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MINUTES | 2007

2nd February 2007


The 423rd Meeting of the Altrincham and District Astronomical Society, held at Timperley Village Scout hut on Friday 2nd February 2007 at 8pm

Those present were:
Paul Clark, Kevin Thurstan, Richard Bullock
Tony Aremia, Don Utton, Norman Thurstan,
Colin Eaves, Geoffrey Walton, Graham Sinagola,
Nick Dixon, Debbie Dixon, S. McHugh
Ged Birbeck, Paul Brierly, Chris Suddick,
Colin Bowler, Geoff Flood, Kate Crawford,
Megan Argo ( Total 19 ).

The chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and said we would start with a talk by Megan Argo from Jodrell Bank on supernovae.
First she gave us the news that the Lovell dish is currently parked at zenith until one of the metal tyres on the main wheels was replaced as it is cracked.
Megan then told us the research on supernova in nearby galaxies was part of her PHD.
She explained the basics of star formation and stellar death detailing the relationships between a stars mass, how it lives, how it dies and what it leaves behind.
We were told more concerning where stars form within galaxies, galaxy collisions and about various types of starburst galaxies. There were then explanations on the different types of supernovae. She continued by talking about the how and why of using radio astronomy to investigate supernovae including timescales, wavelengths and the use of small and large scale interferometry. Megan then took questions after which we had a break.
When we returned for business the secretary went through the post.
With no other business Paul Clark next explained that Venus and Mercury were currently both on view just after sunset and where to look for them. He then showed us some pictures of comet McNaught.
The meeting was then brought to a close.

2nd March 2007


The 424th Meeting of the Altrincham and District Astronomical Society, held at Timperley Village Scout hut on Friday 2nd of March 2007 at 8pm
Those present were:
Paul Clark, Kevin Thurstan, Philip Masding,
Don Utton, Norman Thurstan, Colin Eaves,
Geoffrey Walton, Graham Sinagola, Ged Birbeck,
John Tipping, Roger Livermore, Paul Brierly,
Colin Bowler, Geoff Flood, Colin Henshaw,
Peter Baugh, Mike Tyrell, Nick Odham,
Jordan Odham, Nikki Grimshaw, James Grimshaw,
Paul Stringer, Clive Prior, A. Bradshaw.
(total 24)
The Chairman welcomed everyone and said we would start with a talk from Colin Henshaw on astronomy without a telescope, followed by some of the members recent pics including Peter Baugh’s from New Zealand.
Colin began by explaining that even small telescopes can be expensive but that you can do quite a lot of astronomical observations without one. All you need is some basic equipment and to be properly prepared. He then listed some of the equipment as a rucksack, groundsheet, gloves, torch, notebook pen & pencil, watch, star atlas, latest BAA handbook, binoculars and a good pair of eyes. Other possibilities were a camera or ccd, tripod, cable release and maybe a driven equatorial mount for the camera or ccd. The other is a dark safe observing site such as a rooftop, a backyard not overlooked by lights or maybe a local park or golf course.
Colin then reviewed what can be done with each type of observational equipment.
Using just the naked eye you can learn to find your way around the night sky , you can watch and record meteors and variable stars, view several planets as well as other phenomena like zodiacal light, the milky way, eclipses and aurora.
With binoculars you can add comets, some deep sky objects and more variable stars to the list as well as improving your view of some of the other items listed.
Cameras and ccd’s can be used to take various wide angle pictures and do photometry.
After some questions the meeting had a short break.
When the meeting resumed Paul showed us his pictures of comet McNaught.
Peter Baugh then told us about a guided tour he took to Mount St John Observatory when he was in New Zealand recently. He explained that they were using the 1.8 meter telescope to observe gravitational lensing events within our own galaxy. Peter then showed us some aurora pictures and some pictures, by the Australian Peter Gurns that he picked up on his trip of comet McNaught.
Next the meeting was shown some pictures of the recent grazing occultation of Saturn taken by Paul Clark, Mike Tyrell and Phil Masding, as well as a 20 second video of the event put together by Paul.
We were then reminded that the following evening there would be a total lunar eclipse and that there was a public star party at Jodrell bank to which members of the society Megan Argo invited free of charge if they brought along a telescope.

The meeting was then brought to a close.

4th May 2007


The 426th Meeting of the Altrincham and District Astronomical Society, held at Timperley Village Scout hut on Friday 4th May 2007 at 8pm

Those present were:
Paul Clark, Kevin Thurstan, Philip Masding,
Colin Eaves, Ged Birbeck, Geoff Walton,
Graham Sinagola, John Tipping, Roger Livermore,
Colin Bowler, Peter Baugh, Nick Odham,
Tony Bradshaw, Tony Aremia, Chris Suddick,
Mark Crossley.
(total 16)

The chairman welcomed every body to the meeting and explained that tonight would be a show & tell evening.

We started with John Tipping’s recent holiday to the USA to see a friend called Kelly who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico including photographs of the best bits.
During his holiday he travelled from Albuquerque to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon in Arizona taking in several places of to astronomical interest.
He Started with a trip to the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope array close to Albuquerque which consists of twenty seven independent twenty five metre radio telescopes. They can be moved on a Y shaped rail system and at maximum have a baseline of nearly twenty three miles.
This was followed a petrified forest of fossilized wood and then they were off to Flagstaff.
Next they went to Meteor crater east of Flagstaff and John gave us some interesting facts and figures on the three quarter of a mile wide 570 foot deep crater and its history.
Then they went to the Lowell observatory near Flagstaff which is named after Its founder Percival Lowell. One of the telescopes was used by Lowell to observe Mars and make his drawings of canals that we now know were imaginary. It is also from here that Pluto was discovered. Percival Lowell is buried next to the observatory. This was followed by a breathtaking trip to the Grand Canyon.
During his trip he also saw the Rattlesnake Observatory and Arizona Star Village and told us that there are a lot of amateur and small remotely controlled observatories in the area. He even had some time in the evenings for a quick peek at the sky and was impressed by the view. Another highlight were the hummingbirds.
We thanked John for his talk and had a break.

When we restarted we were told of Phil’s visit to The Sky At Night party in Selsey, (and meeting a Cheeky Girl).

Colin gave us a quick rundown on his progress with his new equipment from various sites including the Whirlpool galaxy (M51) from Clough House and Bewdley south of Birmingham and the lunar eclipse from Jodrell Bank. He also explained the difficulties he was sometimes having getting the correct focus on deep sky objects with a web cam.

Paul then showed us some web cam images of Saturn

The secretary then went through the societies post.

Finally we were reminded of the upcoming star party at Jodrell Bank weather permitting.

The meeting was then brought to a close.

7th September 2007


The 428th Meeting and 42nd AGM of the Altrincham and District Astronomical Society, held at Timperley Village Scout hut on Friday 7th September 2007 at 8pm

Those present were:
Paul Clark, Kevin Thurstan, Philip Masding,
Don Utton, Colin Eaves, Geoffrey Walton,
Graham Sinagola, Ged Birbeck, Roger Livermore,
Peter Baugh, Mike Tyrell, Nick Odham,
Jonathan Odham, Tony Aremia, Nick Dixon,
Richard Bullock, Chris Suddick, Mark Crossley,
( total 18 )

Paul Clark welcomed everyone to the meeting and started with the news that he and Mark had dismantled the 14 inch obs scope and were hoping to sell the optics at the Kelling Heath star party the next weekend, unless anyone in the society was interested for approx £200.

The society had also had donated to it a four inch Vixen fluorite apo refractor, along with a Super Polaris mount and tripod.

Then we had a discussion concerning the future of the NWGAS and asked what does the society get out of it? Not very much it was decided apart from the speakers list. Suggestions were made that we they don’t really need to hold face to face meetings anymore and that it would probably be better for the less central societies to run it via an online forum or bulletin board. The secretary stated that he would be attending the next NWGAS meeting on 6th October to discuss its future.

It was then noted that our own website still needed properly updating (if only people can remember how).

We were then reminded that the Kelling Heath star party was the following weekend and Peak star party 2 was on in October, the same week as the Keilder star party.

Next was the election of officers.
Paul said he was standing down as chairman as his Fridays were currently very busy, he was thanked for his time in office.
There were however no nominations forthcoming for the position as yet.
Kevin and Richard stated that unless there were other candidates that they would continue as Secretary and treasurer respectively, both were unopposed.
Graham Sinagola was elected to the new post of refreshments co-ordinator ( tea boy).
There was more discussion on the position of Chairman and Peter Baugh said that he may be willing to arrange some of the meetings.

Paul Clark told us that he would be bringing in £30 for the Society’s funds after a presentation he was doing to the Phoenix Rising Astrology Group about an astronomers view on the planets and solar system.
He then showed us a stacked image of the square of Pegasus, explaining some of the techniques used and said that after the break we would see pictures from his trip to Tenerife.

The meeting then took a break.

When the meeting restarted the Treasurer explained the accounts and that last year there was a deficit of £1300, due mainly to the closing down of the observatory site. He was hoping that Paul would be able to sell the 14” optics the next week and it was decided that the subscriptions would not be going up this year.

Next Mark and Paul both showed us pictures of M27 they had each taken over the last couple of nights, Paul also had a picture of M57 from the same night including a faint galaxy.

Paul then told us about his trip to Tenerife for the Perseid meteor shower.
He took his new “Astro Track” tracking mount to use with his camera and explained to us how it worked. We then saw his pictures of the milky way stacked from several exposures with Registax then stitched together in Photoshop photo merge to create wider field views of the milky way.
Paul said that his main problem was that even set to manual the camera still tried to auto set the colour and white balance.
We then got to see some of the original pictures as taken by the camera, the same pictures after initial processing and finally approximately as would be seen by the human eye.

We then moved on to any other business.

It was decided to further discuss the vacant post of chairman at the next meeting.

The chairman raised the matter of society equipment and was updated on equipment whereabouts.

We had a quick précis of Paul’s talk to the astrology group

Finaly we were reminded about the Timperley country fair the next weekend and it was reiterated that we needed more tombola.

The meeting was then brought to a close.

6th October 2007


The 429th Meeting of the Altrincham and District Astronomical Society, held at Timperley Village Scout hut on Friday 6th October 2007 at 8pm
Those present were:
Kevin Thurstan, Geoff Flood, Norman Thurstan,
Geoffrey Walton, Graham Sinagola, Chris Suddick,
Colin Bowler, Tony Aremia, Frank Poole,
Ged Birbeck, Chloe.
( total 11 )
The Secretary welcomed everyone to the 429th meeting.
The meeting was then given an update on Don Utton’s condition after his second operation and move back onto a neurological ward.
Kevin then proposed that we have a short meeting this month as there was no planned talk and some of the members, including himself, intended to go observing at Clough House straight from the meeting.
The meeting then discussed the unresolved issues from the previous months AGM concerning the lack of a Society Chairman. During discussion of what was expected from the various committee members, Kevin stated that he would take on the roll of Chairman if someone would take over from him as Secretary. Geoff Flood said that he would be willing to take on the roll of Secretary.
Geoff’s Nomination for Secretary was then seconded and passed unopposed as was Kevin’s nomination as Chairman.
We then talked briefly again about the state of the website and who was current webmaster.
Kevin told the meeting that we now had two dates for astronomy evenings at Delamere Forest Park in 2008, which were Friday March 14th and Friday October 10th.
Next the meeting was reminded of the upcoming NWGAS meeting and FAS convention and there was some talk about speakers for future meetings.
Ged then started a short discussion about the Timperley Country Fair and stated that we really needed more support at such society function days.
The meeting was then brought to a close.

2nd November 2007


ALTRINCHAM AND DISTRICT ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY 430TH Meeting held at 1st Timperley Scout Hall on Friday 2nd November 2007

Kevin Thurstan, Tony Aremia, Steven Holt, Geoff Flood, Chris Suddick,Peter Baugh, Graham Sinagola, Paul Brierley, Colin Eaves, Geoff Walton,Colin Bowler, Nick Dixon, Richard Bullock, John Tipping, Nick Odham,Norman Thurstan.
total - 16

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the 430th meeting.Tony Aremia gave an update on the situation with Don Utton who is undergoing radiation treatment at Christies Hospital. It will be some weeks before the outcome is known.Various pieces of post were dealt with:North West GAS, minutes of their last meetingFrom the FAS , with Newsletter.Fedastro, with meetings list.Herschel Museum of Astronomy (Bath) with details of Space Quest 2007.Beacon Hill Telescopes advertising various bits equipment at “Best Prices”Kevin Thurstan reported on the NWGAS meeting.Dave Ogden (Macclesfield AS) has taken over as Secretary.It has been decided that in future they will only meet once per year and the next meeting will be held at Chester AS which will be combined with a Star Party and BBQ.It was felt that it is sensible to have face to face meetings periodically to sort out any issues which might arise.A number of Societies have not been in contact with NWGAS for some time and they will be written off if they do not make contact shortly.There was some discussion of the 17p/Holmes comet which is visible and now quite bright - ca mag 2.5.N.B. Following the meeting the sky was clear and some good viewing of the comet was had using binoculars which some members had with them.Kevin announced that the next meeting will be in the form of a quiz and the January meeting a “tell and show” event enabling members to swank about their latest kit!The second part of the evening was taken up with a talk from Dave Ogden (Macclesfield AS) entitled “Martian Madness or the real Martian Invasion”Dave took us through the exploration of Mars and showed how technology has changed over the years starting with Orson Wells!Although a small planet, Mars has a similar angle of tilt to the Earth, its atmosphere is largely CO2. Mars has only about 38% of the Earth’s gravity and there are winds of up to 200mph.The temperature ranges from -23C to +123CRussia, America and Europe have all made attempts to land on Mars or to examine it,these flights have not always been successful - there have been twice as many failures as successes. Recently the Chinese and Japanese have been getting in on the act.Dave’s talk was wonderfully illustrated and the audience was thoroughly engrossed throughout.The meeting closed at 10:30pm

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