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SGL Star Party 2018

Ken and I, plus RAG junior members Ben and Sam decided to brave the wild weather of Storm Callum this weekend and attended the Stargazers Lounge star party at Lucksall in Herefordshire. The weather gods co-operated in the standard way for pre-organised astro events and laid on some gale force winds, torrential rain and almost complete cloud cover, but this didn’t stop the whole thing being a lot of fun.
A marquee was set up for the event and some excellent talks were provided, including a very interesting one on sub millimetre astronomy, the limits of our current knowledge and how we’re pushing against them.
In addition there were a few practical activities laid on including rocket making and virtual reality exploration of the ISS and Comet 67p, plus some unofficial events:
– Welsh whiskey sampling (It’s a thing, apparently, and very nice too!)
– Watching ever larger pieces of debris glide past on a very swollen River Wye. We thought the mature Oak tree would be the largest, but then a pontoon with several large canoes still attached went flowing past.
– Speculating on whether the campsite would actually flood- the water was only a foot or so beneath the top of the defences when we left this morning.

There was also around an hour last night where the weather gods were clearly distracted and the cover broke a little and we played a game of pointing the dob at the gaps in the cloud as some of the easier to spot objects made an appearance. Altogether we managed to share views of the double-double, Bodes & Cigar, Andromeda, the Ring, the Double Cluster (easily the best sight, given the conditions), Albireo and Mars- albeit on a now you see it, now you don’t basis. Despite this, it was a great craic doing it with like-minded folks.

Fingers crossed next year there won’t be the same clash with the IAS- it would be great if more of us could enjoy both events.

 

Mid-monthly RAG meeting

Although I had initially not intended at attend this meeting, I did go to drop off a telescope and stayed for a lovely social time with a great group of folks.

…..This led to one of my more hilarious experiences in Astronomy. Lee Bale helped me to change the European two-pin plug on a neon DADOS spectrometry light I picked up today for a bargain £10 at the International Astronomy Show. We could not understand why this seemed to have a poor connection. The light kept turning on and off. We cut the end off the cable and re-wired it, bent connectors to tighten them, trimmed plastic in the casing that we thought was splaying connectors and virtually resorted to throwing it in the bin in disgust……. Until Lee had the inspired idea of turning the main light off in the seminar room at at Rosliston. Magically, the neon light turned on steady and bright. We turned the main ceiling light back on and the neon light went out – and we realised there was a light-sensitive detector in the neon bulb housing which was turning it on and off. When we were working on it, each time we leaned forward to work out what was going on, our heads would shield the neon light from the ceiling light causing it to come on. Then we would lean back and it would go off again!

Andy

September Meteors

September is not noted for any major meteor shower but there is activity from 9 radiants during the month, two of them mainly daytime activity.

There was a total of 1681meteors detected during September, the average hourly rate was 2.3 with a maximum of 13 between 9 and 10 am on the 13th. The average daily rate was 56 with a maximum of 86 on the 20th, the data is shown below.

The peak between 6-9 was probably due to the September Perseids, the peak on the 12th is probably the  Eta Draconids and the peak on the 29th the Delta Sextanids, particularly as most of the activity recorded was during daylight hours and this is a daytime shower.

The third chart is a comparison with the 2017 data, recorded using the same settings, although the 20127 counts  tends to be higher the pattern of variation over the month is remarkably similar, the difference in count possible being due to there being in more debris in the comet paths crossed indicative of the random nature by whbich comets lose material./ dust in their orbits

October sees the peak of the Orionid shower on the 21st, coinciding with a bright waxing, nearly full moon, the Southern Taurid shower peaks under more favourable conditions( 1 day old waxing crescent) on the 10th.