Ordinary Meeting, 2002 March 16
The British Deep Sky Scene: A Review
Mr. Brazell described his talk as a review of deep sky observation over the past 15 years with the aim of asking the audience where it might be going. He opened by describing the main UK deep sky observing groups: the Webb Society, formed in 1967, and the BAA Deep Sky Section, formed in 1981. The Webb Society publishes quarterly journals, as well as handbooks which are intended to be self contained guides to a specific area of deep sky observation, although sadly many of these are now out of print. The speaker also thought the website was an especially important component for communicating up-to-date information.
The speaker observed that the BAA's Deep Sky Section focussed more on scientific and project-based work, an area in which he thought it had had much success, although he admitted he saw deep sky is more of a fun pursuit than a scientific field. His opinion was that the DSS' publicity and website could do with more frequent updates. The speaker suggested that a greater amount of cooperation between the Webb society and the DSS would allow currently overstretched resources in a relatively minority area of astronomy to be better utilised. He was concerned that with increased sales of large instruments, there was not a corresponding increase in observers, and suggested that the two societies should have a higher profile.
Mr. Brazell suggested that a more aggressive presence would involve communicating some of the best images from the archives to show newcomers what is achievable, and he suggested that people are often put off when they see poor quality images. He referred to Mr. Philip Perkin's recent talk at the meeting of 2002 January 5 and congratulated Mr. Perkins on his work.
To close, Mr. Brazell showed a 3-dimensional animation of the Orion Nebula which had been produced using a volume visualisation technique. This had been constructed using HST images and distances to construct a scientifically accurate model of the nebula in 3-dimensions.
Following the applause for Mr. Brazell's thought-provoking talk, the President welcomed Dr. Nick Hewitt, director of the BAA's Deep Sky section to give a second opinion on the deep sky scene.