WADHURST ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY
SEPTEMBER NEWSLETTER 2007
INDEX: MEETINGS, OTHER NEWS, CONTACTS
again the Society enjoyed an Astro Barbecue at the kind invitation of Michael
Harte and his wife. The weather was
good and the skies were clear, enabling quite a bit of viewing to be done.
a dozen members were there and a number of telescopes and other instruments were
at hand. Phil Berry brought two
pairs of stabilised binoculars and his Celestron SkyScout.
The SkyScout uses its own Global Positioning Satellite system to identify
the users exact position and then provides the identification of about 6,000
celestial objects when the SkyScout is pointed in their direction.
The SkyScout also gives many details and data about the object being
ETX telescope provided the opportunity to view parts of the sky in more detail.
This is a very versatile telescope with the ability to observe by eye and
can be used for astro-photography.
was an 8-inch Schmidt Meade telescope, which provided the ability to view in
detail the moons of Jupiter amongst other observations.
Also present was a 5-inch Maksutov guided telescope.
Harte used his new green laser to great effect in pointing out stars and
constellations. His laser is much
smaller than many that are available but just as bright, which makes it very
this after a sociable barbecue on a terrace overlooking the valley.
Many thanks once again to Michael and Claire for another enjoyable evening.
19th September 2007
published speaker for this month was to have been George Sallitt talking about
Web Cams but he has had to cancel owing to his work taking him meeting abroad.
the meantime, Phil Berry has successfully found a replacement at very short
notice. Doctor Lilian Hobbs,
President of the Southampton Astronomical Society, works for Oracle as a
Production Manager, working on various software projects.
will be talking to us about "Remote Control of Your Telescope".
usual, the meeting will begin at 1930 in the Upper Room of the Methodist Church
at the east end of Wadhurst High Street opposite the gates to Uplands College.
The entrance door is to the left of the church, then up the stairs.
are always welcome to come and join us.
Phil Berry contributes a lot to the Society, which helps keep us going, and this is an example of what he does behind the scenes. Many thanks Phil.
MEETINGS & EVENTS
22nd September 2007 A visit to
see the largest private collection of clocks in the UK at Belmont House near
Faversham in Kent. See the note
later in this Newsletter.
17th October 2007 Keith
Brackenborough will be giving a talk with the intriguing title "The
Calendar - A 5,000 year struggle to
Align the Clock to the Heavens".
21st November 2007 John
Vale-Taylor is presenting "The Tim Bance Interview".
Tim is a long-standing and respected member of the Society and has a
wealth of practical experience in the field of amateur astronomy.
Wednesday 12th December 2007 NOTE: THIS IS THE SECOND WEDNESDAY OF DECEMBER Society Member, Paul Treadaway is giving a talk he calls "Why are we Still Here?" - Food for thought...
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TO BELMONT HOUSE
members of the Society whose names have been given to Phil Berry to see the
largest collection of clocks in private hands, will be visiting Belmont House on
Saturday the 22nd of September, a few days after our next meeting.
need to make our own arrangements for getting there and back and I include
directions below, but there will also be instructions available at our meeting
on the 19th of September.
Ashford / M20, exit junction 9
A251, heading North in the direction of Faversham. Pass through the village of Boughton Aluph (2 miles),
straight across the Challock roundabout (4 miles) and continue North until
Badlesmere. Turn left and follow the brown Tourist signs for Belmont; a further
Faversham / M2 exit junction 6
Turn onto A251 heading South in the direction of Ashford. Pass successively through the villages of Norton (2 miles) and Sheldwich (3 miles), before reaching Badlesmere (4 miles), turn right and follow brown tourist signs for Belmont; a further 1.5 miles.
ASTRONOMY FESTIVAL 2007
Science Centre at Herstmonceux is holding what is becoming an annual Astronomy
Festival on Friday, Saturday and Sunday the 7th, 8th and 9th of September.
the weekend there are lectures (£2 per lecture), tours around the telescopes,
viewing through a solar telescope and a visit to the Space Geodesy Facility,
which exists to support geodetic and geophysical research through satellite
the trade stands, members of other Astronomical Societies will be attending
including the Southern Area Group of Astronomical Societies manned part of the
time by our own Phil Berry.
not open during the day will be open for evening viewing sessions (weather
to the Festival:
details can be found on their website at:
is an evening object but is so low down that it is effectively unobservable. The
morning apparition this coming November will be the best remaining opportunity
to see Mercury this year.
is a morning object at magnitude -4 and by the middle of the month rises almost
3 hours before the sun. A small telescope will show a thin crescent phase but as
Venus moves away from us it's apparent size decreases whilst it's phase
is an evening object at magnitude 0.0 and moves from Taurus (the bull) into
Gemini (the twins) this month. It will display a large gibbous phase and
increase in apparent diameter to nearly 10 arc seconds by the end of September.
at magnitude -2 is still an evening object in the constellation of Ophiuchus
(the serpent bearer) but is past its best. By the middle of the month it sets at
around 22.00 BST.
is a morning object at magnitude 0.6 close to Regulus in Leo (the lion) rising
around an hour and a half before the sun by mid month.
Below are the events involving reasonably bright stars that occur before midnight. Times are all BST. DD = Disappearance on the Dark limb whilst RD = Reappearance on the Dark limb. You may have noticed that an extra column (PA) has crept into the table below. This tells you the position angle (in degrees) of the star relative to the moons north pole counted anti-clockwise. For example the south pole would be 180°. This information is useful as it tells you where to look around the circumference of the moon for the star. It's invaluable if the event is a re-appearance because you need to be looking in exactly the right place to see the star pop out!
|September Date||Time||Star (SAO catalogue)||Constellation||Magnitude||Phase||PA degrees|
|Sat 29th||2049||54005 (XZ cat.)||Aries||4.6||RD||284|
are suggestions that the normally docile meteor shower, the Alpha Aurigids, may
produce a much higher than usual number of meteors - possibly with a ZHR in
excess of 40. Unfortunately on the night of the maximum (September 1st) a waning
gibbous moon rises at 20.54 BST. Despite this it is still worthwhile taking a
look from around 23.00 onwards in case of something extraordinary.
Unfortunately there are no evening appearances of the ISS this month. For more details log on to the web-site:
have read two reports recently that suggest the next solar maximum could be an
extremely active one. They also say that activity could reach a peak faster than
normal, although neither report states upon what they base these assumptions.
There will be an early morning occultation of Regulus on the 7th October It disappears behind the bright limb at 06.19 and reappears from behind the dark limb at 06.54 (both BST).
anyone manage to see the International Space Station make a pass during the time
that Endeavour was docked?
used Brian Mills's table of predictions during the shuttle's service visit and
could make out the irregular shape using a pair of normal binoculars.
It was too bright to see much detail but the wings were apparent.
Dr. Tony Phillips
are supposed to be tough, able to survive anything from a good stomping to a
nuclear blast. But roaches are
wimps compared to a little molecule that has recently caught the eye of
biologists and astronomers-the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon.
aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs for short) are ring-shaped molecules made of carbon
and hydrogen. "They're all around us," says Achim Tappe of the Harvard
Center for Astrophysics. "PAHs
are present in mineral oils, coal, tar, tobacco smoke and automobile
exhaust." Aromatic, ring-shaped molecules structurally akin to PAHs are
found in DNA itself!
why Tappe's recent discovery may be so important.
"PAHs are so tough, they can survive a supernova."
story begins a few thousand years ago when a massive star in the Large
Magellanic Cloud exploded, blasting nearby star systems and interstellar clouds
with hot gas and deadly radiation. The
expanding shell, still visible from Earth after all these years and catalogued
by astronomers as "N132D," spans 80 light years and has swept up some
600 Suns worth of mass.
year "we observed N132D using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope," says
Tappe. Spitzer is an infrared (IR) telescope, and it has a
spectrometer onboard sensitive to the IR emissions of PAHs. One look at N132D
revealed "PAHs all around the supernova's expanding shell.
They appear to be swept up by a shock wave of 8 million degree gas. This
is causing some damage to the molecules, but many of the PAHs are
have long known that PAHs are abundant not only on Earth but throughout the
cosmos-they've been found in comet dust, meteorites and many cold interstellar
clouds-but who knew they were so tough? "This
is our first evidence that PAHs can withstand a supernova blast," he says.
ability to survive may be key to life on Earth.
Many astronomers are convinced that a supernova exploded in our corner of
the galaxy 4-to-5 billion years ago just as the solar system was coalescing from
primitive interstellar gas. In one
scenario of life's origins, PAHs survived and made their way to our planet. It turns out that stacks of PAHs can form in water-think,
primordial seas-and provide a scaffold for nucleic acids with architectural
properties akin to RNA and DNA. PAHs
may be just tough enough for genesis.
eat your hearts out.
out about other Spitzer discoveries at:
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 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 October Newsletter should be with the Editor by September 28th 2007
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