Brisbane Astronomical Society has a duty of care for public safety at its astronomical events. One potential area of risk to BAS Members, and the public, is the use of laser pointers either attached to a telescope or operated by hand. This Laser Pointer Safety Training Lecture material, and 23-point Laser Safety Policy, is designed to alert BAS members to potential dangers and risks associated with laser pointer use, and to guide BAS members in laser operational procedures that should help minimize the potential for adverse incident or personal injury. BAS members seeking to use a laser pointer at a BAS astronomical event are required to be certified that they have undertaken basic training in the safe operation of a laser pointer and understand some of the common risks associated with laser pointer use. The BAS Laser Pointer Safety Training materials, and 23-point Laser Safety Policy, and Certification application form, are available for PDF document download, here: Click HERE

At our June 2019 monthly meeting, Mark Culley, professional photographer and highly accomplished astrophotographer www.astro-photography.com.au , captured everyone’s attention with his stunning wide-field astro-photos and tutorial talk. Mark's talk focused on tripod dslr astrophotography using tracked and untracked approaches. His tracked photos utilised the amazing Skywatcher Star Adventurer mount and his untracked photos just relied on a sturdy tripod and Rule of 500 https://bit.ly/2AYLB2b . Mark has scouted the Scenic Rim region, south-west of Brisbane, to locate many locations that can bring landscape and night sky together to stunning effect. You might almost say his photos are “out of this world”. Mark ended his talk with an offer to organise an evening, perhaps near Moogerah Dam,  for BAS members to learn from the master. Thank you, Mark. All we need now is for the clouds to clear.

Mark Culley explaining one of his stunning astro-photos.

The Scenic Rim Astronomy Association held their 2019 Star Party are their Laravale facility, just south of Beaudesert, in early June. As usual the event organisation was fantastic. SRAA pulled out all the stops to make this a major regional event and the largest public astronomy event in Queensland. They attracted a host of excellent speakers ranging from academic researchers to highly accomplished amateur astronomers and niche-topic specialists. Talks were running almost continuously through the afternoon and into the evening. There were plenty of food and drink options on offer from food trucks and local astro-equipment vendors also setup pop-up shops.

A big “thank you” to all the BAS members who attended and brought their telescopes along for the public observing evening. The skies looked hopeful until the sun started to set, but the clouds drifted in and dashed everyone’s hopes. The local rocketeers tried to punch a few holes in the clouds for us, but to no avail. Let’s hope 2020 from SRAA, and all of us, some better skies.

Congratulations again to SRAA for another wonderful public astronomy event.

 

SRAA President, Greg Campbell, explaining the range of astronomical equipment available for the public observing session.

At our June 2019 monthly meeting, BAS member, John Pitts, delivered an excellent talk on one of the greatest influencers of amateur astronomy, Mr John Dobson. For those of you owning Dobsonian telescopes, John Dobson was the inventor of this simple to use telescope design. We learned how John Dobson was a monk in a Californian seminary while conducting a somewhat clandestine program of mirror grinding, telescope making and public astronomy outreach. Eventually the seminary, and John, decided their heavenly interests were a little too divergent and so John returned to the secular world and concentrated all his efforts on encouraging public interest in large aperture simple telescopes and casual observing. From his efforts the Sidewalk Astronomers initiative was born and spread across North America and far beyond. John Dobson also travelled widely to spread his message and even visited Queensland Astrofest in 1995.

BAS members have been continuing in the footsteps of John Dobson for many years. Our school nights and public observing evenings at Mt Coot-tha and Maleny perpetuate the philosophy of Sidewalk Astronomers. BAS members are encouraged to get their Dobsonian telescopes, and all other designs, out of the cupboard and actively support our version of Sidewalk Astronomy.

John Pitts sharing some of the life and achievements of John Dobson.

At our May 2019 general meeting, BAS member, Doug Edwards, delivered an excellent explanation of the design and features of the Schmidt–Cassegrain Telescope (SCT).  Doug explained how the design was adapted for amateur telescope production and reviewed the design’s many positive attributes, and its few deficiencies. In short, the design is a good choice for planetary and deep-space observing when matched with a good tracking mount. It is capable of combining large aperture with ease of transport and setup while delivering excellent observing. Doug explained he concentrates on visual astronomy, rather than astrophotography, as the standard SCT has a very long focal length, and some field curvature issues, that can make astrophotography a little challenging. If you would like to learn more about the SCT you will often find Doug and his scope at one of our Maleny events – he’d be delighted to let you take a look through his scope and answer your questions.