Text Box:  WADHURST ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY

SEPTEMBER NEWSLETTER 2008

INDEX: MEETINGS, OTHER NEWS, CONTACTS

MEETINGS

ASTRO-BARBECUE

On the evening of the late August bank holiday Saturday, Michael Harte and his wife Claire provided facilities for an Astro-barbecue and about fifteen members and families took advantage of their generosity.
The weather began with almost clear skies and a number of telescopes and binoculars appeared in the field.
There was an impressive 8-inch LX 200 Meade scope on a sturdy tripod provided by Steven Anderman.  The “Ian Reeves” 4-inch refractor Kunos telescope, which is available to any member to borrow, and there were tripod-mounted monocular and binocular instruments.
Phil Berry’s Personal Solar Telescope (PST) was set up and used as soon as we arrived just as the Sun was setting in the north-west.  The Sun could only be observed for a few minutes by setting the telescope up on a temporary table in a barn and looking through a gap in the far wall.  No sun-spots, but prominences could be seen by carefully tuning the Hydrogen-alpha filter.  Soon very high cloud spoilt any more viewing of the Sun that evening.
Telescopes having been lined up, the barbecue soon got underway then John Vale-Taylor appeared over the horizon struggling with a huge device which had a large wooden box with a ground glass screen on one end and a huge brass tube on the other housing an 8-inch object lens.
This turned out to be an instrument John had been given because of his well known interest in optics and was being discarded.
John’s first thoughts were that it might have been a First World War aerial plate camera.  It certainly sounded plausible although it must have weighed a good forty or fifty pounds.
As the Sun set and the skies grew darker, Jupiter was the first night object to be seen in the sky.  The four visible moons were clearly visible in a line with Ganymede to the east and the others to the west.
Two of the equatorial belts could be seen but then as we were searching for tighter eyepieces the clouds began to make their appearance.
Cassiopeia and the Summer Triangle could be seen but sadly not long enough to be observed in any great detail.
Michael Harte had prepared a list of passes of the International Space Station from Brian Mills’ Sky Notes but all was in vain in the end.
Phil had brought his Celestron SkyScout but was unable to demonstrate it because of the cloud though a couple of green laser torches at least could light up the underside of them.  Will it one day (or night) be possible to burn holes in the clouds and disperse them?  On second thoughts, not such a good idea, particularly as Michael lives under the glide path into Gatwick Airport!
Never the less it turned out to be a very enjoyable and sociable evening with stories of telescopes, techniques, Michael’s farm and the on-going saga of the “Tennis Court Lights” in Wadhurst which is not progressing too well (from the astronomer’s point of view – that is).
We were lucky in that the rain held off until we were actually leaving.
Once again, many thanks are due to Michael and Claire Harte for being our hosts on what turned out to be one of the few pleasant summer evenings – so far…

SEPTEMBER MEETING

            Wednesday 17th September 2008  At this meeting there will be a talk by John Punnett, a member of the Orpington Astronomical Society.
            He calls his talk “An Enthusiastic Amateur’s Journey in Astrophotography”.
            It is well worth visiting John’s website
            There, one can see much of the work that he has been able to achieve and will be talking about at the meeting.

FUTURE MEETINGS

            Wednesday 15th October 2008  The meeting includes two video lectures from Alex Filippenko’s astronomy series.  Alex Filippenko is a professor at the University of California.

            Wednesday 19th November 2008  Details to follow.

            Wednesday 10th December 2008  As this is December this is the second Wednesday of the month instead of the third as in other months. 
            Paul Treadaway, who is a member of the Society gives a talk about the birth of stars.
            Members will remember the talk Paul gave last year and will recall the fascinating scenarios he gave us to think about.

            Wednesday 21st January  This is the Annual General Meeting.  That should not take too long, and then Phil Berry gives a fascinating talk about the impressive progress he has achieved with his observatory.

OTHER NEWS AND INFORMATION

            Michael Harte has come across an fascinating website which he feels members may be interested in here
            Great Dane Pro can't type - so watch their mis-spelling of the URL above and have several sites on the internet, but this one contains some stunning NASA images from the International Space Station and of Endeavour.  There is background music which can be turned off if wished.

SKY NOTES FOR SEPTEMBER

Planets

Mercury although as an evening object it is too close to the horizon for observation setting only half an hour after the Sun on September 11th.
 
Venus is also poorly placed for observation this month but things will improve as the year progresses.

Mars is not suitably placed for observation this month as it moves closer to the Sun.

Jupiter at magnitude -2.7 lies in the constellation of Sagittarius (the archer) and is a prominent object in the south east.

Saturn will become a morning object later in the month at magnitude +0.9 in the constellation of Leo (the lion).

Lunar Occultations

As usual I’ve only included events for stars down to around magnitude 7.5 that occur before midnight BST. DD = disappearance at the dark limb whilst RD = reappearance at the dark limb. Only the brightest re-appearances are shown here – there are a number of others. Times are all BST.
There is another chance to see the moon pass through the Pleiades cluster on September 20th although this occurs in the early hours of the morning. If anyone would like details then please let me know.

September

Time

Star

Magnitude

Ph

PAo

6th

2010

SAO 184205

6.9

DD

120

9th

2037

SAO 187388

6.3

DD

6

9th

2123

SAO 187438

7.8

DD

104

15th

2145

SAO 128436

6.3

RD

258

20th

2237

SAO 77350

6.4

RD

267

 

Phases of the Moon for September

New

First quarter

Full

Last quarter

29th

7th

15th

22nd

 

ISS
There are a large number of favourable passes of the ISS this month as seen from Wadhurst so I have only included the brightest. The information given is for when it is at maximum altitude, so it is best to look a few minutes before this time. Full details of all passes can be found at:
www.heavens-above.com
Times are all BST.

Sept

Mag

Time BST

Altitude

Azimuth

22nd

-1.5

2013

33

SSE

23rd

-2.4

2014

66

SSE

24th

-1.5

1931

36

SSE

24th

-1.2

2105

43

W

25th

-2.3

1957

70

SSE

26th

-2.3

2024

81

N

27th

-2.3

1915

74

S

27th

-1.8

2050

60

WNW

28th

-2.3

1941

80

N

29th

-2.3

1908

80

N

30th

-2.2

1859

78

N

30th

-2.2

2034

72

SW

Brian Mills

GO TO INDEX

CONTACTS

Chairman   John Vale-Taylor 

Phil Berry  01892 783544

Treasurer  Mike Wyles  01892 542863

Publicity & Website  Michael Harte  01892 783292

Newsletter Editor  Geoff Rathbone  01959 524727

Any material for includion in the October Newsletter should be with the Editor by September 28th 2008    GO TO INDEX