New- Star Chart For Cayman

A new feature as of June 2015 has been added - look at the bottom of this web page and there is a new Star Chart exclusively for Grand Cayman

CIAS December News Letter: A Star in the East for Christmas

The next  public meeting of the Cayman Islands Astronomical Society will be at St Pedros  Castle on Sunday 28th of December starting at 6:30 PM – weather permitting. The meeting will be cancelled if there is more than 50 percent cloud cover .
 If in doubt ring me on 925 7657 Please remember to dip head lights on arrival
If anyone would like to help me set up that night please come along early at around 6 PM

On that night we will be treated to TWO passes of the International Space Station.(ISS)
The time will vary a little on the night due to the age of the predictions made at the time of writing (19th Dec)  Worse- the ISS may have made a maneuver to correct its orbit too!

So add a few minutes leeway each way.

Highest point
Pass type

Im also at the Marriot on the Saturday evening 27th – if anyone would like to help out please ring 925 7657 I will be there from 7:00 PM till 8:30PM. Theres’ a really good crossing of the ISS that night too.

Christmas and Telescopes
 It usual to mention that people buying telescopes  as Christmas presents this time of  the year should try and avoid those bargains as seen in “Cost-U-More” . If you need advice please contact me although I admit it’s a little late now if you have already bought something. This is a good article and I agree with two things – 1) don’t rush    and  2) even a cheap pair of binoculars is a good place to start. If you need some help in setting up let me or Bill know – phone numbers below

Events Next Year

In January starting on the 6th of Jan and running for 8 weeks there will be a joint UCCI/CIAS course at the UCCI Observatory entitled “Astrophotography Essentials” The lion’s share of the course will be taught by Bill Hrudey and will be very modestly priced. Last we talked it was about 125 CI. Let me or Bill ( know if you are interested in coming and for further details.  You will need a camera (obviously) and ideally an SLR.  A T-adapter will also be needed – (we have some for Canon models only).You won’t necessarily need a telescope but you will have the opportunity to use different types on the course.

For the third year running we will be hopefully at the Cayman National Cultural Foundations “Red Sky At Night Festival” on February 28th 2015 down Astronomical Avenue.

The CIAS will be involved in some capacity at the upcoming UCCIs “STEM CARIB 2015” conference too – Ill certainly list all the speakers attending next year – the conference always has a high level of Astronomy related topics. Dates are March 17-20. One key note speaker is Dr Hakeem Oluseyi

Events This Month

The Winter Solstice is on December 22nd and is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The evenings even here drawn in early although surprisingly to some the latest sunset occurs in late November!

Its sometimes really nice to spot something quite normal in the sky for this time of the year but the moment when its seen itself makes it very special. The run down (?!) into Christmas for some of us seems very frantic with far too many things to do against a running clock... and for the third visit to a supermarket in as many hours tonight (Friday 19th) it was wonderful to see Orion rising in the East as I  drove to Savannah. Do try and grab a few moments with the old fella!

Planet wise- below is a sky map for the ISS crossing at 18:27 on the 28th of December
Venus and potentially Mercury will be visible in the West after sunset – Venus will become much more visible in the evening sky in the next few weeks

Jupiter is around too – but not really rising until around 10 :30 PM as a really  brilliant star in the East. Jupiter was known as Jove in Roman times and was a key deity – in fact king of all the gods.

I do like the idea of a star in the East this time of the year. The Internet is of course full of people trying to connect the name of Jove to Jehova too. Im not into that but what I will say is that Jupiter is quite a sight in the late evening and just maybe one of the many options we have for the  phenomenon once seen as The Star of Bethlehem. For example it would be a great star for navigation purposes

Whatever your religion have a great break and hopefully see some of your before the New Year.

Clear Skies!!

Chris Cooke 925 7657

Chart below is for Sunday  28th December 2014  Time (local) 18:27 ISS crossing – remember the times may be out by a few minutes. The Chart is taken form the website with the site authors permission.

CIAS Newsletter November 2014

November Outreach

The last week  in November is going to be very busy dealing with a well above average number of requested for evening viewings  from Schools and Youth Clubs. Last count was  6 evenings!

With that in mind we have postponed the regular session at St Pedro's. Additionally there are a number of events going on at the Castle which has reduced our options too.

We will try and do something special in December with the new Telescope.

The New Telescope 

It arrived and was assembled single handed but it took a while, then collimated and then disassembled in my living room. It’s big !! I know that if we had gone for the 14inch that would have been too much. The telescope is an Orion  12 inch Dobsonian with a GOTO computer allowing objects to be selected and then tracked automatically

Much thanks to Kirks who kindly shipped it on to Cayman from Miami for the Society

"First Light"  Members Only Telescope Workshop Evening This Week Friday 14th 

The Next Society (members only) meeting will be held in my Strata’s Swimming pool area where I can at least suppress some of the lights and start up the new Telescope scope with  some comfort on home territory. Then we will see what we have bought!

As a thank you for all the hard work and support in fund raising for the new scope I will supply pizza - members can bring a bottle if they want. No smashing on the tube though!

I’ll be there from 5:30 PM onwards – and will start putting the Scope together around 6:00PM. If you want to give a hand or see how it all goes together come early! RSPV

Meteor Showers

There are two low number Meteor showers this month – there’s the North Taurids – which peaed on November the evening of the 11th to the 12th  described as a “rambling sparse” shower with a maximum of 5 per hour – but they can produce (rarely) spectacular fireballs. Infact I did see one last night -(13th) at 10 PM 

 The second display this month is the Leonids on the evening of November the 17th - 18th best seen after midnight and once the radiant in Leo has risen. (Max 10-15 per hour)  Again low numbers but who knows. 

In December we have the Geminids on the evening of the 13th to the 14th  .Remember the numbers quoted are for a theoretical maximum if the radiant is directly overhead. I have seen good numbers from this shower in previous years - certainly double figures at maximum with a maximum number quoted at 50 . Other members on Island have also reported good numbers here too


Planets visible in the evening are somewhat limited to Mars (see the diagram opposite) and with the new telescope perhaps we will see the somewhat neglected Ice Planets of Uranus and Neptune.

Mars is seen in the South West just after nightfall. The picture here shows its location near the Moon on the 25th and the 26th. 

 Mars telescopically is a tiny image and its getting smaller. It is almost with apology I keep saying – Mars is visible but telescopically its not very impressive. Here is the reason why.

 Earlier this year in April we had a closer look at Mars In Astronomy this special close approach happens at an alignment called  “Opposition”. This occurs every 780 days and is a combination of the Earth going around the Sun in 365 days and Mars going round the Sun 687 days. The net effect is that these special closes approaches really only occur every two years (approx)

The dates for this year and the next little opposition are as follows

Date                            Closest Approach (Million miles)
April 08 2014              57.4
May 22 2016               46.8
Jul 27 2018                  35.8

So in 2018 we should get a good viewing! So at the moment Mars can be seen in the evening sky but is a small object telescopically and will get smaller too. However apart from being a pretty star in the sky we can also use it as a marker to find other things. For example on December the 4th Mars is very close to a Globular Cluster M75 (NGC 6864) a rather faint distant group of stars but on the 4th relatively easy to find.

The diagram to the right  shows Mars at Opposition, In fact all of the outer planets play the same game. As we move further out in the solar system the actual movement of the other planets relative to the background constellations gets slower and slower- . Opposition for Jupiter for example occurs every 399 days as Jupiter orbits the sun every 11.86 years!

Jupiter is our next best visible planet – rising above the horizon just before midnight, By the end of November this will be nearer 10 PM . However the best time is in the early hours before dawn .Between Nov 10-15 in the pre dawn skies look for Jupiter near the Moon and the star Regulus in Leo the Lion. 

The star chart below is taken from Chris Pete’s excellent site “Heavens Above” for 29th November at around 8 PM . The Summer Triangle will still be easily visible – If you are on Severn Mile Beach it appears as a nice back drop on the Western Sky – with Mars low on the horizon after Sunset. Look for Cassiopeia (The Inverted W – the Big Mac of the Skies)  . The square of Pegasus overhead and towards the East (not so good from Seven Mile beach) is Orion – telling us Winter is fast approaching.

Finally we are on Twitter – So every entry made from @kyastro appears on the Astronomy Society Facebook page. Ill be adding some hashtag sites but I suggest #caymanastro is a good place to start!

So if you are already twittering please follow us!

Also Face Book



Clear Skies Everyone! 

The next "Star Watch" meeting of the Cayman Islands Astronomical Society will be on Sunday 26th of October

The next "Star Watch" meeting of the Cayman Islands Astronomical Society will be on Sunday 26th of October starting at 6:30 PM onwards at Pedro's Castle , Savannah.
All are welcome, but as usual if the evening is more than 50 percent cloudy the meeting will be canceled
Ring (not text) 925 7657 at 6:00 PM if in doubt. 
On arrival please dip headlights and do not park on the grass. If you are a large group please park outside and walk to the main lawn area.
There is no charge for the occasional visitor but donations or membership of the Society for a modest 25 CI is encouraged.

We are expecting a good crowd with interest from two youth clubs for that evening so can members confirm as much as possible their attendance for the evening 
Two items of news to briefly mention.
In the news for THIS Sunday night 19th October is Comet Siding Springs which has a close encounter with Mars. For those who happen to be ON Mars at  the moment (!!!) the comet will be spectacular - although from Earth is going to be pretty faint (large telescope required) but relatively easy to find as Mars is now setting in the West after Sunset.
I could write a book of famous people I almost met - but I did work briefly in my career with Rob McNaught who first spotted the comet at the Siding Springs Observatory. He has discovered over 80 comets over the years but suspect the dreaded  world-wide "Government Cutbacks" are affecting any future tally he will have! 
So after all these years we still have something in common
Also I'm not expecting this to arrive before THIS Sunday but the Societies new 12 inch telescope might just make it for the next Pedros' meeting.
Our existing  large Scope is now 9 years old and is in need of some maintenance. A 12 inch is a huge jump in size so we should see quite a bit more detail in astronomical objects 
When the scope arrives and is "tested"  (in Astronomical terms this is known as  "First Light")  I can see a Members Only meeting here with wine and pizza perhaps? 
I'm hoping we will then have a special observing session in town somewhere to say thank you to all the people who donated to the Society (and perhaps to raise some more ?)
Any ideas welcome
Clear Skies everyone

Special CIAS meeting/lecture next Wednesday 10th Sept UCCI Observatory starts 7:30 PM

Hi All .
Special CIAS meeting/lecture next Wednesday 10th Sept UCCI Observatory starts 7:30 PM
All welcome – Free Admission but spaces limited to 18 only so please confirm your attendance by email cpcooke@aol,com
Members of the Astronomy Society have preference but non members are also invited and will be given the opportunity to join the Astronomy Society
Ashvin is a local student who has just completed a UK degree in Astronomy
Regards Chris Cooke CIAS

Next Meeting at St Pedro’s Castle on Tuesday 26th August, starting at 7:30 PM

The next public meeting will be held at St Pedro’s Castle on Tuesday 26th August, starting at 7:30 PM
As usual if the weather is cloudy (more than 50 percent cover) the meeting will be cancelled.  Remember too that the weather in George Town is not as good as in Savannah (!) so if in doubt phone 925 7657 at 7:15 PM  
As mentioned on Facebook this week the Perseid meteor shower was at its peak but very uch hindered by the Moon.  I do know one person who saw three meteors this year but he lives in England. Let me know if you saw any

The Chart below is taken from Chris Pete’s excellent site and we are allowed to use the chart with his permission. It shows the night sky for the 24th of August at around 8:30 PM

Notice in particular how close Mars and Saturn are – there’s been quite a picturesque game over the past months with the lineup of Saturn and Mars, along with the stars Spica (in the constellation of Virgo) and Antares (in Scorpius) .  On the 24th of August Mars and Saturn are at their closest (3 and a half degrees apart). Look into the South West Sky to see them.

 Those who know their way a little around the stars should be able to identify Scorpius, (watch out for the cats eyes) , the famous “teapot” at the Centre of the Galaxy in Sagittarius and now almost overhead the “Summer Triangle” composed of the three bright stars Vega , Deneb and  Altair.  In particular I want you to look for Altair in the constellation of Aquilla the Eagle. It’s a long shot but on the 19th of August at around 20:20 PM there’s an Iridium Flare. This satellite – Iridium 41 will reach a brightness of -5.0 which will (if it turns up ) be pretty bright!

We will review these constellations and their secrets at our meeting at St Pedros

Finally there’s a comet in the sky!  Needless to say it’s not well placed for us at our latitudes, unless you are late to bed or a nearly riser.  You will also need a good pair of binoculars. The Comet is called C2014 E2-Jacques and it’s currently moving through the constellation of Perseus – which as you can see on the chart above has not risen at that time.  In fact it’s not visible until well after midnight. By  the 22nd though it should be found near the star Segin – one of the stars that makes the familiar “W” shape of Cassiopeia, and will be in the NW skies.  Id wait a few hours for Cassiopeia to climb out of the haze on the horizon. For those in the know it will be faint – predicted Mag +8

Good Luck and Clear Skies Everyone!

Chris Cooke 925 7657 

June/July meeting At St Pedros Monday 30th June 2014 - start 7:30 PM

As usual this time of the year in June the meeting may be canceled due to the weather. If the sky is more than 50 percent cloudy then its unlikely the meeting will go ahead. Please feel free to ring me (not text) at 7 PM on 925 7657  if in doubt.

We are expecting a good number tonight (see below) so please park outside the grounds and walk in as space is limited.

The meeting is open to the General Public but we will also be looking after the Sunrise Rotary Club this evening as well. They are kindly  making a donation of a modest 5 CI per person and for a special one-off evening I  will suggest non members  might like to make the same donation amount too 

All monies raised either by donations or membership fees goes towards refreshing the Society's telescopes and we are planning to replace our major "big" telescope soon.

The sky on the 30th Of June  at around 9 PM local time  has the constellation of Scorpius rising  in the SE - and the Southern Cross is now setting in the SW.  Ursa Major (The Big Dipper or The Plough) is favorably placed in the North West too.

The Planets Mars and Saturn will be easily identified .

 On the 30th June there  is also  a crossing of the International Space Station at round 8 PM.  Also hoping to be seen is  an impressive Iridium Flare  at around 20:45 PM. If you have not seen one of these then you are in for a treat . It is predicted to  reach a maximum brightness of -4.2, More precise timings will be given on the night . Thanks to Chris Pete for the Sky Map below and the satellite predictions - Visit http://heavens-above for more details

Clear Skies Everyone !

Pedro St James, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. Monday 2 June 2014.

It was the night/evening of 2 June 2014, not a sound was heard, the moon was waxing.... Well, the moon was waxing; it was not "that" quiet at Pedro St James where the 'scopes were set up, ready to transport is us to a different world of Planets, a waxing moon, the Southern Cross, the Jewel Box and even a good view of Saturn! The same (waxing) moon helped us and the Savannah Primary School students to identify the dazzling planet Jupiter, stunning planet Saturn, mysterious planet Mars; Jupiter is the brightest object in the vicinity of the moon (at the moment). Mercury was lower in the sky, not much above the horizon, hiding every now and then behind some pesky clouds. Amazingly so, the moon’s lighted crescent points (like an arrow) pointed towards Mercury... Another amazing observation through the telescopes was the "Omega cluster" -well in excess of a million stars in one "fuzzy blob". Some Mercury trivia Mercury, the innermost planet of the solar system, orbits the sun in only 88 Earth-days. Even though Mercury has the shortest year of any solar system planet, it also sports the longest day. One day on Mercury is equal to 176 Earth-days. On Mercury, one day is twice as long as its year of 88 Earth-days. If you lived on Mercury, you’d see the sunrise in the east, then the sunset in the west some 88 Earth-days later. However, when Mercury reaches perihelion – its closest point to the sun for the year – you’d see the sun stop, then go eastward for a while before resuming its normal westward motion. If you were on the right place on Mercury, you could actually watch the sun rise, go back under the eastern horizon, and then rise again. By the way, Mercury will be at perihelion on July 29, 2014. Just as on Earth, the westward movement of the sun during a day on Mercury is due to the planet’s rotation. However, Mercury’s orbital motion is so fast at perihelion that it causes the sun to go eastward in the daytime sky for a few (Earth) days. International Space Station (ISS) A memorable sight was seen at 8pm...with the "naked eye"...the International Space Station [ISS] flying over Grand Cayman. It was a great view; some minutes! Because the atmosphere over Grand Cayman is so unpolluted and there isn't too much "light pollution" you can easily see it passing over the island, provided there's no cloud cover in that part of the sky. The time predictions so far have proven to be very accurate so be sure your watch is set correctly to local Cayman time, one hour behind "Eastern Standard Time". Here's what to look for: It looks like the brightest star in the sky but it's steadily moving along. It doesn't blink (that would be an airplane!), once it becomes visible it's a steadily glowing point of light moving in a smooth steady arc. Depending on atmospheric conditions and sun angle it may have a bit of a yellowish or reddish cast to it. You can fairly easily spot it with your naked eye (or with glasses if you wear them for distance vision) because it's bright and visibly moving whereas the stars and planets appear to be stationary. It's best to be away from heavy "light pollution" : but if at the "fly-by time" you can see other stars or planets in the general directions where the ISS will be visible, then you're dark enough where you are. Big and Little Dipper At this time of year, assuming you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, you can easily find the legendary Big Dipper, called The Plough by our friends in the UK, now high in the north during the evening hours. Chris had his flashy green pointer on hand and to the delight of the students, and the rest of us, pointed out the Plough, wow! It’s one of the most familiar star patterns in the sky because its shape really resembles a dipper. Less familiar – and tougher to find – is the Little Dipper. Here’s how you can find it. First, locate the Big Dipper in the northern sky during the evening hours. Notice that the Big Dipper has two parts: a bowl and a handle. See the two outer stars in the bowl? They’re known as The Pointers because they point to the North Star, which is also known as Polaris. Once you’ve found Polaris, you can find the Little Dipper. Polaris marks the end of the handle of the Little Dipper. You need a dark night to see the Little Dipper in full, because it’s so much fainter than its larger and brighter counterpart. Look for the Big Dipper high in the north at nightfall! Another successful evening Pedro St James, an open (to everyone) platform , once a month to see our amazing sky. To become a member of the Cayman Islands Astronomy Society, it will set you back CI$25.00 for a years membership. Worth it... Sources: Earth Sky News, Chris, Richard, Karen, Myriam, CaymanTA, Tripadvisor

Cayman Islands Astronomical Society News - Dates for the AGM and next Public Meeting At St Pedros Castle

Hi All
Lets start on a positive note: I always enjoy the sky AFTER its rained as much of the dust has been cleared out of the air and night-time visibility is much improved!
The meeting of the next AGM is on Thursday May 29th at 7:00 PM  at the UCCI Observatory
Please come and make the Society happen. If you cant attend and are interested in helping out please let me know beforehand.
The meeting will be brief and will adjourn to Sunset Bar
The next meeting open to the General Public is now set for 7:30 PM  Monday 2nd June at  St Pedro's Castle. We are expecting a good turn out as Savannah Primary School are also coming,
As always the weather will decide on  the fate of the meeting- if more than 50 percent cloudy or indeed if its raining the meeting will be cancelled. If in doubt please phone me (don't text) on 925 7657 at 7:00 PM
To join the Society it costs only 25 CI and goes towards the upgrade and maintenance of the telescopes we use.
And a final note on meteor showers. These are fickle enough events as many of you remembered this month and as soon as forecasts of their numbers and visibility are set in print they seem doomed to actually happen.  I mention this because of recent news on a predicted  meteor storm from the break up of Comet 209P/LINEAR due on the night of May 23-24 . Best times are estimated between 1 and 3 AM but the radiant  is in the constellation of Camelopardalis which  is pretty close to the Pole Star. So look North
As we all know in Cayman the Pole Star is only 20 degrees off the horizon so I will probably stay in bed. However I could be spectacularly wrong! Below is a star map showing  the constellation
So best of luck and  clear skies everyone!

The constellation Camelopardalis is far to the north on the sky's dome, close to the north celestial pole.  It's the radiant point of the possible meteor shower from Comet 209P/LINEAR.  Chart via Wikimedia Commons.

Next Meeting is May 1st (Thursday) 2014 at St Pedros Castle 7:30 PM

The next meeting of the Cayman Islands Astronomical Society is set for Thursday 1st May 2014 at St Pedro's Castle. Starts about 7:30 PM

The weather can be tricky to forecast this time of the year and meetings will be cancelled if more than 50 percent cloudy. If in doubt phone 925 7657. Remember the weather  in George Town can be somewhat different to Savannah.

On arrival please dip head lights and don't park on the grass.

The meeting is free and open to all.


April Newsletter 2014

Hi All

The Next Meeting is at St Pedros Castle on Thursday 3rd April at 7:30 PM
On arrival please dip your headlights and dont drive on the grass.

Remember if the weather is more than 50 percent cloudy the meeting will be cancelled. Phone me (Chris) on 925 7657

Theres a nice crossing of the International Space Station just after 7:30 PM -  these do not operate under "Cayman Time" so get there a bit earlier if you wan to see it !

Jupiter is up and the Moon too of course

Upcoming this month is a Lunar Eclipse (15th) which has an interest - (theres some interesting stories relating to Bibical prophecies on perhaps the Second Coming)  and later in the month is Earth Week, with a special meeting at the UCCI observatory on Friday 25th April

More on this later - it has promise of a big event


Newsletter for March 2014 : Meetings and Updates

The next Meeting Of the Cayman Islands Astronomical Society  

is on the 4th March at  7:30  PM at Pedro's Castle 
The meeting will be canceled if raining or more than 50 percent cloudy- If in doubt please ring me (Chris) on 925 7657

Please dip your headlights on arrival and do not park on the grass. 

All are welcome and there is no charge however we are a non profit organization so that after a few meetings you might like to join.

To Join The Astronomical Society 

Membership  costs 25 CI and runs from Jan 1st to 31 December 
If you cant make the meeting then send a cheque made payable to the following address

Chris Cooke  PO Box 1601 GT 
KY1 1110

Alternatively  you can drop the cheque or cash off at Kirks Stationary Store - just ask for Myriam Madigan

See the Sun in close-up at the UCCI Observatory this coming Saturday 22nd 

between 10 and 12 midday. Bill Hrudey will be there to show live pictures of the Sun in detail - it is a very safe way to see the Sun in Close-up without going blind. 

NEVER under any circumstances look at the sun with a telescope or binoculars without the correct specialist Astronomical sun filters. This is what Bill will be using on Saturday. Again usual rules apply on cloud cover and rain - This time ring Bill 327 1892 for the latest weather update from the Observatory on Saturday morning. I cant make it so if any of our "Solar" members want to help please contact Bill 

Saturday March 1st Cayman Arts Festival "Red Sky At Night"

We wil be there down Astronomical Avenue!
If you want  to help us raise funds please let me know ASAP - we have a limited number of free tickets available to Society Members 

Grand Donation To The Society

Finally some good  news - we have been very kindly donated by Sheree Ebanks a  Celestron Nexstar 8i, this is a computerized "GOTO" telescope with an 8 inch mirror. Ian and I have had it working- its not new but not only is it going where its told to go to its now giving some good images too now Ive cleaned up the optics . Bill has kindly fixed its tripod and with all that done we are hoping to use the Scope at the next meeting and the Red Sky At Night too. So come along and see the new beastie! 

Clear Skies (please!!!!!) Chris 

Introduction To Astronomy Course at the UCCI College Cayman Islands starts Tuesday 4th Feb 2014 7:30 PM

Also numbers are now filling up on the next "Introduction To Astronomy " course to be held at the Observatory at the UCCI College. 

It starts on Tuesday 4th Feb and is a mixture of classroom and practical . To enroll the college requires cash CI 125 and you will need to pay at the Administration Office. Any problems let me know

Course runs for 7 weeks and starts 7:30 PM 

For those who have been on the previous two courses please note this is the same course ( so the jokes are the same) - a more Advanced Course is still in the pipeline


Normal rules apply - if more than 50 percent cloudy the meeting is cancelled. 
Phone Chris on 925 76 57 
Please dim lights on Entering and  dotnt park on the grass!

Meeting is free to  the General Public


Your support keeps the "free" meetings going 
Bring your fees to the meeting or post them to me  as a cheque  and made out to the CIAS, 

c/o Chris Cooke 
PO Box 1601
KY1 1110