April 2002 Newsletter

The Monthly meeting will be held at Timperley Village Hall, 8 pm (19:00 UT) on Friday, 5th April. Speakers should include: Richard Bullock, (speaking on astronomy and the Duke of Edinburgh's Award) Peter Baugh, (The history of astronomy) and Paul Clark. (planetarium notes for April).


Chairman, Chris Suddick, sent the following:- ‘As many of you are aware, Chris Suddick and Roger Livermore are cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats this summer starting on June 15th to raise money for charity. If anyone wants to cycle with them for part of the route then they are most welcome. If all goes to plan, they will be riding from Church Stretton to Warrington on Thursday 20th and from Warrington to Kendal on Friday 21st. See Chris or Roger for other parts of the route. Also, if anyone fancies helping out with motorised backup and carrying luggage for any part of the journey then they would definitely like to hear from you.’ Chris and Roger will be donating monies raised to: The  British Heart Foundation, The Rainbow Trust, and Unicef.


ADAS Observatory Director, Paul Clark, happily announced on the 27th March that the society has been awarded £4644 by The National Lottery Awards for All fund, to purchase a Meade LX90 8 inch SCT, an SBIGTV videocamera, and digital setting circles for the 14’’ newtonian. This will benefit the society, as we will now have an imaging capability on a mobile platform, and the 14’’ will become easier to use.

Roger Livermore has been liaising with the Mersey Valley Authority, and has now arranged and finalised a date of 1st May, at 9.30 pm, for a star party to take place at Sale Water Park. Below are details from Roger: 'Appears in the Mersey Valley Summer events listing.  Reads:  Join the Altrincham and District Astronomical Society for an evening of stargazing and planet spotting.  See all the planets known to the ancients –Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn should be visible in the western sky.  Short talks and presentations if it’s a cloudy night.  Meet Mersey Valley Visitor Centre Rifle Road, Sale Water Park at 9.30 pm.’ The event is timed to take place during a period approx. 20th April – 20th May, when 5 planets will be simultaneously visible in the western sky, with Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn occupying an area of little more than 4x10 degrees within the northerly part of Taurus. The venue provides the opportunity for members of the public to come along and view the planets, via an assortment of telescopes and also has ‘plan b’ facilities in case of poor weather, in the form of a conference room seating 30, equipped with a projector. There are approx. 25 pairs of binoculars available for public use.? !  Although the Society Meade ETX90 and  the MIA binoculars will be there, anyone volunteering to come along with their scope would be very welcome. The April General Meeting would be a good opportunity to discuss the event further.

Observing Notes

Q SUN     Currently displaying increased sunspot activity, but no aurora warnings have been received over the Internet as yet. Having now passed the Springtime Solstice, the hours of darkness are quickly becoming shorter. Morning twilight on the 15th is at 02:54, sunrise at 05:40; sets 19:12, darkness at 21:30.

R MOON     Last Quarter 4th, rise 02:29 set 09:37                            New Moon 12th, rise 05:44 set 18:40                            First Quarter 20th, rise 10:00 set 02:32                            Full Moon     27th, rise 20:11 set 05:15

The crescent Moon will occult Saturn on the evening of the 16th. Skymap predicted times of ingress and egress are 20:54 and 21:24 respectively.

S MERCURY     Becoming visible in the evening twilight from mid month. A better view towards the end of the month as it’s elongation becomes greater.

T VENUS     Also an evening object in the western sky, Venus is waxing presently, and will make a close companion to the moon on the evening of the 14th.

U MARS     Dimmed to mag. 1.5, and very close to the crescent Moon on the 15th. Visible at an altitude of 22 deg. by twilight, setting at 22:44

V JUPITER Being almost overhead by dark, Jupiter continues to be a dominating figure in the early night sky, in Gemini, setting by 01:45 on the 15th.  There is a particularly interesting event occurring on the 7th, the shadows of Callisto and Io transit the surface of Jupiter simultaneously. Listed below are times when it will be possible to viewj ovian shadow transits, and times when the great red spot will cross the meridian:

Date  Moon      In.        Eg.                       GRS 7th      Cal.      23:09   02:46                    9th, 21:04 7th      Io          23:57   02:12                  11th, 22:43 11th    Gan.     18:15   21:29                  14th   00:22 15th    Eur.      18:17   21:04                  16th, 21:53 16th    Io          20:21   22:37                  18th  23:32 18th    Gan.     22:16   01:31                  21st  21:03 22nd   Eur.       20:52   23:40                 26th, 20:13 23rd    Io          22:17   00:32                 28th,  23:31

W SATURN In Taurus, visible at an altitude of approx 21 deg. by dark, setting at 23:36 on the 15th. Occultation by the Moon will take place on the 16th.

Ingress 20:54                                                      Egress 21:24


X URANUS     In Capricorn, hard to observe as rising in the morning twilight, around 03:45

Y NEPTUNE     Also in Capricorn, rising 40 minutes earlier at 03:05, Neptune will be hard to observe.

Z PLUTO    In Ophiuchus, rising at 22:49, and reaching observable altitudes before being lost to the twilight.

An abundance of comets There are currently 4 comets within reach of amateur telescopes, and as mentioned on the ADAS website, 2 will be close enough to photograph in the same frame. The first map shows the tracks of C/2000WM1 LINEAR, and 7P Pons-Winneke. As you can see, they are both fairly dim; the former becoming dimmer and the latter is brightening slightly.

The map below shows the tracks of Comets Ikeya-Zhang, and C/2001 OG108 LONEOS. Both comets are steadily losing brightness, but will be observable for some time to come.


If anybody has any information or announcements they would like to be included in next month's  newsletter, please email me at Davey.T@btinternet.com The links below were originally set up by Roger Livermore. We hope they are useful.

The Sun from SOHO. (Dave T. recommended)!: http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov

The Sun as observed this day  through the Mees white light

telescope in Hawaii: http://www.solar.ifa.hawaii.edu/MWLT/mwlt.html

Stars from ADAS's Sky Map 8 planisphere: http://www.adas.u-net.com/skymaps.html

Planets via Sky and Telescope ‘What’s Up?’: http://www.skypub.com/sights/sights.shtml 

Asteroids via Heavens-Above: http://www.heavens-above.com 

Comets BAA: http://www.ast.cam.ac.uk/~jds

Comets NASA: http://encke.jpl.nasa.gov/whats_visible.html

Meteors  the IMO calendar via: http://www.imo.net

Aurora alert  York University: http://www.aurorawatch.york.ac.uk/

Satellites from Heavens Above: http://www.heavens-above.com 

Variable stars, novae and supernovae AAVSO: http://www.aavso.org

by Dave Timperley

For the previous newsletter, click here.

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