Inspiring tonight’s post was tonight’s trip out to the Clanfield observatory. Organised by my amateur radio club. Clanfield is an amateur facility with some amazing resources, doing serious and useful research.
The interest in Astronomy has always stayed with me. Their are few things more beautiful than the night sky and even a simple pair of 10×50 binoculars expands the universe another step.
I can remember when I was quite young, let’s say between 5 and 10, on one cloudless night we had just come back to their home from a trip out, my brother-in-law was trying to show me the Plough, Ursa Major. Of course, I couldn’t grasp it. Now, it is one of the first constellations I look for, and how easy it is to use it as a pointer for the pole star.
I knew of the topic of spectroscopy, but have never really given it much thought. Tonight, I had one of those “Oh!” moments. The amateur astronomer who was doing the presentation specialised in the subject. He showed us in a simplified way how he extracts the spectroscope of an object, such as the Crab Nebula, and how he derived the component parts, surprisingly to me one of the main elements is oxygen, beaten only by hydrogen. Also, because each of those elements had a double peak representing the leading and trailing edges of the nebula, it was possible to work out the rate of expansion. Even after the nova which was the source of the nebula was first observed a thousand years ago, he was able to work out that the nebula is expanding at 1400 miles per second or 3.2 million miles per hour.
Amazing stuff, and a really fascinating evening. The frustration? It was cloudy so we couldn’t use the equipment. But it was good to see.
Some random pictures for you;