)). Since compression is performed by the Pi's built-in GPU there is no 'overhead', however the Pi CPU runs at less than 1GHz, so can't be expected to 'unpack' the compressed video stream to do motion-detection (although using the thumbnails generated by the GPU at the same time as the video may provide a means). HD video compression (H.264) uses a lot less storage space than AVI but some detail is always lost during the compression step. However, with 5-10x the pixel count and a (mainly) black sky with very little 'movement', it's quite possible that h.264 compression will still give acceptable results. If the Pi can't 'detect' the events it will have to send the video stream to a 'real' computer (running free software such as iSpy) that can select the bits to 'save'. Since it seems unlikely that a PC could 'select' events from multiple camera's at the same time, the video from a second (or 3rd) camera would have to be stored during the night (and processed the following day). Insert - what video bandwidths are needed ? Well, if we assume 'max HD', that's 2 Mpixels at 30fps, and at max. quality the Pi generates 25mbps (BluRay quality is 30mbps). If we take full FOV, that's So a 100mbs Ethernet cable system (with Switches, or Gbit hubs) should support 3 cameras. This is about 3Mbytes/s, 10.5Gb/Hr**, or about 100Gb/night (so, to store the output from a 2nd and 3rd camera, whilst processing the first, would 'only' require 200Gb or so) ** yes, I know your DVR recorder records HD TV programs at 4Gb (or less) an hour (and not 10Gb), which just shows what rotten quality HD is broadcast at (and not how 'efficient' your PVR is = PVR's don't 'compress' anything = all they do is record the broadcast material 'as is', usually whilst adding some very primitive 'encryption' to satisfy the licence requirements), whilst 'iPlayer' etc. pretend to send HD over the Internet at 1mbs or less (= which just means that iPlayer 'HD' quality is 4x worse than broadcast and about 30x worse than a real 30mbs BluRay HD) In conclusion, using Pi 'NoIR' could get the camera cost down to less than £50, and with up to 3 Pi camera's sharing a single desktop PC you could maybe build a 3 camera system for less than the 'normal' cost of 1 !]
This note last modified: 11th Jun 2019 10:37.


(+)  6 Jun 2014 agm

(+)  2 May 2014 Asteroids and Comets - (Jerry Workman)

(+)  7 Mar 2014 Talks by members

(+)  7 Feb 2014 History of Radio Astronomy - (Paul Hyde)

(+)  3 Jan 2014 Members telescope workshop evening

(+)  4 Oct 2013 Project Alcock - (Roger Dymock)

(+)  6 Sep 2013 Zooniverse - (Brooke Simmons)

(+)  7 Jun 2013 agm

(+)  3 May 2013 Members Photographic Compitition

(+)  1 Mar 2013 Exploring the Solar System by Satellite - (Dr Stuart Eves)

(+)  1 Feb 2013 Mars revisited - (Gerry Workman)

(+)  2 Nov 2012 (place holder)

(+)  5 Oct 2012 The History of Dark Nebula - (Owen Brazell)

(+)  7 Sep 2012 Photographing the Night Sky - (Nik Szymanek)

(+)  1 Jun 2012 agm

(+)  4 May 2012 Origins of time keeping

(+) 12 Apr 2012 The Faulkes Telescope Project - (Dr Paul Roche and Sarah Roberts)

(+)  2 Mar 2012 Astronomy for new members - (various)

(+)  2 Dec 2011 Xmas social and Reprocessing old data using new Registax - (Bruce Kingsley)

(+)  3 Jun 2011 agm

(+)  6 May 2011 Occultations Ancient and Modern - (Tim Haymes)

(+)  1 Apr 2011 Active Galactic Nuclei - (Dr Nick Hewitt)

(+)  4 Mar 2011 Astro Imaging Overseas - (Damian Peach)

(+)  4 Feb 2011 Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe - (Dr Mark Sullivan)

(+)  7 Jan 2011 Social evening and Quiz - (Tim & Robin)

(+)  5 Nov 2010 Big Bangs - (Jim & Tim)

(+)  1 Oct 2010 Astronomy in Space - (David & Jim)

(+)  3 Sep 2010 The Sun Kings - (Dr Stuart Clark)

(+)  2 Jul 2010 Telescope and Camera workshop - (members)

(+)  4 Jun 2010 agm

(+)  9 Apr 2010 Meteorites - (David Bryant)

(+)  5 Mar 2010 Bits and Pieces - (Greg Smye Rumsby)

(+)  8 Jan 2010 (cancelled due to snow)

(+)  4 Dec 2009 Xmas Social and Quiz

(+)  6 Nov 2009 Planetary Nebulae - (Owen Brazell)

(+)  2 Oct 2009 A beginners guide to the night sky - (Tim H)

(+)  4 Sep 2009 Short talks - (members)

(+)  5 Jun 2009 agm

(+)  6 Jun 2008 agm

(+)  1 Jun 2007 agm

(+)  7 Jun 2006 agm

(+)  3 Jun 2005 agm

(+)  4 Jun 2004 agm