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May 2001 Newsletter

Society News Tonight’s meeting (Friday 4th May) we have Sean talking about the Space Shuttle and Paul Clark on his recent observing from Tenerife.  Paul will also give an animated sky diary tour including the brighter deep sky objects of Scorpius and Sagittarius. Colin H will show slides of the lunar eclipse.  Graham Cliff showed the 200 MB Media Player CD of the Christmas Quiz video (contact him for copies).  Next September's meetings will move into the larger upstairs room at the village hall due to the increased membership of the society, thanks to Colin H for arranging.  We are considering splitting the secretary post as it is the most onerous.  Please remember that there is astronomical equipment for loan.  There is the Critchley Meade and the MIA binoculars but we’d like to have them available for Friday nights at the obs.

Working Party Work is proceeding on the MIA front with us having received the binocular pillar and parallelogram mount.  There are quotes for the hard standing for an observing platform at the obs and we have marked out the area.  There are still decisions to be made on this and the meeting room renovations. Have fun at the working party tomorrow Sat 5th rain/shine.

For Sale: Orion Optics GX200 f/5.6 Newtonian on Vixen Great Polaris Mount. Telescope and mount are in excellent condition.  Price £495.00 but I will accept offers from ADAS members. Please contact Paul Brierley on 01625 427148 or e-mail

Lamaload Observing Paul Brierley and Chris Heapy report on a good night’s darksky observing at Lamaload Res near Macclesfield on 20th April. The ‘scope used was the impressive 16 inch F/5.0 Dobsonian and the naked-eye limiting magnitude was +5.0.  Paul writes: -   ‘We arrived at Lamaload at 8:30 to find it closed because of Foot and Mouth Disease, so we had to make do with the entrance to the car park.  Chris soon had the ‘scope unpacked and after some teething problems we were ready to observe. Our first target was M3 in Canes Venatici.  Using a 24 mm TeleVue zoom eyepiece the globular cluster was easily resolved to the core it was certainly a tremendous sight even in the twilight you could see stars almost to the core.  We next had a look at M51/NGC5195.  This galaxy was very clear we could see the connecting dust lane that connects M51 to NGC 5195.  Also we were able to see the spiral arms in M51, which I have only seen in pictures.  We then had a look at M13.  Wow the eyepiece was just filled with hundreds of stars I've never seen anything like it. We then took a break and then pointed the ‘scope towards the Virgo Cluster.  I found M87, M84, M85, M86, and a whole load of other fainter NGC galaxies.  I think we must have seen about twelve galaxies in total.  NGC 4565 in Coma Berenices was another target.  I have seen it in my 8" Newtonian but only as a faint edge on smudge.  The 16" showed some detail.  We could see the dust lane as well as a bright nucleus.  M53 in Coma was another object we looked at. This globular cluster filled the low power eyepiece with hundreds of stars. Whilst in Coma Berenices we found M64 "The Black Eye" galaxy, and you could see why it was given this name.  A bright nucleus and tight spiral arms were visible in the 24 mm TV eyepiece.  M65/66 in Leo was also visible through the ‘scope and it was nice to see detail in these objects.  I hope that more of you will come out and join myself and Chris during the coming months.’

Asteroid Party This month sees a flyby of the potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) 1999 KW4 which will be visible in small telescopes at mag 10.7.  The Aten flies through Aquila on 25th at 0.0032 AU whereas in 2036 it will be closer at 0.015 size unknown, orbit uncertain.  It will be moving at about one degree per hour.  We are proposing an asteroid party to observe it; it will need to be after midnight, my obs is the suggested venue.  As a project we can try and get positions and timings on it over a few days.  If successful Mike Prescott and I will try and calculate the orbit.  We can also try and locate other asteroids.  A versatile asteroid resource is the Lovell Observatory which will give the location of any known asteroid, go to

Total Eclipse Next month Graham and Pauline will be going to southern Africa to see the first total solar eclipse of the millennium, we wish them a good trip and clear skies.

OBSERVING NOTES This month’s ‘star’ attraction is the chance to see the elusive Mercury.  So if you haven’t seen it before why not give it a go.  It moves significantly from night to night, so if you need very specific information on where to see it either use a planetarium program* or if you don’t have one then give me call and I can give alt-az information for particular times.

Sun   In Aries and moves into Taurus.   For calculating the latitude, longitude and size of sunspots try the software by Peter Meadows at: -   This is a simple to use program and well worth a try for monitoring sunspots. Moon  Full 7th, Last Qtr 15th, New 23rd, 1st Qtr 30th. Mercury  Best chance of seeing Mercury this year with a good evening apparition. Mag –1.5 at the start of the month in rises to maximum elongation on 22nd but by which time it will have faded below mag +0. Just N of Saturn on 7th and Jupiter on 16th. Moon to the S on 24th. Venus  Bright morning object mag –4.5, Moon nearby on 19th. Mars  Mag –2 low in Sagittarius, rises by 2200, Moon nearby on 10th/11th.  Opposition next month. Jupiter   Bright and visible in the west early in the month, setting by 2100, Moon nearby on 24th. Saturn In conjunction with the Sun on 25th.. Uranus Morning object in Capricornus , +6 rising at midnight. North of Moon on 15th.  Lies between 42, 44 and 45 Cap- near mu Cap. Neptune Also in Capricornus mag 8 near upsilon Cap. Pluto  In Ophuichus mag 14, nearing oppostion. Asteroids Rare occultation of a star by a trans-Neptunian object (TNO) on May 27/28.  1994 JR1 predicted to occult 11th mag star TYC 6240 0697 in Ophuichus , shadow may cross UK at 23.57UT.  Details from The TNO is mag 23 and has dia 193 km.  The orbit is insufficiently well known to give accurate predictions at this stage.  Brightest asteroid this month is 532 Herculina +9 in Bootes, within 10” of 14 Boo on May 18. Comets  LINEAR 2001 A2 unexpectedly brightened substantially last month up to +7/8 in Monoceros but was very low and is now lost in twilight.  1991 T1 McNaught-Hartley mag 11 in Draco.  Brighter is 24P/Schaumasse at mag 10 in Auriga and Gemini. Meteors No showers worth observing this month.  A watch on the Lyrids by Colin Henshaw on the morning of the 21st April gave none. Variables Delta Sco still in outburst, Colin Henshaw has recent mag estimates Satellites Last month we observed the International Space Station from the obs on two occasions and on the 20th we may have got a sighting of the Shuttle Endeavour following it.  On the 20th they were both low in the west at mag +2 and 4 respectively.

* Planetarium Program a reminder that there is a free planetarium program available via ADAS webpage links to Cartes du Ciel, It lacks some of the features and slickness of commercial packages such as Skymap, Red Shift or Guide but it is quite suitable for many needs.  It shows comets and asteroids and can be used to control telescopes such as the Meade Autostars and LX 200 and the Celestron NexStars

New Newsgroup: There is a new free newsgroup to give UK observers an alert warning.  Advertised in the April BAA Journal, for information check out at

More information from Roger Livermore on 0161-969-4507 or e-mail at Ad.Astra newsgroup at

Click HERE to access April newsletter.

The links below have been copied over from Roger's December newsletter. 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 Rodger Livermoore

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