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


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Wednesday 5th June 2019

Andrew said that next week we had our annual Telescope Zoo when we do not look through them but we look at them. The week after that we have one-time junior member Siân Cleaver with a talk: - To the Moon and Beyond: Exploring the Solar System from Europe.

Mike thanked everybody that contributed to our recent Space Day – we had 45 people along. The day went well the weather was great and we had lots of nice comments on Facebook.

He reminded us to remember that we have an Open Night on 5th October.

Ed said that Jupiter is worth a look in the late evening.

Mike said we were having a Stikfest and the first up was:

Andrew was still exploring his iphone with its Nightcap software. He had three images of the Pleiades.

Phil had some images from a visit to Greenwich. Several images of the site plus of course the Meridian. He had some nice pics inside the observatories. He even had a pic of the Sun with a halo and some interesting pics inside a lava tube.

Dave Sm had some shots from our Space Day He had images from the planetarium and the classroom including several of the launches - he even got Ron’s splendid Saturn 5 lookalike which worked brilliantly - despite being significantly heavier than the small constructions made by the families - it only had the same ‘engine’. It did have rather better streamlining. Unfortunately the parachute recovery system failed so the descent was spectacular but resulted in some nosecone damage.

Jim had an image of Comet C/018R3. He advised that it was the first image taken from his new observatory remotely. We also saw a video clip of his sliding roof in operation which he explained the mechanics of. It includes an automatic system to close it if it rains. The software for this was written by Chris W. It even ensures the scope is ‘parked’ so that the closing does not damage the instrument.

Ron had some shots from the last Kelling Heath but it was murky and wet as his images showed. But they managed to enjoy a real live steam train trip.

Andy D had a super image of M51 it took 8hrs of black and white and a further 4hrs of colour to achieve. Andy explained that there are two distinct galaxies involved in the image that are interacting. He also showed us an image of the sun gained from his solar scope.

Chris (mentioned above in connection with Jim) had several excellent photographic prints of his own imagery and printed at home for us to see and marvel at including:- Dumbbell Neb, M51, Elephant Trunk Neb, M31 flipped, M42, M45, M13, jellyfish Neb, Wizard Neb and the Heart Neb. All the large prints were mounted and entirely suitable to be hung on a wall. Some had adorned his office walls at his workplace.

Well up to standard.

Wednesday 12th June 2019

Tonight was our annual Telescope Zoo event. On one of the shortest nights of the year, Andrew had invited everyone to bring their telescopes along and set them up in the car park. Not only did he like the irony of having members settign up their scopes in daylight with no hope of observing anything, there was a more practical purpose. It allowed us allto look at the scopes, rather than through them.

Members were able to compar scopes, ask questions and look at the different types available.

There was a fair selection on show and it was a very enjoyable evening.

Wednesday 19th June 2019

Andrew said that next week we have Observing Highlights for July and August by Ed.

Mike introduced our one-time junior member Siân Cleaver with her talk: To the Moon and Beyond: Exploring the Solar System from Europe.

Siân’s childhood ambitions of becoming an astronaut led her to pursue a degree in Physics and Astronomy at Durham University in the UK, and then a career in the space industry. After four years of study, Siân joined the Defence and Space division of Airbus on their graduate scheme. Six years later, Siân is now a Principle Mission Systems Engineer at Airbus at Stevenage in the UK. She works predominately on the design and development of future European Space Agency exploration missions, such as Solar Orbiter, a spacecraft that will fly close to the Sun to carry out observations and take measurements relating to solar and Heliospheric physics.

Siân has recently been seconded to Airbus in Bremen, Germany, where she is supporting the Project Management Office of the Orion MPCV-ESM project. Orion is NASA’s next spacecraft to send humans into space: to the Moon, asteroids and even to Mars. The Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle European Service Module is Europe’s contribution to the overall Orion spacecraft. It provides propulsion, power, water, oxygen and nitrogen to the crew module, and also controls the temperature and trajectory of the spacecraft. Siân’s role currently involves helping to secure the contracts for future rebuilds of the ESM.

Siân is passionate about inspiring others – particularly young women – to consider STEM careers, and was an inaugural member and most recently Chair of the WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) Young Women’s Board. She is an active Diversity and Inclusion champion within her company, having just set up a ‘Balance for Business’ diversity network at her workplace, and regularly participates in Outreach activities as a STEM Ambassador, often accompanying the prototype ExoMars Rover on its promotional travels around the UK.

In her free time, Siân enjoys gliding, astronomy, travel and scuba diving, and still hopes to one day achieve her dream of going into space!

Sian began by telling us about the Solar Orbiter which is studying the sun from a unique distance. It's sccheduled to launch in 2020 and its mission is to scrutinise the Sun in unprecedented detail. It builds on Ulysses and SOHO programmes and Airbus Defense?and Space is the prime contractor for it.

Set for launch in 2020, Solar Orbiter builds on the successful joint European Space Agency (ESA) / NASA missions Ulysses and SOHO.

The orbiter, which is currently being designed and built by Airbus Defense and Space-led team, will scrutinize the Sun in unprecedented detail. Travelling closer to the Sun than the planet Mercury, it will make comprehensive measurements of the nascent solar wind. Its mission is to explore how the Sun creates the heliosphere, the bubble-like region of space dominated by the solar wind.

Siân said that Airbus principle task is to ensure the satellite is robust enough for the mission.

She said the heat shield was a very important component.

One of the crucial tasks is to always consider how changes made will affect other systems within the craft.

Siân then spoke about the Rosalind Franklin (Exo Mars) Rover.

Rosalind Franklin, previously known as the ExoMars rover, is a planned robotic Mars rover, part of the international ExoMars programme led by the European Space Agency and the Russian Roscosmos State Corporation.

The ExoMars rover will be the first of its kind to combine the capability to roam around Mars and to study it at depth. The Red Planet has hosted water in the past, but has a dry surface exposed to harsh radiation today.

The rover bearing Rosalind Franklin’s name will drill down to two metres into the surface to sample the soil, analyse its composition and search for evidence of past – and perhaps even present – life buried underground.

The rover is part of the ExoMars programme, a joint endeavour between ESA and the Russian State Space Corporation, Roscosmos.

Sian moved to her last and possibly favourite project, the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion MPCV) whiich is an American-European interplanetary spacecraft intended to carry a crew of four astronauts to destinations at or beyond low Earth orbit (LEO). Currently under development by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) for launch on the Space Launch System, Orion is intended to facilitate human exploration of the Moon, asteroids and of Mars and to retrieve crew or supplies from the International Space Station if needed.

The Orion MPCV was announced by NASA on May 24th 2011, and is currently under development. Its design is based on the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle from the cancelled Constellation program. It has two main modules. The Orion command module is being built by Lockheed Martin at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The Orion service module, provided by the European Space Agency, is being built by Airbus Defense and Space.

An excellent presentation and wouldn’t it be wonderful if she succeeds in being an astronaut – we will certainly let you know – watch this space. It will even beat Paul Cooper’s appearance on University Challenge.

Wednesday 26th June 2019

Andrew said that we were invited to attend the One Show studio tomorrow evening to take part in the show which will be featuring astronomy.

Next week we have The Space Race on the Front Page from Mike and the week after we have a discussion about Astronomy Websites so he encouraged us to have a think.

Mike introduced Jane for her: Astronomy News

Jane began by saying that she was pleased with the way our club email group worked and was being used.

Her first story was about the Artemis Programme – budget $30b/year!

Half a century after NASA sent men to the moon under project "Apollo," the space agency is now working to land men — and women — on the lunar surface as part of its "Artemis" program.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine revealed the new moniker on Monday (May 13) during a call with reporters that was primarily focused on the budget for the newly named moon program.

"It turns out that Apollo had a twin sister, Artemis. She happens to be the goddess of the Moon," said Bridenstine, referring to Greek mythology. "Our astronaut office is very diverse and highly qualified. I think it is very beautiful that 50 years after Apollo, the Artemis program will carry the next man — and the first woman — to the Moon."

The Artemis program, which was previously only referred to by its component names — including the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket, Orion crew vehicle and Gateway lunar outpost — began when President Donald Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1 in 2017, directing NASA to return astronauts to the Moon.

Jane recalled a recent non event when NASA planned for two women to do a space walk at the same time but it could not happen as there was only one medium spacesuit!

NASA is working with JPL planning more missions to Mars.

NASA is opening up the International Space Station for “private astronaut missions of up to 30 days,” with the first mission as early as 2020. The commercialization of the ISS has long been considered a way to reduce NASA’s yearly costs for operating the station. As Boeing and SpaceX are developing capsules to carry humans to the ISS, the agency said the two companies will handle these private tourists and any services related to them.

NASA will start with two private astronaut flights a year.

Each trip will likely cost over $50 million, with NASA getting $35,000 for each night a private astronaut spends on the International Space Station.

There has already been a space tourist: - Dennis Anthony Tito (born August 8, 1940) is an American engineer and multimillionaire, most widely known as the first space tourist to fund his own trip into space. In mid-2001, he spent nearly eight days in orbit as a crew member of ISS EP-1, a visiting mission to the International Space Station.

Jane reminded us that the moon landings happened 50 years ago and she treated us to a selection of images from that amazing time.

Apollo 11 Flight Director Gene Kranz, who led the effort, recently stepped into the completely restored "Houston" and spoke to ABC News about what it was like to be in mission control on that historic day.

Mission control housed the engineers and flight directors who worked tirelessly to ensure Apollo 11's mission was a success. It took $5 million and a meticulous eye to bring it back to life 50 years later at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

During the 1950s and 1960s the Soviet space program used dogs for sub-orbital and orbital space flights to determine whether human spaceflight was feasible. In this period, the Soviet Union launched missions with passenger slots for at least 57 dogs. The number of dogs in space is smaller, as some dogs flew more than once. Most survived; the few that died were lost mostly through technical failures, according to the parameters of the test. A notable exception is Laika, the first dog to be sent into orbit, whose death was expected from the outset.

Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that landed the first two people on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin, both American, landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20th 1969, at 20:17 UTC. Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface six hours later on July 21th at 02:56:15 UTC; Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later. They spent about two and a quarter hours together outside the spacecraft, and collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material to bring back to Earth. Command module pilot Michael Collins flew the command module Columbia alone in lunar orbit while they were on the Moon's surface. Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21.5 hours on the lunar surface at a site they named Tranquility Base before rejoining Columbia in lunar orbit.v

Apollo 11 was launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, on July 16 at 13:32 UTC, and was the fifth crewed mission of NASA's Apollo program. The Apollo spacecraft had three parts: a command module with a cabin for the three astronauts, and the only part that returned to Earth; a service module, which supported the command module with propulsion, electrical power, oxygen and water; the lunar module had two stages – a descent stage for landing on the Moon and an ascent stage to place the astronauts back into lunar orbit.

Jane said that everybody got interested in space - Panorama featured it, Germany got some hamsters up and even the Clangers were involved.

Mike introduced Ed for his update: Observing Highlights for July and August

Ed began by saying that Jupiter, which is just past opposition, is well placed in the South and Saturn, which is approaching opposition, is to the East both worth a look. We saw a chart showing their positions from 12th to 16th July.

There is a lunar eclipse on 16th July – it is partial and will rise already in progress – best viewed from a higher location.

On 26th Jupiter and globular cluster NGC6235 will be in the same field of view and again in late August.

Ed told us about Saturn’s giant moon Titan and showed a chart of its position around the planet in July and August.

On 12/13th August we will have the Perseid Meteor Shower the bright Perseids are perhaps the most popular meteor shower of the year, but in 2019 they'll be washed out by a close-to-full moon during their peak. Spectators can expect to see just 10-15 per hour at peak. The other ‘good’ shower is the Geminids in December but a bright moon threatens that as well.

Ed said that M13 in Hercules was well worth a look in 8x30 bins. We saw a chart of the Hercules Keystone area - the globular cluster’s location.

Ed showed us Zeta Hercules which is a double star complete with a chart showing their relationship from 1935 to 1967. Sometimes these can be hard to separate but this is improving with time. He said that his newly acquired 8inch outperforms his trusty 10inch in separating them. He gave a demo of their positions relative to one another with his famous poly balls gadget.

Ed told us about one of his heroes Edward Emerson Barnard. The American astronomer and astronomical photographer Edward Emerson Barnard (1857-1923) received the Lalande Medal from the French Academy of Sciences for his discovery of the fifth satellite of Jupiter. Edward Barnard was born on Dec. 16, 1857, in Nashville, Tenn.

Barnard's Star is a very-low-mass red dwarf about 6 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Ophiuchus. It is the fourth nearest known individual star to the Sun (after the three components of the Alpha Centauri system) and the closest star in the Northern Celestial Hemisphere. Despite its proximity, the star has a dim apparent magnitude of +9.5 and is invisible to the unaided eye; it is much brighter in the infrared than in visible light.

The proper motion of Barnard's Star corresponds to a relative lateral speed of 90 km/s. The 10.3 seconds of arc it travels annually amount to a quarter of a degree in a human lifetime, roughly half the angular diameter of the full Moon. The radial velocity of Barnard's Star towards the Sun is measured from its blueshift. The English astronomer Edmond Halley, in 1718, was the first to detect proper motions—those of Arcturus and Sirius.

To demonstrate Proper Motion Ed showed us three views of the Plough one 100,000 years ago, now and 100,000 years in the future.

Ed showed us a double shadow transit on Jupiter of Io and Ganymede. Plus one from 5th June of the same phenomena but this time including the actual moons – these are hard to spot against the bright planet.

He said he was planning a Wallasea Island visit to have ago at the Great Red Spot.

We saw a screen with several views of Jupiter and Saturn.

The opposition surge (sometimes known as the opposition effect, opposition spike or Seeliger effect is the brightening of a rough surface, or an object with many particles, when illuminated from directly behind the observer. The term is most widely used in astronomy, where generally it refers to the sudden noticeable increase in the brightness of a celestial body such as a planet, moon, or comet as its phase angle of observation approaches zero. It is so named because the reflected light from the Moon and Mars appear significantly brighter than predicted by simple Lambertian reflectance when at astronomical opposition. Two physical mechanisms have been proposed for this observational phenomenon: shadow hiding and coherent backscatter.

Ed finished with a shot of the moon and drew our attention to the location of the lunar landing site in the Sea of Tranquility.

There’s certainly plenty to do.


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