The origin of the name Boötes is a little unclear, but may be derived from a Greek word meaning ‘noisy’ or ‘clamorous’, referring to the herdsman’s calling his animals or alternatively from the ancient Greek meaning ‘ox-driver’, from the fact that Ursa Major was sometimes visualized as a cart pulled by oxen.  The Greeks also knew this constellation as Arctophylax, translated as Bear Watcher, Bear Keeper or Bear Guard.  In any event this constellation (pronounced Boh-oh-tease) is closely linked in legend with the Great Bear, Ursa Major, because of its position behind the bear’s tail.  Later astronomers have given Boötes two dogs, in the form of the neighbouring constellation Canes Venatici but they were not part of the original Greek visualization or legend. [Read more about Bootes – The Herdsman]

Corona Borealis

In mythology Corona Borealis is said to represent the crown of Dionysus tossed into the heavens to prove his love for Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete.  She had played an instrumental role in helping Theseus slay the Minotaur, a creature with the head of a bull on a human body.  Ariadne’s mother, Pasiphae had given birth to the creature after copulating with a bull owned by King Minos.  In order to cover up the shame, the Minotaur was imprisoned in a labyrinth so complex, neither the Minotaur nor anyone else who ventured in could ever find their way out... [Read more about Corona Borealis]

Event Horizon

Both of the early June Star Parties went ahead as scheduled.

The event on the 3rd drew a reasonable crowd over the duration.  Solar observations were initially possible, the sun still above the horizon low in the NW and a noticeable sunspot grouping was visible, which was an unexpected bonus.  Once the sun had set attention turned to the moon, a gibbous phase with some lovely detail on show, particularly around the Clavius crater area. 

As twilight deepened a little further Jupiter emerged, a pleasing view, with considerable, colourful on show and all four Galilean moons.  Later on, Saturn was picked up low to the horizon, not brilliant detail it has to be said, but the rings could be made out, much to the satisfaction of the public... [Read more about Event Horizon]

Sky Notes - July 2017

In this month's edition:

  • Planetary Skylights: Jupiter, Saturn and Venus
  • Meteors & Comets: Capri-Cornids, Alpha-Cygnids, Delta-Aquarids, Comet 2015 V2 (Johnson) and Kappa-Virginis
  • July 2017 Sky Charts

Many WDAS Members will have heard Sean Paling’s talk about hunting for Dark Matter in Boulby Mine, and followed updates of how successive experiments are progressing.  So let’s take another look at Dark Matter: why we think it’s there and what it is.

In our own solar system Mercury is moving faster than Earth, and Earth faster than Neptune.  That’s because their speed is a measure of the Sun’s gravitational pull, which is stronger the closer you are to it.  Hallelujah… the laws of physics are working!

But wait, the stars at the edge of a galaxy rotate around the super-massive blackhole at its heart, at more-or-less the same speed as stars much closer in.  That should be impossible!  In fact, galaxies are rotating so fast that – by rights – they should be flying apart.  Unless… there’s a whole lot more mass spread around the galaxy that we can’t see.  What would be a good name for it..?

And since that discovery, the evidence for Dark Matter has just been piling-up.  Everything, from the evolution of the entire universe to the leftover signals from the Big Bang, seems to scream, “DARK MATTER.”  Astronomers are now able to model the Universe and put a figure on how much of it there is… about 84% of actual matter in the Universe is Dark Matter.  And since it responds to gravity, we can also map its location and its speed, and we find it’s actually shaped the Universe.  Yes, Dark Matter is responsible for the large-scale filament structure of our Universe. [Read more about Where are we with Dark Matter?]

Event Horizon

Our planned star party on May 27th from the West Cliff, unfortunately fell victim to the thundery breakdown of what had been a period of fine, settled and warm weather during the week beforehand. [Read more about Event Horizon]

Paul Money

As you will know Paul Money had to cancel his talk on May 9th due to family illness. Paul sends his apologies and will reschedule as soon as he is able to. Fortunately Paul had given us a couple of days notice, allowing time for cancellation notices to be placed on the website and in the local media.  Stop Press... [Read more about Paul Money]

Sky Notes - June 2017

In this month's edition:

  • Planetary Skylights: Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus
  • Summer Solstice
  • Twilight and Shadow
  • Noctilucent Cloud
  • June 2017 Sky Charts

This event has now been postponed a few weeks whilst the Holiday campsite undergoes new staff training, apparently apart from other issues they have been incredibly short staffed. The delay will be used to further promote a future event: the management would like to do this properly and would also like to be on hand. No definite dates yet, but we may be looking at late May or early June.

We will include details in the June notes, or post them on the website should it be beforehand. They are eager to host an event, but factors have conspired against them up to now.  Northcliffe and Seaview Holiday Parks, High Hawsker. [Read more about Northcliffe and Seaview date change]

The ‘summer ‘ star party season is almost upon us and as per other years we shall be hosting events from the Cpt Cook headland area on West Cliff; and some from the Archery green area later in the summer.  [Read more about Event Horizon: future Star Party events]

For the second year in succession our Star party event planned for visiting pupils of Ayresome Primary school in Middlesbrough, went ahead under crystal clear skies.  (Shock horror, yes, it is hard to believe) Requested by Libby Lavelle, Assistant Head Teacher, after last year’s successful evening which delighted and enthused the pupils, this year’s two dozen strong party of 10 and 11 year olds were already excited by the prospect of something similar.

With the party staying at Whitby Youth Hostel, the event was again held on the grassed outer approach courtyard area adjacent to the drive way along to the hostel.  Mark, Keith and Lee were joined by Andy L this year, so 4 scopes were in operation. [Read more about Distant Suns: Ayresome School visit (Whitby YH)]

Sky Notes - May 2017

In this month's edition:

  • Planetary Skylights: Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus
  • Meteor Showers: Eta Aquariids
  • Comet: 41P Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresák, Comet 2015 V2 (Johnson)
  • May 2017 Sky Charts

Our Solar System has some pockmarked, weird and contorted moons.  Let's have a lok at a few of them.

First up: Miranda, Uranus’s largest moon.

Miranda has some very distinct features that have left astronomers wondering why it’s so ugly.  As well as the usual craters and pockmarks that cover any rocky object with basically no atmosphere, Miranda has deep, almost parallel gashes running along its southern hemisphere.  It looks a bit like a ball of yarn.  These deep grooves are confined to three regions in the Southern hemisphere.

Astronomers have a couple of ideas about where these features come from... [Read more about Three of the Strangest Moons in our Solar System]

Just to reminder that we shall be hosting a star party event for visiting pupils from Ayresome Primary School & Lego Innovation Studio up at the Whitby Youth Hostel on April 12thElizabeth Labelle; assistant Head Teacher was impressed with the pupil response and feedback after last year’s inaugural event, and has contacted the society with regards to host another one this year.  The start time is around 20:30h at the WHA on the east cliff. [Read more about Event Horizon – future Star party events]

Eskdale School Night

I don’t believe it!  The Eskdale ‘Star night’ (Wednesday 22nd) unfortunately coincided with the only bad weather night of the week so our planned outdoor observations were quite out of the question.  No scopes then, but with a new looking inflatable planetarium brought over and manned by York University boffins, who needed clear skies.  All we needed was somewhere to use for the scale solar sytem(s).  An ideal location was at hand – the main school corridor, which at nearly 60 mtrs long was tailormade for our demo... [Read more about Eskdale School Night]

Pages