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Croydon Astronomical Society
est. 1956

Members of the society carry out observations at both the society observatory at Kenley as well as back gardens, in the local area of Croydon, nearby and other parts of the UK and abroad.

In addition to visual observing members can record their observations on a variety of instruments including cameras, both still and video.


Current favourable objects tonight. Rather than repeat identical information already in numerous other places, a selection of links below give information on what is visible in the night sky, right now and in the months to come:


http://www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-2016.html

https://in-the-sky.org/

http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/tonights_sky/

http://www.heavens-above.com/

http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/visible-planets-tonight-mars-jupiter-venus-saturn-mercury

http://earthsky.org/tonight

http://oneminuteastronomer.com/sky-this-month/

http://www.astronomy.co.uk/skymap

http://www.astronomy.co.uk/skytonight

http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/astronomy/nightsky/

http://www.jodcast.net/sky/

http://www.nightskyinfo.com/

http://www.schoolsobservatory.org.uk/astro/esm/nightsky

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/celebrate-the-night-sky-this-month/

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/sky-at-a-glance/

http://www.space.com/skywatching/

http://astronomycentral.co.uk/

http://www.theguardian.com/science

   For daytime, the Sun

http://spaceweather.com/

http://halpha.nso.edu/

Most if not all of these websites have much more interesting and useful information astronomically and are recommended to be explored.

Observing Projects

An excellent way to be motivated and involve fellow members is to think of and engage in an observing project. If anyone has something particular in mind please mention it via our forum croydonastro. Fellow members who would otherwise not engage would be willing to give advice. Your results can be presented at one of our society meetings if you so wish.


New projects or events will be added to the top of this list and some will be archived after the event.

Object

Description

Dates

Asteroid 10381 Malinsmith

Image the asteroid 10381 Malinsmith and win a prize

Konrad Malin-Smith, a life member and past chairman of the Croydon Astronomical Society, has an asteroid (minor planet) named after him, 10381 Malinsmith. It was discovered on 3rd September 1996 by Brian G.W. Manning at Stakenbridge.

The challenge is for members to acquire at least two image of the asteroid. A small (unspecified) prize is offered to the first member to produce two images showing the motion of this asteroid and also provide supporting evidence to prove that the asteroid observed is 10381 Malinsmith. This evidence is to be presented to the members of the society in the form of a short talk at one of our meetings.

More details are on this page 10381 Malinsmith, which also generates an ephemeris (table giving the position of this asteroid in the sky at the current time) to allow you to point your telescope in the right direction to image it. In addition it shows a very nice animated diagram of its position in relation to the solar system.

Until the prize

is won

Venus

Venus Express Ground Observing Project

The Venus Express Ground Observing Project (VEXGOP) is an opportunity to contribute scientifically useful images and data to compliment the Venus Express (VEX) spacecraft observations of Venus. The project will focus on utilising the capabilities of advanced amateurs to obtain images of the atmosphere of Venus; specifically filtered monochrome images obtained with CCD based cameras in the 350nm to 1000nm (near ultraviolet, visible and near infrared range).

The Venus Express (VEX) spacecraft will observe the planet Venus using seven instruments for at least two Venusian years (1000 days) beginning in May 2006. The instrument package includes the Venus Imaging Camera (VMC), which will image the planet in the near-UV, visible and near-IR range. Although VMC will provide much higher resolution images of the planet than visible from Earth, continuous monitoring of the planet will not be possible.

There may be periods, therefore, when parts of the planet are visible from Earth that are not visible from the spacecraft (due to the spacecraft position in orbit). Additionally it is important to compare Earth-based observations with simultaneous spacecraft observations. In particular this will allow us to extend our understanding of the dynamics of Venus’s atmosphere based on the VEX data to observations made prior to the VEX mission, as well as after completion of VEX operations. Objectives

The objectives of VEXGOP is to obtain high quality images of Venus before, after and during VEX operations. Amateur astronomers, using CCD based cameras with filters for specific band passes in the near ultra-violet, visible and near infrared wavelengths (350nm to 1000nm), are encouraged to participate in the gathering of images. Observation campaigns will include:

    * Routine images of Venus during each apparition

    * Coordinated observations during specific periods of the VEX mission to provide either simultaneous or complimentary ground based images to VEX spacecraft observations

For more details go to:

http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=38833

May 2006

to at least

2009

More details of our observatory can be found here.

Members images are shown in the gallery.

To enable you to plan your observing sessions this website shows the twilight times for London.

Transit of Mercury, 9th May 2016

Transits of this planet occurr far more frequently that those of Venus (the last two for Venus was 2004 and 2012 and the next is now 2017 and 2125). The next transit of Mercury is now fairly close, 9th May this year and we hope to open our observatory at Kenely to view this, Monday from midday towards sunset.


Transit of Venus, 6th June 2012

The European Southern Observatory has a page of information on both transits - they are intending to try to determine the size of the Earth’s Orbit from these measurements. This was used as the historic method of measuring the size of the Solar System but has now been superseeded by radar measurements. It should still be interesting to see how accurate the measurements are.

Transit of Mercury, 7th May 2003

To aid planning your observations here in PDF format is a list of the altitude and azimuth of both the Sun and Mercury for the Transit for our Observatory at Kenley. Note that the Sun is very low around 6 degrees at First Contact. Also its azimuth is 70 degrees so you need a site with a clear north east horizon to get a good view or better still take a video. In both cases you must not look at the Sun directly or with any optical instruments unless you have taken proper precautions.

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Telescopes for Astronomy

A wide variety of telescopes are available, from beginners to serious amateur astronomers and the choice can be bewildering, especially so for people new to astronomy and optical equipment. Whilst it’s true that all telescopes do essentially the same thing, after some expereince and practice - and knowing more about each type of telescope - many people in hindsight would have bought something else. This is the case even with experienced observers, as they may specialise in a particular astronomical object. Often it can be a case of buying something bigger and or better (expense now justified), but the type and size of telescope is such that careful thought is required before even the first purchase.

It would be simple to list a few websites where good advice is given, instead the current advice would be to do a simple Internet search, say on: ‘choosing telescope’. The reason being that they are all good and very similar. It would otherwise be what would be done here anyway.

If you come across a good website do please mention (webmaster) and it will be listed here, thank you.

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Calculators

For those already with equipment, or looking for a particular telescope, or telescope-camera combination, these website provide online calculators where you enter simple measurements and it produces useful information. An example would be the field of view obtained with a telescope and/or camera combination:

http://astronomy.tools/

http://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/astronomy-tools

https://starizona.com/acb/ccd/calculators.aspx

http://www.astro.shoregalaxy.com/dslr_calc.htm

http://astronomynow.com/dslr-calc/

For those with Dobsonian and other alt-az telescopes, knowing where to point the telescope is not obvious, but the following calculator converts a celestial co-ordinate from the RA and Dec to altitude and azimuth. RA and Dec are the celestial equivalents of terrestrial Latitude and Longitude:

http://www.convertalot.com/celestial_horizon_co-ordinates_calculator.html

Alternatively for those with an Android mobile handset there is SkEye, a planetarium type app which in addition to many features has a continuous readout of both RA and Dec and the Alt-Az equivalent. There is also the feauture that it can be attached to your telescope in any position and it tells you where to point the telescope to find a particular object.

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Observing Logs

Serious observers need to record their results so that they can be analysed later or for the less serious observers we need accurate notes to jog our memory:


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If you have a CCD camera and are interested in contributing vital observations of variable stars the American Association of Variable Star Observers have a useful manual here that will tell you how to make measurements that will be useful to professional astronomers. If you submit any observations please let us know.

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One of our concerns is the ever increasing level of light pollution which is making observing more difficult. To allow the effects of light pollution to be recorded and assessed we are trying to develop a standardized means of photographing the night sky so that we can compare the levels of light pollution at different sites and try to monitor any changes.

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Observing with the Croydon Astronomical Society

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