Next Meetup

Lets Look at the Leonids 2018 (shooting stars!)
Come spot meteors with us for the 2nd biggest (ish) meteor shower of the year! Final date may move in the week beforehand based on weather and organiser's social diary. Free event (though donations to fund the meetup fees, or offers of drinks, gratefully accepted). The Leonids (http://meteorshowersonline.com/leonids.html) run from the 13th to 21st November every year (peaking 17th). Named due to their originating point ("radiant") appearing in the constellation of Leo, as the Earth flies through comet Tempel-Tuttle's tail debris in our orbit around the sun. BRING: This is simple: all you need is to dress up extra warmly, so you don't have to quit early! If inexperienced at cold nighttime astronomy outside, bring (possibly 2) extra clothing layers on top of what you think you need (ie. plan for being outside a few hours then add more layers). Don't forget gloves, hat (highly recommended), scarf/similar, and thicker socks/shoes or boots suitable for grass. Thermal underwear is a great addon. Optionally bring: reclining chairs/ rugs/ cushions/ sleeping bags/ space-blanket/ waterproof layers as you like (lying on your back is easiest way to see more of the sky without getting a tired neck and not to miss any, but also the coldest). - it will get very cold late on if its a clear sky and we're on the cold ground (clouds act like a blanket so on a clear day/night, as we're hoping to have selected, it will get cold fast)! No need to bring telescope or binoculars - do if you like to look at other things and don't mind missing out on meteors, but absolutely the best tool to see meteors with, is your own eyes and the ability to point them upwards for minutes at a time. Very beginner friendly! Cameras also welcome with a similar caveat (only useful for meteor photos if can do long exposures & with a tripod/other steady support); please don't use flash around us. Red torches are fine if you have them - they don't ruin your/our night vision when we're well adjusted to it. Otherwise do be careful where you point lights! There are smartphone apps (for Android devices at least) that can dim and redden the display even more beyond your minimum setting to help retain your night vision too (don't forget to reset to normal before you get into daylight or it'll be impossible to see!). PLAN: We'll gather a crowd of us at the pub meet point. Please aim to be at the pub for the start or soon after if you can (or let us know ahead if late), you'll avoid your own stress worrying to find us and delaying us all. You'll have a say where we walk to, and we'll explain what to expect; you'll relax with the friendly group first, time for a brief drink if you want. We'll then walk to the common around 8pm (or earlier if people are there and ready in time). I expect we'll head for Tooting Common's cricket pitch just to the east and a little up Dr. Johnson Avenue (pitch is on grass to the right of that road), around 10-15mins walk. Though we will comment on the event to confirm exactly where, once we set off/get there. GETTING THERE: If you might arrive later, either take your chances finding us, or make sure you have my no. (see "how to find us" comment for the event, visible on event web page and phone app event location description). For the pub, via public transport, Tooting Bec tube station is on the Northern line and nearest, via 249/319 bus or 10 minute walk east along Tooting Bec Road to the pub, the 249 also comes from Balham station (with its mainline service to/from Victoria via Clapham Junction). Streatham stations (except Streatham Common) are close enough too, 319 comes down from just above Streatham Hill, 249 joins the route from the other direction at St.Leonards. Nearest stops to Rose & Crown are Manafort Road or Franciscan Rd (first one you come across). Driving? You can park on Avoca Road next to the pub, or Elmbourne Road right opposite the pub alongside the common - do check for the double-yellow (or red) lines to avoid fines. If arriving later and we are indeed at the cricket pitch you can walk/still use 249/319 busses til "Tooting Athletics Track" stop, or drive and park in the car park at the bottom (south end) of Dr.Johnson Ave (next to the bus stop). Walk down Dr.Johnson Ave. and when you see grassy common on the right, the cricket pitch is on the larger green there (if thats where we are). Check parking restrictions but I believe that car park is free after 6pm. Maybe you could bring folding/reclining chair(s) if you have any and the space for it, as it'll be harder for others walking/public transport to bring bulkier items. MORE INFO: The moon (in its current phase) will (not?) be up from ???? til ????. This meteor shower is fairly active, you ought to see them away from the radiant point so if thats cloudy, look for a nearby clear patch. Keep an eye out in the evenings and mornings of the same week too if you're an early riser. I can help show you where to look at the meet, if you're lost in the constellations - assuming not cloudy in that area. Google Sky Map is one free useful phone app to help find constellations, there are many other options too. The comet Tempel-Tuttle discovered in 1865 is responsible for this meteor shower, from its shed debris. These meteors are the fastest of any shower, at around 44 miles per second with up to 15 per hour! That means more fireballs than most big showers, which should make them easier to see if we get any as they'll outshine Venus. If we're realllly lucky we might even get one with more colour visible. In London the viewing is not as good as further away but we've always managed to spot a few if the clouds don't get in the way. Also plenty of chance to chat, hang out and learn about other things out there while waiting in between meteors. As always, and I'll say again for first timers, please note, all experienced stargazers will strongly recommend bringing at least one extra layer all over (including socks) to keep warm: one or two more layers at this time of year than you think you'll need for standing outside for a while in an open space. It cools down quickly in the evening especially if we get clear skies and, standing (or even more so lying) relatively still on open ground for longer periods, you will notice it more than you expect. In autumn/winter, a hat, and gloves or thick warm pockets, are pretty essential. People have used those shiny silvered space blankets before too. We've been meeting for the Leonid meteors since 2015, as well as the Perseids (usually a great show) so lets hope we're successful! See how 2015's meet went! (http://www.meetup.com/swl-stargazers/events/224667357/) More info on Leonids here: http://meteorshowersonline.com/leonids.html

Rose and Crown

140 Tooting Bec Road, SW17 8BH · London

What we're about

Instead of going out all lonely to see the stars and other things in space, let's share stargazing time and views for safer and more social, better experiences (and learn more)!

How

We do this locally in South West London (with occasional events elsewhere) and as often as the organiser's schedule/weather permits. Events may be at short notice (~2 days or less) sometimes if the skies suddenly clear. Hence our calendar can be somewhat random, but we try for at least one event per month, including: star-parties (in a public common/park), socials (pub/cafe), and occasional trips to exhibitions / observatories / other places of interest to astronomers. But no need to be an astronomer already - everyone welcome, from absolute novices to professionals and experts! (we're mostly amateurs and you won't be left out as a beginner).

We continue to meet in summer. For stargazing, we mostly start by meeting in lit public venues (such as pubs) near a darker location to gather and introduce ourselves; before walking to the darker location for viewing together. I aim to make events reasonably accessible via public transport too. This reduces worries for new members. Its much better than expecting new members to find a small group of unknown people at night in hard to find dark places. Feel free to suggest new events/locations too! (always on the hunt for alternatives in new areas, might you have somewhere to share with us?)

We enjoy sharing views through different telescopes/binoculars, or even with just your eyes; and knowledge about the planets/constellations/galaxies/deep sky objects and how to find them. Several members have telescopes and bring them to some meets, but you don't need anything to come along, just show up. Late evenings are much easier in Winter of course with earlier nights.

Its easy to find talks to go to around/near London to learn and the web always has plenty of news and info, so this meetup group is primarily for meeting up in the evenings to see the stars, the moon, planets or deep sky objects (if there are suitable telescopes around).

When

Note: due to the weather, meetings may come up at relatively short notice or be cancelled if its terrible, but I plan on both weekdays and weekends, and try to set up at least one or two meets per month. I also copy over and post the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers group monthly (but irregular) events in Regents Park to publicise those as they are great events and usually very well attended (can be more than 100). Everyone from novices/beginners to experienced astronomers go, there can be 20-odd telescopes/binoculars on a good (clear) night brought by members, so they are a great way to learn more and see different equipment and accessories at work.

Some meets will fallback to a social evening inside if skies fail us. If a meeting is described (in title or main description) as tentative or unsure, then please check with the organiser whether it is still on, close to the day of the meet (by phone/text/email, allowing at least a couple of hours ideally in case of delayed response). Otherwise you take a slight risk going.

Use the message board to make random invites if you're planning a session a night or two ahead. It feels much safer and more fun sharing the wonders of the night sky with others.

Where

Common meeting grounds might be Tooting Common, Streatham Common, sometimes Wimbledon Common or Blackheath, but we try others too occasionally. Commons/parks mean less streets and lights nearby, we choose the ones publicly accessible at night, and are generally the best places in London for stargazing. I'll try to keep public transport in mind as obviously dark skies tend to be further from public transport. You'd be surprised what you can see on a good night when away from immediate streetlights though, especially through any enhancing equipment (regular binoculars or even a pair of opera glasses will do, telescope even better).

For more about our regular locations, see the locations page I wrote about that (
http://www.meetup.com/swl-stargazers/pages/Locations/) (in the "Pages" section on meetup website, not in the app).

Equipment

As I say, you don't need anything but your eyes to enjoy the night skies; there will almost always be at least some binoculars and a telescope brought along by others that will be happy to share views with you (the organiser has some good binoculars, often on a tripod, and a small telescope). But if you do have something you can bring - from as little as a red light torch (which doesn't ruin your natural night-vision so easily), to binoculars (any pair will do!), a camera (better if you can control the exposure manually eg. DSLR/bridge camera), or telescope, then we'd appreciate that and hope you can share views it gives. Even the star-map apps on phones are useful (eg. Google sky map, Stellarium) for finding targets to view. If you can provide transport for others to better viewing locations then thats also very much appreciated.

If you're interested in buying some equipment, do check out my buying advice (http://www.meetup.com/swl-stargazers/pages/Buying_advice_for_beginners_%28viewing_equipment%29/) in the page I wrote about that - but I very highly and strongly recommend you come to an event first (whether ours or another) and see other people's gear and ask questions first because it can easily be an expensive mistake if you don't know what you want, and even put you off for good. Or at least talk to someone in a proper astronomy shop (eg. Widescreen Centre in London, Astronomia in Godalming, or Tring, to name a few near/in London), and read a few reviews so you have a better idea what to expect. Things to consider: time to setup each night, weight/size to carry and put away, what you'll be looking at (planets/the moon? the sun? deep sky objects? everything? daytime use too?), ease of use (type of scope+finder, type/quality of mount, whether computerised/motorised), accessories you'll need/want (and cost of), and how well you know the sky or are willing to learn by hand all play a part - not just the cost and scope power!

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