It's going to be a busy late-March and into April. 

  • Another ‘Star Night’ hosted by Eskdale School
  • A visit the Whitby Scouts to help them prepare for their Astronomy badge
  • An event at Whitby Youth Hospital for students of Ayresome Primary School
  • A new star party venue: Northcliffe and Seaview Holiday parks at High Hawsker

- and possibly more... [Read more about Star party, Visits and Events]

Boggle Hole Event(s)

The first of the events (a last minute unscheduled event on the 18th) was predominantly clouded out.  Mark and Keith therefore enrolled the scouts in helping to demonstrate the scale solar system. 

There were certainly plenty of them, so they had to be split into two groups.  The demos went well and no scouts were lost in the sea. [Read more about Boggle Hole Event(s)]

The Spring Equinox

The date of the Vernal Equinox and officially the start spring in the northern hemisphere falls on March 20th this year. This is when the Sun's path - the ecliptic - first crosses the celestial equator on its apparent journey northwards into the sky... [Read more about The Spring Equinox]

Sky Notes - March 2017

In this month's edition:

  • Planetary Skylights: Venus, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn
  • Meteor Showers: Virginids
  • March 2017 Sky Charts

The Man: Charles MessierBorn into aristocracy in 18th century France, Charles Messier stood at the threshold of a great observational age. Comets were the fascination of astronomers - their discovery and subsequent observation occupying many observatories; bringing fame and fortune to their discoverer...

The Menagerie: Messier once wrote: “what made me produce this catalogue was the nebula I had seen in Taurus 1758 while I was observing the comet of that year. The shape and brightness of that nebula reminded me so much of a comet, that, I undertook to find more of its kind to save astronomers from confusing this nebula with comets...

The Marathon: At least a score of messier objects can be seen on any given night, but due to their distribution in the sky, early spring, especially around the equinox, is best suited for observing as many as possible over the course of one night... [Read more about Messier - the man, the menagerie and the marathon]

The lighter evenings of April offer up an interesting stellar challenge, testing the observing dexterity of astronomers - casual or otherwise - in a race against time. 

Fear not, this is not a 'faint fuzzy blob' hunt, like the Messier marathon, the exact opposite in fact, more of a sprint really and should only take a few minutes to complete given suitable horizons, a fair wind and some sky knowledge.  This is all about spotting first magnitude stars; those ranked brightest in the sky at the same time... [Read more about The Stellar Baker's Dozen Challenge 2017]

Boggle Hole Event

If skies are reasonably clear on Feb 25th we have been invited to host a star party down at Boggle Hole Youth Hostel.  The event commences at 19:00h until around 20:30h.

Last year, the same event attracted large numbers ofthe public; indeed Keith and Mark were swamped at the two scopes deployed.  We will discuss arrangements at the February meeting. [Read more about Boggle Hole Event]

Betelgeuse is a star constallation of Orion, which is well known for being very unstable and possibly exploding in a supanova at any point.  It's a star that is often studied by astronomers, but before they can understand how a star goes supanova, they need to understand what the steady state of a star really is... [Read more about What is Happening to Betelgeuse?]

"So what are gravity waves", Prof Hendry asked?  How did we detect them, and what can they tell us about the Universe. It took Einstein to figure out gravity’s true modus operandi. Gravity, Einstein showed, did not just make what goes up always come down. Gravity made the universe go round! ... [Read more about Astromeet 2017 Talk Summary: Prof Martin Hendry: ♫ Gravity sang ♫ and LIGO was listening. (How we detected Gravity Waves)]

In this month's edition:

  • Planetary Skylights: Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn
  • Meteor Showers: Aurigids
  • Comet 45P and 2P Encke
  • February 2017 Sky Charts

Bard Gibson is the Professor of Astrophysics director at the Centre for Astrophysics in Hull.  He and his research team use some of the most powerful computers available to generate simulations of large scale structures in the Universe (such as galaxies).  And that's what his talk was about... [Read more about Astromeet 2017 Talk Summary: Prof Brad Gibson: Building spiral Galaxies with supercomputers ]

Alan Chapman, giving a lecture.Allan's chosen subject this year Mary Somerville-the Lady Mathematical Astronomer, one of the first serious scientific woman of the 19th century, a ‘grand amateur', of independent means who could pursue her passion to a professional level.  In and an age when scientific work was undertaken by men, very few women could be counted as equal to their male scientific peers... [Read more about Astromeet 2017 Talk Summary: Dr Allan Chapman: "Mary Somerville 1780-1872"]

As far back as 1982, Prof Southwood recalled, he was present at the meeting at which the  Cassini mission to Saturn stemmed. David remembers the date well – June 30th – his birthday. 

David was founder of what became the Space and Atmospheric Physics group, part of the team arguing for a ‘bolt on lander’ which eventually would be funded by ESA as NASA was reluctant to do so. The lander was not destined for Saturn, but its mysterious and largest moon Titan. Huygens was born. Prof Southwood was also leader of the team which developed the magnetometer on the main Cassini spacecraft... [Read more about Astromeet 2017 Talk Summary: Prof David Southwood "Cassini-Hyugens and Rosetta/Philae"]

In our Solar System we find to kinds of planets: small rocky planets closer to the sun, and ice giants further out.  The rocky planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars) have only three moons among them, whereas the ice giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Saturn) have around ninety.  This month's video article by 'Astronomic' explains...

  [Read more about Why do we only have one moon?]

In the second part of our tour through the winter sky we shall look at some more deep sky celestial treats to tempt you outside. 

To begin, locate the constellation of Gemini, the twins, whose two leading stars, Castor and Pollux ride quite high in the South-East sky.  The object we are seeking is the Planetary Nebula - NGC 2392 or ‘The Clown face’ nebula, a telescopic object well worth observing.  To find -follow the line of stars in Gemini extending away from Pollux... [Read more about A Winter Sky Ramble (Part 2)]

Pages