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    • A Lunar Lagoon

      Symbolic The Moon is something that has always been very symbolic to humans, being Earth’s only natural satellite and usually the brightest object in the night sky across the Earth. It has been engrained into human culture since the beginning, seen in Ancient Egypt generally on top of the god Khonsu (“traveller” or “pathfinder” in English) being a defender against demons, and by Bronze Age Celts as something to help souls navigate after the person has died. It has also been seen in numerous paintings, like Vincent Van Gogh’s “Stary Night” (1889) and Caspar David Fridrich’s “Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon” (1818), all showing the moon as something key to life, whether it be to meditate over or as “King of the Skies”. [1] Ancient Evolution There are many theories for the formation of the Moon, but there are three that are the most accepted The first is the “capture” theory, whereby the Earth pulled in a passing body of rock, backed up by how Mars’ moons, Phobos and Deimos, were asteroids that were taken into Mars’ orbit; along with how the lunar rock collected by the Apollo missions, has shown that its composition is different to Earth’s. However, the Moon, unlike Phobos and Deimos, is spherical and orbits in the ecliptic (a plane in the solar system where most astronomical bodies in it can be found). This seems a bit strange to then assume that this is whole truth, so another theory exists that explains why the Moon is not like Phobos and Deimos, but more “planet” shaped and oriented. It is the “Co-formation” theory. This is where the Earth and Moon were formed at the same time, with the particles that make up the Moon and that of the Earth got gravitationally bound together at the same time. This can happen, and could be the case since the Moon has a similar composition to Earth, and it’s orbit is explained by this theory. However, it seems that this may also not be the whole story, since, if this were true, then the Moon would have a similar density to Earth, since its core would have the same heavy elements within it, but it doesn’t; it has a lower density than Earth. There is, however, one more widely accepted theory (bar the lunar cheese theory of course!) which could be the closest to the real answer. It is that of the “Giant Impact Hypothesis”. This has by-far the most exciting name, but an even more exciting explanation. It all starts with a Mars-sized body called “Theia”, which impacted Earth when it was only young, leading to Earth ejecting some of itself. Then, through gravitational attraction, the ejected parts of Earth and Theia came together into what we now call the Moon. This event was believed by NASA to be 100 million times larger than the asteroid impact that brought an end to the dinosaurs. However, the Apollo missions’ rock samples suggest that, again, this theory isn’t correct. This is because models show that 60% of the Moon’s rock should be made of Theia’s material, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. [2] What ever the answer, each of these theories are likely to play some part, but we may never know what actually happened, since we can only use what is in front of us right now. Explosive Past As well as in the possible events that happened in the Giant Impact Hypothesis, the Moon has had a few more violent episodes in its past, not least of which is its surprising volcanism. It may not have large volcanoes like Earth has, such as in Hawaii, but what it does have is basaltic (the type of runny lava found in shield volcanoes such as those in Iceland) lava fields, being visible from Earth, each with the name of a “Mare” or “Sea” from the Latin (since it was thought that they were great oceans of water). They are vast planes, 19 in all, and with the addition of formations such as rilles (looking like rivers or valleys, like Hadley Rille[3], on the centre of the visible side of the Moon, for example), shows that the Moon is indeed volcanic. However, they are slightly different to ones found on Earth. Lunar volcanoes are old compared to Earth’s; 3-4 billion years old in fact (being the typical age of a sample from a mare), compared to most of Earth’s positively spritely age of a few 100,000 years old. Also, it’s not got any recent volcanic evidence, unlike Earth, with volcanic activity happening all the time, and it has no plate tectonics (large fragments of crust that move across the molten rock mantle below) like Earth. Instead, it has near circular basins or mares, appearing where the crust is thinnest, being on the Moon’s near side (only less than 2% appear on the opposite thicker far side). Also, the lunar gravity of a 6th of Earth’s leads to runnier lava which spreads over a wider area (not in the cone shape which is seen on Earth, leading to the "mare" shape) [4]. Mission to the Moon As commented previously, the various missions to the Moon brought not just the astronauts who went there back with them, but rocks too. Some of which have only recently been opened for scientific analysis, these rocks were sent back to Earth and analysed with X-rays for a cross-section of the rock, and mass spectrometry, allowing for molecules of rock to be identified, so as to find out, for instance, how similar the composition of lunar rocks are to those on our Earth [5]. The first lunar sample to be delivered back to Earth was in Apollo 11, with 22kg of rock from the Sea of Tranquility (Mare Tranquillitatis), leading to the discovery of lunar basalt of 3.6 billion years in age, revealing the Moon’s volcanic past. The lighter anorthosite rock (rich in calcium) was also found, being originally from the lunar highlands, backing up the Giant Impact Hypothesis since the early stage of the Moon explains this anomaly (as the various rocks coalesced into one body). Moreover, this particular sample included rocks known as “breccias”, which are fragments of rock which melted together because of the intense heat caused by meteorite impacts, showing that the lunar surface was heavily bombarded at some point in its history. Indeed, some say Apollo 11’s samples alone accounted for ~80% of our understanding of the Moon today [6]. In total, 382kg of samples have been brought to Earth by the Apollo missions [7], and many more was brought back by other missions such as the Soviet “Luna” missions. One small step for man… into an alien puddle? Well, not quite! On Monday, NASA announced the most recent bit of science found out about the Moon: it has water. Not as much as on Earth though. In fact, the Sahara desert contains 100x that which was discovered on the Moon. Using NASA’s/DLR’s (German Aerospace Centre) SOFIA (or Stratospheric Observatory of Infrared Astronomy), being “the world’s largest flying observatory” [8] evidence for water has been found on the Moon, in the Clavius Crater on the southern hemisphere’s Earth facing side. It had long been though that the Moon had no water because it would all evaporate off into space because of the Moon’s lack of a sufficient atmosphere in order to keep this water. The data from both SOFIA and the Apollo landings’ lunar samples has been used to reveal the possibility that micrometeorites delivered small amounts of this water to the surface, or that the solar winds from the Sun delivered hydrogen to minerals containing oxygen on the lunar surface, creating hydroxyl, before micrometeorites delivered radiation to transform this into water. This water could then either be trapped in beadlike structures within the lunar soil from the temperature of the micrometeorite impact, or in the grains of lunar soil, to shelter from the Sun (of which the Clavius Crater has in plentiful supply), which would evaporate it, then explaining why it's still here. This is exciting because of how NASA plans to head its Artemis program in the near future, bringing people to live on the Moon, needing to find resources to sustain life there, with one of the most important ones being water, needed not only for drinking, but for farming, for example, meaning human presence on the Moon can not only happen but can be sustainable. This is the first time SOFIA has ever observed the Moon [9], and the first time all these pieces of the “jigsaw” have been pieced together to make such a dramatic discovery. Hopefully, we will find even more deposits as years go by, and maybe even find enough to sustain astronauts on the lunar surface without needing water from Earth. By George Abraham, ADAS member #Moon #Artemis #Evolution #Water #Life #Clavius Click here for the previous news article Click here for the next news article References "The Moon: One of the earliest human symbols". BBC Culture. Archived from the original on 31st October 2020. "How was the Moon Formed?" Space.com. Archived from the original on 31st October 2020. "Volcanism on the Moon: Sinuous Rilles". Oregon State University. Archived from the original on 31st October 2020. "Volcanism on the Moon". Oregon State University. Archived from the original on 31st October 2020. "Long-Sealed Moon Rocks Collected on the Apollo Mission Just Opened for the First Time". Live Science. Archived from the original on 31st October 2020. "What have the Apollo 11 Lunar Samples taught us about the Moon?". The Sky at Night Magazine. Archived from the original on 31st October 2020. "Lunar Rocks and Soils from Apollo Missions". NASA. Archived from the original on 31st October 2020. "SOFIA Discovers Water on a Sunlit Surface of the Moon". Youtube. Archived from the original on 31st October 2020. "NASA's SOFIA Discovers Water on Sunlit Surface of Moon". NASA. Archived from the original on 31st October 2020.

    • Interplanetary Stepping Stones

      A Permanent Presence As part of the Space Race, in 1971 the USSR started what has now progressed into a feat of scientific cooperation not seen on Earth. This was Salyut 1 (Салют-1 in Russian, meaning “Salute” or “Fireworks” [1]), made of 4 compartments (2 pressurised and 1 unpressurised), designed to for the first residents of outer space to reside, using the now famous Soyuz (Союз in Russian, meaning Union [2]) to go to and from the craft [3]. It was a snug home for the cosmonauts who ventured inside, but with all the amenities needed to survive, from a dining area to an exercise area, it was like an inescapable campervan for 3, but in space. However, there were also problems, like the risk of death from the sometimes toxic air or sudden depressurisation in the Soyuz, and the hatch to the Salyut not opening. In fact, even the orbit of the space craft could not be maintained long enough, with it being de-orbited just 2 years after being put in to space [4]! However, this was just the start of a long journey of exploration, human ingenuity and science when it comes to creating a population of humans not residing on this rock we have been on for millennia. A Building in Space Mir (Мир in Russian meaning “world”, “peace” and “village”) [5] was the successor to the Salyut series of space stations, with the first module launched in 1986, staying up there for 15 years. It was modular in its makeup, not unlike the current ISS, apart from: its size, being 13.1 metres in length (a home not for the claustrophobic!) [6], its smell, being “a bit like an oily garage” (FOAL Michael, 2016), the disorganisation of it all, like “going into the oesophagus of someone’s throat” (FOAL Michael, 2016), and the sound, being of Russian disco music! So, maybe it was more like a home than you might expect! There was only one problem (apart from the smell, sight, and sound): the money. The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, was in disrepair after the fall of the USSR, and even with help from NASA, it was still a piece of old metal in space getting older by the day, and with technology improving so fast during that time, it was becoming far out-dated, leading, even to problems with the docking of its cargo ships, since they didn’t have enough money for automatic docking [7]. Truly International The ISS (International Space Station) is a joint operation of 15 countries, started in 1998 and continuously occupied since late 2000. Like all space stations before it, it conducted, and is still conducting, countless scientific experiments to better our understanding of how things work in microgravity, from human bodies to espresso machines! However, it is much bigger, hosting not 13.1 metres of length like in Mir, but the size of a Boeing 747 (with the ISS being 109 metres long [10], ~8x longer than Mir) [8]. This venture will then aid us to make another step beyond our Earth’s orbit, to one around the Moon, to maybe even one around another planet, meaning we can then become a truly interplanetary species. Not of this Earth The most recent proposal of a home out of this world (literally) is Lunar Gateway. It will be the first station to orbit another body other than the Earth, and will be supported not only by other nations, but private companies as well. Part of NASA’s Artemis program, its aim is as the name suggests: a gateway for astronauts en route to the Moon, and even a place to train NASA astronauts for missions to Mars. However, all the design of this station could not have been carried out without the help of past space stations, and what problems they encountered. Along with NASA, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Japanese space agency (JAXA), and ESA, have been inputting into its development, with Roscosmos having expressed interest in the venture [9] All these space stations have been true stepping stones to a life not bolted to Earth but only bound by our technology and how long we can survive away from others. Maybe one day, we will even have one orbiting another planet. I suppose we shall just have to wait and see! By George Abraham, ADAS member #Salyut #Soyuz #Mir #ISS #LunarGateway #NASA #ESA #JAXA #CSA #Roscosmos #Moon #Mars Click here for the previous news article Click here for the next news article Click here for NASA's 'Spot the Station' tool (along with many more useful tools, like observing weather and solar activity), so you can be in with the chance of seeing the most recent space station of them all: the ISS. References "Салют". OpenRussian.org. Archived from the original on 18th October 2020. "Союз". OpenRussian.org. Archived from the original on 18th October 2020. "Salyut 1: The First Space Station". Space.com. Archived from the original on 18th October 2020. "Salyut 1". AerospaceGuide.net. Archived from the original on 18th October 2020. "Mir Space Station". NASA. Archived from the original on 18th October 2020. "Mir Space Station: Testing Long-Term Stays in Space". Space.com. Archived from the original on 18th October 2020. "A Space Crash". BBC Witness History. Archived from the original on 18th October 2020. "International Space Station: Facts, History & Tracking". Space.com. Archived from the original on 18th October 2020. "Gateway". NASA. Archived from the original on 18th October 2020. "International Space Station". NASA. Archived from the original on 18th October 2020.

    • Trapped in an Ever-Growing Web

      Humble Beginnings From the first satellite, Sputnik 1 [1] (from Спутник, once meaning ‘fellow traveller’, now meaning ‘satellite’), launched in 1957 by the Soviet Union [2], we as a species have continued to develop and innovate our technology to better suit our needs in every day life. Since then, many more have been launched, leading to 2,666 to be in orbit around Earth (as of 1st April 2020) [3], with many more having crashed into Earth or made into debris. Littering… in Outer Space This debris has built up over the 63 years satellites have been launched into space. As of July 2009, there are ~19,000 of these measuring greater than 10cm [4]. This may not sound big, but when travelling at hypervelocity (4-5km/s [5]), they can really do some damage, leading to geostationary satellites (satellites over one location on Earth) using 5-10% of their total cost on design (to mitigate against damage from impact), tracking debris and replacing satellites if they get severely damaged. As this amount builds up and up, this could bring about the ‘Kessler syndrome’: a cascade of collisions, brining about more and more self-generating collisions, stopping some orbits from being used because of this [6]. This then makes it harder and harder for satellites to be launched and stay safe in orbit, for use in the longer term. Calling from Afar However bad this has been for our planet, one thing is for sure: our lives wouldn’t be the same without them. From the TV and mobile phones, to GPS and weather monitoring, and even monitoring how the climate is changing over a long period of time [7], satellites have been invaluable to us, and many can’t imagine what life would be like without them. They make sure our lives are interconnected, even across great distances, whilst helping us stay safe, even keeping track of the most remote events, like that of the Nepal earthquake of 2015, letting aid arrive quickly, meaning less people die, even in countries that seem so isolated, like Nepal [8]. ‘Flarewell’ Iridium Communications (2018) [9] They may be fantastic things, but, as every protagonist in a good story does, they have one fatal flaw, specifically for us here on the ground: they reflect light. Indeed, they reflect light so much that, in recent years, people have come out in their droves to see the spectacle of satellite flares, like that of the iridium satellites (having recently been decommissioned to be replaced by less reflective satellites), which created bright flares in the sky from reflecting sunlight at the Earth [9]. However fun flares from satellites seem, one thing is for sure: they are the best photo-bombers when it comes to astrophotography and general astronomical observations. So, with the realisation of this flaw and its impacts on modern science, you would think people would realise it would be a bad idea to put too many more up, since the sky is bad as it is with all those satellites up there already. A Net Across the Sky The answer is, of course, no. This is due to the new Starlink satellites. Like the Iridium satellites, they are communications satellites in orbit around Earth, for fast communications around the world. However, they are slightly different, in the way that they are more compact, provide internet access across Earth, and there are a lot more of them. In fact, there are over 626 more satellites orbiting (the most recent ones deployed on 6th October 2020 [14]) at present [10] [11]. I think anyone hearing that will think that it has got to have some impact on the sky, and it does. It creates a “train” of satellites in the sky, visible with the naked eye [12]. Starlink are going to change this though, with less reflective coatings on the satellites, making them half as bright, but this isn’t going to stop the disruption to the professional observer or scientist looking for a good shot [12], now even striking fear into radio astronomers, with “satellite transmissions leading to a 70% loss in sensitivity in the downlink band” [13] They are, however, going to provide an important service, providing Internet to those with none, or with a bad connection, helping increase development and quality of life, but at what cost to our view of the night sky? [13] Outer Space: A Global Commons The UN classifies outer space as a global commons [14], but for how long will we all be able to use it freely, before it is blocked off for those who wish to see it? This exponential growth in satellites may free the world up to us on Earth, but at what cost to that basic human right of the night sky? By George Abraham, ADAS member #Sputnik #Satellite #Starlink #Iridium #Flarewell Click here for the previous news article Click here for the next news article Click here for a great video by Richard Bullock showing a timelapse of the Starlink constellation. References "What is a Satellite?" NASA. Archived from the original on 11th October 2020. "Sputnik 1". NASA. Archived from the original on 11th October 2020. "How many Satellites Orbit Earth". Geospatial World. Archived from the original on 11th October 2020. "Space Debris". Earth Observatory. Archived from the original on 11th October 2020. "What are Hypervelocity Impacts?" ESA. Archived from the original on 11th October 2020. "What are Satellites Used For?" UCS. Archived from the original on 11th October 2020. "The Cost of Space Debris". ESA. Archived from the original on 11th October 2020. "Nepal Earthquake: Hundreds Die, Many Feared Trapped". BBC News. Archived from original on 11th October 2020. "Join Us to Say #flarewell to Iridium Flares". Iridium. Archived from the original on 11th October 2020. "Starlink". Starlink. Archived from the original on 11th October 2020. "How a New Satellite Constellation Could Allow Us to Track Planes All Over the Globe". The Verge. Archived from the original on 11th October 2020. "Starlink Already Threatens Optical Astronomy. Now, Radio Astronomers are Worried". Science Magazine. Archived from the original on 11th October 2020. "How to See a 'Starlink Train' from you Home this Week as SpaceX Satellites Swarm the Night Sky". Forbes. Archived from the original on 11th October 2020. "SpaceX's Darker Starlink Satellites are still Ruining Astronomers' Research". Futurism. Archived from the original on 11th October 2020. "How Africa can Tap into SpaceX's Starlink Satellites". IT Web. Archived from the Original on 11th October 2020.

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    • ChildProtectionPolicy | Altrincham and District Astronomical Society | Timperley

      CHILD PROTECTION POLICY Please approach any if you have questions or concerns regarding Child Protection issues. committee member of the society ​ ADAS has adopted the Child Protection Policy from the Federation of Astronomical Societies (FAS). ​ A copy of this policy is available for review at all our meetings and can be downloaded here: ​ ​ FAS Child Protection Guidelines Supplement to this policy is the additional local contact numbers for raising concerns: Trafford Council Children's Services GMP Non-emergency contact number

    • Home | Altrincham and District Astronomical Society | Timperley

      We're still meeting, but online! to receive monthly login details Join (if you're already a member, please email us at to be on the mailing list) secretary@astroadas.org.uk This website is currently under construction, so there is missing information that will be added at a later date WELCOME Latest News Next Event We are a friendly society of around 30 people who meet regularly to talk about and enjoy the night sky. We have several telescopes and other pieces of equipment which can be borrowed by society members for their own use. Throughout the year we meet on the first Friday of each month (except July and August) at 8pm until 10pm at Timperley Village Club. At these monthly meetings we discuss the society's business and have an event such as a lecture, video, slide show etc. NEXT EVENT TBC TBC ​ TBC TBC Google Calendar Event Apple Calendar Event For more information on future events like this, look at our ' ' page. Upcoming Events ​ To attend, or pay a at the door become a member £3 fee (email while we're meeting online) secretary@astroadas.org.uk LATEST NEWS The This is the line up of the three people that keep this fantastic society ship shape, bringing the cosmos to you, even if the clouds cover it. LEARN MORE COMMITTEE

    • History | Altrincham and District Astronomical Society | Timperley

      HISTORY since 1964 Altrincham & District Astronomical Society was formed in November, 1964 by a group of 15 year old schoolboys who acquired a small plot of land from the Council in Timperley at the edge of the recreation field where they built an observatory. As well as weekly meetings at the observatory site, meetings were held on the first Friday in the month from September through June at various venues, including Timperley Library, Timperley Community Centre, 1st Timperley Scout Hut and now the Timperley Village Club. ​ During the early years the members built their own telescopes and often observed in winter all night in sleeping bags under the stars. Other activities included visits to dark sky sites, such as Tegg’s Nose, Lamaload and Llyn Brenig in North Wales and camping trips were also organised. ​ The society now acts as an educational centre for local schools, scout/cub groups and guide/brownie groups which feature astronomical activities, slide shows and telescope demonstrations. Star parties are also held to which the public are invited and include poster displays, telescope operation, sunspot viewing, barbecues and Martian (pea) soup. The society also has an interactive relationship with Jodrell Bank and is often present at open days at which they display their optical telescopes. ​ Members of the society have been active in observing eclipses in various parts of the world including India, Curacao and Hawaii and several members had adventurous trips to observatories in South Africa. One member has a special place in the society’s history in that he was the first amateur to observe supernova SN1987A in the Large Magellanic cloud in 1987. Patrick Moore with Tony Bradshaw, ADAS member Ged Birbeck is using the 14inch (350mm) RFT at the roll-off observatory. History of the Society, Colin Henshaw The ADAS was founded in 1964 by Fred Talbot and Trevor Smith, who were both pupils, along with myself, at North Cestrian Grammar School. We were all in the same year group, and Fred and I were in the same class in 1961. We were fifteen years old when the society was inaugurated. Prior to 1964, Fred and Trevor were in the North East Cheshire Astronomical Society, (formerly the Cheshire Group of the Junior Astronomical society, now the SPA), that used to meet at the old Cheadle Institute on Cheadle Green. I went once, and recall attending a meeting in which some old gentleman lectured on the Pic du Midi Observatory in the Pyrenees. I recall three members of the society who were probably on its executive, these being John Lockley and Chris Collier. Another was a fellow called Eric Hyde, who I believe came from Sale, like Fred. At some point in 1964 there must have been some internal politicking going on and Fred and Trevor decided to break away and set up on their own. In this way the ADAS came into existence, with Fred as Chairman and Trevor as Secretary. Membership was drawn from interested pupils at North Cestrian, myself being one. The school was not very supportive. A few years earlier, the school had its own astronomical society, run by the history teacher, Colin Rogers. This was certainly prior to 1961, as my brother was a member, but he has not indulged in astronomy since. Younger children in the lower forms (1 to 3) were not allowed to join it. The first ADAS meeting was held at the Park Road Branch Library, if I recall, on Friday, November 13th, 1964. Since we were juveniles, we were not trusted to hold meetings without an adult present, but two teachers from North Cestrian, Thomas Alfred Dybas, latterly known as McCloed, and Alan Ward. The former taught English, and the latter, Biology. Alan Ward still lives on Russell Avenue in Sale, and until about ten years ago was a neighbour of Stuart Gibson, who attended meetings in the 1970's. The second meeting was held on Friday, December 3rd, 1964 in a basement classroom at North Cestrian. Thereafter the school no longer offered us any support, though for several years its membership was largely recruited from there. Messrs McLeod and Ward continued to provide their support, enabling us to return to the Park Road Branch Library until we reached such an age that we could be trusted. During the second meeting, elections were held for an assistant secretary, whose function was to write up the minutes of the meetings. I was duly elected, but I had reservations about the post at first, but it grew on me, and I actually began to enjoy it. I would meticulously record the attendance at every meeting. In 1966 Fred and Trevor left North Cestrian. Fred went to Sale Grammar School, while Trevor went to Altrincham Grammar School. Fred brought in a new influx of recruits from Sale Grammar School, including Graham Cliff. Meetings were lively and usually well attended, with the usual ups and downs. Graham was elected onto the committee. Pete Wadsworth, who came from Sale Moor, and was a lively character that served on the committee and hosted observing sessions at his home. I recall observing the Geminids there one cold and frost night in December 1969. During the early years of the society, before the observatory was constructed we would go on observing sessions to Carrington Moss. We would gather at Fred's house on Edale Grove in Sale, and make our way there on our bikes, entering the Moss near the "Lively Lobster." Pete Wadsworth had set up an intercom that the recorder of observations would use to keep in touch with the observers. One activity that the society developed was the astronomical camp, held every summer. This was a tradition brought over from the North East Cheshire Astronomical Society. One thing that was done was to create a cine film of the camp's activities. The first camp that was held in 1965, was at the Marquis of Anglesey's estate at Plas Newydd, Llanfair P.G. on Anglesey. I was on the camp, and this was my first real introduction to astronomical observation. Meteors were the main interest. I also recall seeing a very bright flashing satellite (the first time I had ever seen one). I actually found it quite alarming. Before observing we would go to the pub in Llanfair P.G., even though we were under age. However we still got served drinks. I recall on one occasion a halogen flood lamp illuminating a car park was affecting our observations. I soon put paid to that. It was about half a mile away from the camp, but I went over one evening and found the offending light was located on the roof of a building overlooking the car park. I shinned up onto the roof and found it was fixed onto a steel girder weighed down by bricks. I removed the bricks, rotated the girder 180 degrees and then replaced them. The light was now aimed directly over the Menai Straits and no longer gave us any trouble. This was my first encounter with the problem of light pollution. In 1966, we didn't manage to get back to the estate, so instead, a small group of us held a camp at a farm in Alderley Edge. That was when skies away from the main urban areas were quite dark and the Milky Way was still visible. Again, the observation of meteors was the main focus of our attention. In 1967, we returned to Anglesey, but in 1968 we went back to Alderley Edge. Graham Cliff's family had had a hut on a farm outside Alderley Edge since the 1930's, and we decided to hold the camp there. On the camp was a new enthusiastic member, Richard Scoular, who hailed from Scotland, but lived in Wilmslow. He was active in the society for several years in the late 1960's to early 1970's, then mysteriously disappeared and was never seen again. The tradition of astronomical camps continued well into the 1970's usually Wales - e.g. Tudweiliog and Cemaes Bay. The society's major project that was largely responsible for holding it together was the establishment of the observatory. Fred and Trevor sounded out Altrincham Council in 1968, with a view to building one, and we were first offered a plot of land near Seamon's Moss, near Oldfield Brow. I recall going along one weekend to clear the plot of grass, and we all turned up with scythes and grass cutters. However, for some reason this fell through, though we managed to secure a plot behind Lyme Grove in Timperley when new parliamentary legislation permitted 18 year olds to sign a lease. Once we secured the plot, work began on the observatory in summer 1968. It was not without setbacks, as local vandals knocked down the walls on one occasion and we had to start from scratch. Undaunted the building was completed by the end of December 1968. By this time we had all left our various schools. I was at Stockport College and Graham Cliff was at Manchester University. Trevor went to Durham University and Fred went to Ponte land College in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It was around this time that a boy from Wythenshawe by the name of Graham Sinagola wrote to me about the society, and he came along to one of the meetings. He used to ride around on a small Honda 50. He thought the observatory was fantastic and became a staunch member of the society ever since. Around this time several girls from Altrincham Grammar School for Girls joined the society. These were: Linda Rofe, Christine Henderson, Susan Livingstone and Janet Matthews. Love affairs blossomed. Susan Livingstone subsequently went to Oxford University and studied mathematics and later married Graham Sinagola. Linda had a sister called Pauline who ended up marrying Graham Cliff, so the astronomical society played a very important role for many people. The observatory was a ramshackle affair with a twelve-sided hardboard dome that was supposed to rotate on castors. Several people had to move it during observing sessions, and on at least one occasion strong winds nearly blew it off. In the early 1970's the facility expanded with the acquisition of the clubhouse around 1973. I wasn't around for its construction as that summer I was in the United States. Graham Cliff also acquired his family's hut in Alderley Edge and we spent a weekend there dismantling it and transferring it to Timperley on a flat backed lorry. The idea was to use the hut as a library. Fred donated his astronomical books and his telescope. This was the heyday of the society when its social life revolved around the observatory. On clear Friday nights we would gather at the observatory and observe planets, and anything else that was of interest. In 1967 George Alcock discovered Nova HR Delphini and this inspired me into observing the nova. I followed it for about two years after which it faded from view, but by this time I had honed my skills as a variable star observer. By 1969 I transferred these skills to the visual observation of variable stars that continued unabated till 2008, after which I started observing photo electrically with a DSL camera. In 1970, we were blessed with our first ever view of a bright comet. Comet Bennett was visible in the morning sky for several weeks from late March, and during the Easter holidays we observed it several times from Graham Cliff's hut in Alderley Edge. The comet showed prominent gas and dust tails. The comet was discovered by Jack Bennett in South Africa and I later met him at a BAA meeting in London, where I was studying zoology at the North East London Polytechnic. In 1974 two boys, Paul Rendell and Ken McConville from Wellington Road School, joined the society and began to play an active part. Paul had an 8 inch telescope that he eventually donated to the observatory. Ken had spent some time in Australia and eventually returned there and was last heard of living near Brisbane with his wife Shelley, and he still pursues an interest in astronomy. 1974 also brought Comet Kohoutek. This object proved to be a damp squib, but we managed to observe it one night from a good vantage point at Alderley Edge. In 1975, we observed a close conjunction of Venus with Jupiter that provoked a large number of UFO reports. It was successfully imaged through Paul Rendell's telescope. Other notable members of the society around this time were Jim Gillies, who was a pupil at North Cestrian while I was there, and I recruited him through promotions in the school during my final years. He went to Sheffield University and studied metallurgy, and eventually settled there. Peter Galloway and Paul Howarth ("Spiro") came from Denton and Ashton-under-Lyne respectively and were long standing members for many years. Peter became a teacher in a Manchester school while Paul became a social worker. Paul disappeared to New Zealand and has not been heard of since. Ian Winstanley, Brian Casey and Colin Powney joined the society around 1973 and played quite an active part. Brian eventually married Christine Henderson and they settled in Scotland. Sadly Colin Powney died around 1998. All three were aviation enthusiasts and would spend many hours at Manchester Airport recording the comings and goings of aeroplanes. Colin was particularly noteworthy in this respect, having amassed several large albums of pictorial aviation history at the airport. He could even identify an aircraft from the sound of its engines. I recall one night sitting in the High Grove pub in Gatley with Colin when a plane flew overhead. He said "Drink up! We're going to the Airport. Concorde's just flown in." Sure enough, there it was on the tarmac when we arrived, and we sat and admired it until it took off again. The society around this time was mainly composed of teenagers and twenty-something’s. However one older person did come to meetings who was substantially older. This was Reginald S. B. Hall, a stern character who believed that societies should be formally organised. He was at one point critical of our election procedures. He would come along to the observatory and to meetings with his son Tim. Tragically Reg died at work from a heart attack, but Tim remained a loyal member for many years before re-locating to Blackpool. He has not been heard of since to my knowledge. In 1972, the annual society dinners were inaugurated around Christmas. The first dinner was held at the Koh-I-Noor restaurant in central Manchester. About twenty members attended the event, and Graham Cliff placed a tape recorder in the middle of the table to record the banter. It would be interesting if he still has the tape. Subsequent dinners were held at the Halal Restaurant in Timperley and elsewhere.

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