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]

Edwin HubbleIt all started in 1924, when Edwin Hubble proved galaxies are very distant objects, each containing millions or billions of stars, bound together by gravity.  Within a few years, he set up a system to classify these galaxies by shape; a system which is still pretty much the system we use today... [Read more about Classification of Galaxies]

Sky Notes - April 2017

In this month's edition:

  • Planetary Skylights: Venus, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn
  • Meteor Showers: Lyrids, Virginids and alpha Scorpiids
  • Comet: 41P Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresák
  • April 2017 Sky Charts

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?]

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