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Thursday, 24 May 2007


I will be doing my usual (KAG) Friday evening Skywatches starting at 20hrs onwards at Kessingland community center playing field tennis courts, clear skies and weather permitting-come and see Jupiter and hopefully some deep sky objects that are on view now the weather is improving-you are very welcome to come along if you wish to just bring yourself or any observing equipment you have be it Binoculars or a telescope-there is NO COMMITMENT, there are also Lyra skywatch meetings at Kirkley Observatory and the Sunrise Inn on Corton Road in North Lowestoft clear skies and weather permitting-ALL WELCOME,


Colin James Watling
Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers)

Monday, 14 May 2007


I thought I would send the talk I did on the 10/2/05 you may like to read this one as well.... 


There is nothing more awe inspiring than to look up into the night sky on
any clear night from a dark location and see the vastness and array of stars
from horizon to horizon
as you might know I have been doing astronomy for a number of years now and
with being part of my local astronomical group Lyra I have multiplied my
understanding of this very rewarding science
my equipment that I use is a 4.5 inch Tal reflector telescope and a pair of
20x60 binoculars, both pieces of equipment are Russian made and are very
sturdily built, before I start a nights observing I will firstly have a look
out of my front and back upstairs windows in my house to check the weather
and see if the sky is clear, the main reason I do this to look for any
distant cloud(s) that could quickly sweep in and ruin a nights observing
this has happened to me before and on one night I had all my equipment
climatised outside and ready to settle down for a nights observing when
suddenly a cloud appeared over the rooftop followed by another and so on,
within 5 or so minutes the sky was totally covered from horizon to horizon
with thick cloud and all I could do was put the kettle on and forget about a
night under the stars, an hour later it was raining but I had got my
equipment indoors and re-climatised long before then
after I have checked the skies from the upstairs windows I go out into the
garden to check the amount of dampness around because sometimes with a lot
of dew falling it can cover the lenses on the binoculars and this also has
happened to me before
the conditions outside that are ideal for me is a dry clear night cold but
bearable and no wind or dampness (dew) but the thing with really clear crisp
nights is that they are extremely cold and usually with a frost
so the thing is to wrap up warm with several layers of clothes 2 or 3 pairs
of thin socks and thermal underclothes if you have them, a thermal hat helps
as a lot of body warmth is lost from the head, a good idea is to wear many
thin layers of clothes to trap body warmth
fingerless gloves are an invaluable thing to have for changing lenses,
operating the focus mount and switching on the torch as well as the kettle 
I also have a thermal waistcoat which goes over my feather filled jacket for
extra warmth, do not forget to fill the kettle with water and have it pre
boiled so when you come indoors feeling cold it does not take so long to
boil again, I prefer packet cup "a" soup but tea and coffee are just as
I rarely drink alcohol when observing as this is a diuretic and can make you
feel opposite (colder)
after I have checked out the back garden and had a good look around the sky
for the ideal conditions I go back indoors to start getting my equipment
climatised, the coldest rooms in my house is the toilet or the kitchen so I
turn the heating down and open the windows in either of these rooms to take
the temperature down, alternatively I could leave them in the outside shed
I usually climatise my equipment for about an hour to an hour and a half and
I have rarely had any dewing problems with my reflector
I enjoy using my telescope it has a very sound mounting and would probably
keep upright in a strong gale, these mountings were used by the Russians to
test small amateur rockets because of the stability and strength of them,
in fact the telescope is so well made, strong and heavy I have to take it
outside in 2 pieces although it is worth it
when the equipment is all climatised including the lenses for the telescope
which I put on the windowsill near the open window to climatise as well I
pre boil the kettle get into my warm clothes and switch on a small red light
above my door so I can see to take my equipment outside, I wait about 5 or
so minutes to get dark eye adaption but this can take up to an hour to
become fully dark eye adapted, in the 5 minutes i switch the radio on or go
outside to check if the climatisation is right on my equipment and it is not
dewing up, I use a flashlight torch to look down the barrel of the telescope
to check the main mirror and check the 4 lenses of the binoculars mounted on
a tripod
even with the heat from your face or if you breath on the lenses they can
mist up but moving away from it for a minute or so it will return to normal
the trouble with standing on solid concrete is that your body heat is soon
conducted away so it is a good idea to stand on an old rolled up carpet or a
block of wood if you have one, I sometimes put my equipment on the grass in
my garden if it is not too wet
when everything is set up and ready to go and I am comfortable I will begin
observing and basically I will look at anything and everything whatever is
on show for the time of year although my main subject is comets
I have seen roughly over half the messier objects but I am still looking out
for more as my equipment is capable of this
I get a lot out of astronomy and being part of Lyra and some of my nights
observing the sky have gone right through to the early morning twilight
when the stars fade into the morning sky, during the warm summer evenings I
use a sun lounger with arm rests which lies right back and I watch the sky
flicker by with my 8-20x24 zoom binoculars, it can be interesting to see
what messier objects that can be picked out in the azure blue summer sky
from late may to late august the deep sky objects become just about
impossible to see but there is still the planets or the moon to observe
usually low in Sagittarius around this time of year
there is always something happening and always something up there to look
out for-and I am very sure I will be for many years to come.
Colin James Watling 20/1/2005

Friday, 11 May 2007

Sky At Night 50th Anniversary Party

What a friend of mine Tommi Worton sent to me in an Email and told me at the meeting last night when I see him-I wish I'd have been there...


Had another fantastic couple of days with the Sky At Night crew down at Patrick's place for the 50th Anniversary filming. Two days of partying until 4am each day. Caught up with a few old friends and made some new ones, what an awesome couple of days. I will be writing a full report and posting some images on my web site some time this week after I have caught up on some sleep. Here are a couple to be going on with me and my Mate Terry Pratchet, and me and my other mate Brian May.



Tommi Worton: (his websites)
Broadland Aikido:

Tommi and Brian May:

Tommy and Terry Pratchet:

Tommi and Patrick:

Weather Vane at Sir Patrick Moores house:

50th birthday party cake:

Cutting the cake:

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers

LYRA GOES TO THE MOON: Members of Lyra (including me in the grey jersey) looking at Moon samples brough back from the Apollo Missions


Honorary President: Jim Kaler Professor Emeritus of Astronomy Phone (217) 333-9382
Chairman: Leonard Brundle Telephone 01502585916
Secretary: Richard Chilvers Email:
Treasurer: John Perring Email:
Committee members: John Meadows: 01502560923
Colin Watling: 01502741875 Email: (KAG and head of the Comet section)
Kevin Wright: 07821626669 (mobile)

Lyra is Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers based in Lowestoft Suffolk U.K and we have frequent Monthly meetings at the Sunrise Inn on Corton Road in North Lowestoft, Lyra also has a purpose built observatory containing a 10 inch reflector telescope situated in the grounds of Kirkley high school in Kirkley run Lowestoft, this Observatory was originally opened by Sir Patrick Moore and has recently been renovated and restored, the telescope is now operational and will soon be motorised for star tracking, you do not have to own a telescope or have a great knowledge about Astronomy to enjoy the awesome beauty of the night sky, knowledge comes with time and much can be seen by the naked eye or with a pair of binoculars before progressing to an astronomical telescope, we have professional Astronomers give lectures to its members and these meetings are also open to the public, anyone is welcome to join the Society and if you wish for more information just call:

Richard Chilvers (Lyra Secretary) on 01502574010
John Perring (Treasurer) on 01502563670
Colin Watling is head of the Comet section for Lyra and KAG co-ordinator (Kessingland Astronomy Group) which is run on a Friday Evening for more information contact 07979928710 (mobile text only) to be put onto the text messaging service for Astronomy info and texts also Email: or telephone 01502741875 evenings preferred-