The Radio Telescope at Nançay France

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An Astrofarm visit to the Nançay Radio Telescope At the beginning of April we were fortunate enough to be able to visit the Nançay radio telescope which is located in the small French commune of Nançay, about two hours’ drive south of Paris and about 3 hours’ drive north from Astrofarm. The radio telescope is developing and operating among the biggest radio astronomy instruments in the world, observing the universe at wavelengths between 3 cm and 10 m. What is … Read More

Astrofarm Messier Marathon Challenge 2017 report

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Messier Marathon Sunday 26th- Monday 27th Astrofarm Confolens (To read to story behind the Messier Marathon Challenge check out our previous blog here) Setting the scene – Andrew Davies This month saw the return of Chris Greenfield and his Takahashi telescope to Astrofarm. Chris was with us last year for the Messier Marathon and managed to see 68 objects. This year we made a bit of an event of it and invited local astronomy groups, including ADAES (Association for the Discovery of … Read More

The Messier Marathon Challenge – what you need to know

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Charles Messier Charles Messier was a French Astronomer who worked at the Marine Observatory at the Hotel de Cluny in Paris. His main objective was the discovery of comets. His work led to him compiling a catalogue of deep sky objects known today as the ‘Messier Catalogue of nebulae and star clusters’. Messier married at the age of 40, his wife and son died during childbirth two years later. He never remarried and committed the rest of his life to astronomy, … Read More

How bright is that star? Magnitude explained

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Understanding Magnitude How bright is that star? is actually a very good question and one I am asked many times on our courses and when we have visitors outside here at Astrofarm gazing at our night sky. To answer, the first thing we need to establish is “compared to what?” This may be another star or a planet.  Then we need to look at the scale on which star brightness is measured. This scale is called the “Magnitude Scale” and is … Read More

A beginner’s guide to magnification with telescopes

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What magnification is that? When showing people objects through a telescope for the first time, be it the Moon, a planet or another celestial body, one of the most asked questions is “What magnification is that”. It is important that we as astronomers know not only the answer, but also know how to describe the value of the answer. Like all of my blogs I am going to keep this simple and not try and baffle anyone with long explanations and … Read More

Review of the Starwave 80ED-R Refractor Telescope

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Starwave 80ED-R Refractor Telescope A review of Altair Astronomy’s new Starwave 80ED 2016 Version with FPL53 Optics and Fine Tune Rack & Pinion Focuser Following my recent blog of the Altair ED80 I was fortunate enough to receive the latest model – the Starwave 80ED, from Altair. a 0.8x reducer/flattener. The telescope came with a 0.8x Planostar reducer which gives the f7 scope a focal ratio of F5.6 for imaging. Also in my package was attachment rings for a Canon and … Read More

Solstice myths and legends

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  Myths and legends Since the earliest civilisations of mankind, people have made sense of the world about them by creating stories and drawings to explain the complex and often frightening occurrences in their lives. Using available knowledge and experience, tales were woven around familiar and the unusual to explain these events in the absence of  understanding the physical world. Astronomy has more than its fair share of myths and legends as early people struggled to understand the movements of … Read More

Solstice Special

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Solstice What is a solstice? The word solstice comes from the Latin word for sun (sol) and the word meaning to ‘stand still’ because it appears that the Sun stops and changes direction. Since we can remember we have looked at the Sun, Moon and stars and watched these celestial bodies move across the sky. We have observed, documented and calculated these movements. Some have even built monuments to help predict positions and time, such as Stonehenge in England, the … Read More

Buying a telescope for children

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So you decided you want to buy a telescope! Childhood is a period of life where we are curious about everything, where we marvel at everything and are easily convinced things are the way we are told they are by adults…. You could say this is the ideal moment to offer a child a telescope, perhaps you would like to share your interest in astronomy with them. This stage in life could also be seen as the same for people … Read More

Review Altair Astro ED80

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Review of Altair Astro ED80 Used at Astrofarm Astronomy Centre Since we moved to France and set up the CEM60 in the observatory, I have only had one telescope on the mount, the Altair Astro ED80. I will be writing this review as a lay person who is using equipment for both Digital SLR and CCD cameras with narrowband filters. Therefore; there will be no long drawn out mathematical formulas and I will not be writing about the technical aspects … Read More

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