What’s Up! November 2019

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?

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What’s Up! September 2019

A monthly look at astronomical events in the sky and on Earth

See What’s Up! for August 2019

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.

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Modern meteor astronomy

A talk by Nick James Director of the comet section of BAA.

Report of the meeting written up by Rob Maclagan from notes taken by Michael Reakes.

Nick gave an interesting talk to the Society at a recent Priory Street event. He showed how, originally, meteors were recorded visually, then by film photography, and now using digital cameras, including standard CCTV. Modern cameras mean that video footage can be shot in real time at high quality. Although these are currently expensive, CCTV and other cameras are affordable to amateurs and astronomical societies. Using software, data can be uploaded to sites, contributing to the recording of meteors. It also possible to use radio equipment to ‘see’ meteors.

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Finding your way around binocular basics

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.

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Finding your way around the night sky

No 1. in a series created and compiled by Dave Armeson

First steps…

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.

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The ultimate history of the York Astronomical Society

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.’

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Crescent moon watch trial run a big success

The Society’s first crescent moon watch (Saturday 6 April 2019)

York Astronomical Society’s first crescent moon watch at Beetle Bank Farm near York was a big success – just a pity the weather didn’t oblige by giving us a clear view! The event was a Society initiative with the local Islamic community for whom the crescent moon is of religious importance. It was a trial run for what is hoped will become a regular event.

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Blast from the past – Newsletter no.3 January 1974

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.

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