2017 Solar Eclipse

Astronomy fever gripped America in August, where millions were treated to a total solar eclipse.  And WDAS was also invited to join in, by a website visitor from Whitby (Ontario), wondering what events we had planned.

Although Regatta Monday was laid on in celebration, or otherwise, the 5% eclipse in Whitby (North Yorkshire) was less exciting to behold, particularly as it was hidden from view by thick cloud.

However Andi and Héctor's friend and colleague, Javier, captured this imagen evocadora from his home in Gran Canaria.  Thanks to Javier for letting us publish it here. [Read more about 2017 Solar Eclipse]

Regatta 2017

So, what did Mother Nature have in store for this year’s Regatta – the usual mixture of inclement dross, incorrect forecasts and a blank white disk to look at for hours on end! Well, at least any likely showers would fall on a new gazebo, purchased just a few days prior. The old one requires major (but not insurmountable) work to rectify various issues – particularly with the strut frame work – so we thought a new one would be the better option for now. [Read more about Regatta 2017]

In this month's edition:

  • Planetary Skylights: Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Mars and Mercury
  • Meteors: Piscids
  • Septmber 2017 Sky Charts

With a waxing moon lighting up the sky throughout our normal date frame period, our visit to Hook’s House is a little tricky this year. The full moon occurs on the 6th, so our options are a bit limited. After consideration we have decided to go ahead for the 1st Sept (Friday) this at least is 5 days before full moon and the campsite should be still busy. We will be looking at setting up equipment for around 20:00h – the moon will be a across in the south and Saturn will still be visible. If the weather is fine it should be a cracking evening... [Read more about Hook’s House Farm and Westerdale Events]

The Regatta events follow the usual route – afternoon solar viewing, on the Saturday (19th) and Sunday (20th), with evening star parties on both dates. The location of the solar viewing i assume will be as last year ie – the grassy area adjacent to the small Go carts and Royal Crescent on the West Cliff. Time wise 2 – 16:30pm. The Star parties will be held on the pitch and put area, above the archery green – as per last year. [Read more about Regatta et al – events]

We have finally arranged a date for the postponed star party event at the holiday site. The event will take place on August 26th from 20:30h. Society members intending to come along, and can also bring a scope please be there for 20:15h.

Details of the site are included in the Events Calendar. It should be good evening (weather permitting) with little light, great views and hopefully a healthy turnout from site occupants. [Read more about Northcliffe and Seaview Event]

Event Horizon

A case of déjà vue here as both events scheduled for early July, just like June, went ahead allowing observations of the Sun, moon Jupiter and Saturn, pretty much the only celestial objects on show. The event on the 9th was particularly interesting as we were able to view the setting Sun, complete with a sunspot grouping and a thin strata layer of cloud seemingly cutting its disk in two. A running theme as it turned out, the rising full moon also subject to a similar effect, visually pleasing through the eyepiece. [Read more about Event Horizon]

In this month's edition:

  • Planetary Skylights: Jupiter, Saturn and Venus
  • Meteors & Comets: Perseids
  • August 2017 Sky Charts

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]

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