AGM and Colour in Astronomy – 22nd February 2007

The February meeting included, as usual, the Society’s A.G.M. Our retiring Chairman Paul Whitmarsh gave us a talk on Colour in Astronomy. He began by explaining, with the help of various test cards and optical illusions, how we see colours, sometimes even when they’re not actually there. The varying sensitivities of the light-sensitive cells in our eyes, and the curious arrangement of the nerves leading from them to our brains, have a big effect on the accuracy and accuity of our vision, especially where colour perception is concerned. Various forms of colour-blindness occur when parts of the perception mechanism are missing or not working properly. However, understanding a bit about how our eyes work can make quite a difference to the effectiveness of our astronomical observing. The use of averted vision is probably the best-known trick. Other vision enhancing tricks are less easy to perform but can be surprisingly effective, if the drawings Paul showed were any guide. Curiously, some of the m are remarkably siilar to techniques used in webcam-imaging by many astronomers today.

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