Star Party season

If the Moon had been at a better phase, (ie. pre Full Moon), we could have almost started the outdoor star party season at Easter, with the weather being as good as it was.  But it was rising just a little too late, and with no planets visible – (Mars being well passed its best) the spring sky is not ideally suited to the passing public... [Read more about Star Party season]

Observatory Work

We are currently awaiting news from the college regarding the estimate submitted for the proposed work on the observatory, plus any subsequent developments on their part.  However some preparations will commence at the next bank holiday (May Day weekend).

A proposal has been made to utilise the Sunday evening observing slot (now in abeyance until after the summer period) to carry out preparatory and remedial work within the observatory.  This will be discussed at the final monthly meeting for this season in May. [Read more about Observatory Work]

Chief star in Hydra - the traditional name Alphard is from the Arabic (al-fard), "The Solitary One", no doubt because there are no other bright stars in Alphard’s immediate vicinity.  The European astronomer Tycho Brahe dubbed it Cor Hydrae, Latin for 'the heart of Hydra'.  At magnitude +1.8 Alphard is a ‘bright’ second magnitude star and lies approximately 177 light years away. [Read more about Crossing the Line: objects of the month]

Staying at the Whitby Youth Hostel, this year’s outward bounds party from Ayresome Primary school in Middlesbrough once again brought fine weather with them, even though the forecast originally had been for light or low cloud for much of the week. 

This turned out to be somewhat off the mark, with our preferred evening (Wednesday 10th) being clear and still.  Actually some cloud did come in off the sea, but not enough to really hamper our observations. [Read more about Ayresome Primary School visit - Whitby Youth Hostel]

Sky Notes - May 2019

In this month's edition:

  • Planetary Skylights: Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn
  • Ceres: at opposition
  • Meteors: Aquarids
  • May 2019 Sky Charts

Observatory News

During our March meeting, it was agreed that the best method of weather proofing the observatory dome and roof was the one put forward by Saul, ie. by applying a new fibre glass surface over coated directly onto the existing felt.  Following the generous donation by Norman Wright and perhaps other monies forthcoming from the college, we should have enough funds to carry out the necessary work for the refurbishment... [Read more about Observatory News]

Our association with Ayresome Primary School & Lego Innovation Studio will again be renewed this year when a group of pupils (around 30 or so) when we will host a star party event for them on either the 9th, 10th, or 11th (depending which evening according to the forecast)... [Read more about Coming Event: Whitby Youth Hostel]

The beginning of March saw two star party events coinciding with the half term ‘dark sky window’, one at Fylinghall School and the other at Danby Moors Centre.  After a very fine and unseasonal end to February (almost summer like) it was almost inevitable conditions returned to those normally associated with late winter:- in a word, unpredictable.  Observations outdoors was not possible at either event, and yet they could be construed as being successful. [Read more about Dark Sky Events: Fylinghall and Danby]

Sky Notes - April 2019

In this month's edition:

  • Planetary Skylights: AM: Venus, Jupiter, Saturn; PM: Mars
  • Meteors: Virginids, alpha Scorpiids, Lyrids
  • Features: Dwarf Planet Pallas, Moon & Beehive Cluster
  • April 2019 Sky Charts

After receiving a most intriguing email from Mr Jim Storey, concerning a Mr Norman Wright, who was keen on visiting the Bruce Observatory, it was arranged to meet with Jim and Norman at the observatory on February 17th. [Read more about Bruce Telescope: Family Visit]

Our association with Ayresome Primary School & Lego Innovation Studio will be continued again this year after been contacted by Elizabeth Labelle; assistant Head Teacher (phase3).  This year’s group of pupils (around 30 or so) will be stopping at the Whitby Youth Hostel from April 8th - 12th and we shall be hosting a star party event for them on either the 9th, 10th, or 11th, whichever evening according to the forecast looks best. [Read more about Forthcoming Event: Ayresome Primary School Visit]

The exhibition has now opened and is most definitely worth a visit.  Sponsored by the Royal Society, the exhibition showcases the area’s connections investigating the cosmos, from Captain Cook’s 1768 voyage observing the transit of Venus to the search for Dark Matter at Boulby Underground Laboratory.  The exhibition runs until early July... [Read more about 'Whitby and the Cosmos' Exhibition (Whitby Museum)]

On Saturday March 2nd we will be in action again at the Danby Moors Centre for their Dark Sky half term event.  This is their ‘flagship event’, and if skies are clear we shall definitely require assistance from members regarding scopes/transport, similar to the event held last October.  Hopefully skies will be clear this time round, if so, we shall be observing some of the jewels of the winter sky.  The event runs from 7pm- 9pm, so we shall have to set off shortly after 6pm to allow time to set up equipment etc if conditions look promising... [Read more about Dark Sky Event#2: Danby Moors Centre]

On March 1st we will be hosting an event at Fylinghall School, which is also being co-promoted by Baytown Coffee.  It’s 3 years since we last visited the School for a star night event, and it will be nice to renew ties.  If conditions are satisfactory (not chucking it down, blowing a Hooley, or knee deep in snow- none of which look likely) the boarding students will be flogged enlisted to help out with a scaled solar system demonstration before observing is commenced, or the implementation of plan B (indoor presentation)... [Read more about Dark Sky Event#1: Fylinghall School]

The Spring Equinox

The date of the Vernal Equinox and of astronomical spring in the northern hemisphere (the official start of spring) falls on March 20th this year.  This is when the Sun's path (‘the ecliptic’) first crosses the celestial equator on its apparent journey northwards into the sky.  The orientation of the Earth at the spring or autumnal equinox is such that neither of Earth’s poles are inclined toward the Sun and all locations experience equal hours of daylight and darkness; hence the term equinox. [Read more about The Spring Equinox]

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