ReadingAS monthly meeting May 18th

Meeting details: Saturday May 18 2013 at 7.00pm.
Venue: St Peters Church Hall, Church Rd. Earley, Reading, RG6 1EY
GPS:  51.443891°  -0.928940°

Dr Rhodri Evans (Cardiff University)

Astronomy from B747.

In fact a highly modified 747 owned by NASA.

It is well known that the light spectrum we see at the surface is the part which is allowed through by the Earth’s atmosphere. Astronomy is hindered because our protective atmosphere cuts out the vast majority of the electro-magnetic spectrum. If astronomers can get above 10 kms they have access to infra-red spectrum, a height easily achieved for long periods in modern transport aeroplanes.

Here’s a diagram from Stony Brook website indicating the small extent of the visible spectrum that reaches the ground.


The guest speaker, Rhodri, says, “My main area of research is extra-galactic astronomy. For the past 16 years I have been involved in airborne astronomy, and am part of the team building the facility far-infrared camera for SOFIA. I also do research in star-formation and cosmology. I am a regular contributor to TV, radio and public lectures. I also do a blog – which is sometimes about astronomy. You can find out more about me on my Facebook page.”


The rising cost of insurance.

This house near me is supposed to be suffering from subsidence….

I don’t think anyone is surprised and I think you can tell that the trees are older, by about 100 years, than the house. Some time later while the occupant was at home recovering from a heart-attack branches broke off and smashed the roof! This just an example, prevalent in the 80s of a builder squeezing as much property onto a plot as possible. Frankly it looks like Wimpy Homes were being reckless and the planners turned a blind-eye. My wife and I are surprised the house has stood for 25 years.

Anyway an elderly couple also living in the vicinity have been receiving letters from a claims adjuster asking them to report the alleged subsidence to their insurers because, according to the theory, vegetation has been sapping moisture from the land.

In this instance, this company, DAC Beachcroft, have an interesting business model. If the elderly couple follow their request they tell their insurance company of a possible claim against their property. The elderly couple’s insurance company pays some money to AXA (who insure the house) and DAC Beachcroft take a cut. Absolutely no commercial good has accrued to anyone whatsoever, but some people in a ‘British service industry’ have received a salary, some shareholders take a dividend, all paid for by insurance premiums from people like you and me. You can see the pride DAC Beachcroft take in this activity at their website.

No wonder they have morale and staff problems.

Reading AS telescope collection

Posted so members can download for the catalogue. The wooden mount on the Vixen was replaced a long time ago 🙂

Response to a member’s question

On 29/01/2013 23:04, D Poole wrote:

Soon to be out in Perth, not been before and wondering whether to take my bins or not. I know its currently summer and the atmosphere will probably be like pea soup………………. but what do you think?

Am I wasting my time given the drive distance to escape the city lights?


We stayed at the Budget Motel, Bunbury to meet some friends.

Here’s the observing location
S33.301344° E115.857510° (Just paste that string into Googlemaps – it works)
There is a concrete picnic table and barbecue. The road is a steep hill but not much traffic and it’s behind some trees. Close your eyes when a truck goes by, they carry a lot of lights!
Here’s the site….

Here’s the condition for astronomy

Glad to be of sevice.

GT Davis – Astronomer of Reading.

In 2002 the Reading Astronomical Society was given access to a handmade volume of astronomical drawings at the telescope by Gideon T Davis, a founder member of the BAA.
This is posted in the hope that current members of RAS or residents of Berkshire can pass on more data about GTD’s life or would like to be involved in further investigation

In his own words Gideon summed up the purpose of his book and it coincides nicely with that of Reading AS.

“[The sketches] show what a small telescope can show in Reading, in the hope that other natives of the town may be induced to consider the advantages of astronomy as a healthy and instructive recreation, that may serve useful ends, if pursued in connection with a society that indicates to its members which line of observation they can usefully take up.”

G Turner Davis of Reading
13 Donnington Gardens
12th October 1891

Acknowledgements and thanks are due to the Berkshire Records Office. And note for researchers the book is catalogued as:
Astronomical sketches by Gideon Turner Davis of Reading and others, [1877]-1897 (1 vol)
Deposited in December 2002 (acc. 7113)
Cat : LS 3/2003

“Astronomical sketches” by G[ideon] Turner Davis of Reading and other Berkshire astronomers.
(Volume compiled in 1891 by G[ideon] Turner Davis of 13 Donnington Gardens, Reading, as a guide for novice astronomers, “to show what a small telescope can show in Reading”. Includes sketches of observations of the Moon, planets, comets, sunspots, stars and a nova in the Andromeda nebula, made 1877-1891, with additional observations, 1896-1897.) 1 vol 1891-1897

[A book containing scanned images of the sketches and notes in
this volume is available in the Record Office Library.]

BBC2 Stargazing Live 2012

Last Wednesday (9th Jan) Reading Astronomical Society took part (with Newbury AS and others) in Stargazing Live for BBC2. 2,000 tickets were distributed and thanks to the clear skies the event turned out to be successful. The venue at Newbury Racecourse grandstand was spread over several floors with many science and spaceflight activities arranged.

Here is our stand….

Let’s hope the BBC can maintain the standard and enthusiasm for next year’s event.

More images on flickr

Posted by Reading Astronomical Society