We had our first Members Night on Friday 1st April. This was an opportunity for members of the ASE to get together and present a variety of topics of interest. The meeting took place as a hybrid meeting at the Augustine United Church (AUC), Edinburgh and also on zoom for distant members and those that could not make it in-person. We had a packed meeting agenda which started with a welcome from Andrew Farrow and as always a warm welcome to any new members and a run through of the list of upcoming events.

To start the session of talks we had Pat Devine run through the practicalities of building and setting up of an all-sky camera for monitoring the changing weather patterns and capturing star trails and potential meteor showers over the course of a full night. Radim Stano then led a talk introducing his more complex, yet very doable set-up of a meteor camera, and the many possibilities and finer details that can be captured. Radim showed us a range of objects he had captured, from geese flying over, to a close range meteor that burnt up in the sky. He also highlighted the thriving community of citizen scientists already recording meteors in the UK, and noted that only a few were currently in Scotland. The talks from both Pat and Radim certainly fuelled interest afterwards with several members expressing an interest in setting up these types of cameras.

Next, Neil Martin who leads our Imaging and Observing group (IOG) took us through the entries and announced the winner of the ‘Image of the Quarter’ competition, which is open to any of our members to enter. As usual the quality of entries was high and there was a variety of different types, produced via different methods of processing and all accompanying a personal journey of astrophotography. Congratualtions to the winner this time who was Ian Smith with his image of Abell 31 Planetary Nebula (see the banner) which took at least 10 hours of capturing over 4 nights as well as some serious processing. It was well worth the wait.

You can see all the entries in a PDF.

We were then delighted with the travels of Ramsay McIver on his recent excursion to Norway to photograph the aurora borealis or ‘northern lights’. He provided his practical advice on the best location, how to photograph and also the use of time-lapse to capture the event. He showed examples of his images and time-lapse videos and then further answered questions from the group.

The next presentation was given by Bill Bonar on his recent purchase of the Unistellar Equinox. He provided the details of the ease of use of this equipment and the many possibilities of capturing many deep-sky images in just one session. This equipment has re-inspired Bill in his astrophotography, but he did caveat the expense of the equipment and other limitations that should be considered before purchase. After the meeting many members on zoom were interested in the equipment and asked Bill questions about the set-up and options.

We then had a brief history and overview of a couple of the ASE’s vintage telescopes that Andrew Farrow kindly researched with the help of another member John Murrell. The telescopes were brought into the AUC and it was an opportunity for members attending in-person to see in detail these interesting instruments.

The last presentation of the evening was by our president Mark Philips who ended the meeting with the Sky in April. These are always very informative presentations, in particular for our astrophotographers and observers, providing what to look out for this month and with interesting facts on the various celestial objects in question.

The eventful meeting ended with a social chat over refreshments for those at the AUC and a continued chat on zoom.

Sarah Bulman

Image credit: Abell 31 Ian Smith IOTQ Jan-Mar 2021 winner