Castle Point Astronomy Club
Castle Point Astronomy Club Diary
September 2017 by Dave Stratton
Castle Point Astronomy Club

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Wednesday 6th September 2017

This was our first meeting after the summer break where we had our traditional informal evening giving members a chance to have a chat and catch-up.h

Wednesday 13th September 2017

Our scribe was away this evening, but Andrew did a talk entitled: Did they go? The Moon Landings, which was a rerun of a talk he first gave in 2009 so you can find a write up of it in the diary at July 2009

Wednesday 20th September 2017

Our scribe was away again this evening. THe AGM was held followed by a talk by Mike Culley about Mercury.

Wednesday 27th September 2017

Andrew said that next week we have Jack with a talk on Practical Stellar Spectroscopy.

Ted said the Church Hall was due to be refurbished and this may affect us.

Mike reminded us that this weekend we had our Open Night currently the weather outlook is unclear (no pun intended). He was thinking that we should go if possible to meet anyone turning up.

Mike introduced Peter for his:

Observing Highlights for October

(Peter kindly put his notes out to our group so this is a rather fuller version of his thoughts than normal.)


Saturn is dropping lower in the SW sky after sunset and will shortly become difficult to spot. It will be in conjunction or behind the Sun during December so then impossible to observe from Earth.

Saturn sets 3.5 hours after the Sun at the start of October but only 2.5 hours after the Sun by the end of October. Currently best viewed around 19.30hrs in the SW at about 12 degrees altitude.

Saturn has been rather poorly placed for viewing recently. At best It was only ever about 20 degrees above the southern horizon when it was at opposition in June.


Venus rises about 2 hours before the Sun at the start of October and has Mars as a dimmer companion following it only about 3 degrees behind.

3 degrees is about the width of a finger held at arm´s length.

Around the 5th October just before sunrise at approximately 06.00hrs Mars and Venus will be only 20 mins of arc apart, but unfortunately only about 10 degrees above the horizon.

You´ll probably need binoculars or a small telescope to see Mars and Venus close to the horizon because when objects are near the horizon they appear dimmer.

Orionid meteor shower

The shower´s best days are the 20th, 21st and 22nd October.

The radiant is high up in the constellation of Orion. The radiant is the point in the sky where all the paths of the meteors can be traced back to.

The best time to view the shower is in the early hours of the morning when the constellation is high in the sky but it should still be quite reasonable earlier in the night.

Expect to see about 10 to 15 meteors an hour from a dark site.

M31 Andromeda galaxy

M31 is a great target if you want to experiment with a fairly wide field astrophotography.

A faint nova was present in the galaxy two weeks ago. Any images taken with a telephoto lens or telescope should be examined to see if the nova has been captured.

Constellation Cassiopeia in the Milky Way

Four open star clusters are visible in a 5 degree circle. First find the W of Cassiopeia embedded high up in the Milky Way.

Find the star Delta which is the star 2nd from the left hand end when the constellation shape looks like a letter W.

About 1 degree from the star Delta is Messier 103, the 2nd cluster you come to is NGC659.

Outward a little further is NGC 663 or sometimes called Caldwell 10 and last in the arc shape of clusters is NGC654.

NGC663 or Caldwell 10 is the brightest and easiest to pick out. On a good clear night NGC 663 looks like a grainy patch of sky. It´s made up of 8th and 9th magnitude stars that flash on and off as they´re on the threshold of visibility when using binoculars.

It is possible to see this cluster in binos from a moderately light polluted site.

Resolving the stars in M103, NGC654 and NGC659 is a bit more difficult, partly because they´re fainter and partly because brighter foreground stars dominate the sky.

Mike was on next he hooked his iPad up to the projector and spoke about the excellent TED talks that are available.

He showed one given by Corrie Nugent about meteorites.

Then another by Phil Plait on how we might defend Earth from a meteorite that could hit us. He said the technology already existed because it was possible to shift an orbit just slightly which would change its trajectory enough. Let´s hope he´s right.

The last was fascinating it was given by Gerv Tulley and was about a different way of teaching children by allowing them to do stuff normally considered too daring.

Back to normal at last.

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