September 2001 Newsletter

SOCIETY NEWS (This page now taken over by Dave Timperley) Hello everyone, and welcome back from the Summer break. The nights are already becoming longer, and once again provide true darkness within which to enjoy our hobby. At tonight’s meeting (the AGM Friday 7th September 2), Michael Molnar will be giving a presentation on Pluto and Charon. Although there has been little observing time, various ADAS members have still been active at the observatory, with some maintenance work taking place there. The main hut has a new coat of paint, and the grass seed planted to the rear of the buildings and along the drainage ditch has become well established. The new (stronger) fence and hawthorn quicks appear to have solved what was an ongoing security problem at this end of the grounds after council contractors destroyed part of the original hedge, while gaining unsolicited access. Work on making space in the small hut is still ‘under way’, but there is still a substantial amount of stuff in here that needs taking to the tip. If anybody would volunteer to fill their car boot on a Friday night and take it to the tip the following morning, it would be much appreciated. The clutter at the entrance to the main hut has also been cleared.    The latest significant development at the obs. is the new hard standing area and walkway, (not forgetting the new wider gate) which will enable 3-4 telescopes to be set up, and allow wheelchair access to same. The security of the obs. was slightly compromised for one night, with the gate having to be taken off its hinges for that end of the walkway to be completed. Various members stayed at the obs. until quite late that evening, which turned out to be uneventful, although I did get some strange looks from a few people on the field, sitting alone for a while on Don’s ‘novelty’ camping stool with a copy of Sky and Telescope.    Owing to the cancellation of this years’ Timperley Country Fair during the foot and mouth epidemic, Ged Birbeck and Don Utton spent a worthwhile afternoon running the ADAS stall at Gatley Fair in July. After-expenses profits came to approx. £70.    Last month sadly saw the departure to sunnier climes of our Secretary, Colin Henshaw, who has gone to Oman to teach biology. He has recently mailed the ADASTRA newsgroup to say he has just completed a thirty-year cycle of naked-eye magnitude estimates of Saturn, and will be submitting his results to the BAA for possible publication.   The proposed gathering at the obs. for the Perseid meteor shower over the weekend of August 12/13 did not take place due almost total cloud cover, which came as a disappointment. People at the obs. had mentioned sightings before and after the weekend of the showers’ peak.   Mark Crossley has kindly gone to the trouble of setting up a new newsgroup with Yahoo! for members with internet access. The Yahoo! Group is more versatile than the old Listbot group, as it is possible to choose delivery options for receiving either individual mails, a daily digest, or none at all, so you can just check for new information as and when required, by signing in. There is also a section that can be used to upload files that could be of interest to other subscribers. Presently there is a planetary nebulae database submitted by Paul Brierley, and a general observational database submitted by myself, mainly condensed from the SAC database Ver. 7.2, that contains most of the deep sky objects visible from our latitude, to visual magnitude 14. COMING EVENTS The following information was mailed to me from Clive Sutton: RECENT ASTRONOMY WEEKENDS AT BURTON MANOR, CHESHIRE Each year, 2 weekend Astronomy courses are held at Burton Manor College, near Chester.  The courses are residential, running from dinner on the Friday night through to lunch on the Sunday. There follows a brief account of the most recent courses, which each consisted of 8 talks by Bob Turner & Colin Steele, together with the opportunity to do some practical observing in the evenings. 1.   3 - 5 November 2000 - 'Practical & Observational Astronomy' This weekend focused on the practical aspects of Astronomy, in terms of both the actual observing and also a talk about observational equipment. The talks included a general introductory overview of the objects to observe in the night sky and how to locate them, as well as more specialised discussions in respect of lunar & solar observing (including eclipses), observing the planets, variable stars & deep sky objects, and also observations of high altitude atmospheric phenomena (including meteors, noctilucent clouds & aurorae). The talk on observational equipment was useful, discussing the pros & cons of a range of equipment, from binoculars to large reflectors & refractors, including considerations of the issues of cost, portability and practicality in terms of what the observer wanted to view. 2.   18 - 20 May 2001 -  'Astronomy around the World' The most recent course was more unusual, in that it was based on the Earth, both as a planet itself and in terms of the astronomy which was and is being carried out from it. The opening talk of the weekend focused on the Earth's place in the Universe, and also included a discussion of what is (or should be!) technically observable from various latitudes. Clearly, this varies over time, as a result of precession, and a consideration of astronomy in the ancient world was the subject of a subsequent talk (surprisingly Orion was not visible in UK latitudes in 11,000 BC, when pi Herculis was the pole star). Another interesting talk focused on calendars of the world, including descriptions of the (seemingly) complicated calendars used in India, China, Babylon and Egypt in the past, which were derived from solar and/or lunar calendars. This talk also looked at the history of the adoption of the Gregorian calendar (in 1582 by southern European countries, but not until the early C20 by Russia & China). One of the highlights of the weekend was a more lighthearted talk by Colin Steele, entitled "Report on the Fifth Planet!!", which was an imaginative description of how inhabitants of a (hypothetical) planet encircling Aldeberan might discover and come to explore the Solar System, cumulating in discovery of the Earth (i.e. the 5th most massive planet), which concluded that it might be difficult to establish (from Earth orbit) that intelligent life is present here. Other talks included the history and geology of planet Earth and also a discussion of Astronomy from outside the world (i.e. developments from space probes).  A computer program of aerial photographs of the UK was shown, with course participants attempting to identify their home towns/villages, and impressive photographs of the natural features of the Earth from space were also shown and discussed. General comments Both courses represented very good value for money (including full board & accommodation in addition to the excellent talks), with the added bonus of practical observing in the evenings.  On both occasions, the weather was kind, which was just as well, as several of the course participants had brought along their own telescopes. Future Astronomy weekends at Burton Manor The next weekend course at Burton Manor is scheduled for the weekend of 9 -11 November 2001, when Bob Turner & Colin Steele will be presenting talks on their own recent research and topics of particular personal interest to them, including: -  Solar flares, prominences & mass coronal ejections; -  Stellar evolution within globular clusters; -  The history of the Mount Wilson & Mount Palomar telescopes. Colin Steele will also be running a 1-day course aimed at beginners at Burton Manor on 6 October. Further details of the courses can be obtained from Burton Manor College, Burton, Neston, Cheshire, CH64 5SJ; tel. 0151 3365172; e-mail: enquiry@burtonmanor.com M.I.A. ‘OPENING CEREMONY’ Paul Clark advises an event has been arranged with representatives of the Manchester Airport Community Trust, (who provided funding for the new binoculars, mount, hard standing area, walkway and replacement gate) to take place at the obs. on Sunday 23rd September, from 7-9pm. Hopefully there will be good weather, allowing us to set up the binoculars and a couple of members’ telescopes on the hard standing, to demonstrate. I know Paul has been planning to take some webcam images of the Moon, to show in the case of bad weather. If anyone else has any similar work, please bring it along if you can. Please come if you are able to. It would be good to show that ADAS is a well-attended and active society. NWGAS STAR PARTY A Joint observing session with other clubs in the north-west has been planned for Sept. 21st,  (the 22nd as an alternative) at Llyn Brenig, near to Denbigh in North Wales. Drive time is approx. 90 minutes, and the general area is impressively dark.  The site is darker than any of the sites I have visited in Cheshire/Staffs, and is well worth the drive. While on the subject of dark sky observing, it has been suggested to make the Friday nearest the new moon a monthly fixture on the ADAS calendar for a dark sky trip, weather permitting. The decision on whether to go each month could be left until the Friday, perhaps meeting up a little earlier at the obs. before setting out. The visits could be to North Wales, or closer sites such as Gradbach or Teggs Nose Park. Although the option of observing at home has the convenience factor, it just isn’t the same experience as being under genuinely dark skies, and should serve to enhance the quality of our observational experiences and skills. OBSERVING NOTES (Times given are U.T.) For date 15th September, astronomical twilight begins 20:50 becoming fully dark at 21:28 Full darkness ends the following morning at 04:43 Moon There are 2 earthquakes on record stronger than mag.6 Richter scale on the date of this month’s full moon. A very good source of earthquake info can be found at:  http://wwwneic.cr.usgs.gov/current_seismicity.html Full 2nd Sept; sets 05.22 rises 20:22 Last Quarter 10th Sept; sets 14:53, rises 21:56 New Moon   17th Sept; Sets 18:55, rises 05:19 First Quarter 24th Sept; Sets 22:03, rises 14:39 Mercury is presently too near the Sun to be seen Venus In gibbous stage of phase, presently an early morning object, rises 02:47, sets 17:41 on the 15th. Mars   visible in the early evening, it’s distance from the Earth now becoming greater, Mars will be dimming to mag. –0.5 by the end of the month, maximum altitude on the 15th is 9.6 degrees at 18:50, and setting at 22:04. Jupiter rising in Gemini at 22:59 on the 15th . Here are some times suitable for viewing the great red spot, and lunar shadow transits:  (the great red spot takes approx.5 hours to cross the face of Jupiter, the start times are given here.) GRS: 8th Sept. 00:19.  10th Sept. 01:57   12th Sept. 23:28   22nd Sept. 01:53   24th Sept. 23:23   27th Sept. 01:02 Shadow Transits:   10th Sept  - Europa’s shadow will be already transiting Jupiter’s disc when it rises at 23:19, And will finish at 01:14 on the 11th. Likewise, on 12th Sept, Io’s shadow will be crossing the planet’s surface when it rises at 23:12, and will finish at 00:30 on the 13th. Ganymede completes the hat trick, on Sept.15th, its’ transit beginning at 22:41, Jupiter rises at 23:59, and this event ends at 01:26 on the 16th. Sept. 18th , Europa’s shadow becomes apparent at  01:23, ending at 04:07. Cont… Sept. 20th , Io will cast its’ shadow on the planet between 00:11 and 02:23. Sept. 23rd , Ganymede will shadow transit between 02:39 and 05:26. Sept  27th , Io will again cast  its’ shadow between 02:04 and 04:16. Saturn Rising in Taurus at 21:16 on the 15th , its’ proximity to the moon means views will be better toward the middle/end of the month. Saturn is within 6 deg. of the moon on 10th Sept. Uranus In Capricornus, approx mag. 5.7, the planet will reach a maximum altitude of just over 21 degrees at 22:08 on the 15th of this month, and setting at 02:52. Neptune Also in Capricornus, approx. mag.7.9, and a degree or so lower in the sky than Uranus Neptune will already be beginning to set by the time it becomes dark enough to see, disappearing from view completely by 01:26. Pluto will be a challenging object at mag 13.8, in Ophiuchus. There is only really the hour between 20:30 and 21:30 to try. It will be setting from a fraction over 9 degrees altitude at 20:30. Asteroids 2 Pallas   mag.10.2, in Hercules, moving in a south-easterly direction toward i Ophiuchi. 4 Vesta    mag. 7.9, in Taurus, moving east toward the north-western side of Orion. 5 Astraea    mag. 11.8, in Capricornus, moving south westerly. 54 Alexandra   mag. 10.7, in Pegasus, moving to the east. Between Markab and the head of Pisces. 19 Fortuna   mag. 9.6, in Pisces, moving WSW. Nearby, are the dimmer 37 Fides and 67 Asia. Comet LINEAR C/2001A2  seems to have faded from view. Roger L and myself looked for it on a recent visit to Teggs’Nose, in my 8’’. Roger also tried the next night, from home with his 10’’LX200, with no success.

ADAS is on "holiday" during July and August therefore there was NO newsletter. The newsletter above is Dave T' s first replacement for the Livermore Newsletter. Well done Dave!!!!!! See Sky Maps from Sky Map Pro 7 accessed from the news/events/diary page from HOME page.

Click HERE to access Roger's May Newsletter. Click HERE to access Roger's June Newsletter


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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