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March 2004 Beginner's night a resounding success!!!

A large crowd gathered to hear Dr Andy McCrea MBEThe March EAAS meeting was the second of the "Beginners Night's" this season, and was geared towards the complete beginner to astronomy. The meeting started with a lecture by Dr Andy McCrea MBE entitled "Observing the Planets….What can you see?".

This was a very appropriate subject as there are 8 planets and the Sun that can all yield surprising details and make excellent beginner's targets when looking for the first time towards the heavens. Andy in full swingAsk amateur telescope users what's the most beautiful thing in the sky, and lots of them will say the ringed planet, Saturn. In fact, many say their first sight of it was what turned them on to astronomy. A view of Saturn in a good telescope often draws gasps from visitors, who after a lifetime of seeing cartoon ringed planets are awed by viewing the original.

The planet is tiny as telescopic targets go; it is barely 21" (arc seconds) at its most favourable oppositions, when it is opposite the Sun in relation to Earth. Saturn's ring system is 2.25 times as wide as the ball - still smaller than the width of Jupiter near opposition. Moreover, the disk itself shows only about 1/6 the area of Jupiter. Try to magnify it too much and it defies you by turning into a blurry mess. Saturn is thus a jewel, exquisite but tiny.

Andy giving details on what you can see through a telescopePointing out details from a powerpoint presentation

Jupiter has often been referred to as the amateur's planet, and it offers a wealth of opportunities for amateur observers to make substantial contributions to the science of astronomy. All it takes are determination and the effective use of equipment you might already have.

Better watch the time, John!Question from the person at the back

After the lecture, there were around 12 telescopes set up in the school playground of which we thank the owners for taking the time to set them up. Many beginners got to see through a telescope for the first time and are deciding on which type to purchase. The weather was favourable and though the Moon was high in the sky, the many planets and brighter deep sky objects rendered plenty of details to keep the eager crowd happy.

For more information please contact the Club Chairman, John McConnell via:



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