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

Reading Science Week 2016

Public Stargazing

March 11th and 12th 2016

Venue: London Road Campus of the University of Reading, PARKING is available off Crown Place, Reading.

Starting at dusk each evening until 9pm.

Public Observing with our telescopes accompanied by our well-informed members.

DSC_6922The exhibition is open from 7pm but the telescopes will be setup from sunset onwards. Arrive and depart at your convenience but we may finish around 9pm..

The observing is weather dependent but the indoor activities will be on whatever the weather.

A programme of talks will be presented indoors nearby.

The planet Jupiter will be visible throughout the evening as well as many easy star clusters and nebulae.

Location Map for London Road Campus site


Look for Sunspots with specialised telescopes.

DSC_2088_718Saturday 12th March.

Science busking outside Marks and Spencer in Broad Street, Reading

In addition to the science on display by staff and students of the university.

Between 10am and 4pm if clouds keep away we will be available with telescopes equipped to safely observe the sun.

PROBLEM? Maybe shaded by buildings at times around middle of the day.


© Images – Marc Charron

Santa’s Grotto 2015

Some images from the Christmas social by Marc Charron….

Friday Club – Oct 23rd

Here is Friday’s programme with a few links for background information

Exoplanets and the search for a second Earth

Brian Skidmore, (Reading AS)

Exoplanets are planets outside of our solar system that (usually) orbit other stars. To date nearly 2000 have been discovered and it’s clear that they come in a wide variety of types from ‘hot Jupiters’ to ‘super-Earths’ to ‘mini-Neptunes’. In this talk I’ll describe how these worlds are discovered and how astronomers are closing in on finding a planet that is like our own as well as what it might take to find out if it supports life.

After the coffee break….

Latest news, Near Earth encounter
Asteroid TB145 will pass by a distance just a little further than the moon. The worrying part is in the name. The ‘TB’ designation reveals that it was discovered in the first half of October!
We will dig out some details about its orbit if they are known by Friday.

10 minute talk – orbital basics. Topical because of the, currently running, planetary conjunctions.
We won’t have time for a complete talk on orbits but a quick run through of the terms use by space science will be OK.

….plus the usual announcements and members activities.

Local Astronomy Courses

This announcement is from Bracknell and Wokingham College.
Waingels Adult Centre
0118 969 5301

Our old friend George Sallitt is back and has offered to teach 2 courses this year with up to date images and findings.

There are two courses. Click on the titles for full details.

Astronomy 1 Is there life in our solar system

Starts 5 Nov 2015 for six 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


Astronomy 2 To the stars and back

Starts 21 Jan 2016 for six weeks

Explore the stars, our galaxy and the universe.
We will look at how stars are formed, their lives and how they eventually die. We will look at all the main objects in our and other
galaxies and how these objects evolved from the Big Bang and how the Universe will 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. 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

The Moon – close up!

September’s main meeting starts our year with a talk on the Earth’s moon.

Location: St Peter’s Church hall 7pm.


Dr Tony Cook (Aberystwyth University)

We welcome back Dr Cook to Reading. He is an old friend and the society played a major part in developing his interest in astronomy as a young member. Much involved with amateur astronomy in the Lunar section of the BAA. Older members will remember his parents’ interest in TLP at a time when things on the moon were not supposed to be ‘transient’.




This image from LRO shows the spacecraft’s first look at the Apollo 12 landing site. The Intrepid lunar module descent stage, experiment package (ALSEP) and Surveyor 3 spacecraft are all visible. Astronaut footpaths are marked with unlabeled arrows. This image is 824 meters (about 900 yards) wide. The top of the image faces North. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter: Why Reconnaissance? It is intended to map the moon in order to make decisions about future landing sites. When, or whenever, this happens is still an open question. However its orbit has been adjusted from time to time, to orbit as close as 20 kms from the surface so the images have unprecedented detail.


Something made these tracks.

The high resolution images and data from this mission gives us more information than ever before about the Earth’s moon. Not least, evidence of life!


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

Location MapFull Programme

East Reading Festival 2015


Download or read the FLYER.


East Reading Festival June 14th 2015  – “Be part of it!”


Get the PDF: ERF2015 Site Plans v5.0

Capture  Sorry forgot to put in the key 🙁

  Our pitch is L44.

  L43 is Science at the University

  L42 is RG Spaces and Friends of the University

  L41 is MERL


Another year has gone by and the summer solstice and our June meeting and AGM will soon be here. But before then we have our contribution to the East Reading Festival which takes place in Palmer Park in the afternoon of Sunday 14th 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 last year’s event from Marc Charron….


Events for April

Lyrid Meteor Shower 22nd/23rd

Surprising to find a fairly considered article in the International Business Times. If we excuse the excessive description in the first line this is a reasonable summary of this meteor shower and this year the lack of moonlight is favourable.

So if you are in the happy situation of not needing a good night’s sleep, we will be at our local dark-site on Wed evening into Thursday morning for Lyrid observing. We generally start meteor observing about 10pm and the best rate of meteors will not appear until after midnight. The location is on private property near Arborfield so if you want to join us text or email, including names of non-members for the details. Clear sky is not guaranteed so contact details are needed in case of cancellation.

Text Gerry on: 07510 444 630

Email: [email protected]

There are very particular techniques for meteor observing but mainly you will be out in the cold for a long period so it is time for hat, scarf, gloves and full body-armour against the cold. You also need to be able to look up in comfort so a chair/lounger is essential! If you decide to observe from your own garden let us know how you got on.

Friday Club 24th

Continuing the meteor theme, the Lyrid Meteors peak a couple of days before this session and a few people might have been able to observe them. But the Lyrids and other meteor showers have a fascinating story. This shower produces major events every 60 years. In other years there are occasional irregular outbursts. None is expected this year but you never know, on the night 22/23rd they may have surprised us.

The Lyrid shower and the history of its parent comet will be the subject of the talk and after the break we have members contributions as well as the usual attempts to help with your practical problems with telescopes and equipment. Membership or prior booking is not required for our Friday meetings so please come and meet us.


Friday Club’s Location MapFull Programme



March Main Meeting

Main Meeting

Sat March 21st 7.00pm

Space and atmospheric electricity

Dr Chris Scott – (Department of Meteorology, University of Reading)Dr Chris Scott

Elecricity and magnetism are universal in nature and lightning and auroras have been observed on other planets. With 250,000 volt different between earth’s surface and ionosphere it is no surprise that sparks in the form of lightning jump the gap so often. About 1000 thunderstorms and rain clouds are continuously active around the globe, coupled with the highly variable rain of solar particles, and cosmic rays from beyond the solar system, interacting with earth’s magnetic field makes a fascinating and important area of study.

In conjunction with British Science and Technology Week.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities,


Location MapFull Programme

February Meeting – Sat 21st 7pm.

Space Robotics

Hilde Schroeven-Deceuninck (European Space Agency)
Robotic Exploration Development Coordinator.

ESA image by Rosetta of Comet 67P (14 Feb)

ESA’s UK centre ECSAT is based at Harwell and Hilde’s talk will be on robotic exploration of space and the earth’s environment.

Manned exploration of space is exciting, dangerous and will gather headlines. Robotic exploration of space is cheaper but will never have the element of human danger that the media love. However here is a technology which may confound those who say that exploration of space will never have benefits for our problems down here on earth because robotic space and planetary vehicles will develop in parallel with day-to-day robotic transport on earth.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities. Including Karl Bowers’ experiences and imaging with a 16″/f4.5 telescope. A rather unusual combination.

Location MapFull Programme
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