October 2001 Newsletter

The monthly meeting will be held at Timperley Village Hall on Friday 5th, at 8pm. Phil Masding and Mike Tyrell will be giving a presentation on their observations and photography of the International Space Station, some of which was included in the August issue of ‘Astronomy Now’. Last month’s meeting was the AGM, where the following were elected to be the committee for the following Year: Chris Suddick…………..Chairman Don Utton………………Secretary Paul Clark………………Observatory Director Graham Cliff…………….Publicity Colin Steele……………..Treasurer Ged Birbeck…………….Events Sean Oldbury…………...Junior Representative & Refreshments Dave Timperley……….. .Newsletter Editor

Dark Sky Observing

There have been a few Dark sky trips in the last month. Don U, Paul C and myself went to Siddington; a first for Don and myself, there is a very good horizon although some light pollution to the West, from either Knutsford or Northwich. The parking is on the side of a narrow road, on a run off area from a sharp bend.  Although I found this a little off-putting at the start, there is virtually no traffic on this road, and a shorter journey than Tegg’s Nose, in fact only just on the Macclesfield side of Chelford, so very convenient. Only 1 car passed us in the 3 hours we were there. We shared views of the night sky with a bemused herd of cows in the field over to the right, who kept us company with occasional stares and a variety of noises. The ‘Main Event’ of the month was the NWGAS visit to Llyn Brenig. In terms of numbers of people who came, (approx 20) it was a very successful night, although the amount of cloud stopped much observing taking place. Later on in the evening, two people from Liverpool A.S. with a 16’’ Dobsonian. During a few clear minutes, some got a chance to look at M13 with it, and were very impressed, to the point of serious suggestions that ADAS should consider purchasing something similar for dark sky trips. Sickeningly, arriving back in Northwich, the sky was completely clear. Paul Brierley mentioned he had a good nights’ observing at Siddington. Another visit to Llyn Brenig has been arranged for Saturday October13/20th, coinciding with the Orionids maximum, Saturday November 17th, which coincides with the Leonids maximum, and Saturday 15th December, which falls the day after the New Moon.  Don Utton has a map available in JPEG format for anybody who needs it.  In mid-September, Paul Clark attended the Equinox Star Party in Norfolk. Below is an account of his visit, which clearly made an impression on him. Is this one for ADAS to attend ‘en masse’ next year.

Paul Clark's Norfolk Star Party Report

‘Each year the Loughton Astronomical Society organizes a gathering for 10 days in early/mid September.  It is located deep in a forest near Thetford, Norfolk.  I was fortunate to be offered a berth in one of two caravans being towed down by members of the Mobberley Astronomical Society for the main event weekend of the 14/15 September. The Friday offered plenty of opportunity for checking out the equipment brought along by other astronomers! Telescopes of all shapes and sizes: - The homemade 4”, f20 refractor on a 7 foot wooden tripod and many homebuilt Dobsonians from 6” through to 18” aperture - Refractors costing £10k+ on £5k+ mounts! - Maksutov-Newtonians straight off a Russian tank? - Schmidt-Cassegrains and Maksutov-Cassegrains everywhere! - Suitcases full of £500 eyepieces! - 18” and 20” Obsessions, the Rolls Royce of Dobsonians.    The main event day was the Saturday.  By early morning the campsite was overflowing.  The trade stalls were doing plenty of business.  Between about 11:15 p.m. the cloud line passed through leaving an incredibly clear and very dark sky behind.  Activity could be heard all around the field as people set up for what was to be an unbelievable night of observing.    Everyone was looking at everything.  Naked-eye, binoculars, refractors and big dobsonians.  Mike’s 10” dobsonian was finding objects like clockwork and people wandered around the field getting a look through some of the many ‘scopes available.    Here are a few of many amazing observations.  Starting with a combination of UHC filter, a short tube 80mm refractor and 22mm TeleVue Panoptic eyepiece I went hunting for the North American nebula.  The field of view was nearly 4 degrees with about 20x magnification.  The hunt lasted seconds.  A superb, crystal clear view of this famous but very faint object was immediately obvious.  Additionally, the nearby even fainter Pelican nebula just fell out of the eyepiece.    Moving over to an 18” Obsession.  The owner, Gavin, lined it up on the eastern Veil nebula.  Looking through the Nagler eyepiece words failed me.  A string of obscenities followed as I moved the ‘scope along the length of the Veil.  I could hear Gavin laughing in the background.  All I can say it was like the difference between night and day.  I was looking close up at a huge 3D bright white image.  Like photographs only much, much better.  Impossible to describe.  I moved away to allow the others in line to view and wiped a tear from my eye.  Later I had the ‘scope to myself for half an hour and spent a long time wallowing in the view.    Having seen some detail in M33 through the OMC 140 I suggested we had a look with the Obsession.  High up it required a couple of ladder steps to reach the eyepiece.  Sorry to be repetitive, the view was unbelievably amazing! Better than any photograph. Broad spirals arcing out and around from the nucleus. Numerous bright HII emission regions.  The eyepiece filled with detail.  First one, then two and finally three arms followed outwards.    A brilliant and detailed view of Saturn and a few objects in Orion finished off the night.  M42 stunning through Mike’s ‘scope with the OIII filter…  4 a.m. and we had all collapsed into bed.    The morning dawned to a bright sun and clear blue sky.  A very tired crew travelled home.  I hope to return next year (maybe with an 18”..?).’


A meeting for North-western astronomers has been arranged by Liverpool A.S., to be held on Saturday 20th October, in The Crypt Concert Room of The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Mount Pleasant, Liverpool.  The principal speaker will be Dr. Allan Chapman, who will be lecturing on ‘Galileo Galilei - the martyr who brought his own firewood’.  There will also be another four speakers giving short presentations on various topics. Also present will be a number of trade stands featuring equipment retailers, and a second hand astronomical bookshop. Admission is £2.00, £1.00 for OAPs, and parking permits need to be arranged in advance, by contacting Tony Williams on 0151 480 5265 email mailto:twastro@blueyonder.co.uk , or call Gerard Gilligan on 0151 794 5356. (Permits are not required for entrance to the car park, but there is a fee for parking without a permit.


Held on Sunday 23rd September, the event attracted upwards of 30 people, although for reasons unknown, representatives of the Manchester Airport Community Trust did not attend. Honorary President Fred Talbot made an appearance and was photographed with various members being shown the new binoculars, hard standing area, and a variety of telescopes. The photographs were submitted to the Sale and Altrincham Messenger, but as yet have not been published.  Once again total cloud cover marred the occasion, so the opportunity was lost to show visitors views of the night sky. Mark Crossley displayed some of his impressive webcam work on a laptop, which generated a lot of interest. It was a shame that both of this weekends events were somewhat overshadowed by weather conditions, but on the positive side, both were well attended, and people still had a good time.  Better to show up knowing conditions are poor than not at all.

Observing Notes

Times are expressed in U.T., for co-ordinates 53Deg.27’’North, 2Deg.31 West, aka. ‘my house’. We revert to GMT at 2am on Sunday 28th October; don’t forget to put your clocks back.  On Monday October 15th, astronomical twilight is at 18:40, becoming fully dark by 19:10. Darkness gives way to twilight at 04:45. SUN    Currently in Libra, moving into Scorpius on the 23rd. Rising at 06:36 and setting at 17:15 on the 15th. The Sun continues its’ active phase. Alerts of Solar flare activity and possible subsequent auroral activity were given on the 25th and 11th September. Mark Crossley reported seeing naked eye sunspots to the ADAS newsgroup on the 26th . The SOHO website is a real mine of information regarding all things Solar.  http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/   There is an archive section here where it is possible to download files in a variety of formats, dates, specified by the user. MOON    Full on the 2nd in Aries,  rises 18:14, sets 05:41 on the 3rd.                            Last quarter on the 10th, rises 22:32, sets 14:57 on the 11th.                            New Moon on the 16th,   rises 05:42, sets 17:35.                            First quarter on the 24th, rises 14:46, sets 22.50.

MERCURY    will be visible in the southern morning sky towards the end of the month, when it will be rising shortly after 05:00 in Virgo.  It will be very close to Venus by around 06:00 each morning in the later part of the month. VENUS    Rising in Virgo at 04:23 and sets 16:48 on the 15th, now almost at ‘full’ stage of phase. MARS    In Sagittarius, will be at an altitude of just over 11 deg. by dark. Sets at 21:47 on the 15th, and will be 0.1 deg. North of the moon at 20:00 on the 23rd. JUPITER    Now appearing earlier in the Eastern sky in Gemini, rising at 21:16 on the 15th, and will be 1.4 deg. south of the moon on the 10th.  This will be an interesting month to observe Jupiter, as there will be four double shadow transits occurring. Below are listed times when it will be possible to view these events and also the Great Red Spot: Shadow transits: Oct. 5th at 22:26, Io, lasting until 00:38. Oct. 12th at 22.30, Europa, with Io following at 00:19, ending respectively at 01:16 and 02:31. This is a Friday, so it may be possible to view this from the obs?? Oct. 20th at 01:07, Europa, Io at 02:12, ending respectively at 03:52 and 04:25. Oct. 27th at 03:43, Europa, Io at 04:05, ending respectively at 06:18 and 06:29. Oct. 28th at 22.31, Ganymede, Io at 22.33, ending respectively at 01:23 and 00:46. Great Red Spot: The GRS takes approx. 5 hours to cross Jupiter’s disk. Start times are given below. Oct. 2nd, 00:10 and 20:02. Oct. 4th, 01:49 and 21:40. Oct. 6th, 03:27 and 23:18. Oct. 9th, 00:57 and 20:48. Oct. 11th, 02:35 and 22:26. Oct. 14th, 00:05. Oct. 16th, 01:43 and 21:34. Oct. 18th, 03:21 and 23:13. Oct. 21st, 00:51 and 20:42. Oct. 23rd, 22:21. Oct. 25th, 23:59. Oct. 28th, 01:37 and 21:28. Oct. 30th, 03:15 and 23:07. SATURN    In Taurus, will be 5deg. above the horizon by the time darkness falls on the 15th.  Titan will be in close proximity to the planet on the nights of 4th – 6th,  12th – 14th,  20th – 22nd, and  28th – 30th; it should also be seen to cross paths with Rhea on the night of the 13th, and 20th. The planet will be in very close proximity to the moon when it rises shortly before 20:00. URANUS    In Capricornus, will be almost 20deg. above the horizon by full darkness, setting at 00:50 Uranus will pass within 3deg. north of the moon on the night of the 25th. NEPTUNE    Also in Capricornus, will be approx 15deg. above the horizon by nightfall, setting at 23:23. Neptune passes within 3deg. of the moon on the 24th, one night prior to Uranus. PLUTO    In Ophiuchus, sets at 20:20 on the 15th.  Setting from an altitude of 8 deg. from darkness. ORIONIDS Meteor Shower Maximum is on Saturday 20th, and should be well seen from Llyn Brenig, (as mentioned earlier) Given that the weather is OK. ASTEROIDS    I’ve concentrated on the area of Taurus, Gemini and Northern Orion for his month’s look at asteroids: 9 Metis, mag. 10.4 in Gemini, moving slowly towards the western end of Cancer. 79 Eurynome, mag. 11.7 in Gemini, is moving southeasterly towards Procyon. 40 Harmonia, mag.11 in Orion, is moving north northwesterly into Gemini. 4 Vesta, mag. 7.3 in Orion, is moving west into Taurus. 22 Kalliope, mag. 11 in Taurus, moving very slowly to the north-north east. 11 Parthenope, mag. 10.4 in Taurus, moving west.

While on the subject of asteroids, Sir Patrick Moore officially opened The Spaceguard Centre At Powys, Wales on Saturday 1st October. The project is privately funded, but hoping to become part of The National Near Earth Object Information Centre, a governmental body that has been looking into the threat of asteroid/comet impacts. The centre has a variety of equipment, and can be visited by the public, perhaps an ADAS visit in the future?

http://ds.dial.pipex.com/spaceguard/  Information about the centre is available on the website at left - just double click.

Click HERE to link to Dave's  Newsletter for September 2001.

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

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