Welcome to the WDAS monthly newsletter for March 2017: a digest of the month's latest contributions to our website.  Below you'll find Society News, Sky Notes and In-Focus articles printed in full.  There's also future events, and trailers for other articles which appear in full on the website - just a click away!

On the website you'll also be able to comment on articles, and if you'd like to play an editorial role in creating new content, just let us know!

Society News

All being well Paul is set to return to Whitby in May.  The venue will be the college main hall (Whitby college as was) May 9th is the date ‘inked in’ and we will be looking to start around 19:30h.  No definite topic as yet, although Paul has suggested an updated talk on Voyager, to coincide with its 40th anniversary since launch.

There will be more in coming notes.

The date of the Vernal Equinox and officially the start spring in the northern hemisphere 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 the poles are inclined towards the Sun and all locations experience equal hours of daylight and darkness - hence the term equinox.

The Vernal Equinox is also known as the 'First point of Aries', as the Sun used to stand before the constellation of the Ram when it first crossed the celestial equator. Although still called the 'first point of Aries', today its location now resides in Pisces, a consequence of the effect known as precession - the Earth's slow wobble.

Over thousands of years our ancestors noted that certain star patterns rose just before the Sun at specific times and were considered significant for this very reason. Subsequently they were able to build a picture of the apparent path of the Sun against these constellations.

The narrow path upon which occasionally the Sun and Moon would meet giving rise to an eclipse, became known as the Ecliptic. The broader belt along which the 'wandering stars' or planets travelled was known as the Zodiac, so called because all 12 constellations located on it were associated with living creatures. Zodiac literally means 'Band of Animals'. Libra used to be considered being part of Scopius, the claws to be precise. Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer immediately following Scorpius was instead regarded as a zodiac group. Ever since the stars of Libra were elevated in status, Ophiuchus, being surplus to requirements, was ditched, much to the relief of astrologers.

If you find it difficult to remember the order of the zodiac constellations, then the following rhyme may be of use.

The Ram, the Bull, the Heavenly twins
and next the Crab the Lion shines,
The Virgin, and the Scales.
Scorpion, Archer and Sea goat,
the man who pours the water out
and Fish with glittering tails.

The first of the events (a last minute unscheduled event on the 18th) was predominantly clouded out.  Mark and Keith therefore enrolled the scouts in helping to demonstrate the scale solar system. 

There were certainly plenty of them, so they had to be split into two groups.  The demos went well and no scouts were lost in the sea.

Misc

There are just a few copies of Night Scenes 2017 unclaimed, so if you would like a copy it’s just £4 to society members, £5.50 otherwise.

Events

A Public Star Party, weather permitting, near the Captain Cook monument on West Cliff  (setting-up from 20:45h).  Lunar and Planetary observations.

Solar, Lunar and Planetary Observations.

Date:
13 July, 2019 - 21:00
Address:
Captain Cook Headland
West Cliff
near YO21 3HA Whitby
United Kingdom
GB

A Public Star Party, weather permitting, near the Captain Cook monument on West Cliff  (setting-up from 20:45h).  Lunar and Planetary observations.

Partial Lunar Eclipse - Rising.

Solar, Lunar and Planetary Observations.

Date:
16 July, 2019 - 21:00
Address:
Captain Cook Headland
West Cliff
near YO21 3HA Whitby
United Kingdom
GB

A Public Star Party, weather permitting, near the Captain Cook monument on West Cliff  (setting-up from 20:45h).  Lunar and Planetary observations.

Planetary and Stellar Observations.

Date:
27 July, 2019 - 21:00
Address:
Captain Cook Headland
West Cliff
near YO21 3HA Whitby
United Kingdom
GB