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 ! )
Meetings are held at the Church Hall (aka 'The Soltau Center') of St James-the-Less, Stubbings, Maidenhead SL6 6QW, from 7.30 (for a 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 :
(+) 1 Feb 2019 Ask the expert - (members panel)
(+) 1 Mar 2019 The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) - (Dr)
(+) 5 Apr 2019 Space Weather - (Dr Colin Forsyth)
(+) 3 May 2019 To be announced
(+) 7 Jun 2019 MAS 61st AGM
(+) Jul 2019 Summer break - (no meeting)
(+) Aug 2019 Summer break - (no meeting)
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 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)
Friday, 6th April 2018 - "Berkshire Astronomers" - Kenelm England FRAS
Announcements from the Chair
Susan started with a tribute to Stephen Hawking, whose funeral was on last Saturday (March 31). You can read his Biography, here. A quick show of hands revealed that quite a few at MAS had read his book, A Brief History of Time, although few admitted to fully understanding it !
Susan then reminded us that the Photo Competition was ending soon, and that photos of total eclipse (seen from USA) would be accepted as entries.
Finally, she noted that we would be taking part in the Maidenhead Arts spring festival on Saturday 28th April at the Maidenhead Amphitheatre (outside the Library, St. Ives Road, SL6 1QU). Our 'slot' is planned for 12 noon, when, weather permitting, for 45 mins various telescopes will be used in Solar Projection mode and our Solarscope will be available for members of the public to view the Sun.
"Three Berkshire Astronomers" - Kenelm England
Kenelm started by mentioning some of the 'sources' he used when researching the 3 Astronomers in his presentation. Most of us will already use Google (of course), however there is also the Society for the History of Astronomy, the BAA Historical section.
Perhaps less well known is the The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System maintains three bibliographic databases containing more than 13.6 million records covering publications in Astronomy and Astrophysics and Physics.
Finally, the British Library has a digital library of historical local newspaper publications, although Maidenhead Advertiser has not yet been added, most Reading local papers have been.
For 'famous' historical astronomers, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is a good place to start.
Kenelm then when on to present 3 astronomers of Berkshire - and started by reminding us that in the ';old days' Slough was not part of Berk's (but Abingdon was). He started with one that most of us will have heard of :-
William Lassell (1799-1880)
He had perhaps the most effective telescope of his time, the mirrors of which were made from a 'Speculum' metal (the exact composition of which was a closely held secret), which tarnished so fast that he always had 2 mirrors - one for observing and one being refurbished (re-polished).
After about 5 years of experimentation he constructed first a (pair of) 9" then a (pair of) 24" and finally a (pair of) 48" mirrors. He was one of the first astronomers to use an EQ mount = no easy task due (in those days) to the very long focal lengths used = his 9" mirror had a focal length of 20 feet !
Ed. However, such long focal lengths made it (relatively) easy to obtain huge magnifications (for planetary observation, mag. in excess of 500 would be normal. On a F=20ft, a 12mm focal length eyepiece gives mag 508, where-as todays typical F=1m telescopes would need a x5 Barlow (with a 10mm eyepiece)
Using his 24" telescope in Liverpool, in 1846 William Lassell discovered Triton, the largest moon of Neptune, just 17 days after the discovery of Neptune itself (by German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle).
In 1848 he independently co-discovered Hyperion, a moon of Saturn.
In 1851 he discovered Ariel and Umbriel, two moons of Uranus.
Between 1861-4 he carried out observations in Malta using his 48" mirror, where he employed Albert Marth as an assistant who goes on to tabulate about 600 nebulae (which amounted almost 10% of the NGC Catalogue).
Lassell retired to Maidenhead and built an observatory for his 24" mirror at Ray Lodge (although no records exist, it must have been an EQ mount like all his other instruments). One of his 24" mirrors is in the Science Museum, the other in the Liverpool Museum. His 48" mirrors were offered to Australia, but ended up being melted down and used to make Church bells.
He is buried in St. Luke's Church, Maidenhead
Gideon Turner Davis (1844-1925) A founder member of the BAA (1890)
Gideon was at almost the other end of the social spectrum to Lassell = indeed he never even owned his own home. However he had access to a really good quality 3 3/4" (95mm) refractor, which, in those days, would have cost a fortune.
He is particularly well know for his drawings of the Planets. Obtaining magnifications of 525, he made many drawings for Mars in colour as the 'seasons' changed and (unlike some) he never fell onto the temptation of adding 'canals' (this being all the rage at the time :-) )
He also drew Jupiter (including the GRS) and Saturn, adding his drawings to an instructional 'booklet' written for the BAA and showing how the view of Saturn's rings gradually moved from 'open' (1887) to 'closed' (1891).
In 1885 he observed and made drawings of SN1885a, the Supernova in Andromeda.
In 1886 he made many drawings of Comet Fabry, showing, in particular, it's changing tail.
His many drawings of features on the Moon where used in the compilation of the BAA Moon Atlas.
Thoms Hinsley Astbury (1858-1922)
By profession, a School Master, spending most of his life as Head Master of Abingdon School (where a (replica) memorial plaque can be found, which (incorrectly) suggests he died in service, although he actually retired in 1920).
In addition to his Head Master job, he was also the Church Organist and Librarian. It was amazing that he had any spare time at all to pursue his hobby of Astronomy ! He joined the BAA in 1898 and observed Nova Persei in 1901. This may have sparked his interest as he took part in the BAA 'Nova Watch' program.
Using binoculars to look for changes in star brightness, he discovered two variable stars, RT Aurigae - a bright Cepheid variable with a period of about 3.8 days, and RS Vulpeculae, an eclipsing binary, with a period of 68 days !
Part 2, after the break - Peter H on dark sky imaging
When his talk was planned, Peter expected to be reporting on his observations from the Elan Valley in Wales.
However that weekend coincided with the 'Beast from the East' and the site was totally snowed in ! This deterred Peter and some of the others, who decided to cancel - how-ever the rest of the party decided to go ahead !
Peter was thus able to show us their results = lots of photos of being stuck in the snow and mechanical diggers coming to open the road so they could escape !
Instead, he decided to have a second look at the images from his Isle of White trip (Nov 2017), where he used a small refractor with a standard Sony NEX-6 CSS camera.
The images he obtained of the gas-clouds of the M42 nebulae (and others) had to be 'over-exposed' (since the NEX-5, being a standard camera is fitted with n IR filter that reduces it sensitivity in the red region). As a result, all the 'central star clusters' were 'burnt out'.
HOWEVER, like all good astronomers he kept all his images, even those that were drastically 'under exposed' - which showed the central stars but no nebulae at all. This allowed him to use HDR software to 'merge' all the images together - both those underexposed and those over-exposed - to obtain a composite M42 with central stars and good nebulae !
The software used - Photomatix Pro 5 - actually 'stacks' the images, leading to a noticeable reduction in noise !
Peter shared the source of this software (for Windows XP and later, both 32/64 bit, and Mac OS 10.6 and above) = a free offer from Professional Photographer magazine. To get your own copy :-
Go to :-
and enter the Access Code :-
NOTE you only have until 31 May 2018 to download the software
What's Up By Peter H, as Alun was too sick to attend
From 1 Apr, Saturn has been rising above the horizon, starting at 2:15am and getting earlier as the month goes on (rising at abour 1am by the end of the month)
On Saturday 7th, at 04:16 am there will be a nice alignment of the Moon, Saturn and Mars near the horizon - a good opportunity to enter the photo competition !
On April 17th Venus and the Moon are in alignment (this time, it's an evening alignment)
The new Moon is on the 16th, after which Jupiter will start to rise above the horizon about 3 hrs after sunset again, getting earlier as the month goes on)
On Apr 22/23 we have the peak of the Lyrids meter shower
Finally, in 29th Apr Mercury can be seen just before sunrise (to the East)
All our indoor Meetings are open to the public, however non-members are asked to make a contribution of £2 toward the hall hire costs (this may be collected by Fred, our Membership Secretary, at the door on arrival, or left at the 'Tea hatch' at half time).
This note last modified: 25th Apr 2018 10:49.
(+) 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)
(+) 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
(+) 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
(+) 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
(+) 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 Brazel)
(+) 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