In mid-September, AstroSoc drove down to Exmoor National Park, a national dark sky reserve, for the annual AstroSoc camping trip 2016! We stayed at Westermill Farm, in Exford. On our first night we had a great BBQ, and later met some members of the Exmoor Stargazers in the local pub. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy for any observing!
The second day, we drove out to the coast, to the beautiful villages of Lynton and Lynmouth, and climbed along the cliffs to Castle Rock for a picturesque lunch spot! We then walked along the river gorges to Watersmeet, where we stopped for ice cream. We then enjoyed a few drinks and a lovely meal at The Crown Hotel. Eventually we drove back to the farm, where we were delighted to find clear skies! The full moon was bright, but we managed to spot a couple of wonders: the double-double system, and the ring nebula. Nathan Adams got an impressive photograph of the ring nebula, using the society’s 10″ reflector.
The next day we drove back via Bristol, stopping off at the Museum & Art Gallery. Eventually we returned to UoB, tired but full of memories of a great weekend!
Nathan’s photo of the ring nebula: Canon 550D & 10″ Newtonian reflector, 8s exposure
AstroSoc Annual Dinner 2016
The evening of 17th June 2016 was AstroSoc’s Annual Dinner 2016, this year at Edgbaston Golf Club. A beautiful venue, a delicious three course meal, and talks from our chairperson Alice, followed by Dr Will Farr, giving his thoughts on ‘The Opening of the Era of Gravitational Wave Astronomy’. A wonderful evening was had by all, including the staff of the department who joined the committee and members of AstroSoc for the occasion.
Alice giving a reflection on the AstroSoc year
Dr Will Farr talking about the era of gravitational wave astronomy
On 8th June, the committee donned their smartest attire and headed for the Great Hall, Aston Webb. Here was the venue for the annual EPS Societies Awards Dinner! AstroSoc were nominated for the following awards:
Head of School Idea of the Year Award (for Alex Thomas, PhD Pathways)
Outstanding Event Award(Astronomy in the City – Gravitational Waves Special)
Volunteer of the Year Award (Nathan Adams)
Congratulations to Alex for winning the Idea of the Year Award for her work on PhD Pathways!
The presenting of the awards was followed by a delicious three course meal, and dancing the night away under the lights of the Great Hall!
Committee & friends at the EPS Awards Dinner 2016
Games & Pizza night was a great success. Board games, card games, and Domino’s (other pizzas are available)… what could be better?
The next week was an Undergrad Talk from our very own Sophie Meredith. ‘The Science of Star Trek’ was a way to ‘find out the possibility and implications of Star Trek phenomenon including wormholes, transporter beams, and warp drives’.
The term was rounded off with the Annual Easter Treasurer’s Quiz, courtesy of Alex. Chocolate for the winning team! The perfect way to finish for Easter break.
Jupiter taken with iPad + Newtonian 10″
Our latest Astronomy in the City event was another roaring success. Afterwards, we used the society’s telescopes to show the interested public the art of observing… and we were treated to beautiful skies! The image shown above is of Jupiter, its bands and Galilean moons visible against the dark sky. The photograph was taken with a 3rd generation iPad, and the Newtonian 10″ reflecting telescope owned by AstroSoc. It just goes to show that with a little patience and the luck of the good weather, anyone can take brilliant astrophotographs.
On 8th March 2016, a total solar eclipse was visible from many parts of Asia and the Pacific (more info). Here in the UK, we presented AstroSoc members with a DIY challenge… to make their own solar observing glasses and eclipse predictors! We had some – ahem – interesting designs of both, with Alex (our Treasurer) winning the competition for the best design of glasses (the festive green pair in the photo below).
Our handmade solar observing glasses!
On 11 February 2016, the LIGO collaboration announced the detection of gravitational waves, from a signal detected at 09:50:45 GMT on 14 September 2015 of two black holes with masses of 29 and 36 solar masses merging about 1.3 billion light years away. During the final fraction of a second of the merger, it released more than 50 times the power of all the stars in the observable universe combined.
AstroSoc had the privilege of a talk from one of the LIGO contributors, Simon Stevenson (a PhD student at UoB). He spoke about the gravitational wave discovery, the contribution from physicists here at UoB, and his personal contribution to the discovery. It’s such an exciting time to be a part of the Department, and hopes are high for the future of gravitational wave astronomy!
For more information, see: www.ligo.caltech.edu/page/what-are-gw
After the AGM the week before, AstroSoc welcomed their new commitee. To celebrate, we watched the film ‘Paul’ – aliens and conspiracy theories and comedy! The next week we were enthralled by a talk entitled ‘The Universe with Superman Vision’, by Nathan Adams. ‘An exploration in the gruesome history of X-rays, The development of X-Ray astronomy and a look at some the most exotic X-Ray producing objects in the universe’.
A Tea, Talk & Telescope followed, with a talk on ‘Ashes to Ashes: We are all Star People’ by Prof. Martin Freer, head of the School of Physics and Astronomy. He talked about the processes that defined the early universe, and how nuclear fusion came about to power the stars today. We are, after all, made of stardust!
We welcome the new AstroSoc Commitee 2016 – 2017!
Chair: Alice Perry
Secretary: Sophie Meredith
Treasurer: Alex Thomas
Events: Luke Scantlebury-Smead
Outreach: Vincent Emery
Equipment: Joel Swallow
Publicity: Tia Chan
Thank you to everyone one who came to our AGM last night, and congratulations to our new committee:
Chair: Sophie Meredith
Secretary: Alex Thomas
Treasurer: Bethany Cook
Events: Alice Perry
Outreach: Nathan Adams
Equipment: James Delaney
Publicity: Manisha Bali