Archive for the ‘Clubs, Courses & Events’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Cool Club!

Late last week was my first theory lesson at the local astronomy club and I must say that I was impressed.

Apart from earning how to calculate distances and angles and other cool stuff that helps us find our way around the universe the four of us who were there learned how to calculate ” how long the sun still has to burn before it dies” , which is between 7.4 and 12 billion years depending upon how you factor in different unknowns.

We also learned that the power output of the sun is equal to about 4×10 to the power of 15, meaning its like four hundred million billion nuclear power stations! Now that’s pretty powerful.

Thanks our tutor “Didier”  who made it all easy to understand – even though he does speak very fast.  You can checkout Didier’s blog (in French) here.

Oh yeah I nearly forgot. That the words billion and trillion mean different things in different countries (a billion in the US is a thousand million, whereas in the UK and France its a million million. A trillion in the US is a thousand billion but in Europe is generally a billion billion) – confused? You should be! Fortunately it’s simple to remedey by using a standard scientific notaion.

Till later


PostHeaderIcon Studying Astronomy

Apologies for the lack of posts this week, the kids had loads of homework and stuff so no time for idle blogging!

So here’s the scoop. I just enrolled on an astronomy course by distance learning with Liverpool John Moores University Astrophysics Research Institute. Checkout this link

Now the theory is sorted I am off to research telescopes for the practical FUN bit.

Que the “geek” comments from family and friends – but that’s cool I am thick skinned, and anyway they are only jealous :)

Till net time.

PostHeaderIcon Joined stargazers anonymous

A quick “Google” for “astronomy club” turned up one of the biggest and most active astronomy clubs in the country right on my doorstep. So I sent a mail to them and a really nice chap replied with all of the info needed.

I am always weary of joining any local club because of my language skills (see the about section) but the chap who replied clearly has a great sense of humour when he wrote “we have nothing against her gracious majesty’s subjects joining our [stoutly French and republican] club”.

So today I duly filled in the application form and sent  it off complete with the obligatory cheque (yes they still use cheques in this country!!!).

Now when I say that the club is “active” what I really mean to say is that they are “hyperactive”. I do not know of any other volunteer based association or club that has built its own clubhouse. At this point you think “big deal, I know a of a couple”! But let me finish, for their “clubhouse” is actually a fully equipped observatory at 500m (1500ft) altitude complete with not one but 2 observing domes and a small lodge lodge for up to 9 people equipped with beds, a kitchen, toilets and washing facilities and  all of this than an hours’ drive away! Kudos to club!

Anyway, long story cut short is that I joined up and enrolled on their theory and practical observing courses starting next month. This means two things.

1. I get to learn astronomy

2. I get to improve my French!

So the moral of the story is “If you want to get ahead get a hat”, no actually it not that its “If you are serious about getting into astronomy join your local club, not only will you meet interesting people with their impressive equipment (one even has an 11 incher!) but you will get quality training, tips and trick, and meet like minded people”.