To start the meeting our President Mark Phillips updated us on the upcoming Society programme. Mark also pointed out that our slightly increased membership fees still represent great value for money.

We were joined this evening by Charlie Bracken, an American astrophotographer based in Pennsylvania, and Dr Max Whitby a naturalist and publisher from Northumberland who after meeting at an astronomy show in America decided to team up and attempt to create a single image of the entire night sky, both Northern and Southern hemispheres!

Our guests took us through the planning, acquisition, and processing required to complete this daunting task! The task took more than a year, using widefield telescopes in the USA, UK, Spain and Chile.

More than 150 overlapping panels were needed for the giant mosaic and more than 7,000 exposures, all of which had to be processed and adjusted for light levels and to retain the accuracy of position and size relative to each other.

The resulting image is stunning and formed the basis of their book “The visible Universe”.

To end this exciting and inspirational talk Charlie and Max whetted our appetites with hints that the image should be available digitally next year as the basis of a new astronomy App.

Nigel Goodman