2021 November Meeting
Irregulars, here is the announcement we have been waiting for since March 2020. We are returning to the Hub, Regent’s Park, our original and much loved observing site on Wednesday, November 10.
An evening of urban stargazing starts on the terrace of the Hub at 18:30. All are welcome: it’s free, family friendly and fun. As always if you have a small telescope or binoculars please bring them with you; if you don’t have any instruments, don’t worry, other Irregulars will love to let you look through theirs. You can attend at any time until 22:00; we must leave the park soon after this time. If you are attending for the first time please make yourself known to Leslie at the Hub, she will love to greet you and answer any questions you have.
Please see our website for information on how to get to the park, enter after 18:30 and leave the park before 22:30 only through the Monkey Gate, all other park gates will be locked. How to find the Hub in the park, a few minutes walk from the gate is also described. https://www.bakerstreetastro.org/meetings/directions/
Now we have reverted to GMT, the sky is dark at the start of our meeting. During the evening the ice giants, Uranus and Neptune are well placed for observing. Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon will be low in the south during the early part of the meeting. Looking outside our solar system the open star clusters, the Pleiades, Hyades, Double Cluster in Perseus and the Owl Cluster are worth viewing. The magnificent globular cluster in Hercules, Messier 13, and the Andromeda Galaxy should be observed if you have the opportunity.
Our attendance at the Hub is due to the kind cooperation of both the Royal Parks from which we rent the terrace on licence and Benugo which has kindly agreed to open the Hub cafe solely for us on the 10th from 18:30 until 21:30. This allows us to buy hot drinks and snacks and to sit down to chat anytime during the evening, especially periods of cloud cover when observing is not possible or if you need to warm yourself from the outside chill.
Irregulars would not be able to meet at the Hub, without the Royal Parks and Benugo. We would ask all attendees to abide by the following instructions:
- Inform the organisers if you and your party will attend. We are limited by the Royal Parks to a fixed number of attendees. Please be aware and follow advice about visiting Regents Park https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/the-regents-park/visitor-information
- The Benugo cafe can only open solely for Irregulars if our evenings are profitable for them. We ask all attendees not to bring any refreshments to the Hub, rather to purchase these at the cafe during the evening (payments by card only). We hope every Irregular buys something. Please follow any Covid19 guidelines by Benugo when entering the cafe.
- Follow our wellbeing and safety advice given below.
We look forward to greeting each other at the Hub on the 10th.
Update: 2021 October 06.
Wellbeing and Safety Advice
We are not offering any covid rules to be followed at our meetings further than those currently set out by the UK government, see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-coronavirus-restrictions-what-you-can-and-cannot-do
but please consider the confidence level of other Irregulars. All attendees have a right to their personal space and a right to speak up. Please avoid crowding others. You are encouraged to speak up if you feel that your proximity comfort zone is being compromised by others. No inadvertent transgressor will or should take offence – and should immediately give space as required.
Attendees are welcome to wear face coverings at their own discretion.
It is polite manners to ask before attempting to observe through another Irregular’s telescope and you asked to avoid touching surfaces. We want meetings to be educational and fun; we have yet to notice an Irregular who is unhappy to share views during meetings.
Any attendee who feels unwell or detects the onset of any Covid-like symptoms should, whilst respecting distance, notify a committee member, then withdraw from the meeting.
In addition please respect the visitor rules of the Royal Parks: https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/the-regents-park/visitor-information
Our meetings end during the hours of darkness. Please ensure you leave the park in the company of others (if you arrived alone please ask at the meeting for others to accompany you when you exit the park – there are always other Irregulars willing to help). Before attending our meeting it is essential you plan your journey home if you are using the tube, bus, hire bikes or Uber. Consult the relevant travel websites to learn more of your travel options at your planned time of evening travel.
2021 September – Next BSIA meeting on 2021 October 13 – Neptune Evening.
Our next meeting: Wednesday 13 October, from 18:30 BST until 22:30, at our temporary venue on Primrose Hill.
Have you ever seen Neptune? The furthest planet from the Sun? In October this ice giant is well placed in London skies for Irregulars to have a gander. At 4.3 billion km from Earth and less than four times the diameter of Earth, Neptune, being a fifth as bright as the faintest stars visible with the naked eye, is the only planet not visible without the aid of a telescope. It appears in Irregulars’ telescopes as a mere tiny blue-green disc – not impressive to the eye but viewing it affords you the delight of ticking it off the list of planets you’ve observed as an Irregular.
Light reflected off Neptune takes 241 mins to reach your eye at the eyepiece, so you will be seeing the ice giant as it was four hours previously. OK, that’s not as impressive as seeing the Andromeda Galaxy through our telescopes as it was 2.5 million years ago but Neptune is in our solar system and Andromeda is the next door neighbour of our Milky Way galaxy. Remember the Andromeda Galaxy is the farthest celestial object one can see with your naked eye (but not in light polluted London skies!).
During our meeting Neptune will be in the SE moving to the south at a respectable altitude for observation (approx. 30°) The Andromeda Galaxy will be above the planet closer to the zenith at 55° altitude. Try to observe both at the meeting.
The existence of Neptune had been predicted by plotting the orbit of Uranus and mathematically suggesting where a planet should be in the sky. It was first observed by the Berlin Observatory at the projected celestial coordinates on 23 September 1846. It is thought that Galileo may have observed Neptune close to Jupiter in 1612 but never realised it as a planet. Neptune was observed from the UK on 3 October 1846 from an observatory sited in the grounds of what is now Regent’s University London, 1000 metres from the field where we shall meet on Primrose Hill.
The meeting is free to attend, fun and family friendly. All who have an interest in the cosmos are welcome. If you have a small telescope and/or binoculars please bring them with you. We love showing celestial objects to newcomers to our hobby.
Update 2021 August 26
The situation regarding recommencing our astronomy meetings at the Hub terrace remains uncertain. The virus in London has not been banished. Although hospitalisation numbers in London due the virus has been low recently compared to the peak in January, they are increasing slightly this month. The risk of virus transmission within groups meeting outside is low however we must continue to be aware and follow recommended advice.
We have yet to hear from the Hub management regarding booking our regular astro meetings; further we have learnt the cafe will not be open in the evenings for our benefit, being now only open during the day at weekends.
Following two meetings at Primrose Hill earlier in the month when a couple of scores of Irregulars met in a field to view the Perseids, we have decided to hold another meeting on Wednesday September 15 to view Mercury (and Venus) low down in the west at sunset. If the Hub management cannot accommodate us at our usual preferred venue on the terrace of the Hub on this date, we will transfer to the field on Primrose Hill.
The meeting will start at 18:45 BST. The Sun sets at 19:15. Mercury will be visible very low down close to the horizon in the West from 19:00 to the lower right of bright Venus and star Spica, until it sets at 19:40. The meeting will end at 22:30 BST.
YOU ARE REMINDED VIEWING OBJECTS CLOSE TO THE SUN THROUGH BINOCULARS AND TELESCOPES IS POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS IF YOU UNINTENTIONALLY ALLOW THE SUN TO ENTER THE FIELD OF VIEW. IF IN DOUBT PLEASE WAIT UNTIL THE SUN SETS BEFORE ATTEMPTING OBSERVATION.
As of this date, on invitations to the meeting I have set the venue for Primrose Hill. This will change to the Hub terrace if and when we reach agreement with the Hub management.
Update September 06:
Advice regarding Covid-19 when attending BSIA meetings
COVID-19 remains a serious health risk. Although the chances of catching COVID-19 is highest indoors and in crowded places, it is important while outdoors at our meetings to stay cautious and help protect yourself and others.
- Obviously, please do not attend if you are feeling unwell.
- When attending, do not crowd around telescopes, minimise touching of any surfaces of telescopes particularly when observing and do not share binoculars with others.
- Telescope owners sharing views with others may wish to disinfect surfaces during the meeting.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
- Be alert to the near presence of others at all times, including travelling to and from meetings.
SUNday 2021 – 27 June
We will be holding our annual solar picnic on SUNday 27 June 2021 on Hanover Green from 11:00 until mid afternoon.
Baker Street Irregulars haven’t met as a group since March 2020 so it will be great to see each other again at our usual picnic spot in Regent’s Park, not at the Hub but on Hanover Green.
Our safety during the picnic is paramount. We will be meeting on the first Sunday following the introduction of Step 4 of the government’s Roadmap Out Of Lockdown. It is hoped at that time the government will have removed all legal limits on social contact but I do write this before the Government has confirmed this implementation. Please be aware and follow the latest guidelines for Step 4 as they are announced by the government.
We are grateful to the Royal Parks for allowing the SUNday solar picnic to be held this year. Before attending please read the Park’s guidelines for visitors picnicking in Regent’s Park:
The picnic this year will be primarily a social event: at last we Irregulars have the chance to again see and chat to each other over a leisurely lunch on the grass. In past SUNday solar picnics many Irregulars brought solar telescopes and white filtered binoculars to the event, happily sharing the solar viewing with others, especially supervised children. This year, for obvious reasons, some instrument owners may not wish to allow others to touch eyepieces or approach them when observing. We ask all attendees of the picnic to think carefully before asking to see or allowing others to view the Sun through any equipment.
The event will start at 11:00. The nearest park entrance to Hanover Green is Hanover Gate on the Outer Circle opposite the mosque. Please see the Park’s websites for information on travel information and parking charges.
Please bring your own picnic. The Boathouse cafe, close-by to our picnic spot, will be open to buy drinks and snacks.
The nearest W.C. is also close-by, over the lake bridge: requires 20p payment by contactless card or app. only. The SUNday solar picnic is free to attend – if you and your friends and family wish to come please please pop along any time after 11.00. Hanover Green is the grass area on the left as one enters the park from Hanover Gate, it is opposite the childrens’ boating pool, close to the childrens’ play area.
Covid-19 Update – 26 February, 2021
Hello fellow Irregulars, an update from your ‘Unofficial Force’ committee.
We remain in contact with the powers that be in Regent’s Park and at The Hub, and we have be told today that if the government roadmap for the easing of lockdown is kept to, then The Hub might reopen in late June.
This is a big ‘IF’ and is not definite, as there are many steps to go through before the facilities can reopen and we all can meet up. At their suggestion, we will contact the Hub management again in early May, at which point (hopefully) the reopening timetable will be clearer.
Please note that exciting as this is, The Hub reopening is NOT the only hurdle to be cleared. We will need the Hub café, run by Benugo, to be open too, and everybody to be fully staffed and able to follow the undoubtedly more stringent health & safety procedures, and also be ready for extra-curricular activities such as ours.
Also, every year we have to submit risk assessments, etc, as a society, and as its been a year since we were there, we will very likely have to do this again before we can confirm our first meeting of 2021. But return we will, and the likelihood is that over the summer we will be back!
In the meantime, 1st March is on Monday, the first of Spring is March 20th (the Spring Equinox, when the Sun moves north of the celestial equator), and the clocks go forward one hour on March 28th, when British Summer Time begins.
Stay safe, and clear skies!
Simon, Eric, Nicholas and Red Mike.
Covid-19 Update – 28 January 2021
Hello fellow Irregulars, it’s been awhile since we updated you on the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers. I write this the day after your group organisers, affectionately known as the Unofficial Force (or UF; if this name is strange to you, research Sherlock Holmes novels!) met online to discuss the group.
We learnt yesterday from the government that Lockdown v3. will last until at least early March; we consider there is very little possibility of Irregulars meeting until months later this year. Let’s hope we can see each other in Regent’s Park sometime this year and I remain hopeful we may be allowed to meet for my annual solar observing picnic, SUNday2021, on 20 June on Hanover Green – more details nearer that date.
The UF is pleased to see many of you posting astro-news, comments and images on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/132196206819659 which now boasts over 3,700 ‘members’, please continue as this medium provides a virtual meeting point for Irregulars to keep in touch with each other when we are spending so much time at home away from our astro-friends. BSIA is also on Twitter, Instagram and Flickr; search for Baker Street Irregulars. If you have not yet signed up for our newsletter please do so via our website https://www.bakerstreetastro.org/about-us/stay-in-touch/
A number of Irregulars continue to support the BSIA financially with a monthly donation via our website https://www.bakerstreetastro.org/support-us ; we are financially sound as present (as there is very little expenditure when we do not meet!), ensuring the continuation of our group in the future months when we can see each other again at the Hub, pay Hub fees, insurance premia and other various administration expenses. The UF are extremely grateful and heartened to see such donations continue during these difficult times.
We will contact you again when the likelihood of future meetings becomes more clear.
Eric, for the Unofficial Force.
Covid-19 Update – 22 September 2020
We, the Unofficial Force, organisers of the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers wish to update you with our latest view.
We haven’t met at the Hub since our MoOnday lunar gazing event in March; the lockdown imposed later in the month owing to the pandemic shut the Hub terrace and cafe. At the moment both remain closed until further notice and following the latest government restrictions announced today (22 Sep) BSIA will not be able to meet at the Hub for some time. In the summer we had hoped we would be able to look forward to meeting before the year-end at a Christmas reunion. Our hope has been dashed by the spread of the virus.
We shall continue to closely monitor the government’s advice, keeping you informed on the likely date in 2021 when we will be allowed to congregate again at the Hub to meet fellow astro-friends and enjoy the celestial gems in the London skies.
In the meantime we hope Irregulars take every opportunity to keep looking up at night, on their own or in small groups obeying current government rules on congregating, to view and enjoy the Moon, planets and stars.
Please share your questions and experiences with us in our Facebook groups, other social media or by email from our website – on topic, of course – as we have some superb celestial sights awaiting us in the weeks to come.
Eric, for the Unofficial Force.
COVID-19 Update – 30 March 2020
We wish to update you since our last note of the 17th.
The BSIA organisers, the ‘Unofficial Force’ continue to monitor the latest scientific and medical expertise and recommendations regarding COVID-19. It does look increasingly likely we shall not be able to meet at the Hub until the late autumn/early winter at the earliest. Our annual SUNday solar observing picnic planned for Sunday 21 June, and the BSIA’s 10th birthday celebration the same month, are unlikely to be held as we would have wished.
We will continue our group online, to meet in virtual space to alert upcoming events to see in individual isolation with our naked eyes, binoculars and small telescopes, to discuss our observations and other astro-related news and developments. Many Irregulars use social networks; BSIA has two Facebook pages and an Instagram page that can host live video sessions. Zoom is popular at the moment – there is a free plan allowing 40 mins for a simple group meeting of up to 100 Irregulars.There are more comprehensive video streaming solutions via OBS software allowing YouTube as the viewing medium. We want your ideas for our virtual meetings. How should these be hosted? If you have technical knowledge and/or experience please get in touch.
We will also shortly be asking you for your own ideas to see Irregulars through this crisis, and will be announcing the odd competition in the weeks to come. In the meantime, watch out for our April Sky Guide this week.
That’s all for now. I’m sure all Irregulars are looking forward to the time when we can meet again in person: what a Hub evening that will be!
Remember, please continue to Stay Home, Stay Safe and keep looking up! And remember that when we do so, we all see the same sky, and we are here if you need anything.
The Unofficial Force
17 March 2020:
In accordance with the scientific guidelines issued by the UK government yesterday (16 March), the Unofficial Force, the organisers of the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers, has agreed to postpone all future meetings of the BSIA until further notice.
We are certain Irregulars will all agree that this is both a prudent and necessary decision in order to safeguard the well-being of our members.
In the meantime the Unofficial Force will endeavour to keep you informed and updated by newsletter and social media as to BSIA news and related issues and, of course, when we hope to recommence with our meetings.
We will not allow the strong camaraderie of BSIA to evaporate during these very difficult times. Please post astronomy related thoughts, advice, news and views by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or our social media platforms.
Keep safe and well.
15 March 2020: The organisers continue to monitor advice from the NHS, DHSC and WHO, and will respond immediately if future meetings need to be rescheduled or cancelled. We continue to liaise with The Royal Parks, the Hub management and others to ensure the safety of us all. Right now, we do not have a date for the next meeting.
Following a very successful lunar gazing MoOnday meeting in early March, there was going to be a natural break anyway until the April meeting, with date options falling after the Easter Weekend, i.e. in the second half of the month. With the Covid-19 situation developing daily, we will monitor as Easter approaches and announce our meeting plans then.
Please watch out for further BSIA and other astro-related news here, and keep looking up! Remember we go to summertime (BST) on Sunday, 29 March. Good Friday is 10 April, hopefully sometime around then we will have some news about our next meeting.
We all miss The Hub when we go for long periods between meetings, and over the almost ten years of BSIA (our anniversary is in June) it has become an old friend. We, the Unofficial Force committee, look forward to welcoming you back there when the current crisis has passed.
In the meantime, we wish Irregulars well, and remember the night sky is always there for us, it’s free to look at and is going to be fantastic in the weeks and months to come…
Remember, if you are new to becoming an Irregular, you don’t need to own and bring a telescope or binoculars to our evening stargazing meetings- there are usually a dozen or so telescopes of various sizes and designs for you to look through. Of course if you do own an instrument you are able to carry to the Hub then please bring it with you!
We meet whether the sky is clear or cloudy! Sometimes the weather forecast for the day just looks awful. In extreme cases, we might outright cancel a meeting however, in the majority of cases, we go ahead anyway. Provided it’s not raining, we gather even under cloudy skies and enjoy an evening of social astronomy chat. Often this results in rewards for those who choose to attend, as London’s unpredictable cloud cover can vanish without warning – then it’s every telescope for itself! We highly recommend coming along even if it looks cloudy. There’s always something and someone interesting to see and hear at one of our star parties.
The organisers of BSIA have a duty of care to Irregulars attending our astronomy events; we work to ensure your visit to the Hub is safe and enjoyable. We advise all attending to take care when walking in the dark to and from the Hub, alert organisers if you witness unacceptable behaviour by other attendees and other threats to well-being including fire.