WADHURST ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY

NEWSLETTER ISSUE 3 2003

INDEX: MEETINGS, OTHER NEWS, CONTACTS

MEETINGS

LAST MEETING

Unfortunately there is no report from the last meeting held on March 19th.

NEXT MEETING The next meeting of the society will be on Wednesday April 16 2003. As usual, the doors open at 7.15 and the meeting starts at 7.30 prompt. This month is a members evening and there are a number of short talks already planned from a number of members. If anyone feels they would like to make a short contribution on the evening please contact Ian King (01892 836288).

OBSERVING SESSION The next observing session is to be held on 2 May. The venue is as usual the Crow & Gate at Crowborough but we will meet slightly later at around 8.00pm. Please remember this is primarily an observing session and therefore will not take place in adverse weather conditions. Please contact Sean (or any other committee member) before making a long journey to check it will still be going ahead.

COMMITTEE MEETING

The following are the minutes of the committee meeting held on March 10 2003.

1. The first issue up for discussion was to decide which summer fete to attend. The options were the Wadhurst Medieval fete and The Speldhurst Fete. The Nutley Windmill event was also mentioned but deemed unsuitable. The Pembury hospital event is not taking place in 2003. It was agreed that the Speldhurst Fete was the better choice. This takes place on Saturday 28th June.

2. The next decision facing the committee was to decide on the nature of our attendance, exhibits etc. Tim will request power as we agreed to bring telescopes, solar scopes and a PC with a Power Point presentation. Tim and Murray may attempt to connect Murray's Stellarcam to Tim's Nearstar for public solar Ha viewing.

3. National Astronomy week in August was discussed, timed to coincide with the opposition of Mars. It was agreed that a public observing session would take place. However Mars despite being at opposition in August is poorly placed as it will not attain more than 24 degrees altitude above the horizon in August and will not be observable until approx 11.30pm at the earliest. It was agreed therefore that a public observing session with a combined Mars speaker and a small exhibition would take place at the October 2003 club meeting when Mars despite being well past opposition will be better placed for public observation.

4. Michael very kindly offered to host the annual club barbeque. This will take place on Saturday 30th August.

5. The committee agreed that there will be no AGM during a club meeting this year. There will be a swift voting ceremony to vote in the new committee.

6. It was agreed to leave bank mandates as they are due to excessive admin required to change existing arrangements

7. The issue of members not renewing their membership was discussed. Approx 16 members have lapsed. A discussion took place attempting to ascertain why this should be and it was felt this situation was more likely to be caused by natural wastage than any deficiency in the club and its programme of events. Membership remains strong with approx 40 paid up members and an average attendance of between 25 and 30 per meeting.

8. It was agreed to try and resurrect notices of WAS meetings in Astronomy Now. Ian King 11/03/03

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OTHER NEWS

TELESCOPE BUILDING

Duncan Goulding has very kindly offered the use of his extensive metalworking equipment to anybody who is in the process of building a telescope or parts thereof. He has also offered technical advice to anybody who feels they need it. The one caveat is that all work is undertaken at the users own risk, as no responsibility will be taken for personal injury! One other piece of advice from Duncan regarding the web cam talk the other month, Maplins sell the CCD chips and many other parts for anyone interested in building. Again Duncan has offered his advice to any member who requires it. Duncan can be contacted on (01892) 852481.

THE JULIAN DAY CALENDAR

The Julian Day was introduced to the world by Joseph Justus Scaliger (1540-1609) a classical scholar, and was named after his father, Julius Caesar Scaliger (1484-1558) an Italian humanist scholar who engaged in controversy with Erasmus. The name is a little confusing for it had nothing to do with the commonly known calendar established by Julius (Gaius) Caesar (100-44 BC). It was he who stretched the year 46 BC to 455 days and started the new Julian Calendar on 1st January 45 BC. The Julian Day numbers advance in simple sequence and began with Day 0 at Noon on the 1st January 4713 BC at Greenwich. The date of commencement was chosen because it is the most recent moment when three cycles were in step and that was important in the 18th Century.

First the 28 year SOLAR CYCLE - in the Roman Julian calendar (J Gaius Caesar's solar calendar) the dates of each year occur on the same days of the week every 28 years.

Second the 19 year METONIC CYCLE (said to have been discovered by Meton, an Athenian) which was adopted by the Babylonians in their lunisolar calendar. This runs for235 lunar months (less 7 1/2 hours) which equals 6940 days (less 9 '/2 hours) and in turn equals 19 solar years. The Babylonian year, like the Moslem year, consisted of 12 lunar months starting with the new moon. This is about 11 days too short to keep up with the solar year, so they added an extra month in years 3,6,8,11,14,17 and 19 of a 19 year cycle. Because some years were 12 months others 13 months long meant that the dates of seasons - equinoxes and solstices, varied from year to year by half a month. A feature that may not have been a vital issue to the general population.

The third Cycle is the 15 year CYCLE OF INDICTION (a proclamation) A fiscal period of 15 years was instituted by Emperor Constantine in AD 313 and was reckoned from 1st September AD 312. This then became the usual means of dating ordinary events. The astronomical calendar of Julian Days which remains in use today is unique. in that it was designed just for the sake of science. When the Society held its meeting on the 19th March 2003 we had reached Julian Day 2452718. Ian Reeves March 2003

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CONTACTS

Chairman: Murray R. Barber 01892 654618 murray.barber@virgin.net

Secretary: Ian King 01892 836288

Treasurer: Ian Reeves 01892 784255

Editor: Peter Bamblett 01732 368656 pbamblett@hotmail.com

Publicity & Web Site: Michael Harte 01892 783292 michael@greenman.demon.co.uk

Dir. of Obs.: Sean Tampsett 01892 667092 sean_tampsett@hotmail.com

Librarian: Joan Grace 01892 783721

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