Welcome to the WDAS monthly newsletter for July 2020: a digest of the month's latest contributions to our website.  Below you'll find Society News: including Moon photos from our Members, and Mark's valient attempts to capture the occultation of Venus by The Moon.  And as well as that, of course your Sky Notes for the month.

Society News

Lockdown measures continue to eased, but I think that July is still too early and impractical to host a star party. It will actually be rather light anyway until the end of July. I think therefore we shall revisit the situation in a month’s time as it may be possible to host a few star parties in August.

Social distance measures would have to be observed and eyepieces and other parts of the telescope touched by hand would have to be wiped over with suitable antibacterial cloths etc after each person. Of course any star parties planned would require the consent of other members likely to attend. It will be difficult, but not impossible. Of course, if there were signs of infection rates rising again, local hotspots or lockdowns, we would have to postpone.

If members have any images they would like to share please send them in to Mark.

Think this may have always been a challenge to view Venus’ occultation by the waning moon. And so it proved.  The day itself was much improved on the previous 8 or 9 days and I had some optimism that something would be viewed.  The start of the occultation occurred at 08:38h from Whitby, so with compass, tape measure, binoculars and camera on hand, the plan was to first locate the moon using the compass, tape and binoculars and then to use a telescope and camera for the egress of Venus from behind the moon an hour later.  It seemed a good plan, but had one major flaw, actually locating the crescent moon.

For a start, and right on cue, light cloud appeared, obscuring the area of sky where the moon would be located.  Then, higher wispy cloud hardly noticeable to the naked eye but visible through binoculars seemed to thwart any attempt to glimpse the slim crescent moon.  The real drawback however, was the relative proximity of the Sun, just a hands span to the left, causing the sky within this area to appear much brighter than sky further away, which appeared a deeper shade of blue in hue.

I tried various binoculars; 7x50, 7x35, 15 x 70, but to no avail.  Then intermittent, thicker cloud, again rolled across the target area.  This cleared and after one more attempt, reluctantly I gave up.  A GOTO telescope would have zeroed in on the moon, but whether or not anything would have been readily visible is for others to testify.


19-Jun-2020 at 08:47h+24 seconds: Cloud appears for start of Venus-Moon occultation

19-Jun-2020 at 08:47h+39 seconds: Venus and Crescent Moon still in Cloud at start of Occultation.

19-Jun-2020 at 08:47h+55 seconds: Venus 
now occulted by Moon which is hidden in cloud.

19-Jun-2020 at 09:12h: 
Compass bearing 123 degrees.

19-Jun-2020 at 09:13h: no cloud but no moon either.

19-Jun-2020 at 09:12h: 'Honest guv, it should be right here in the middle'.



Observe the night sky with us at the Bruce Observatory, Caedmaon College - Normanby campus (formally Whitby College).

Observing Nights are held weather permitting: check for a relatively clear sky before leaving home. If in doubt, Mark can be reached on tel 01947 605516.

Please note the college drive gate is now operated via a electronic key code - so anyone wishing to attend must be at the car park at the top of the drive by 19:00hrs, unless an arrival time has been arranged with Mark/Keith after 19:30hrs.  Otherwise shout or bip car horn - we'll hear.

8 December, 2024 - 18:00 to 21:00
Bruce Observatory, Caedmon School Normandy Site (Whitby School)
Prospect Hill
YO21 1LA Whitby
United Kingdom