Category: Astronomy

Astronomer Steve Pond was thrilled that Sussex had its first astronaut in Major Tim Peake
March 31st, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

Above: Starry Steve Pond living every minute when Sussex astronaut Major Tim Peake was blasted into space – do try this at home

AS these articles for East Grinstead Online come to an end I want to thank you all for having read them over the past almost two years – the feedback has been much appreciated. It has also been lovely to meet readers in person at various public observing events around the town or when you have introduced yourselves to me in the aisles of local supermarkets and other places around East Grinstead (my door is always open, as the saying goes).

In the time that I’ve been writing these articles there has been so much happening in the sky above us: from close encounters between planets (and other planets) and the Moon as conjunctions occurred, the seasonal sky as it progressed through the year, the constellations which came and went, and the times of great excitement as Mankind further explored the solar system are just a few that come to mind…

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Pluto image NASA

But of all I’ve written about, for me the most awe inspiring event was New Horizon’s flyby of Pluto in July of last year. Rather than go into facts and figures I’d rather just leave you with these two images from the event.

Above is our first-ever close-up image of the dwarf planet taken just a day before the closest encounter. An amazing image of an object that for all of us had just been a bright spot of light out in the depths of the solar system until that moment. Even the mighty Hubble space telescope only showed an object with various shades of dark or darker, on it. Nobody had a clue what to expect so this image took everybody’s breath away.

 

Only hours after its closest encounter New Horizons travelled through Pluto’s shadow, at this point it turned to capture an image of this event. The surface might be in darkness but the image was just as spectacular as the first one we looked at. The light from the Sun was caught passing through a haze that surrounded the dwarf planet, something nobody had expected.

42abe32b-c23a-43b6-a5aa-886f2d914ff9Pluto Backlit image NASA

New Horizons, as I write this, is continuing to send back information as it will do for the two hundred days, and still the surprises are coming in.

The New Horizons mission is proof of just what we as a species can do when we really put our mind to it and channel our efforts to good effect, especially when we read the or watch the news these days and see what is happening across the world. That’s something worth remembering next time you look upwards at the sky, above East Grinstead.

A big thank you to East Grinstead Online for publishing these articles, and for all you have contributed to the life of our town. It’s been great, and you will be missed.

If you would like to continue to be kept up to date with events occurring in the sky above East Grinstead, and astronomical news of matters further afield then you can at:

Facebook group: Above East Grinstead https://www.facebook.com/groups/630839200303198/

@aboveeg

Or I can be contacted on aboveeastgrinstead@hotmail.co.uk

Happy observing, and may clear skies always continue to come your way,

Steve Pond

 

 

Posted in Astronomy, News Tagged with: , ,

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March 29th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

THE arrival of Spring prompted me to take a look back at the highlights of the past two years during I have been writing regular articles for East Grinstead Online.

From close encounters in the sky between planets and the Moon as conjunctions occurred, the seasonal sky as it progressed through the year, the constellations as they came and went, and the times of great excitement as Mankind explored further into the solar system are just a few that have come to mind. But while it’s nice to reminisce occasionally, I decided on reflection that there is  just too much happening right now and in the coming months in the sky above us.

Saturn, courtesy of Nasa

Saturn, courtesy of Nasa

There is never a dull moment in the astronomical world – and it’s planets all the way, through the next few months.

The latter part of last year and the start of this have seen all the planet action in the sky above East Grinstead occurring in the morning. That is now rapidly changing.

Jupiter has been the one planet brightly dominating the evening sky, high in the south. Mars now starts to join it. The red planet starts to rise this week heading up to midnight. Closely behind it is Saturn.

Mars and Saturn mid April 2330MarsMars and Saturn risen in mid-April by 23:30 image (Stellarium)

By the end of the second week of April they will both be nicely above the horizon by 23:30.

Mars (right) will increase in brightness and redness until it reaches opposition on 22 May. A Mars opposition is always special because they only occur every two years due to the orbital speed of it and our planet.

Saturn will itself soon be at opposition on the 3 June. As with Mars it will be at its brightest then for the year. Whilst not as distinctive as Mars its creamy white appearance is easy to spot, following directions.

This full-disc image of Jupiter was taken on 21 April 2014 with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).

This full-disc image of Jupiter was taken on 21 April 2014 with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).

This means that through all of May and the following summer nights, there will be three easily observable planets in the night sky. Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter.   Late May with planetary oppositions occurring or just about to, will make for the best views though.

Mars Saturn Jupiter in May

Mars, Saturn, Jupiter on Mars opposition night 22 May 22:00 (Stellarium)

I’m excited about this show the planets will be putting on, it’s going to look great!

Meanwhile Above East Grinstead continues on Facebook and Twitter (details below) and also on MeridianFM between 1-2 on the first Saturday afternoon of each month (during Meridian Rotary on the Radio) for the latest up-to-the minute astronomical news.

If you would like to keep up to date of events occurring in the sky above East Grinstead and further afield then you can at:

Facebook group: Above East Grinstead https://www.facebook.com/groups/630839200303198/

@aboveeg

Or I can be contacted on aboveeastgrinstead@hotmail.co.uk

Happy observing, and may clear skies continue to come your way,

Steve Pond

 

 

 

 

Posted in Astronomy, News Tagged with: , ,

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March 22nd, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

THERE will be a free astronomy evening at Deers Leap Park with astronomer Steve Pond and his telescopes tonight, from 7.30pm to 9.15pm. If you’ve always wanted to see the moon up close and personal, now’s your chance.

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February 24th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

ASTRONOMER Steve Pond has shared this stunning image taken this morning of the Moon and Jupiter over the spire of St Mary’s in Windmill Lane.

Posted in Astronomy, News

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February 19th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

ASTRONOMER Steve Pond of Above East Grinstead was on Lingfield Road recreation ground from 7pm with three telescopes last night, inviting people to observe the Moon and Jupiter as it rose.

Steve also did a tour of the major constellations observable above the town, picking out items of interest within them.

More than 40 people, young and old, attended and were astounded to see the Moon for the first time through a telescope.

When Jupiter started to rise after 7.30pm,  two of the telescopes turned to look at that, and It caused great excitement seeing the planet through the telescope especially as the four Galilean Moons could also be observed.

Steve will hold another event in the Spring when Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter will be together in the evening sky.

 

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February 18th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

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February 10th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

ASTRONOMER Steve Pond has shared these images of the old moon in the new moon’s arms as seen over East Grinstead on the Lingfield Road rec this evening.

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February 5th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

THE International Space Station will be over the town tonight from 6.37pm.

It will appear at a maximum height of 40* in the South West, and will be visible for three minutes until it disappears in the South East.

So pop out and give Major Tim Peake a wave…

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January 31st, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

B-_4yjCXAAA3JERAbove: rubbish left last year in the Gravetye woods: photo Mike Barlow

THE Clean for the Queen campaign is aiming to ensure we are all spruced up and tidy in time for the Queen’s 90th birthday which will be officially celebrated in June 2016.

When she came to the throne litter was not the problem that it is today.

Food packaging, plastic bottles, takeaway meals and cigarette butts have all contributed to a growing menace that affects our wildlife, streets, countryside and sense of pride, say the organisers of the Clean campaign.

“What better way could we show our gratitude to Her Majesty than to clean up our country?

“We are calling on individuals, volunteer groups, local councils, businesses and schools to do their bit. You can start now and also take part in our Clean for the Queen weekend on 4, 5 and 6 March 2016.

“Please register your interest at cleanforthequeen.co.uk and we will help you to Clean for The Queen.”

East Grinstead Town Clerk Julie Holden said the Council will be pleased to support the move – if residents can suggest areas that need a tidy up.

“This is a volunteer litter pick so we can’t take on projects like St Margaret’s Loop which would require heavy equipment and the need to insure volunteers.

“And we are fortunate that Mid Sussex do such an excellent job in keeping the town litter free. But if there are any areas around the town that need to be tackled let us know, and we will certainly help.”

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January 27th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

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January 25th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

ASTRONOMER Steve Pond was up early this morning to see the Moon set over the town.

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January 16th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

EAST Grinstead Onlne’s regular astronomy columnist, Steve Pond, has been trying out his new 8 inch telescope this evening, to capture these images of the Moon over the town…

You can almost smell the green cheese…

Posted in Astronomy, News

Patrick Moore
January 12th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

STEVE Bush, Curriculum Leader for Science at Sackville, has won the prestigious Patrick Moore Medal awarded by the Royal Astronomical Society for a particularly noteworthy contribution to astronomy or geophysics by secondary school teachers.

The society’s citation said that during Mr Bush’s tenure, results had risen “in all areas of Science”.

“Mr Bush has transformed the school’s approach to space science and astronomy, and the school is now recognised as one of only a few in the UK to be a Leader in Space Education.

“Some 70 students have been able to attend extracurricular classes that lead to the award of GCSE Astronomy for students of all abilities. Mr Bush captures their enthusiasm and works tirelessly to help them gain the qualification.”

Sackville has also hosted a number of Star Gazing live parties as part of the BBC’s initiative, using the school’s 20-cm reflecting telescope.

This is housed in its own observatory situated in the school grounds. Each event was attended by over 300 visitors.

This facility, instigated and developed by Mr Bush, is also regularly used by various community groups. Local youth groups, schools and others have all have viewed the stars and planets from the Sackville Observatory under Mr Bush’s guidance, who also led a group of prize-winners on a trip to Virgin’s spaceport in New Mexico.

A school spokesman said of Mr Bush’s award “Congratulations Steve – there could be no more deserving winner.”

Posted in Astronomy, Education, News Tagged with: , , ,

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January 9th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

ASTRONOMER Steve Pond was on the Rolley Terrace behind East Court this morning hoping to catch a glimpse of the stars, but instead he caught these dramatic shots of the cloud layer as dawn broke over the Ashdown Forest.

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January 7th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

SIR Patrick Moore, a former East Grinstead resident and founder of the town’s chess club, has been added to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

The TV astronomer, who presented the BBC’s Sky at Night programme for more than 50 years, was among 221 other men and women who died in 2012 and also were deemed to have made their mark on life in Britain.

The President of the British Astronomical Society and the author of more than 70 books, Sir Patrick spent his childhood in East Grinstead where, from the age of 14, he ran a small observatory after his mentor, and predecessor in the post, was killed in a road accident.

Sir Patrick is remembered in East Grinstead by a plaque naming the Sackville School observatory in his honour, and the Town Council  sponsors an annual student award at the school for contributions to astronomy.

 

Posted in Astronomy, News Tagged with: ,

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January 6th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

ASTRONOMER Steve Pond has shared this lovely image of the new moon in the old moon’s arms over East Grinstead early this morning, when the darker side of the new crescent moon was faintly illuminated by Earthshine.

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December 24th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

SUSSEX astronaut Major Tim Peake, who is currently orbiting the world 16 times a day in the International Space Station, has joined his colleagues in sending the earth a Happy Christmas message from space.

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Astronomer Steve Pond was thrilled that Sussex had its first astronaut in Major Tim Peake
December 19th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

A thick cover of cloud means that this afternoon’s proposed moon-gazing with astronomer Steve Pond in the High Street has had to be called off – however Steve is not letting the weather stop him having a bit of space-based fun. Do try this at home.

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December 19th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

EAST Grinstead Online’s regular astronomy columnist Steve Pond will be in the High Street with his telescope from 2.30pm this afternoon.

He’s be around the area of the old drinking fountain, so if you want to take a look at the moon Steve will be happy to show you around – and he has some information leaflets to hand out too.

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December 17th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

ONE of astronomer Steve Pond’s stunning shots of sunrise, which we featured in East Grinstead Online at breakfast time this morning, was chosen by the BBC South East for their web page today and was also used in this evenng’s Weather Watch.

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December 17th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

ASTRONOMER Steve Pond was up early this morning to capture a sunrise over the town, which was as brief as it was beautiful.

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December 15th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

EAST Grinstead Online’s astronomy columnist ‘Starry’ Steve Pond will be in the High Street with his telescope on Saturday afternoon, weather permitting, so members of the public can do a little pre-Christmas moon-gazing.

Posted in Astronomy, News

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December 13th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

THE International Space Station will be over East Grinstead at 5.24pm today.

It will appear at 35° above WSW, and will track eastwards for three minutes before disappearing from view.

 

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December 10th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

IF you see a “star” moving quickly across the sky over East Grinstead this evening it will have nothing to do with Christmas – the International Space Statin is back.

It will come into view at a very user-friendly 6:25 PM but you’ll have to be quick to spot it as it will only be visible for one minute, appearing at 22° above WSW, and disappearing at 44° above WSW.

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