WADHURST ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY
JUNE NEWSLETTER 2004
INDEX: MEETINGS, OTHER NEWS, CONTACTS
Transit of Venus and Astrophotography
by Mike Maunder on Wednesday 19th May 2004
Maunder is well known for his astro-photographs that have appeared in magazines
and newspapers around the world and his talk was mainly about this work with
his camera over many years, but he began by referring to the forthcoming transit
of Venus on the morning of the 8th of June 2004. He mentioned a website www.sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov containing
a lot of information for the observer.
Also pointed out was that there was an occultation of Venus by the moon
on 21st May 2004. (Of course, by
the time of this Newsletter, the Transit of Venus will already have taken place)
will be the first time that the transit of Venus will have been recorded on
film as the last transit of Venus was in 1882. [Link here to see it if
you missed it!]
[Link here to see it if you missed it!]
then asked if we could see the link between a bottle of beer, a Channel Island
one-pound note and a china mug, and "who we would phone as a friend"
to find the answer?
first photograph was taken by Thomas Wedgwood as early as 1795 using silver
salts. This method was used by
Humphry Davy to take the first photograph of the sun using a solar microscope
whilst he was Director of the Royal Institution.
The process used wet plates and was impractical to record permanent
photographs. Wedgwood was the link
with Mike's china drinking mug.
link between the Channel Islands pound-note was through the printer Thomas De La
Rue. His son, Warren De La Rue made
his name through his work with the faster wet-collodian photographic process
taking highly detailed photographs of the moon.
the link with the beer bottle was the beer inside it. Sir William Abney used the beer-albumin dry plate process to
make more practical photographic papers. He
made use of these emulsions to make solar photographs and did a lot of work on
photographing the solar spectrum. Mike
also mentioned the son of William Herschel, John Herschel, who assisted
Fox-Talbot by suggesting that he use salts to fix his photographic plates.
this short history of the development of photography, Mike illustrated the
remainder of his talk using his superb 2-inch by 2-inch square large format
slides and began by showing us a colour chart which he photographed on each reel
of film he took so that there was a reference after processing.
first slides showed the effect of sodium light pollution, and then compared it
with a slide taken of the southern sky from Australia.
There the skies were so dark, it was difficult for the observer to
navigate around the stars but was easy to see the different colours of the
of his slides had been taken from his home on Alderney in the Channel Islands,
where the skies were relatively clear, although there was some pollution from
the nuclear reprocessing plant on the north France coast when looking south.
Mike said that the green flash at sunset could be seen most nights.
Here on Alderney there are very few laminar flows (air cells) to cause
aberrations, and he showed some superb slides of the silhouetted horizon but
including Venus, Jupiter and Mars at dusk.
Most of his slides were wide angle and even one photograph used a
fish-eye lens to include Hale-Bopp and Mercury on the same frame and taken in
1997. The film he nearly always
uses is 100 ISA Fuji Film, but not exclusively.
of the slides Mike showed from then on were mainly of scenes that included the
planets and terrestrial landscape in the same picture.
There were some incredible sunsets and dawns, particularly at the times
of volcanoes. One series of slides
were taken in Antarctica where Mount Erebus at the western end of Ross Island in
Antarctica, close to the US McMurdo Research Station, was seen to be active most
of the time.
number of the slides were of the various solar eclipses observed by Mike
throughout the world. These
included Kenya in 1980, Santorini, Greece in 1986, Arizona in 1994, India in
1997 accompanied by Patrick Moore and also where he was able to include Mercury
and Venus. Then of course, Alderney
in 1999, although slightly cloud covered. He
had devised cameras to fit on each eyepiece of a pair of large binoculars, and
then showed how he had balanced two small refractors on a tripod to obtain
slide demonstrated the dappled effect caught on the ground of the light from the
approaching eclipse passing through the foliage of trees.
Something many of us, who have witnessed solar eclipses, forget to do.
Mike Maunder finished with his famous montage-photograph of a solar eclipse
taken every ten minutes before and after totality, with himself in the last
exposure, "holding" the sun between his thumb and first finger.
giving thanks for talk and the remarkable and colourful slides, our deputy
chairman Michael Harte suggested, in answer to Mikes original question at the
beginning of his talk, "Whom would we phone as a friend?" - we would
phone Mike Maunder!
next meeting of the Wadhurst Astronomical Society is a Member's evening and will
be held on Wednesday 16th June 2004. This
is an evening when members can give a short talk on a subject of their choice,
which they think may interest fellow members.
These can be anything from ten minutes up to about twenty minutes in
members have already volunteered to give a talk. Joan Grace is talking about the Sun, a subject she has
recently been studying, and Mike Wyles tells of a recent visit to Paris.
He might mention French food, but I think Astronomy is much more likely.
morning, 8th July has turned out to be an excellent morning for observing the
Transit of Venus for members able to do so.
If any members do have any photographs of the event, please bring them
along. I'm sure members would be very interested to see them.
usual, the meeting will be held in the Drama Studio at Uplands College.
The doors open at 7.15 and the meeting starts at 7.30 prompt.
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THE JULY MEETING
the July meeting, Murray Barber will be using the Starlab planetarium and
demonstrating new innovations in mobile planetarium technology.
Specifically, the new FibreArc light source and Multilens cylinder. The star effect is very different to the normal Starlab
projector and Murray hopes to demonstrate a direct comparison which is very
this will be the last meeting that Murray will be able to Chair due his increasing
commitments outside the Society, as mentioned in the last Newsletter.
It is important that we find a member prepared to take on the task.
They would not be expected to take on the role for as long Murray has
been doing it by any means, but we do need someone ready for the September meeting.
Murray has said that he is very willing to talk about the position to
anyone interested in finding out more.
Murray R. Barber 01892 654618
Doug Biswell email@example.com
Sec: Joan Grace
& Web Site:
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