Twenty of us packed in to the Drovers Return for the second in our series of Astronomical Evenings, with John McEvoy giving the talk and his friend Steve from Northamptonshire Natural History Society putting his telescope up in the car park.
After a brief introduction in which John explained what we could expect to see (cloud permitting) and where in the sky we could find it, we all went outside for a look at the moon through the telescope and to find some stars.
Only a few stars were visible, unfortunately, due to light cloud, so after a good stint on the telescope we were back in the Drovers for hot beverages and more chat.
John showed us a Planisphere, which is a set of rotating card discs (various makes readily available online for about £10 online) which can be set to show the visible stars and constellations for any time of the year, and then handed out simple do-it-yourself planisphere kits for children to make at home.
John then showed us a number of apps for phones which will show the user what stars, constellations and planets can be seen in the direction of the phone’s camera as well as one to show the location and travel of the International Space Station (ISS).
- SkyView® was the first one we were shown. This is available free (Lite version), from both Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.
- Stellarium Mobile is a similar star/constellation/planet finding phone app from both Google Play Store (free) and Apple’s App Store ($1.99) which can be upgraded for a small fee. Stellarium is also available for computers (free for both Windows and Mac versions).
- ISS Spotter (free from Apple’s App Store) and ISS Detector (free from Google Play Store) specifically track the ISS and can be upgraded (for a price) to track other satellites, although similar free apps are available for other satellites.
These even work when the star/planet/ISS etc. is on the other side of the Earth (if you point the phone at the floor !).
John also gave us further explanation about the Sun, the solar system, the Earth, its geology and weather, and Jupiter. This was followed by a brief overview of Cosmology and the James Webb Telescope, for which John is a UK ambassador, There was lots more he could have talked about but it was agreed to stop there until another time.
Thank you to John and Steve for their efforts and thank you to everyone who turned up and generously donated.
Once again we also have to thank Colin Ingle who kept The Drovers Return open especially for us to have this event. Thank you, Colin.
We’ll be back later in the year for a follow-up session, possibly in October when the evenings are once again dark at a reasonable time, so keep an eye on our website to find out when.