Castle Point Astronomy Club
1969-2019 - 50th Anniversary Year
Castle Point Astronomy Club Diary
October 2018 by Dave Stratton

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Wednesday 3rd October 2018

Pin Hole Cameras - Ron Mansfield

This was a rerun of a talk that Ron has given a few tiems over the years at the Club. For the original write up see November 2006.

Wednesday 10th October 2018

Well we had an observing night again - the seeing was not good, but beggars can´t be choosers.

We had a good range of scopes:

Ron had the biggest with the club´s 17inch reflector - made by a bunch of us in 2003 and still going strong.

Ron had the instrument on the Ring Nebula, the Double Cluster and Albireo. Albireo has been classed as a double star for years but very recently it has allegedly been demoted to a mere line-of-sight double.

Other scopes were looking at M13 a globular cluster of several hundred thousand stars in the constellation of Hercules. M92 is another globular cluster in Hercules.

The Ring Nebula (M57 or NGC 6720) is a planetary nebula in the northern constellation of Lyra.

Messier 27 (M27), also known as the Dumbbell Nebula is a planetary nebula in Vulpecula.

M15 is a globular cluster in the constellation Pegasus.

The Double Cluster (also known as Caldwell 14) is the common name for the open clusters NGC 869 and NGC 884 which are close together in the constellation Perseus.

We had a new member, Charlie, join us this evening. He is an entertainer so we now have two of them!

We had a first timer in the form of Darren who is keen to get into imaging.

Very good evening.

Wednesday 17th October 2018

Our Bring and Buy Sale

This is an occasional event that allows everybody to pass on their unwanted kit and acquire some new stuff.

Chris, a relatively new member, picked up a bargain with a 4inch Newtonian Reflector for free Roy had brought it along as a friend was throwing it out.

There were a lot of chins being scratched as their owners deliberated.

Bernie Hobbs daughter Sandra was there having a go at finding a good home for her Dad´s rather excellent range of kit that included three scopes with an 8inch Schmidt Cassegraine being the star.

Two first timers came along, Terry and Paul (not together) they both seemed to thoroughly enjoy the event.

Ron had a wall chart map of the known universe it was rather splendid and free but also rather large!

A good one.

Wednesday 24th October 2018

Today Andrew said we had the choice between Astronomers´ Question Time or observing the club´s policy is to observe if possible so we decided to split the evening into two so we started with observing.

However we got carried away and never did get back in the warm.

The sky was clear in as much as there was no serious cloud but the seeing was poor and the Moon was about 80% being 4 days past full and very bright which hinders detailed observing. However it remains a wonderful object to observe even if it robs you of seeing much for a short while afterwards as your eyes readjust.

We started with the Moon through Ron´s 8inch Newtonian which pretty much blew their minds the first sight through a scope is amazing.

Then we had to quickly move the scope to get a look at Mars as it was about to go behind some trees.

Ron then showed them Albireo the lovely double at the Swan´s head swiftly followed by the Double Double - Epsilon Lyrae is a multiple star system approximately 162 light-years away in the constellation of Lyra. Ron explained that the seeing would not allow us to see the individual stars, but they would look different as they appear elongated.

Sarah and co were really impressed by what they saw and what we told them and said they would be along next week with Sarah´s daughter as well.

Talking about new people we had Terry and Paul who came for the first time last week - come to see us again and Terry had his partner Jean with him.

Great evening.

Wednesday 31st October 2018

Jim said he had put out an email about the club equipment available for loan.

Ted said the club funds were just short of being enough for our rent.

Mike introduced Ed for his talk: Observing Highlights November and December.

He put up a slide showing the sky looking South. He recommended we make a note and keep an eye out for the Geminid Meteor Shower on 14th Dec this can be up to 100 ZHR.

He spent a few minutes talking about last year´s Geminids when a small, but select group went to the Dengie Dark Site on a terrible night with wind and cold. They had problems getting the gate to open as the zapper had a flat battery Ed had to ‘borrow’ the one from his car´s key fob, but it all ended well the forecast clear spell appeared and they had a splendid night.

Ed pointed out the radiant for the shower which is near Castor.

Mercury is up in the mornings, but is very low it will improve as the month progresses. Saturn is low in SW at dusk.

Mars is first class in the South. iIt is very well placed and well worth a look. He explained the retrograde motion that we see is a product of the Earth overtaking Mars on its inferior orbit.

Neptune is well - placed on 7th Dec it will be very close to Mars about half a degree South.

Uranus is also well placed on the ecliptic Ed explained that there are three stars in Aries that ‘point at it’. He said it appeared as a tiny bluish disc.

He said that Uranus also has retrograde motion which he showed us the detail of with his chart. He had passed out handout sheets for us all to keep which included this detail.

The Andromeda Galaxy M31 is our closest neighbour he explained how to ‘star hop’ from the top LH corner of the square of Pegasus to find it it is two left and two up.

Around the year 964, the Persian astronomer Abdal-Rahman al-Sufi described the Andromeda Galaxy in his Book of Fixed Stars as a nebulous smear. In 1765 it was described as an ‘Island Universe’. In 1764 Messier catalogued it as M31 an object to be ignored as it was not a comet.

In 1864 William Huggins noted that the spectrum of Andromeda differs from a gaseous nebula.

William Herschel noted a faint reddish hue in the core region of Andromeda. He believed Andromeda to be the nearest of all the ‘great nebulae’, and based on the color and magnitude of the nebula, he incorrectly guessed that it is no more than 2,000 times the distance of Sirius.

The Reverend Thomas William Webb (14 December 1807 19 May 1885) was a British astronomer. He noted that a spectrographic study of M31 showed it to be non gaseous.

Edwin Hubble realised that it had to be separate from us another galaxy that was bigger than the Milky Way and it is on a collision course with us.

Ed showed us a slide of two binoculars 8 X 25s and 10 X 50, he said the smaller one does ‘work’ and because they are so small are easy to carry in pocket or handbag.

He showed us a superb image of M31 pointing out that when we look with the unaided eye we only see the very centre it is 25m lya.

He pointed out that the Northern edge is more sharply defined than the Southern. Also the two satellite galaxies and the two dust lanes.

Ed also said that M31 had globular clusters as we do and he explained how we could look at one of M31s by star hopping. Mayall II (G1)was discovered in 1953 by Nicholas Nicholas Ulrich Mayall (May 9, 1906 January 5, 1993) was an American observational astronomer. Ed pointed out that there is an alternative description for Mayall ll in that it is the remains of a galactic core.

We saw Ed´s sketch of Mayall ll. He said that it was so important with sketching to get the direction clear. He explained that to help orientate yourself it was worth remembering that when looking through a telescope the stars always leave your view to the West.

Ed mentioned that on 21st November there would be a talk ‘Introduction to Visual Astronomy ’.

Mike thanked Ed and said we were to have some videos of the Moon from Jim.

We were treated to a series of stunning video clips of many areas of the Moon which Jim had captioned so we knew what they were.

Mike set up his own sky software to show Mars and other planets moving rapidly about their business it showed Mars´ retrograde motion very well indeed.

He also showed us the close approach of Mars to Neptune on 7th Dec.

Dave Sm spoke briefly about his recent charts of variable stars we will see in not too long.


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