WADHURST ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY
AUGUST NEWSLETTER 2006
INDEX: MEETINGS, OTHER NEWS, CONTACTS
Very sadly I
have to report that on July 13th, Ian Reeves, the Society's Secretary, passed
away after a short illness with cancer.
He was 76 and during the past few years, when others would have been
enjoying their retirement, he spent a great deal of time caring for the Wadhurst
Astronomical Society, and with great enthusiasm.
born at Poynton in Cheshire, close to the Derbyshire hills where he spent a
lot of his time when growing up, and he never lost his love of the countryside.
in Cheshire that he met Mavis whom he eventually married, although he was then
to spend much of his time away whilst working in banking. He was to work for much of his time abroad
in such places as Nigeria, the Caribbean, Israel and other places.
and Ian had two daughters, Maxine and Julia whom he was very proud of, and who
also exhibit that same sense of humour.
he retired, he hardly settled down but instead became involved with so many
things that he claimed were to keep the wheels of his mind from sticking, as he
put it. Ian was involved with
various aspects of the University of the Third Age, U3A, and it was one of these
subjects that brought him into astronomy, about which he was always unduly
completing a GCSE course in astronomy at Uplands College, he and other members
from the course decided to form the Wadhurst Astronomical Society, meeting once
a month in the college's drama studio where the Society was to meet for a number
here that I first met Ian when I became a member of the Society in 2000, and
realised that his humour was rather unusual and very enjoyable, always looking
at things from another angle. On
one occasion, I rang him up about something, and he mentioned that he'd been
trying to get hold of a particular member of the Society but had been told he
was having a bath. He took a moment
to look out of his window, which overlooks Bewl Reservoir, to see if the water
level had gone down, confirming that the member must have just had his bath and
it was now probably ok to ring him again.
always very modest, but his knowledge of astronomy was quite acute and he had
retained everything he had learnt during his studies at Uplands, and would call
upon it at the most surprising moments.
used his accounting skills as the Society's Treasurer from the beginning, only
recently handing over to the very able hands of Mike Wyles, but even then, Ian
took on the reins of Secretary to WAS and ran the Committee with great precision
but always with that twinkle in his eye.
Without doubt, he put a lot of work into it, but always gave the
impression everything happened of its own accord and we were always very
Reeves will be sadly missed, and I will never forget his voice when he answered
the telephone, saying - "Hello Geoff.
I've got something for you for the Newsletter."
On behalf of the Members, The Wadhurst
Astronomical Society has made a donation of £50 in Ian's memory to
the Macmillan Cancer Relief fund, which helped him so much.
usual, there is no August meeting of the Society, but there is something very
special to replace it.
mentioned in previous Newsletters, Michael Harte and his wife are again kindly
holding an astro-barbecue evening on Saturday 26th August 2006. Last year it was a very pleasant evening
with members bringing telescopes and binoculars or just coming to join in and
enjoy the chat.
barbecue evening will be held at Greenman Farm, Wadhurst - which is on the south
side of the B2099 immediately to the west of the railway over-bridge, but
ignoring Buckhurst Lane. All
Society members and families are invited and Michael suggests that members aim
to arrive at 7.00 pm.
will only need to bring your own food and drink, as everything else will be
Although it will still be late
August, it can be quite cold later in the evening and it might be a good idea to
bring some warm clothing.
we are waiting for the sky to darken, Jupiter may just be visible but sets at
south and just above the horizon is the centre of our own galaxy, and last year
we had an excellent view of it, and only one or two felt the effects of the
supposed black hole nestling there.
Overhead it may be possible to find
M57 mentioned later in the Newsletter and if it is a good evening, would be well
worth looking for.
Last year we had a clear view of M31, the most distant object visible to the naked
eye. The Andromeda Galaxy is just
to the right of the "W" in Cassiopeia.
Hope to see you there if you can make it.
Wednesday 20th September
2006. We welcome back Konrad
Malin-Smith FRAS. This time he will
be giving a talk about White Dwarfs.
Wednesday 18th October
2006. Jerry Workman will be
paying us another visit and this time he talks about the latest news from
Wednesday 15th November
2006. David Rooney, who is the
Deputy Horologist at Greenwich Museum, is to give us a talk called "A Brief
History of GMT".
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AUGUST NIGHT SKY
month, the Perseid meteor shower peaks on the 12th and 13th although the moon
rises soon after 2130 with a phase of about 50% so could be a problem.
overhead during August is the Ring Nebula in Lyra, M57. This is a well-known favourite but
always worth taking the trouble to look at. It is fairly easy to find with a small
telescope, although not with binoculars unless under really clear skies. It lays just about half way between Beta
and Gamma Lyrae, known as Sulatat and Sheliak respectively, in the constellation
of Lyra. These are the two
third-magnitude stars, six degrees south of Vega.
Ring Nebula itself is magnitude 8.8 with a central hot white dwarf of magnitude
14.7 which I have never been able to see.
The nebula is about 2,300 light years away and although it looks almost
like a ring, 70 by 150 arc seconds, it is in fact a barrel shaped cloud of gas,
which is end on to the earth and believed to be expanding by about 1 arc second
a century which is about 20 to 30 kilometres per second.
thought to be about 6,000 to 8,000 old as we see it today, and is the result of
an exploding red giant, not powerful enough to have been a supernova but
exposing the hot white core, whose radiation ionises the material, thrown
is at greatest elongation on the morning of the 7th of August.
is on the far side of the Sun on the 7th of August but Venus and Saturn are both
visible just before sunrise at the end of the month, but on the morning of the
27th of August, they are only 12 seconds of arc apart although they may be
Now is an opportunity to observe both Uranus and Neptune. They are both binocular objects although the best time to view them is towards the end of the month when the moon is not a problem.
is at present in Aquarius at RA 22h 53m Dec-7° 30', or at mid month at about
midnight, and will be at Altitude 26° Azimuth 146°. The gas planet has an apparent magnitude
of 5.7 and is recognised as a green disk.
is 23° to the west of Uranus. This
blue gas planet has an apparent magnitude of 7.8 and will need large binoculars
to see it. A telescope will be
needed to resolve it as a disk but it is well worth the effort. The planet's position is at RA 21h 33m
Dec -15° Azimuth 173° but is more difficult to find. The August edition of "The Sky at Night"
magazine suggests star hopping from
Altair to Capricornus and Deneb Algedi, magnitude 2.9, which is about 25 degrees
south and 30 degrees east of Altair.
Once you have found Deneb Algedi, look to the west by about 1° 45' to
find Nashira, magntude 3.69.
Another 4° to the east is the magnitude 4.28 Iota Capricorni. Look above this by 1° 15' and there you
should find the blue planet Neptune.
(These instruction need to be inverted if looking through an astronomical
three degrees beneath Deneb, the top left star of the Summer Triangle, is the
North American Nebula. It should be
possible to find it with a large pair of binoculars or a small telescope. It is spread over several degrees and I
find the best way to confirm that I have found it when using binoculars is to
slightly move them and the nebula becomes more obvious by its movement in the
M31, The Andromeda Galaxy is visible to the right of the "W" in Cassiopeia. Andromeda is the most distant object visible to the naked eye at 2.2 million light years. With binoculars and a clear night, it may be possible to see the outer arms which spread out far from the central "blob".
NASA SPACE PLACE
Thunderstorms to Solar Storms...
Patrick L. Barry
When severe weather
occurs, there's a world of difference for people on the ground between a storm
that's overhead and one that's several kilometres away. Yet current
geostationary weather satellites can be as much as 3 km off in pinpointing the
true locations of storms.
generation of weather satellites will boost this accuracy by 2 to 4 times. The
first in this new installment of NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental
Satellites series, called GOES-N, was launched May 24 by NASA and Boeing for
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). (A new polar-orbiting
weather satellite, NOAA-18, was launched May 2005.)
with better accuracy at pinpointing storms, GOES-N sports a raft of improvements
that will enhance our ability to monitor the weather-both normal, atmospheric
weather and "space weather."
"Satellites eventually wear out or
get low on fuel, so we've got to launch new weather satellites every few years
if we want to keep up the continuous eye on weather that NOAA has maintained for
more than 30 years now," says Thomas Wrublewski, liaison officer for NOAA at
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre.
Currently, GOES-N is in a "parking" orbit at 90° west longitude over the equator. For the next 6 months it will remain there while NASA thoroughly tests all its systems. If all goes well, it will someday replace one of the two active GOES satellites-either the eastern satellite (75°W) or the western one (135°W), depending on the condition of those satellites at the time.
all previous GOES satellites, GOES-N carries star trackers aboard to precisely
determine its orientation in space. Also for the first time, the storm-tracking
instruments have been mounted to an "optical bench," which is a very stable
platform that resists thermal warping. These two improvements will let
scientists say with 2 to 4 times greater accuracy exactly where storms are
X-ray images of the Sun taken by GOES-N will be about twice as sharp as before.
The new Solar X-ray Imager (SXI) will also automatically identify solar flares
as they happen, instead of waiting for a scientist on the ground to analyse the
images. Flares affect space weather, triggering geomagnetic storms that can
damage communications satellites and even knock out city power grids. The
improved imaging and detection of solar flares by GOES-N will allow for earlier
thunderstorms and solar storms alike, GOES-N will be an even sharper eye in the
Find out more about GOES-N at goespoes.gsfc.nasa.gov/goes.
Also, for young people, the SciJinks Weather Laboratory at scijinks.nasa.gov now includes a printable booklet titled "How Do You Make a Weather Satellite?" Just click on Technology.
This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
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Chairman Tim Bance 01732 832 745
Secretary Phil Berry 01892 783 544
Wyles 01892 542 863
Publicity & Website Michael Harte 01892 783 292
Geoff Rathbone 01959 524 727
Any material for inclusion in the September Newsletter should be with the Editor by August 28th 2006
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