16th February Lecture: A guide to Messier 42 “M42” – incl. mind-blowing phenomena, etc

Messier 42 or M42 is one of the brightest, most widely known and easily observed objects in the Winter Sky.

And yet this stunning object is home to some utterly mind-blowing phenomena, many of which we have only just been discovered.

There’s also a darker side – M42 hides a deeper secret about it’s past.

Digging deeper yields a truly astonishing history, which may have serious consequences for life here on Earth!

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SAS trip to the National Space Centre (Leicester) – Summer 2020 – Poll

Sunderland Astronomical Society is planning another day trip for the forthcoming summer season (possibly July, August 2020 –  Date TBD). 

We are planning a trip for our SAS members to visit the National Space Centre in Leicester (https://spacecentre.co.uk)
We are hiring a coach for the day, leaving from and returning to Washington Wetlands Centre.

We’ve created this survey to ascertain numbers of people interested in joining us on this trip.
If you are interested in coming along for this trip, please complete the  questions below.

Go to poll 

This poll will close 26th January 2020.

Details

1st February: Moonwatch & Stargazing Event

Visit the Cygnus Observatory based at the Washington Wetlands Centre for an evening dedicated to our nearest celestial neighbour.

See the moon in stunning detail through many telescopes and enjoy a tour of the night skies from this welcoming and friendly group of amateur astronomers.

  • Powerful telescopes will be available to view:
  • The Moon.
  • Amazing stellar nursery, the Orion Nebula (M42).
  • Andromeda Galaxy (M31).
  • Amazing open star clusters including the spectacular “Seven Sisters”, (M45).
  • Plus many other astronomical wonders of the night sky.

Date: Saturday 1st February 2020.

Times: from 7:00 pm – 10:00pm.

Price: Free Entry (Ticket Booking required)

Details

19th January Lecture: SALT-HRS spectrograph

The SALT-HRS spectrograph has been developed and assembled between 2008 and 2013, with the main integration happening at the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation (CfAI) of Durham University.

Jurgen, himself member of the CfAI SALT-HRS team (and of Sunderland AS) provides an overview about astronomy in South Africa, the technical novelties of the 11m SALT telescope and some intimate details of how to assemble a large high resolution spectrograph that can be used to find extrasolar planets or to study stellar atmospheres.

At the end, Jurgen also presents some self-made images of the southern skies using a tracked camera at the observatory.

Details

15th December Lecture: Astronomy for Beginners

Astronomy for Beginners – A simplified view of the universe.

  • How to start observing by finding some of the main stars and constellations.
  • Understand how the stars appear to move across the sky.
  • Why does what we see in the night sky change with the seasons and where does Orion go in the summer?
  • What are stars and galaxies and how big is the universe.
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17th November Lecture: Gravitational Waves – Einstein, Einstein, give us a wave!

Just over one hundred years ago Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves on the basis of his General Theory of Relativity.

For over 20 years physicists have been trying to catch the first gravity wave without success until February 2016 when the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced that they had recorded the ripples from two black holes colliding.

The Dr Pete Edwards talk will focus on this historic discovery, the technology behind gravitational wave detectors and explore the dawn of multi-messenger astrophysics.

There are many wonderful images (public domain) at the LIGO website 

https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/images

Gravitational waves offer a new way to uncover the universe.

Details

Membership Subscription Renewals for 2019-2020

September is the start of our new season. SAS Memberships will be due from 1st September 2019 (payable throughout September) for this season 2019/2020.

Joining/Renewing helps support your local astronomical society & community.

So come on down to the Cygnus Observatory join or renew your SAS membership.

The SAS the largest & probably most active astronomical society’s in the North East, for advice, information, observing the night sky, and get together at various meet-ups, events, visits and join in the ‘Craic’ on all things astronomical.

Details

20th October Lecture: Giant Impact Simulations: Why Does Uranus Spin on its Side?

Uranus spins on its side. With its spin axis pointing almost at right angles to those of all the other planets, the common explanation is that a proto-planet at least as large as the Earth crashed into the young planet, sending it spinning in this new direction.

Giant impacts like these were common events in the early solar system and help explain many other mysteries such as the origin of the Moon, as well as features of the exoplanets we see around distant stars.

Jacob’s team run supercomputer simulations with millions of particles to re-create and study these cataclysmic events.

In this talk, Jacob will focus on our recent work with Uranus and how this violent impact might also explain the planet’s extremely cold surface, strange magnetic field, and unusual satellite system.

Details

15th September Lecture: Swimming in the Water Hole: Exploring the depths of the Autumn skies

The Autumn is one of speaker Dave Newton’s favourite times of year for astronomy, thanks in part to the longer, darker nights.

Importantly, in Autumn evenings we are looking away from our own galaxy (the Milky Way) and into the deep space beyond.

The Autumn constellations have a decidedly watery theme, containing Pisces the fishes, Cetus the sea monster, and Aquarius the water bearer amongst other.

While this patch of dark sky is seemingly devoid of bright stars, it is home to some fascinating objects.

Dave will show us some of the sunken treasures that can be found if you are prepared to go diving in this deepest part of the sky.

Details