Federation of Astronomical Societies Convention 2008

I decided to attend my first Federation of Astronomical Societies Convention which provided me with my first whole day of astronomy talks, held at the Cambridge Institute of Astronomy on Saturday 21st September 2008.

The first talk was by Andy Fabian entitled “The Power of Black Holes”. Andy talked about the possibility of their being a black hole in the middle of our galaxy which can be viewed on ly in infrared as there is a bulge in the middle of our galaxy. He went through the history of who discovered black holes, such as John Michel who in 1784 was the first to work on the possibility of a black hole. He also talked about astrophysical black holes which have olny mass and spin and about gravitational red shift.

The second talk was by Nik Szymanek entitled “Photographing the Night Sky”, which was really why I attended the whole day, and his talk did not disappoint, with lots of amazing astrophotography images in the talk and his talk also contained an 8 minute video. I think in the future I would like Nik to get a bit more technical and actually tell us exactly how to take his type of magical photographs.

Another talk was by Barrie Jones entitled “The Seach for Extra-Terrestrial Life”. This talk covered the search for Exoplanets, which are mainly found by radial velocity. He also told us about what needs to exist on the planet to allow us to find a habitable planet, such as temperature, carbon and water together or ozone and oxygen photosynthesis or oxygen and methane.  For us to find technically intelligent aliens they need to have binocular vision, hands and brains.

The final talk was by Somak Raychaudhury entitled “Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy – Black Holes, Cosmic Illusions and Dark Energy”, but I did not stay for this, as I think I had already seen the speaker at a Cambridge Astronomy Association night.

There were lots of stalls in the main foyer, including stalls from Astronomica, Green Witch, Cambridge University Press, Nik Szymanek and many other book stalls as well as stalls from the national and other local astronomy clubs.

The Sun through a Coronado PST TelescopeGreen Witch set up a Coronado PST telescope outside which many people used to get their first view of the Sun, this is the image I managed to get by putting my Canon 400d up to the eyepiece of the Coronado PST.  There was a really good solar flare coming from the Sun but this does not seem to have come out on the photograph.

Tea, Coffee, soft drinks and biscuits were served all day long, never have I drunk so much tea in one day! The weather was perfect and during lunch there was a tour around the on-site telescopes. Here are some photographs I took of the various domes, namely the Northumberland, 32 inch, Schmidt camera telescopes as well as the Institute of Astronomy library building.

Schmidt Camera Dome Northumberland Telescope Dome Institute of Astronomy Library Building 36 Inch Telescope Dome

There was also an imaging competition, as well as a raffle. Overall a good day out and I am glad I attended, especially as the location of the day was local for me.

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