WADHURST ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY
MAY NEWSLETTER 2007
INDEX: MEETINGS, OTHER NEWS, CONTACTS
given by Gerry Workman at the Society meeting on Wednesday,18 April 2007
talk this month on Mars complemented that given by Gerry a few months ago. Last
time he showed us the journeys of the 2 vehicles, Spirit and Opportunity, on
the surface of Mars. This time he gave us a very comprehensive view of the
surface of Mars from several of the orbiting satellites.
we saw a relief map of Mars so that we could get an idea of where the different
features occurred. The northern parts are relatively low-lying and flat while
the southern region contains the highlands and has more distinct features such
as 2 large basins, one of which is 6 miles deep. It also includes the Tharsis
region, a great bulge in the surface containing 4 volcanoes and a huge crack,
the Valles Marineris.
were then taken on a tour of all these regions with slides taken by the
satellites. Some of the pictures
were bird's-eye views, looking straight downwards to the surface. Others were
oblique views, assembled from a series of shots. The camera had zoomed in giving
the impression that a picture had been taken from a low-flying craft skimming
the surface. Some pictures had
zoomed right in onto specific features such as a cliff with a landslide or
strata, a channel or a crater with an ejecta blanket.
big question about Mars concerns the presence of water either now or earlier on
when the geological features were forming. Did water cause erosion?
Looking at some of the slides of craters, it was plausible to think that
ice under the surface had been melted by the impact. This could have resulted in
a slow flow of muddy material spreading around the crater.
are channels that look as if rivers have flowed down them at some stage. By
zooming in on these channels, their beds certainly looked grooved. The grooves
may have been formed by flowing water but also they could be the result of slow
moving streams of rock and ice similar to a glacier.
features, called 'mesas', might be explained by flash floods, the result of
subterranean ice melting. In all, we saw over 200 slides showing many features
in a wide distribution of geographical regions.
It gave us a very good picture of what to expect if we should ever visit
Mars and plenty of ideas for projects to carry out when we got there to test the
the April meeting, about 10 members and including Jerry Workman went over to the
field that we had kindly been invited to use, to look at the night sky.
Phil Berry had set up his own telescope before the meeting but had to
move it in the dark when we got there due to a rogue street lamp.
Phil had a 50mw laser fitted to his Goto scope for identification of the
odd mystery star. We managed to
look at Saturn (Nice View) with its rings and moons as well as Venus and then
M44, the Beehive Cluster (525 light years away) with Phil's binoculars.
We also looked at M13 the Hercules Globular Cluster 25,000 Light years
distant with the 5" Schmidt Cassegrain and finished off with a low power
eyepiece view of the Double Cluster in Perseus NGC869 (very pretty).
finished by 2220. Some then went
home but some went over to the pub...
16th May 2007 Nik
Szymanek will be talking about important basic facts in an introduction to CCD
imaging. He calls his talk
"Pixel Magic" and with his reputation for incredible images this
promises to be an excellent talk.
20th June 2007 This will
be an open Telescope Evening. A
number of telescopes will be at the meeting for discussion and demonstration.
Any member able to give a short talk will be very welcome and should
contact Phil Berry who would be delighted to hear from them.
18th July 2007 George
Satterthwaite will be giving a talk about "George Airy and His Contribution
to Positional Astronomy".
is no meeting of the Society in August, but once again, we have been kindly
invited to an Astro Barbecue hosted by Michael Harte and his wife at Greenman
Farm on Saturday 25th August 2007.
Farm, Wadhurst is on the south side of the B2099 immediately to the west of the
railway over-bridge. All Society
members 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
In previous years this has been a very enjoyable event and gives members a chance to meet others in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. Members are invited to bring telescopes, binoculars and anything else of interest, but mainly themselves.
Further details to follow.
Wednesday 19th September 2007 George Sallitt will be giving a talk about "Webcams", a subject that will interest a number of members keen to get involved with this cheaper but still satisfying method of imaging.
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Subscriptions for the coming year became due on the 1st of January 2007. Subscriptions remain the same as previous years at £15 per member and £20 for two members within the same family. Cheques should be made payable to "Wadhurst Astronomical Society" and can be presented to the Treasurer, Mike Wyles at the next meeting or can be sent to him by post if that is more convenient. Mike's address is: Mr. M. Wyles, 31 Rowan Tree Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. TN2 5PZ.
The owner of the nearby field we used for our post-meeting observation session last month has very kindly extended the invitation to use the field in the future and this is something we should discuss at a Society evening meeting fairly soon.
MAY NIGHT SKY
becomes visible towards the end of the month at a magnitude of around -1.0 It
can best be found by sweeping the horizon ( a little north of west) with
binoculars about one hour after sunset. Don't
attempt to do this when the sun is still above the horizon!
shines like a beacon (at magnitude -4.3) in the west, setting some four hours
after the sun. Its phase is still gibbous but decreasing whilst its apparent
is still a morning object in southern Pisces (the fishes) close to the border
with Cetus (the whale) at magnitude 0.9. It is not ideally placed for
at magnitude -2.6 is an evening object in the constellation of Ophiuchus (the
serpent bearer) rising at 2245hrs BST by the middle of the month.
Unfortunately, even at culmination, it is still low in the sky at 16°.
It's still well worth watching the movements of the planet's four main
moons from night to night.
is still an evening object in the constellation of Leo (the lion) at magnitude
0.5. It lies a little to the west
of the bright star Regulus. Some
WAS members had an excellent view of Saturn through Phil's telescope after the
this month's occultations, I've included events for stars down to about mag 7.
DD indicates that the star disappears at the dark limb of the moon.
All times are in BST. Sadly
there are only two this month that occur before midnight and both on the same
day within three minutes of each other. The
second should be particularly easy as the moon is only four days old and the
star is fairly bright.
|Sun 20th May||22.03||277 Gem||6.8||DD|
|Sun 20th May||22.06||278 Gem||3.6||DD|
occultation of Saturn
|Tue 22nd May||20.11||Saturn||-0.7||DD|
|Tue 22nd May||21.15||Saturn||-0.7||RB|
warning for June 2007
RARE CHANCE TO SEE AN ASTEROID
is the brightest of the asteroids and reaches opposition on the thirtieth of May
when its magnitude reaches +5.4.
Unfortunately the moon is quite close and will make finding the minor
planet difficult at that time, but around the twentieth, the moon is well over
to the west still and 4-Vesta will still have a magnitude of +5.6, which should
make it possible to find with quite small binoculars.
Allow your eyes to adapt to the darkness for a good five minutes and you
may even be able to see it with the unaided eye.
about the twentieth, the asteroid will be to the south-east, in the
constellation of Ophiuchus and at about 2200 hrs will be about 2.5 degrees to
the south-east of the globular cluster, M107, at azimuth 128 degrees; altitude
10 degrees. The most reliable way
of observing 4-Vesta will be to find it over several nights as it moves slowly
to the right through the night sky.
to some observers, 4-Vesta does change colour very slightly as it rotates.
This change is very small but can be detected by slightly defocusing a
pair of binoculars and comparing the colour of the "blob" with the
blob of a nearby-by star. The minor
planet makes one revolution in just over five hours.
is 530 km in diameter and its estimated mass is 9% of the total mass of all the
minor planets in the asteroid belt put together.
surface temperature is about -20 degrees C when lit by the Sun but falls to as
low as -190 degrees C when unlit.
from Top to Bottom
Patrick L. Barry
the summer and fall of 2006, U.S. Coast Guard planes flew over the North Pacific
in search of illegal, unlicensed, and unregulated fishing boats.
It was a tricky operation-in part because low clouds often block the
pilots' view of anything floating on the ocean surface below.
assist in these efforts, they got a little help from the stars.
it was a satellite-CloudSat, an experimental NASA mission to study Earth's
clouds in an entirely new way. While
ordinary weather satellites see only the tops of clouds, CloudSat's radar
penetrates clouds from top to bottom, measuring their vertical structure and
extent. By tapping into CloudSat
data processed at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Monterey, CA, Coast
Guard pilots were better able to contend with low-lying clouds that might have
otherwise hindered their search for illegal fishing activity.
the past, Coast Guard pilots would fly out over the ocean not knowing what
visibility to expect. Now they can
find out quickly. Data from
research satellites usually takes days to weeks to process into a usable form,
but NASA makes CloudSat's data publicly available on its QuickLook website and
to users such as NRL in only a matter of hours-making the data useful for
CloudSat, there was no way to measure cloud base from space worldwide,"
says Deborah Vane, project manager for CloudSat at NASA's Jet Propulsion
primary purpose is to better understand the critical role that clouds play in
Earth's climate. But knowledge about the structure of clouds is useful not only
for scientific research, but also to operational users such as Coast Guard
patrol aircraft and Navy and commercial ships at sea.
when it's dark, there's limited information about storms at sea," says
Vane. "With CloudSat, we can sort out towering thunderclouds from blankets
of calmer clouds. And we have the ability to distinguish between light rain and
rain that is falling from severe storms." CloudSat's radar is much more
sensitive to cloud structure than are radar systems operating at airports, and
from its vantage point in space, Cloudsat builds up a view of almost the entire
planet, not just one local area. "That gives you weather information that
you don't have in any other way."
is an archive of all data collected since the start of the mission in May 2006
on the CloudSat QuickLook website at:
to introduce kids to the fun of observing the clouds, go to:
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Chairman John Vale-Taylor firstname.lastname@example.org
Phil Berry 01892 783544 email@example.com
Mike Wyles 01892 542863
Website Michael Harte 01892 783292
Newsletter Editor Geoff Rathbone
Any material for inclusion in the June Newsletter should be with the Editor by May 28th 2007
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