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February 2002 Newsletter

The monthly meeting will be held at Timperley Village Hall, Friday 1st February, at 8 pm. 

The guest speaker for the evening will be Tim O’Brien, who will be lecturing on radio astronomy.

Lottery Bid A further meeting was held at the obs, on Thursday Jan. 10th, and consensus has now been reached on the items to include in the proposal. These will be: a Meade LX90 8’’ SCT, its virtues being that it has ‘GOTO’, a reasonably large aperture, and is portable. The built-in GPS system should alleviate any potential hassles to do with varying locations.  A Santa Barbara Instruments Group (SBIG) STV system, this is a sensitive digital video camera, capable of making videos in real time or taking single timed exposures. This system has a built-in monitor, meaning it doesn’t need a separate laptop to operate it. The system can also be used as an autoguider, provided that it is connected to compatible motors with encoders.  Further expenditure is required on the refurbishment of the 14’’, and £900 of the bid is earmarked for attention to the equatorial mount, drives, and the focuser. The total value of the bid is approx. £5000; Observatory Director Paul Clark reports he has now prepared the proposal, and it is ready for submission.

Other Equipment  A decision has also been made to buy digital setting circles for the 14’’, using existing funds. This will make the 14’’ a good deal more ‘user friendly’ and more approachable to beginners. Although the mount already has manual setting circles, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody using them. It was also decided at the last meeting to purchase a web cam from existing funds. Mark Crossley has kindly obtained the camera and it was set up on the obs. computer on Friday 18th Jan, and is working well. (see the ADAS web page for  ‘first light’ image) All that remains now is for the telescope adapter fitting to be added, and a modification to be made by Mark C., that will allow the current maximum exposure time to be overridden. There is also the question of whether it will work using a 9 metre extension lead to the obs. hut, but this problem can be overcome with use of a signal booster. Let’s hope this sudden rash of expenditure doesn’t cause our Treasurer to develop a nervous twitch…

Dark Sky Trips  January’s proposed trips were cancelled due to bad weather, although there have been a few excursions towards the middle/end of the month. Paul C was chomping at the bit to try out his new 18’’ Dobsonian, (a week of cloud following it’s arrival from the U.S.A.), and finally got the chance during the week commencing 14/1/02 to put ‘The Monster’ to the test.  See his observing report on the ADAS web site. Trips to Llyn Brenig this month are planned for Saturday 9th/16th, being just before and after the New Moon. I have my images back from the trip to Llyn Brenig on 22/12/01, and am pleased with the results. If anyone would like to see, I’ve uploaded better quality versions to the ‘files’ section of the Yahoo! news group, as the ADAS web site cannot spare the memory.  In general, observing trips have become more regular and more successful. More people are coming along and the variety of equipment used is growing. It is quite interesting being able to compare images from one scope to another, and could well be useful if making a decision to buy an instrument. We do however need to finalise a reliable method of finding out weather conditions before confirming or cancelling a trip. Cloudy weather in north Cheshire doesn’t necessarily mean the sky won’t be clear in Wales, and vice versa, as Paul C and Myself found on Dec. 22nd, however patience paid off, and eventually the sky did clear, allowing us to observe until late into the night.

Observing Notes

There will be an occultation of Jupiter, by the Moon, in the early (very) of the morning of the 23rd,

beginning at 02:52 and re-emerging at 03:38. The re-emergence may be the more interesting view, as the planet will be directly seen against the illuminated limb of the Moon. Here are 2 small maps of the event from Sky Map 7:....................

23/2/02     02:53                                                        23/2/02    03:38QSUN    In Capricornus on the 15th, Sunrise is at 07:28, (onset of twilight 05:32,) Sunset 17:21,   becoming fully dark by 19.15.

R MOON     Last Quarter 04/02/02, rise 00:41 set 10:51                                 New Moon   12/02/02, rise 08:23 set 17.14                                 First Quarter  20/2/02, rise 10:21 set 18.21                                 Full Moon      27/2/02, rise 17:51 set 07:38

S MERCURY    In Capricornus and becoming more visible in the morning sky as the month progresses, this is due to it moving towards maximum elongation of 27 degrees from the Sun on the 21st.  On the 15th Feb, Mercury will rise at 06:24 and set at 14:57.

T VENUS     Venus will be too close to the Sun for observation this month.

U MARS     In Pisces, will be visible from shortly after 6 pm on the 15th, when it will be at an altitude of 36 degrees, setting at 22:30.

V JUPITER     In Gemini, continues to be observable for the entire night. Rising at 12:25 on the 15th, it will have reached an altitude of 45 degrees by twilight. Below are listed times when it will be possible to observe the Great Red Spot, and the Galilean Moons’ shadows transiting the face of the planet.  The GRS takes approx. 5 hours to pass across Jupiter’s disc. Start times are given below:- GRS 3rd    22:08     4th 17:59        6th 19:37        8th  21:16       9th  17:07        10th  22:54    11th  18:45     13th  20:24 15th  22:02     17th  23:41     18th  19:32     20th  21:11     22nd  22:49     25th  20:19     27th  21.58 Jovian Shadow Transits 5th    Io, start 01:08 end 03:23        6th    Io, start 19:37 end 21:52             10th  Europa, start 18:52 end 21:40 13th  Io, start 21:32 end 23:47       16th  Callisto, start 17:02 end 20:13     17th  Europa, start 21:28 end 00:16 20th  Io, start 23:27 end 01:42       25th  Europa, start 00:05 end 02:52      27th  Ganymede, start 18:15 end 21:24 28th  Io, start 01:22 end 03:37

W SATURN     In Taurus, will be at an altitude of 55 degrees by dusk, apart from the fascination of viewing its ring system, it currently looks very good in binoculars among the Hyades. On the 15th, Saturn will rise at 10:51 and set at 03:01.

X URANUS      In Capricornus, and currently not observable.

Y NEPTUNE     Also in Capricornus, not currently observable.

Z PLUTO    In Ophiuchus, mag. 13.9, will rise at 02:46 on the 15th, and become invisible to twilight  by 05:30.

If anybody has any information or announcements they would like to be included in next month's  newsletter, please email me at The links below were originally set up by Roger Livermore. We hope they are useful.

The Sun from SOHO. (Dave T. recommended)!:

The Sun as observed this day  through the Mees white light

Stars from ADAS's Sky Map 8 planisphere:

Planets via Sky and Telescope ‘What’s Up?’: 

Asteroids via Heavens-Above: 

Meteors  the IMO calendar via:

Aurora alert  York University:

Satellites from Heavens Above: 

Variable stars, novae and supernovae AAVSO:

by Dave Timperley

For the previous newsletter, click here.

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