Next Meetings


Friday Club

28th Apr 2017

Doors open 7pm.  Talk at 7.30
Entry is free and open to the public, this month’s topic…..

Jupiter Night!

Gerry Bond (@gwb007)

70% of the solar system rotating around the sun, is Jupiter. We are lucky to have it that way. If it were larger another star would be a distict embarrassment.
Jupiter passes the meridian about 2330 tonight. Let’s find all the details of the history and science of this planet.

After the break…

Kenelm England – probes around Jupiter
Plus, members activities.

Location MapFull Programme

Main Meeting

May 20th 2017

Deep-Sky Observing

Callum Potter (BAA Deep Sky Section, AstronomyNOW contributor)

Callum writes: “I’m currently Deep Sky Section director, and although the deep sky is my main interest, I’ll have a look at most things, even planets (though I draw the line at the Moon 😉 I also run one of Dominic’s MeteorPi meteor cameras in search of bright meteors. Principally I am a visual observer, though I dabble with wide field imaging and using remote telescopes from time to time.”

Coffee break, members activities.

Location MapFull Programme


More upcoming dates….
May 26 – Friday Club
June 17 – AGM etc
Check main program for summer events.

Summer Meeting in Bath


We will be holding a special summer meeting in the Elwin Room,early-herschels
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution,
16-18 Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HN

Saturday June 24th 2017 at 2pm.

Talk on Caroline and William Herschel by Mona Evans which will last approximately one hour.

Travel to Bath will be under your own steam. Outside of the time of the talk you may obviously want to visit the Herschel Museum of Astronomy which is a short walk away. Or you are free to visit any other of the Georgian attractions in the city.
Details can be found by clicking on these various links on this page.
The meeting is free to members and their guests.

There is plenty of time before and after to visit the museum and the many other sites in the city.

Travel by road, check park-and-ride schemes.

Travel by train.

The society may organise other events around the day and they will be posted here.

Any questions? [email protected]

British Science Week 2017


Join the Reading Astronomical Society at

London Road Campus of University of Reading
With the British Science Association

Sat 11th March

6.30pm ’til 9pm.

Moon observing – weather permitting.RAS observing session

In the main quad garden.

An Evening of astronomy talks.

In room L22


Annual Imaging Day


On a Saturday in spring 2018 10am-5pm.


A day of seminars by local experts, on astronopmical imaging.

Past comments: Thank you for yesterday’s imaging session. It was extremely helpful and interesting and I’m sure all present are appreciative of you giving up so much of your time and secrets.

Seconded. The whole day was full of useful information. Some confirmed I am doing the right things, and some was new and eye opening. Thanks to all that presented, and all who contributed.

A day devoted to….

Imaging instruction and demonstrations

The whole day will be devoted to imaging and processing. We will be running it in the same format as our first imaging summer school. We will be covering the acquisition of the images,not necessarily talking of specific kit but basically DSLR and CCD then going into all the aspects of processing the images.

Bring along any hardware that you have questions about or computer imaging software on your own computers that might be a problem

The 2017 event will be repeated early next year in the same format.
Processing sessions cover DSLR stacking in Deepskystacker and quick process demo in Photoshop and possibly show a quick star fix using StarTools. Understanding processing packages such as Corel Paint shop Pro, Maxim DL, Registax and PixinSight.

Q&A session to end the day


Location Map

ERF 2016


ERF16_Charron (12) ERF16_Charron (11) ERF16_Charron (10) ERF16_Charron (9) ERF16_Charron (8) ERF16_Charron (7) ERF16_Charron (6) ERF16_Charron (5) ERF16_Charron (4) ERF16_Charron (3) ERF16_Charron (2) ERF16_Charron (1) ERF16_Charron (18) ERF16_Charron (17) ERF16_Charron (16) ERF16_Charron (15) ERF16_Charron (14) East Reading Fest 2016

Next Meetings

25th Nov Friday Club

Entry is free and open to the public, this month’s topic…..

Telescopes, technology versus handicraft?

Wayne Young (Reading AS)

With the return of the gift-giving season we always discuss telescopes and accessories at the November meeting.

From the simple astronomical amateur instrument to the major international collaborations the design of the telescope is always a compromise with the laws of physics. Wayne is working on new ways of presenting the subject. Don’t forget: Don’t buy a telescope without a sound knowledge of the compromises you have to make, and I am not even thinking of the rest of the family! 🙂


December 10th 2016

(Nb. 2nd Saturday)

Santa’s Grotto

Members practical stuff

A telescope is for life not just for Christmas. Come and complain about not getting what you wanted for Christmas and drool over what the others are getting. Tea and cakes provided, no cash machine again this year.

Followed by RAS “Christmas Special” including glass of Vin d’Asda compliments of the committee.

30th Dec – Friday Club

Entry is free and open to the public, this month’s topic…..

The Winter Sky

The view in the next few weeks is dominated by Orion and Taurus. W e will look at the objects in this most interesting region.

As it’s Christmas – extended coffee break and nibbles. I have promised the hall manager that we will look after the carpet 🙂

January 21st 2017

Robotic Exploration of Mars

Craig Leff (UCL, Mullard SSL)

The first mission of the ExoMars programme, scheduled to arrive at Mars in October 2016, consists of a Trace Gas Orbiter plus an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, known as Schiaparelli. The main objectives of this mission are to search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes and to test key technologies in preparation for ESA’s contribution to subsequent missions to Mars.

After the coffee break – Members’ Talks and images.

27th Jan – Friday Club

Entry is free and open to the public, this months topic…..

Lives of Stars

Last month we examined the winter sky constellations. Now for a look at individual stars.
Here is a link to my favourite animation on this subject from the Space Telescope Science Institute.


February 18th 2017

Rosetta & Philae.

Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko in September 2014 as imaged by Rosetta

Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko in September 2014 as imaged by Rosetta

Dr Colin Snodgrass (Rutherford research fellow, The Open University)
Dr Peter Scarfe (Vision and Haptics Lab University of Reading.).

The Philae component of this mission recently ceased but the Rosetta probe has been in elliptical orbits around the comet for the last two years. With the images from Rosetta we have been able to map the comet so well that there is a possibility of a virtual reality tour around the comet which we hope to incorporate in Colin’s talk.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

24th Feb – Friday Club

Entry is free and open to the public, this month’s topic…..

Subject TBN



Fri 10th, Sat 11th March

These dates limit us to observing a waxing gibbous moon.

British Science Week Observing Evenings

Location, TBN

British Science Week is in March and we hope to be involved in joint events.


March 18th 2017

Image: ShropshireAS

Image: ShropshireAS

Around the Universe in 40 minutes

Grant Privett (Shropshire Astronomical Society)

Grant is a long-time amateur observer and we are looking forward to his impressions of the deep-sky.

The Universe is a big place. Really big. And despite being mainly, well, empty space, contains a lot of stuff that’s worth a look. Its easy to overlook some parts, obsess over other parts, and never get round to looking at everything. So this talk is a quick reminder of what’s out there and why astronomy really is the Best Hobby.


After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

24th March – Friday Club

Subject TBN

(volunteer speaker required)

Entry is free and open to the public, this months topic…..

BAA Winchester Weekend. Apr7th -9th 2017

The annual conference attended by many local astronomers.

April 22nd 2017 (fourth Saturday)

CCDs from the Early Days

George Sallit (Southend Bradfield Observatory)

George is well know to Reading and Newbury societies being one of the most active observers in our region and has been credited with discovery of an asteroid back in 1996. Tonight’s talk will concentrate on the history and current science of electronic imaging having completely replaced chemical photography in recent years.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.
After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

28th Apr – Friday Club

Entry is free and open to the public, this month’s topic…..

Subject TBN

May 20th 2017

Deep-Sky Observing

Callum Potter (Shropshire Astronomical Society and AstronomyNOW contributor)

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

26th May – Friday Club

Entry is free and open to the public, this month’s topic…..

Subject TBN

June 17th 2017

AGM Night

Berkshire Astronomers

Ken England (Society for History of Astronomy)

Including the Annual General Meeting



Reading Astronomical Society stand.

Exhibition and solar observing.

We will be attending this annual local event with our telescopes suitably filtered for safe observing of sunspots and other activity on our local star.

Images of last year’s event.


Friday meetings in June/July/August may continue at our out-of-town site.

Total solar eclipse visible in USA may be observed as a partial eclipse starting 30 minutes before sunset from Reading, but a low west-horizon is essential.

More news to come. NO MAIN MEETINGS IN JULY & AUGUST The venue is St. Peter’s Church Hall, Church Road, Earley.

Parking is available in the hall car park and the adjacent school playground.

Typical meeting timings are….

7.00 – 8.30pm :: Announcements and speaker as detailed above.

8.30 – 9.00pm :: Refreshments and an opportunity to chat and browse the library.

9.00 – 9.45pm :: Miscellany of topics by members.



We are having a clearout


Here’s the contents of the cupboards and these telescopes have to go.

Come along tonight (19/11/2016) and make your bid and if that means you get it free we won’t object.

NB: Not all OTAs have tripods.

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Adult Learning Courses



Course fee: £86

Centre: Waingels Adult Centre

Start date: 3 Nov 2016 – End date: 8 Dec 2016 – Start time: 19:00 – End time: 21:00

Day(s): Thurs – Duration: 6 Weeks


The course provides an introduction to the main objects in the solar system and explains how they were formed. The course uses some of the latest images and data available from planetary spacecraft and uses the images to show what the conditions are like on the planets. The three main chances for life (apart from the Earth) in the Solar System are discussed.

Experience and/or Qualifications Required:

None, just a curiosity to understand what is out there in our local backyard.

Course Objectives:

Know the main astronomical objects in the solar system.

Understand how the sun is powered and how the solar system was formed.

Discuss the latest images of the planets and why our understanding of the planets has changed in the last decade.


Look at the original images on the web.


Notebook and pen.

Teaching Methods:

Audio visual. Discussion. Formal instruction. Practical demonstration if clear sky.

Assessment Method:

Ongoing Monitoring of Learner’s Work/Progress

Progression on Completion:

Join the follow on course Astronomy – To the Stars and Back GI/M/PX022

Areas of Study:

What are the main objects in the Solar System and how were they formed?

What is the sun and why is it essential to everything in the solar system including our well-being and weather on Earth?

What are the inner planets and why are they all made of rock? Do the recent space missions answer the question: Is there life on Mars? Is Venus a close analogue of Earth and what does it teach us about the greenhouse effect?

Why are the outer planets gaseous? Is Jupiter a failed star and why are its satellites so important to Earth?

Why does Saturn have rings and what life is likely on its satellite Titan?

Is Pluto a planet and why did the Europeans change its status? What is the new mission telling us about Pluto?

What are comets and where did they come from and did they give us all our water and start life?

What are meteors, meteorites and asteroids and can I see them?

What can I see with a small telescope of the planets? Why do some planets show phases like the moon and others don’t?

Contact Name: Waingels Adult Centre

Contact No: 0118 969 5301

Contact Email: [email protected]

Bracknell and Wokingham College Church Road, Bracknell, RG12 1 DJ – Tel:01344 868600 – Fax: 01344 766698




Course fee: £86

Centre: Waingels Adult Centre

Start date: 2 Feb 2017 – End date: 16 Mar 2017 – Start time: 19:00 – End time: 21:00

Day(s): Thurs- Duration: 6 Weeks


Explore the stars, our galaxy and the universe. How stars are formed, their lives and how they eventually die. What are the main objects in our and other galaxies and how did these objects evolve from the Big Bang and how will the Universe end? We will examine what typical amateurs can see from their gardens by discussing different telescopes and what can be done with the naked eye. If clear we will identify at least 10 constellations. We will discuss all the different types of astronomical objects than can be seen with binoculars including double stars, star clusters, globular cluster, nebula and galaxies.

Experience and/or Qualifications Required:

None, just a curiosity to understand what is out there.

Course Objectives:

Know the full life cycle of stars, galaxies and the universe.

Identify different types of telescopes and the best suited to your needs.

Know all the objects in our galaxy: what can be seen and what they look like.

If the sky is clear observe some of these objects.


Find the constellations discussed.


Notebook and pen.

Teaching Methods:

Audio visual. Formal instruction. Practical demonstration.

Assessment Method:

Ongoing Monitoring of Learner’s Work/Progress

Areas of Study:

Where did the universe come from, what was the Big Bang, how was everything formed, how will the universe evolve and how will it end? How big is the universe and how old is it?

What is beyond the Solar system? What are stars, what are the different objects in our galaxy, how do we know what they are made of? Why are the stars different colours, why do some last a few million years yet others last billions of years like our sun? Are there any other planets out there and is there life in space?

What binoculars/telescope do I need to see some of these objects? What size and power of telescope do I need? What will I see of the different types of stars, star clusters and galaxies?

If it is clear we will identify the main constellations visible and the main objects using a small telescope (come well wrapped up).

If the universe is so big can we ever hope to travel to nearby stars? How? How can we travel through time? Really? Is there other intelligent life in the universe? What makes you so certain?

Contact Name: Waingels Adult Centre

Contact No: 0118 969 5301

Contact Email: [email protected]

Bracknell and Wokingham College Church Road, Bracknell, RG12 1 DJ – Tel:01344 868600 – Fax: 01344 766698

East Reading Festival June 19th 2016 – “Be part of it!”




East Reading Festival June 19th 2016 – “Be part of it!”


Get the PDF: ERF2016 Site Plans v5.0


We have stand P22-P23


Another year has gone by and the summer solstice and our June meeting and AGM will soon be here. And then we have our contribution to the East Reading Festival which takes place in Palmer Park in the afternoon of Sunday 19th June.

We hope you can attend this event which covers many aspects of local life with groups from around the district. There is food, art, music and science displays from ourselves and University of Reading. The weather forecast, even at 9 days ahead, is allowing for a period of solar viewing. And at the time of writing, there are sunspots visible.

If coming as a guest the event is open from 12.00 to 18.00. There is ample parking by the stadium.

If coming as a helper (and experience is not required) we will be there from 10am for unloading. Vehicles will be removed from the show-ground before opening time. Bring telescope if you are equipped for solar viewing. Projection devices like the ones that are used at eclipses are also welcome. Send Gerry an email if in doubt about what can help, and also to give us an idea of the scale of help coming.

Here is a selection of images from 2014 from Marc Charron….


45th AGM Saturday 18th June

The 45th AGM is due Saturday 18th 2016
Members are invited to nominate themselves or others for the posts. Competition is good!
The usual form is that the meeting starts with the AGM and depending on length an entertaining talk is arrange for the second half.
This year: Who gets the fame for the BIG BANG?


Minutes of last year’s meeting are below.


Minutes of the 44th Annual General Meeting of the Reading Astronomical Society, held at St. Peter’s Church Hall, Earley at 2100 on Saturday 20th June 2015.

There were 39 members present, of whom 5 were serving officers of the Society.

 1. Chairperson’s welcome

 The Chairman, John Talbot thanked members for attending.  Some copies of the 2014 AGM and Agenda had been circulated prior to the meeting and had been emailed to members.

2. Apologies for Absence

 Chis Menmuir (Sec), Anne Chadwick (Vice Chairman), Peter Tickner (Technical Officer), Sheila Jordan (Treasurer).

Present: – John Talbot (Chairman), Gerry Bond (Basics), Alun Halsey (Techincal Officer), Kenelm England (Librarian), Malcolm Brown (Asst Sec).

3. Minutes of the last AGM, and Matters Arising

There were no comments regarding the 2014 AGM Minutes which were accepted as a true record.  There were no matters arising or actions.

4. Treasurer’s report

The Treasurer provided copies of the 2014/2015accounts which are currently being audited.  Income was reported at £2248.13 against expenditure of £1943.96, giving an excess of income over expenditure of £304.17.   Society funds are £6438.41.

There are no proposals to change the current membership fees.

5. Librarian’s Report

 The Librarian reported that all books have been available for loan at the main Saturday Meetings.  There have been some donations and gifts from members during the year.  The Librarian welcomes any suggestions for new titles to be purchased.  The Librarian reported that the internet is now a dominant source of information but books still had a place.  The Librarian has compiled a Library catalogue which is in spreadsheet format on the Reading Astro Yahoo Group.  Gerry Bond reported that he had also compiled a catalogue from photographing the books in their shelves which he has placed on the Internet using  All of the VHS video tapes have been disposed of, to be replaced as required by DVDs.

Club funds are always available for the purchase of books and other material.  If any particular book is needed, advise the Librarian. A member from the audience enquired about obtaining literature which would appeal to the junior members of the Society.

6. Astro Basics Report

 The Basics meetings were successful, with most meetings having an attendance in the range of 40 people.

Meetings are held on the 4th Friday of the month, with 9 meetings in the year and are open to all as part of the Society’s Outreach programme.  About half of the attendees are new to the society.

Some useful contacts have been made with Dr Antonio Portas of University of Reading Department of Meteorology, from which more co-operation is expected. GB’s dream scenario is that there may be possibilities for storing some of the Society’s larger kit at this campus, through the offices of Dr Portas, eg display boards and larger kit.

He would like to have heavy telescopes in the room for practical “hands on” session but we cannot have use of this room for the September meeting that Wayne, Alun and Peter were planning.

GB reported that two sessions in support to British Science Week were held at the UoR London Road campus, where use was made of a small lecture theatre and some visual observing for the public was conducted on the grass quad near the Great Hall.  This was deemed to be a great success, a better site than the nearby MERL facilities because car parking was better.


 7. Equipment Report

 Alun Halsey reported that he looks after and maintains the Society’s equipment.  Photos of the equipment have been posted on the Yahoo group.

Alun co-ordinates most of the observing sessions held at our local dark sky site.  We plan a session to observe the Perseid Meteor shower on night of 12/13 August, weather permitting.  AH requested that if any one wished to go there at any other time to let him know so that the site owners can be advised.

8. Chairman’s Report

The Chairman provided a summary of the year. We have 96 members.  He thanked the main speakers and all the second half speakers for their excellent contributions. The 2015/16 programme is nearly complete and if any members have a favourite speaker or subject, please let the committee know so that we can slot them in.

The Chairman thanked those members who has given time and lent equipment at public events throughout the year which has ensured good promotion of the Society.

The Chairman’s report is appended to these minutes.

9. President’s Prize

 The President’s Prize is awarded annually at the discretion of the executive committee to a member or members who have in the opinion of the committee made a significant contribution to the society either by their observational astronomy or by the completion of a suitable project furthering the objectives of the charity.

GB reported that “John Paraskeva is to most people just a member of the Society who comes and listens to lectures.  His astronomical interest is spectroscopy and he is better known outside the Society for that.  The Yahoo group, whimsically called “Astrobodger” has 221 members and is based around the use of spectroscopy software known as BASS (Basic Astronomical Spectroscopy Software) which was written and has been maintained by John.  Since July 2012, the site has been very active and John has been continually updating the programme since in response to his active followers.

John is awarded the President’s Prize as recognition of this contribution to amateur astronomy, for the way spectroscopy is dedicated to collecting scientific data and in the way it underlies all the theories of the modern universe.  John’s contribution deserves this acknowledgement by the Society.”


10. Election of Officers

The nominations for the committee for the next session are as follows:


ChairmanChairman      John Talbot

Vice-Chairman                        Anne Chadwick

Treasurer                     Val Coney or Tracy Talbot (to be confirmed)

Secretary                      Chris Menmuir

Assistant Secretary       Malcolm Brown

AstroBasics Section     Gerry Bond

Librarian                      Kenelm England

Equipment                   Alun Halsey

Technical                     Peter Tickner

Ordinary Members       Eddie Thorpe and John Paraskeva


John proposed that the new committee should be accepted en bloc.  Marc Charron seconded this motion. A unanimous vote was in favour of the new committee.

11. AOB

a. August Imaging Workshop Saturday August 8th ,1200 – 1700 hrs

Alun Halsey, Peter Tickner, Gerry Bond and John Talbot will hold an imaging workshop open to all.  Just come along, you ask questions, panel will try to answer.  There will be demonstrations.

b. Society Observatory

A society member (don’t know his name, keen radio astronomer, takes notes at meetings) asked about possibility of establishing a Society Observatory.  GB reported that investigations have been made about getting a gate in the fence between the Church Hall and Sol Joel Park so that the space could be used for observations after any of our meetings are held.  Parish Council are keen to make more use of the park.  Formal application needs to be made to the Church Hall committee.  An additional complication is that the Scouts may wish to expand their building which would affect the siting of the gate.

The question of establishing an observatory has been raised in the past. There are pros and cons, amongst which are finding the land, funds, security.  The matter can be taken on board by the new committee.  A show of hands indicated that a few people (8) may be interested in an observatory.  GB reported that in the time he has been a member of the Society, technology has got improved so that today, members are making better observations in their own gardens than they would in a jointly owned observatory. JT commented that if we had a permanent set up at say Farley Hill, then a lot of members would use it.  Martin Berger suggested investigating the possibility of establishing a shared facility with another society such as Newbury or Maidenhead.  Tim Haynes said that he could visit Hampshire Astronomy Group to find out how they run their observatory at Clanfield.

c. Solar Observing.

Eddie Thorpe asked about practical solar observing sessions.  GB said that we could investigate doing this at Farley Hill when the cricket club was playing.  Any sessions are subject to weather permitting. Ah will organise a session.

d. Solar Eclipse Trip to USA 2017

A member (radio astronomer) asked about a society trip to USA to observe the 2017 Solar Eclipse.  GB reported that the November speaker, David Philips, of Explorers Tours, TUI Group will talk about Eclipses and Tourism which should be interesting.  GB reported that tours for the 2017 event are now sold out, so if anyone wishes to go, they should do it privately and do it at the last moment.  The Chairman reported it is on the committee agenda to discuss a possible Society meet up for the eclipse in the USA and to watch this space

e. Future Meetings

A member asked if any talks had been lined up on current projects, for example Pluto New Horizons.  GB reported that he was working on Rosetta but that people seemed to be busy at the moment!  It was asked if we could have an professional speaker for a Friday meeting – we do have enough cash to support this.  Chairman reported that we were trying to get someone to come and talk about Pluto.

There being no further business, the meeting was closed at 2145
Assistant Secretary, Malcolm Brown
Signed:             John Talbot, Chairman;                                               Chris Menmuir,  Secretary
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