WADHURST ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY

NEWSLETTER ISSUE 2 2003

INDEX: MEETINGS, OTHER NEWS, CONTACTS

MEETINGS

LAST MEETING

Summary of meeting held on 19th February

The chairman opened the meeting by introducing the speaker for the evening, George Sallit who was to talk about Webcams.

George opened his talk by showing a very good image of Saturn that had been taken with a webcam. He went on to say that there were two principal types CMOS and CCD and for astronomy the CCD was to be preferred. He strongly recommended the Philips ToUCam Pro, which could be obtained, from PC World or on the Internet from dabs. The price of the order being 50.

To attach to a normal 1.25 inch eyepiece an adapter would be required, these could be obtained from B.C.&F. or most other telescope suppliers.

George then demonstrated how the webcam was easily attached to the telescope by first removing the lens from the webcam, attaching the adapter and simply sliding the assembly into the eyepiece. He then said that the choice of telescope was not important he did in fact later show images taken on ETX90's, Refractors and Schmidt-Cassegrains, all of acceptable quality. He recommended that if possible the telescope should be driven in R.A. but it was also possible under good conditions to take acceptable images without a drive.

To produce good images software programmes would be required to enhance the images and there are some freely available on the Web. George recommended the following programmes:

Your reporter has found it easy to download these programmes from most search engines Google, Lycos and Yahoo.

George also said there was another free programme that simplified polar alignment this was Astrosnap another freeware programme.

In obtaining the images it is best to experiment initially to get the right exposure, also care should be given to focussing, George recommended using a Hartmann mask.

George went through the process of converting the initial raw image to the finished product. But to keep this report to a reasonable length I will not describe it here as all the steps can be found in the documentation of the software used.

After the coffee break George concluded the evening by displaying some superb planetary images. His final advice was for beginners to webcams to experiment first with shots of the Moon.

The chairman thanked George for his excellent talk, this was followed by loud applause.

Bob Wharton

NEXT MEETING

The next meeting of the society will be on Wednesday March 19 2003. As usual, the doors open at 7.15 and the meeting starts at 7.30 prompt. In a change to the publicised program the speaker will be Nik Symanek, speaking on the subject of his work at Hertfordshire University.

OBSERVING SESSION

The next observing session is to be held on 4 April. The venue and time is as usual the Crow & Gate at Crowborough for 7.30pm. Please contact Sean (or any other committee member) before the night before the event if you will be attending. This is useful so that:
a) We know how many members to expect, we don't want to leave the pub if you are definitely coming!
b) So that you won't be the only person present!
Committee Meeting
There is to be a meeting of the committee on Monday March 10th. A full report will appear in next months newsletter.

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OTHER NEWS

TREASURERS REPORT

There are still a few members who have yet to renew their subscriptions for the year and it is hoped that these will reach us at the March meeting. Actual membership now stands at 43 (which includes 2 students).

FUTURE EVENTS

The society has been invited to join in the Wadhurst 750th Charter Anniversary Celebrations on the 28th and 29th June. There is a slight problem as the theme is of course the year 1253. As Copernicus wasn't born until 1473 and Galileo didn't use a telescope until 1609 we would need to look at the Arab and Chinese astronomers. It is therefore difficult to see what we could do to participate.

We have also been invited to participate in the Speldhurst village fete on 28th June, and this may be the better option. For those who are not aware, Speldhurst lost their village hall in a fire last year and are keen to keep the fete and replace it.

The societies presence at summer fairs has often been focussed on a display of instruments with a small fundraising event to defray expenses. If any member has an interesting, novel or imaginative idea to attract people to the stall (and possibly raise some funds) please contact the treasurer (01892 784255) or any other committee member.

In the absence of any brighter idea we could put together another raffle, provided there are attractive prizes! If we do decide to run another raffle we will be asking members to contribute (so start thinking now!). You will recall that the small telescope, which featured as the first prize last year, generated more interest than expected..

WEBCAMS

Following on from the talk at the last meeting, I have had a request from one of our members.

Mike Wyles has been doing some experiments, hopefully he's not the only one, and has run into some problems. If any member has done any work along similar lines please contact Mike at the following:
mikewyles@globalnet.com (01892 542863).

If anybody else has done any work perhaps they would like to consider writing a short report for inclusion in a future newsletter. I am sure that other members would be interested in details.

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CONTACTS

Chairman: Murray R. Barber 01892 654618 murray.barber@virgin.net

Secretary: Ian King 01892 836288

Treasurer: Ian Reeves 01892 784255

Editor: Peter Bamblett 01732 368656 pbamblett@hotmail.com

Publicity & Web Site: Michael Harte 01892 783292 michael@greenman.demon.co.uk

Dir. of Obs.: Sean Tampsett 01892 667092 sean_tampsett@hotmail.com

Librarian: Joan Grace 01892 783721

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COPY FOR THE NEXT EDITION OF THE NEWSLETTER TO REACH THE EDITOR BY 3 MARCH 2003