Welcome to the WDAS monthly newsletter for February 2019: a digest of the month's latest contributions to our website.  Below you'll find Society News, Sky Notes and Mark's feature article Crossing the Line; along with up-coming event details and photos of last month's Lunar Eclipse.

Society News

It’s that time of year again when half term holidays coupled with dark nights, will hopefully coincide with clear skies, so we have a busy few days at the start of March.  First up is Fyling Hall School on Friday 1st March.

Inspired by the North York Moors National Park’s Dark Skies Festival, Fyling Hall School have invited us to host their very own Stargazing Party on March 1st (Friday).  The event is also being co-promoted by Baytown Coffee, so perhaps something warm and welcoming will be on the cards. 

It has been a few years since we last visited the School for a star night event, and it will be nice to renew ties.  The boarding students will be flogged enlisted to help out with a scaled solar system demonstration before observing is commenced, (weather permitting), with members pointing out what to look for in the winter/early spring night sky. 

The location will be the front lawn of the School (facing the sea) starting around 19:20h.  We shall therefore need to be present on site shortly after 19:00h.

The event has been publicised in the Whitby Gazette, but further details can be found by contacting Angelique at marketingatfylinghall.org .

Who knows what the conditions will be like (certainly the weatherman don’t) so Plan B and C will be lurking in the wings. 

On Saturday 2nd, we shall, weather permitting, be called in to action again at the Danby Moors Centre, for their Dark Skies Week event, coinciding with the schools half term.  This is their ‘flagship event’ and if skies are clear we shall need 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 19:00-21:00h, so we shall be setting off around 18:10h to allow time to set up equipment.  These National Park events for the North Yorkshire area have been highlighted in the Astronomy Now Magazine, and we expect it to be sold out (If previous star party nights are anything to go by) so 60-80 people will be braving the winter air.

Astronomically speaking March 2nd is still winter, and the weather may dictate what is possible on the night, (even getting there) Suffice to say if conditions are hazardous it will be called off, but if cloud is our only problem, plan B will be used to good effect (ie. an indoor presentation).  More details will be given at the February meeting.

Blimey O’ Reilly, I don’t believe it, skies were actually clear for one of this year’s astronomical highlights, so I hope you set the alarm and viewed it.  I had set my camera and tripod up the previous evening, so when the phone alarm jolted me out of my slumber around 04:45h, I only had to don some warm attire and wander out into the back garden to view proceedings.

Totality was centred on 05:15h and therefore the moon was already in umbral eclipse, and a beautiful sight it was too, quite light in hue, so perhaps more light was being refracted around the earth than usual.  Using a SDLR 200mm lens, I tried various exposures, times and ISO’s; trial and error really, much trial and many errors, precise focussing being the bug-bear, but I managed a few half decent images.

Looking around the clear sky, the spring constellations were already crossing the S meridian, with Leo and Virgo well presented.

The bizarre thing was for that time of morning it didn’t actually feel that cold, and in fact it felt and looked much colder at 08:00h – just weird.  By 05:30h I thought my work done and retired back to my hot water bottle and the land of nod.  If your alarm failed to go off and you missed it, there is not another total lunar eclipse visible from the UK until May 2022, but not in entirety, for that we have to wait until the last day of 2028 and better still – from start to finish Dec 2029!

This exciting exhibition sponsored by the Royal Society at Whitby Museum opens on February 16th and will showcase the importance of Whitby and the surrounding area in investigating the cosmos, from Captain Cook’s 1768 voyage mapping the transit of Venus to the current search for Dark Matter at Boulby Underground Laboratory.

The exhibition will be opened on the evening of the 15th, with a public lecture in The Normanby Room entitled “The Search for Dark Matter”, given by Professor Henrique Araujo of Imperial College London (which I believe is fully booked already), telling of the internationally important work being carried out at Boulby Underground Laboratory.

Apparatus from the DM facility will be on show at the museum – including the ZEPLIN-III detector.  With WDAS members very much involved (Phil Richards especially) a small part of the exhibition room has been set aside for the society to utilise and material for this purpose is currently been gathered and put together.  The exhibition runs until July 20th.

If any society members can spare an hour on occasion to actually be in attendance at our part of the exhibition, it would be good for publicity.

If you have not already done so (and you haven’t had a visitation from Mark) subscriptions for the coming year are due.  Happily subscription rates have been kept the same i.e £12, for adults with subsidized rates at £8 for under 16’s.

You can bring subs along to the W.D.A.S monthly meetings in 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 at 33 laburnum Grove, Whitby.  YO211HZ. 

Many thanks for your continued support.

Hussar!  A new laptop at last!  Well, it was about time, our existing one getting on for 8 yrs old, slowing-up, taped-up and most probably fed-up.  The new one (an HP) is much quicker, smaller, lighter and better capable of running the newly released upgrade of the Starry Night program we utilise for the meetings etc.  Good timing really. 

The only thing we need to master now is how to use them to their full potential.  Yes ‘first night nerves’ seemed to afflict the set up for the January meeting.  We are confident that the gremlins are now behind bars!

Events

Observe the night sky with us at the Bruce Observatory, Whitby School.

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.

Date:
24 February, 2019 - 19:00
Address:
Bruce Observatory, Caedmon School Normandy Site (Whitby School)
Prospect Hill
YO21 1LA Whitby
United Kingdom
GB

The North Yorkshire Mors Centre in Danby is the venue for a star party for the Dark Skies night festival.  This event calls for all hands on deck – assuming the weather plays ball. 

This is due to start at 19:00h until 21:00h.  Transportation and instruments are therefore requested to ensure the event is successful.

Directions: The nearest postcode is: YO21 2NB

But we've also been given a Grid Reference.  Here it is in various formats:

  • NZ 716 083
  • 54.465035 -0.896868
  • 54°27'54.1"N 0°53'48.7"W

 

Date:
2 March, 2019 - 19:00
Address:
The Moors National Park Centre near YO21 2DT Danby
United Kingdom
GB

Inspired by the North York Moors National Park’s Dark Skies Festival, Fyling Hall School have invited us to host their very own Stargazing Party on March 1st (Friday).  The event is also being co-promoted by Baytown Coffee, so perhaps something warm and welcoming will be on the cards. 

The location will be the front lawn of the School (facing the sea) starting around 19:20h.  We shall therefore need to be present on site shortly after 19:00h.

The boarding students will be flogged enlisted to help out with a scaled solar system demonstration before observing is commenced, (weather permitting), with members pointing out what to look for in the winter/early spring night sky. 

Who knows what the conditions will be like (certainly the weathermen don’t) so Plan B and C will be lurking in the wings.

Date:
2 March, 2019 - 19:15
Address:
Fylinghall School
Robin Hoods Bay
YO22 4QD
United Kingdom
GB

Observe the night sky with us at the Bruce Observatory, Whitby School.

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.

Date:
3 March, 2019 - 19:00
Address:
Bruce Observatory, Caedmon School Normandy Site (Whitby School)
Prospect Hill
YO21 1LA Whitby
United Kingdom
GB

The sixth society meeting of the season, in newly renamed Caedmon College Normanby Site (you may know it as Whitby College or Whitby School), Room H1.

In Members' monthly meetings we usually take a tour of the night sky for the coming month using the Planetarium program, sometimes have other topics for discussion, etc.

Date:
5 March, 2019 -
19:30 to 21:15
Address:
Room H1, Caedmon College, Normanby Site (Whitby School)
Prospect Hill
YO21 1LA Whitby
United Kingdom
GB

Observe the night sky with us at the Bruce Observatory, Whitby School.

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.

Date:
10 March, 2019 - 19:00
Address:
Bruce Observatory, Caedmon School Normandy Site (Whitby School)
Prospect Hill
YO21 1LA Whitby
United Kingdom
GB

Observe the night sky with us at the Bruce Observatory, Whitby School.

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.

Date:
17 March, 2019 - 19:00
Address:
Bruce Observatory, Caedmon School Normandy Site (Whitby School)
Prospect Hill
YO21 1LA Whitby
United Kingdom
GB

Observe the night sky with us at the Bruce Observatory, Whitby School.

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.

Date:
24 March, 2019 - 19:00
Address:
Bruce Observatory, Caedmon School Normandy Site (Whitby School)
Prospect Hill
YO21 1LA Whitby
United Kingdom
GB

Observe the night sky with us at the Bruce Observatory, Whitby School.

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.

Date:
31 March, 2019 - 19:00
Address:
Bruce Observatory, Caedmon School Normandy Site (Whitby School)
Prospect Hill
YO21 1LA Whitby
United Kingdom
GB