Castle Point Astronomy Club
Castle Point Astronomy Club Diary
December 2012 by Dave Stratton
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Wednesday 5th December 2012

Jupiter

Mike began by telling us that the move back to St. Michaels would be delayed until the New Year due to a floor having to be re-laid. After the Christmas break our first meeting will be on 9th January we will be advised if location is to be changed. Peter told us that the 13th is the peak of the Geminid meteor shower - a visit to the Dark Site is planned.

Andrew was on next with a talk about Jupiter.

We learnt that Jupiter had been at opposition on 4th he showed a chart showing the planets to scale. Jupiter is the 4th brightest object in the sky after the Sun, Moon and Venus. It is 5.2 AU from the Sun. It is amazingly three times larger than all the rest of the planets together. It rotates in 10 hours and its year lasts 12 of ours. Galileo Galilei discovered the four moons on 7th January 1610 with a 20 times magnification telescope. He made the deduction from this that the Earth was going around the Sun.

The Cassini probe on route to Saturn took some fascinating pics of Jupiter while it was passing by.

We saw some wonderful images of the planet including the GRS which is a storm that has existed for 300 years and is twice as wide as Earth. It was first seen by Cassini and Robert Hooke in 17th century. Andrew showed a lovely image of Io and its shadow on Jupiter. Jupiter is a gas giant; it is 75% Hydrogen and 25% Helium similar to the Sun.

We do not know the internal structure but it may have a solid Hydrogen core.

It has a lot of weather and bands that sometimes go and come back. It has thunderheads which go around the GRS and lightning. Also there are loads of white ovals that are long lasting storms.

It boasts 63 moons as of Feb. 2004 which are very gradually slowing Jupiter down. The four main moons orbit in a fixed ratio such that Io is 1, Europa is 2, Ganymede is 4 and Callisto 8 or it will be eventually.

Io is the most volcanically active object in the solar system; its surface is mainly Sulphur. Jupiter's gravity moves Io's surface by 100m which generates a lot of heat - by comparison the gravitational effect on Earth is 1m. Io's surface is constantly being replaced so it has no craters.

Europa is of similar size to the Moon appears to have a surface of ice the interior may be salty water which just might contain life. The ice layer is thought to be about 3 miles thick and the water depth 30 miles.

Ganymede is the largest moon in the solar system. It was thought that Saturn's Titan held this honour until recently. Ganymede has a magnetic field. It is heavily cratered indicating an old, not very active object.

Callisto has lots of craters similar to Ganymede.

Jupiter even has rings but they are very faint. It has a vast magnetic field about 650 times that of the Earth. In July 1994 Comet Schumacher-Levy 9 hit it leaving scars that took a long time to fade.

Pete, our Observing Director was on next with tips on what to look for in December. Jupiter is well placed for observing - he showed us lots of Jupiter images including some very recent ones which appear to show that there is another Red Spot close to the original, several of our members have imaged it

Peter said there was a lovely grouping of Mercury, Venus and Saturn in the SE about 06.30 in the mornings. The crescent old moon will be joining them on 11th Dec.

Pete said that Saturn was a great telescope object right now as the rings are wide open.

Ceres and Vesta are good binocular objects; they are to be found between Orion and Auriga to the left of Jupiter. He had a finder chart for those that needed it.

Comet 168P Hurgenmother (imaged by Jim) will pass close to M31 in 21st Dec.

Comet 2012 K5 will pass through the Plough from 10th to 23rd it is mag. 8. Another finder chart was available for this.

Apparently next year in March a comet is predicted to be as bright as Venus.

Comet 2012 S1 could be the brightest in human history in Dec. 2013 after it has passed by the Sun it could be as bright as the Moon but very close to the Sun - visible in daylight.

Astronomy pure and simple.

Wednesday 12th December 2012

Tribute Evening for Sir Patrick Moore

Mike asked Ted to start us off. He had a book, by PM's mother Gertrude, of cartoons and short stories, many with an astronomical theme. The foreword was by P himself. It was passed around for all to enjoy.

The club has made two visits to his home in Selsey in recent years so there are lots of photographs and fond memories.

Mike showed us his own pics which included the group and the house. He recounted the fact that although P had been a lifelong bachelor he had a fiancée called Lorna who was an ambulance driver during the war and sadly was killed by a bomb. P has not been over fond of Germans as a result.

Ted had some snaps from a tribute function in honour of P at the Royal Society about 4 years ago. Ted's pics from the club visit to P's house included rather touchingly, a shot of his study and in the background was a silhouette of a telescope cut out of plywood which had been made for and presented to P by club member Brian many years ago.

P had been to the club in the past and we made him an honorary member and we saw a picture showing the presentation of his certificate.

Andrew showed his own collection of images of the visit and his many telescopes in observatories. He said that P's house was called Farthings. He pondered as to whether this alluded to money or 'Far Things'.

Bruce had more images of the visit including one of the distinctive Astro themed weather vane. Plus his wonderful glass topped small table whose support is a model of a Lunar Lander. Bruce advised that the toilet was an absolute treasure full of fascinating memorabilia similar to the rest of the house.

We then saw a video of the visit which of course made it very real. This included a bit about the actual telescope that P used for his renowned maps of the Moon that were used by both the US and the Russians in planning their early missions. Explanations of the various scopes were given by a volunteer helper from a local Astro society. This included the wonderful Fullerscope with an Octagonal wooden tube. It even has a top-piece that can be rotated to present different eyepieces with no loss of collimation.

There was a delightful pic of Patrick signing young Brandon's book for him. This was a real treat as P found writing rather difficult.

Ed had a photo of P's signature in his copy of The Observer's book of Astronomy by of course PM.

It is fervently hoped that the house will become a museum.

The evening continued with some images of Jupiter which is currently just past opposition and splendidly placed.

Mike showed us his images gained with his webcam and stacked.

Ed followed with some sketches. The first was of an impact scar from 25th July 2009.

He had a drawing of Io plus its shadow transit from 10th Oct. 2010 and pointed out that the Southern Equatorial Belt was missing. He also had the Great Red Spot from the next day.

He had Ganymede and its Shadow plus GRS from 21st Nov, 2012.

Wonderful.

Wednesday 19th December 2012

Christmas Party

This evening we had our annual social gathering, hopefully the last at our temporary venue. Things are looking good for our return to St Michael's - but whether we will make the 9th Jan remains to be seen. We will be advised by email or of course the website will carry the details for non members.

Ted did a splendid job of getting in the goodies. He's improving year over year. Mind you the only problem we normally have is what we do with the surplus. But this year it was just right. A good selection of stuff augmented with homemade cakes from a relatively new member, Mary. George did us proud, or his family did, with a delicious Danish chocolate biscuit confection from his wife whilst his daughter chipped in with some wonderful sweet treats.

A good way to finish an excellent year.


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