July sees the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, quite an alarming fact for many over a certain age, whilst for many more it is just a milestone event in the annals of the history books, which barely relates today.

For those who can remember, we watched in awe when Apollo 11 blasted off from Cape Canaveral on July 16th 1969.  Four days later the world held its collective breath as the lunar lander 'Eagle' touched down on the Sea of Tranquillity with just a few seconds of fuel left to burn... [Read more about 'One Small Step': one large anniversary]

Society News/Events

Unsurprisingly, our star party events in June all fell victim to the poor weather conditions, either cloud or rain ...or both.  It’s a quite a few years since we last endured a soggy June, but it was bound to happen sooner or later.  Let’s be philosophical; better June than late July, August or September, when we need fine evenings.  Hope things buck up during July. [Read more about Society News/Events]

Sky Notes - July 2019

In this month's edition:

  • Planetary Skylights: Earth's aphelion, Jupiter and Saturn
  • Partial Luar Eclipse
  • Meteors: Capri-Cornids, Alpha Cygnids and Delta-Aquarids
  • July 2019 Sky Charts

Next month sees the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing, which I shall be covering in greater detail in July’s notes, but for this month I thought perhaps to take a look at The Moon from an observing standpoint, especially as June ‘nights’ are so short... [Read more about Our Neighbour in Space: The Moon]

After skies cleared quite late for our scheduled star party on the May11th, (and having not erected any placards as a result), we decided to utilise the conditions by trying out the LX 200 and power pack for a pre-season shakedown run.  

Keith, John, Phil and Elaine all came up to the college where we hoped to have a good shakedown test of the Meade scope.  Initially, things did not look promising, problems with the power station/power cable, locking/motor synch mechanism and hand controller, gave some cause for concern.... [Read more about Society News: Recent and Coming Events.]

Sky Notes - June 2019

In this month's edition:

  • Planetary Skylights: Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn
  • Meteors: Ophiuchids, June Lyrids
  • Summer Solstice
  • Noctilucent Cloud
  • June 2019 Sky Charts

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