A monthly look at astronomical events in the sky and on Earth
Well, it’s arrived: the astronomy season for real. Suddenly,
shockingly for some, now the clocks have
gone back it’s getting dark by just after 5 p.m. and that’ll be 4:30 p.m. at
the end of the month. No longer do we have to wait until after bedtime to see
anything. The whole evening is at our disposal. So what’s up there?
After the short and light nights of summer, September is the
first month in which the sky goes completely dark every night (i.e. astronomical
twilight ends, and the sun dips to more than 18° below the horizon). At the
start of the month, total darkness runs from 2211 to 0355 BST, but by month
end, it runs from 2043 to 0504 BST. So in addition to other delights of the
night sky, we can observe faint and diffuse deep sky objects without having to
stay up really late.
No 2. in a series created and compiled by Dave Armeson
The NEXT step – going further than naked eye observing…
If you’ve had a few nights out under the stars and learnt a few constellations, then you might wonder what is there to see just below naked-eye limit. Well, rather than plunging in the “deep end” and buying a telescope that might/might not be suitable for you, a prudent step is binoculars. Binoculars bring into view star clusters, glorious Milky Way star fields, Jupiter’s four largest, Galilean moons and of course some craters on the Moon and some of the brighter “Deep Sky” objects like the Andromeda Galaxy.
No 1. in a series created and compiled by Dave Armeson
It’s not as difficult as you first think!
Starting out in astronomy at first seems a very daunting prospect. When I first got into stargazing nearly 40 years ago I thought this is going to be difficult – but I was pleasantly surprised. When you learn just a few constellations it is surprising how everything else tends to start to fall into place – and a few months of perseverance you will start to gain a very satisfying working knowledge of the night sky. You should be able to identify nearly all the northern sky star patterns within a year of dedicated looking.
Martin Dawson joined the York Astronomical Society in
1973 shortly after the society was formed and has been a member ever since. He
kept an occasional diary of events from that time. Some of the entries bear a
similarity to current happenings at the Society: meetings, talks and working
parties at the observatory, then at Acaster Airfield. An example entry:
7 Jan 1977 – ‘YAS Member Mrs. Gibson presented her talk on her trip to West Africa to see the 1976 October eclipse. 0.90p made in raffle (1.75) Planisphere as prize.’
York Astro member Martin Dawson, has sent us a copy of the Society’s newsletter from 1974, two years after the Society was formed. Although the newsletter was printed on old technology with hand drawn illustrations, the topics covered would be familiar to members now; reports on recent talks, what’s to be observed that month and progress with the observatory. Back then, meetings were held at the Railway Institute and planning permission for the observatory had been obtained, plus the Society has acquired a 12.5″ reflecting telescope – wonder what happened to that.
Inclement weather threatened us at the start of the day, but
it eventually turned sunny. There was a good turnout of volunteers and a number
of tasks completed. After setting the world to rights we started work. We were
refuelled at lunchtime by some great bacon and sausage baps from Angela.
People in York (well, those prepared to be up through the night) were rewarded with a spectacular view of the lunar eclipse on Monday morning. I feel sorry for some I know who got up through the night and see clouds, only to go back to bed to miss the spectacle when they cleared. York Astro members were busy posting their photographs to social media and Martin Dawson had a photo selected for the York Press lunar eclipse gallery and then with a front page picture and accreditation for him and the Society. Continue reading →