The word amateur comes from the French meaning "lover of" and amateur astronomers are very passionate about the subject. Amateur astronomers often produce amazing images and contribute valuable observations to professional research. In this episode we catch up with an amateur astronomer from North Wales to find out about his interest in astronomy, we summarise what happened world-wide during the 100 Hours of Astronomy and give a few suggestions for astronomical sights to see.
Roy interviewed Brian Woosnam - an amateur astronomer - active in the Llandrillo College and Coastal Astronomy Society. He came to Jodrell Bank to talk about his hobby and the coming events that the Society organises related to the International Year of Astronomy.
Ask an Astronomer
Roy puts listener questions to Tim O'Brien.
- Nick asks: "I had understood that black holes grow relative to the amount of material that they consume. If all the material going into a black hole is compressed to a singularity what process is making the black hole increase in size?"
- John remarks: "Bad Astronomy lessons from first episode of new series of BBC1's Robin Hood 'Total Eclipse'. A few minutes after the eclipse Robin is standing on the castle walls talking about freedom etc. Behind him the blue sky and a moon clearly roughly at 'half moon'. Not consistent with there having been a total eclipse a few minutes before."
- Andrea asks: "In what ways do dark matter and dark energy appear to differ - or is it possible that they're actually the same thing? Also are these two 'phenomena' being used as an excuse for inadequate or inaccurate physics?"
Astronomical Things To Do
Roy and Stuart discuss some astronomical things that we think everyone should try at some point. The list included:
- Observe the Sun through a solar telescope with an Halpha filter to see sunspots and prominences. If you don't have one of your own, try contacting your local astronomical society to see if they do;
- Sleep out under a dark sky;
- Visit some of the world's major telescopes such as the Lovell, Effelsberg, Greenbank;
- Observe Saturn through a telescope with your own eyes;
- Visit the Prime Meridian of longitude at Greenwich;
- See a total solar eclipse;
- See a lunar eclipse;
- Winter over in Antarctica to experience some of the clearest skies on the planet;
- Discover a comet and have it named after you.
If you have suggestions for things that you think should go on the list, add them in the comments.
Odds and Ends
In the forum there is a discussion about events that took place during the 100 Hours of Astronomy.
|Interview:||Brian Woosnam and Roy Smits|
|Ask An Astronomer:||Dr Tim O'Brien and Roy Smits|
|Presenters:||Roy Smits and Stuart Lowe|
|Editors:||Roy Smits and Stuart Lowe|
|Segment voice:||Danny Wong-McSweeney|
|Cover art:||A solar prominence Credit: Brian Woosnam 18:29 BST 15/06/2008 Toucam PST|