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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2016 4:08 pm 
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Location: South Norfolk
There is currently a petition running on the UK government petitions web site to intoduce legislation to combat light pollution. It currently has only 2,950 signatures and only has 2 months left to run. It needs 10,000 signatures for a government response. I urge all SPA members to sign it. If we can't get astronomers to support such a petition there's no hope for our skies! It can be found here:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/119428

Thank you,

Andrew Robertson


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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2016 7:32 pm 
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Location: Wellingborough
Signed.

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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2016 7:09 am 
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Location: Portslade, Sussex Lat 50deg 51min Long 0deg 13mins West
10,000 for the Government to respond but 100,000 for a debate in Parliament. I hate to be a "wet blanket" here but UK Gov seems to be completely lost in an "Oceanus Procellarum" of its own. And as for "astronomers", how many members of astronomy groups & societies actually look at the sky regularly? Most go to the meetings and listen to "talks", and that is fine, of course, (each to there own) but I am reminded of a poem by Walt Whitman (must look this up again!) concerning listening to an astronomy lecture and then going outside and standing under the stars! When the "man/woman in the street" say that they are interested in "astronomy", often they are thinking about "space-travel", sci-fi or even or even "astrology"! The hard work of the Dark Sky groups is very commendable indeed and there have been some good successes and it would be wonderful if we could go back to the 1960s when the streetlights all went out at midnight. regards maf


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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2016 1:23 pm 
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Location: Lancashire
The British climate puts many people off astronomy Mike. Not only because of cloud coverage ( 70% of the time here in the North-West ), but it's a good way to get pneumonia too!

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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2016 3:09 pm 
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Location: Portslade, Sussex Lat 50deg 51min Long 0deg 13mins West
Initial enthusiasm for looking at the sky is also dampened, I feel, by very expensive spectacular instruments advertised in magazines (hundreds of pounds for eyepieces!) which may be coveted by beginners but then they have to buy over-clever ones, at the cheaper end. Recently I have come across a number of scopes, mainly small reflectors donated to the local recycling charity, Emmaus. As the FTA now meet there, they ask us to have a look at them to see if they are "all there" and worth selling. Some are hardly used, obviously tried out and then left in the cupboard/shed or attic. Some are donated with bits missing and fairly often with jammed gears etc. Supplying a 4" reflector, that could well be useful,with an Equatorial mount beats most people at the very start. The modern trend to include GOTO on most scopes now is often a "selling point" - "look it is easy, just press the button and what you want to look at will be there!"- but in reality this just leaves the potential skywatcher lost in understanding of the scope and the sky. My point is that you cannot expect to just buy into the subject, you have to work at it, it is not necessarily going to be easy at first. So what with the weather and light pollution as well, no wonder people get disappointed. The coldness of clear nights, that you mention, can be problematic when you get older too. Quite a number of dedicated observers really find standing out in the mid-winter uncomfortable and unwise and one cannot blame them for limiting their observing to the Sun. Personally I prefer crepuscular viewing and really only go out at "midnight" to dig out comets or see eclipses.
It helps if you are a bit obsessive too, I guess! regards maf


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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2016 3:43 pm 
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Location: Portslade, Sussex Lat 50deg 51min Long 0deg 13mins West
The Walt Whitman poem I mentioned above is called

When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer

WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.


Published in 1900 I imagine there is no problem in posting it here (re Copyright etc)
regards maf


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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2016 3:42 pm 
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Whitman was struck ( not literally ) by the meteor of 1860 and mentions it in a poem. The disintegrating meteor was nicely captured in oils by Frederic Church: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap100722.html .

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Last edited by brian livesey on Thu May 19, 2016 3:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2016 3:56 pm 
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Location: South Norfolk
No dedication - on many occassion I've observed all night long in mid winter with thick ice on the scope. On one occassion I fell asleep at the eyepiece when it was several degrees below and my eyebrow stuck to the eyepiece! Fortunately I woke quickly, probably falling off the stool and thought, 'better call it a night' :-)


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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 6:15 am 
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Location: Portslade, Sussex Lat 50deg 51min Long 0deg 13mins West
You really should enjoy it though! Watching the sky should not be some kind of cathartic punishment. I really do enjoy getting up pre-dawn, some people just hate that! regards maf


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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 9:12 am 
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I'm usually up at 06:00 Mike, but it's often too cold in the darker months to venture out in the early hours.
A current seasonal problem in the early mornings is hordes of slugs and snails on lawns and footpaths. A correspondent to a national newspaper said that he collects the snails in his garden and stews them in herbs - delicious apparently.

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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2016 6:02 am 
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Location: Portslade, Sussex Lat 50deg 51min Long 0deg 13mins West
Morning Brian L: I awoke this morning at about 4am BST and noticed that the clouds were dissipating and there was a rather murky Moon lighting up the sky, so I got up, let the cat out - pretty soon she would have pawed my face to let her out anyway- and saw that there really is still something behind those recently persistent clouds! The murkiness began to fade-away and I was finally able to take snap of the just-after- Full Moon, in the SW. Then noticed Mars, obvious and bright heading towards Southwick Hill (I watched it disappear later), and Saturn added to the interest, not far from the Moon, the rings nicely visible using the 60mm spotting scope. Final the Moon was about to following Mars behind the hills, as the was Sun rising over Foredown Hill. So I decamped to the bedroom, (by then my long-suffering wife Sandra was awake, and reading!), where the sunlight was shining on the white cupboard door and set up a 50mm straight-through spotting scope on a tripod and used this to project an image on this most fortuitously placed piece of furniture, to view that "tidy" sunspot. So within two hours I managed quite a bit of observing, fed the cat and had my breakfast, and probably disrupted the rest of the household. Crepuscular observing, special before dawn, is really the best! regards maf


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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2016 9:45 am 
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As usual Mike, up at 06:00 this morning. Too late to see your cat jump over the Moon. :wink:

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Last edited by brian livesey on Thu Jul 14, 2016 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 5:18 am 
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Brian: Almost a complete repeat of yesterday's pre-dawn observing this morning except no murk plus ISS passed over! regards maf


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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 7:42 pm 
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Location: earby lancs
It doesn't seem to want me to sign it I'll keep trying tho there no need for street lights to be on as they are

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 7:26 pm 
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Location: Wellingborough
The petition appears to be stalling with signatures at around the halfway stage ?
Are there really not 10,000 stargazers in the whole UK?

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52.3N 0.6W
Wellingborough UK.

254mm LX90 on Superwedge, WO ZS66SD, Helios 102mm f5 on EQ1, Hunter 11x80, Pentax 10x50
ASI120MC Toucam Pros 740k/840k/900nc mono, Pentax K110D
Ro-Ro roof shed


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