WDAS Christmas Dinner Menu FREE with this edition! (^_-)

Welcome to the WDAS monthly newsletter for November 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!

Society News

Those of you looking forward to the Leeds Astromeet this year will sadly have to keep looking, cos it’s not on, cancelled, postponed, deceased?..The comment on the Leeds website reads as follows:

Leeds Astronomical Society has decided to cancel this year's Astromeet conference at Leeds University.  The committee took this decision reluctantly, aware that there will be much disappointment, but after careful consideration.  The reasons for cancellation include: financial constraints related to funding; rising costs at the current venue, and a number of other administrative concerns.  Hopefully this isn't a binding decision - and should an Astromeet be proposed for 2018, details will appear on the New Year website.

Let’s hope it’s just a glitch this year, but it would not be a surprise if Astromeet became a biannual event.

This was our second visit to the Kettleness Scout centre, which used to be the railway station back in the day.  Sleights cubs were spending the Halloween weekend camping there and had asked for a star party for evening of the 28th.  Conditions, although very in keeping with Halloween, were not very conducive for observations, being rather cloudy and very windy, too windy for the scopes.  Use was therefore made of the activities room for an indoor show.

Ably assisted by Keith, Mark used the screen projector and laptop to show what would have been observable in the sky.  This was followed by the celestial menagerie presentation, highlighting the various types of objects astronomers look at (the pretty pictures segment). 

Around 30 cubs were present along with pack leaders and considering the young age of (most) of the audience it seemed to fire up their imagination with some excellent questions being asked.  Not the evening we were ideally hoping for outside, but from the interest shown i think they did gain something from our visit.

We have been invited by York AS to join them for a star party at RAF Fylingdales on Jan 18th 2018.  We are however required to furnish Martin Whillock at YAS with details of all those wishing to attend by Nov 30th.

Details required are

  1. Full name
  2. Age on 18th Jan 2018
  3. Date of birth
  4. Place of birth
  5. Full home address
  6. Your car Reg' number, make, model and colour - regardless of whether or not you will use your car on the day.
  7. E-mail address
  8. Phone numbers

We shall discuss possible numbers etc at the November 2017 Meeting.  Mark will take details (rank name and serials numbers) and then pass them on to Martin.

It will soon be time for sub renewals for the coming year.  Happily society subscription rates will be kept at the same level as last year, ie. £12 for adults with subsidised rates at £8 for under 16s and over 75s.

You can bring subs along to the WDAS monthly meetings in December, January or February at the very latest.  If you cannot make the meetings Cheques are made payable to;- Whitby & District Astronomical Society, Please address to Mark Dawson - 33 laburnum Grove, Whitby.  YO21 1HZ.

Having bumped into Sean Paling, director and Senior Scientist at the Boulby Underground Laboratory the other week in a local watering hole, we briefly discussed the possibility of a visit to the facility down in the mine. 

Sean, who was with a visiting group of scientists from the U.S, including from NASA, was only too happy to extend an invitation.  Arrangements for possible dates will be made early in the New Year.  I assume that numbers are still limited per visit, and it will also be during the working week.  Once we have firmer arrangements, they will be included in the monthly notes, and at the next scheduled society meeting.

Sky Notes

In this month's Sky Notes:

Planetary Skylights

Evening

Although Saturn will be visible until almost the end of the month, through a telescope the view will be rather compromised due to the very low altitude.  However before it does depart Saturn has one last hurrah, passing above elusive Mercury, which hugs the horizon for its apparition from the 20th onwards.  You will definitely require a clear unobstructed SW horizon to spot them, view approximately 30 minutes after sunset.  The 27th may be the best date.

At Magnitude +5.65 Uranus will be visible in a pair of binoculars, however to make out the very small grey/green disk a telescope will be required.  The planet can be found in the ESE toward the bottom of the ‘V’ asterism in Pisces, not far above the star Torcularis Septentrionalis.  However the best way to locate it will be by using Sheratan and Mesarthim in Aries (the crooked leg of the ram) and sighting down five times the distance between them, and then up one.  Hopefully you should spot ‘Herschel’s planet’.  The Moon passes through the bottom of the ‘V’ on the 2nd and 3rd – below Uranus.

 

All the action occurs in the early morning sky – with Venus, Mars and then Jupiter all visible.  Brilliant Venus is unmistakeable, but is dropping back toward the east horizon, meeting Jupiter emerging into the dawn sky as it does so.  On the 13th the two worlds are involved in an extremely close conjunction, when they are separated by just a quarter of a degree!  Both will easily fit in the same low power eyepiece of any telescope, so it will be a fantastic sight, but the low altitude and brightening dawn will mean a clear ESE horizon and good timing is required.  View around 06:30h.  Venus departs the dawn sky before the end of November.

Morning

All the action occurs in the early morning sky – with Venus, Mars and then Jupiter all visible.  Brilliant Venus is unmistakeable, but is dropping back toward the east horizon, meeting Jupiter emerging into the dawn sky as it does so.  On the 13th the two worlds are involved in an extremely close conjunction, when they are separated by just a quarter of a degree!  Both will easily fit in the same low power eyepiece of any telescope, so it will be a fantastic sight, but the low altitude and brightening dawn will mean a clear ESE horizon and good timing is required.  View around 06:30h.  Venus departs the dawn sky before the end of November.

Ruddy Mars lies upper right of Jupiter and Venus, below the ‘bowl’ of Virgo.  The red planet slowly glides downwards passing above Spica –chief star in Virgo, residing above on the 24th.  The waning crescent lies off to the left on the 15th, joining Venus/Jupiter on the 16th and 17th.

08-Nov-2017 at 06:30h:
Looking ESE: Mars, Venus
and Jupiter

13-Nov-2017 at 06:30h:
Looking ESE: Conjunction
of Venus and Jupiter

15-Nov-2017 at 06:30h:
Looking ESE: Moon, Mars,
Jupiter and Venus

16-Nov-2017 at 06:30h:
Looking ESE: Vesta and
The Moon

Also on the 16th The Moon lies just 66 arc minutes to lower right of the asteroid Vesta, which at Magnitude 8 should be picked up with binoculars.  View around 06:30h.  (see chart above)

 

Meteors & Comets

The Leonids are active from Nov 15-20th and peak in the afternoon of the 17th, so the evening of the 17th, but more especially the early hours of the 18th will be the optimum time to look.  The moon is new so skies will be naturally dark.  Observed rates will be normal for a ‘non storm’ year, so expect to view around 7-12 per hour.  The next Leonid ‘storm’ is not due until 2030.

Also during November keep an eye out for a few meteors on the night of Nov 4/5th when the South Taurid meteor shower reaches a peak, and then again on the night of Nov 11/12 when the North Taurid meteor shower peaks.  The hourly rate is low; - only around 5 meteors, but although few, Taurids can be very bright with occasional fireballs!  The Taurids are an old shower, associated with the periodic Comet Enke.  Over time dust from this comet has been depleted and spread out over a broad swath of the inner solar system, giving rise to Taurid meteor showers not only on Earth but also on Mars and Venus too!

November 2017 Sky Charts

Looking North
Mid-November - 21:00h

Looking South
Mid-November - 21:00h

Looking East
Mid-November - 21:00h
Looking West
Mid-November - 21:00h
Looking North (morning)
Mid-November - 06:00h
Looking South (morning)
Mid-November - 06:00h
Looking East (morning)
Mid-November - 06:00h
Looking West (morning)
Mid-November - 06:00h
Northern Aspect
Mid-November - 21:00h
Southern Aspect
Mid-November - 21:00h

 

Additional Image Credits:

  • Planets and Comets where not otherwise mentioned: NASA
  • Sky Charts: Stellarium Software

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 and planetary observations.

Mark notes:

  • Various parties may well be interested in this date, nothing is set in stone, but there are various options. 
  • Mark will email members, if all goes to plan, otherwise it will be the West Cliff venue as usual.
Date:
18 August, 2018 - 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.  Lunar and Planetary observations.

Solar and planetary observations.

Date:
24 August, 2018 - 20:30
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.  Lunar and Planetary observations.

Solar and planetary observations.

Date:
26 August, 2018 - 20:30
Address:
Captain Cook Headland
West Cliff
near YO21 3HA Whitby
United Kingdom
GB

Certainly one of the observing highlights on the W.D.A.S calendar.

Hook’s House is an excellent dark site location situated on the B1447 overlooking Robin Hood’s Bay. If the weather is fine the campsite should be full and as long as skies are clear, or clear enough, we should have a cracking evening.

We shall be setting up scopes around 20:00h - weather permitting. A map of the location can be found on the web site.

Date:
1 September, 2018 - 20:00
Address:
Hooks House Farm
Whitby Road
YO22 4PE Robin Hood's Bay
United Kingdom
GB