Plymouth Astronomical Society


Society Meetings

The Society meetings for the 2012/13 session were:

Friday 14th September 2012
Talks:     The Night Sky in September
               A Tribute to Sir Bernard Lovell, by Sheila Evans
               White Dwarfs, by Mike Shearer
               Remembering Neil Armstrong, by Alan Penman
Venue:    Unitarian Church, Notte Street, Plymouth, PL1 2HG
Time:      7.30-9.30pm


Friday 12th October 2012

Talks:     The Night Sky in October
               The Solar System: Jupiter, by David Wilton
               The Curiosity Story and Recent Pictures, by Alan Penman
               Outdoor observing - weather permitting
Venue:    Unitarian Church, Notte Street, Plymouth, PL1 2HG
Time:      7.30-9.30pm


Friday 9th November 2012

Talks:     The Night Sky in November
               Outdoor observing - weather permitting
               Talks - TBA
Venue:    Unitarian Church, Notte Street, Plymouth, PL1 2HG
Time:      7.30-9.30pm


Saturday 24th November 2012
The PAS Christmas Dinner
Venue:    The Steak & Omelette Bar, Cornwall Street, Plymouth
Time:      7.00pm


Friday 14th December 2012
Talks:     The Night Sky in December
              A Minute's Silence for Sir Patrick Moore
              The Retrograde Motion of Mars, by David Wilton
              In Memory of Carl Sagan, 1934-1996, by Alan Penman
              Christmas Quiz Night!
Venue:    Unitarian Church, Notte Street, Plymouth, PL1 2HG
Time:      7.30-9.30pm

Friday 11th January 2013
Talks:     The Night Sky in January
               The Solar System: Saturn, by David Wilton
               Brown Dwarfs, by Charles Spreat
Venue:    Unitarian Church, Notte Street, Plymouth, PL1 2HG
Time:      7.30-9.30pm

Friday 8th February 2013
Talks:     The Night Sky in February
              Star Hopping for Deep Sky Objects, by Richard Smith
              Spinning Stars, by David Burton
              Comet Ison, by Alan Penman - see our News page
Venue:    Unitarian Church, Notte Street, Plymouth, PL1 2HG
Time:      7.30-9.30pm

Friday 15th February 2013
Viewing of Asteroid 2012 DA14 from a car park near Clearbrook.
This car park is on the road to Clearbrook, off the A386 going
north from Plymouth to Yelverton and Tavistock.  Please see the map below (removed).
Bring binoculars, telescopes, etc and arrive by 7.45pm.  Use the Heavens Above
website to see a sky chart and table of positions for this asteroid as seen from any location.
This Society for Popular Astronomy page has lots of useful information.

Friday 8th March 2013
Talks:      A Cosmic Perspective, by Luke Christison
Venue:    Immersive Vision Theatre (IVT), Plymouth University
               Seating is limited in the IVT so please let Alan Penman, David Wilton or Marie Dannan know of
               your intention to attend.
Time:      7.30-9.30pm

Wednesday March 13th 2013 - Try again!
Tuesday March 12th 2013 - Viewing conditions look good but cold and windy!
Viewing of Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) from the Jennycliff car park where there is a clear western view.
Please see the maps below - Jennycliff Cafe, just below the car park, has the postcode PL9 9SWMeet at 6.30pm as the comet will only be visible for a short time after sunset before it sinks too low.  It could be tricky to spot as
too early
= sky too bright     but     too late = comet too low!





Friday 12th April 2013
Talks:      The Night Sky in April
               Moon or Frying Pan?!, by David Wilton (NASA/APOD April 1st, 2013)
               Dark Energy and Dark Matter, by Prof David McMullan, Plymouth University

Venue:    NEW VENUE - Tamar Room 402, Top Floor, Babbage Building, Plymouth University
               Please see a map on the Join Us page
Time:      7.30-9.30pm


Monday 22nd April 2013

Lyrid meteor shower observing session
See our Facebook page for more information

Friday 10th May 2013
Talks:      The Night Sky in May
               Suburban Astrophotography, by Robin Manford
                     See some of Robin's amazing images on our Images Gallery pages
               Space Debris - a growing hazard, by Alan Penman
Venue:     Room 116, First Floor, Rolle Building, Plymouth University

               PLEASE NOTE one-off change of room due to student exams in the Babbage Building
Time:      7.30-9.30pm

Friday 14th June 2013
Talks:      The Night Sky in June
               To Catch an Aurora, by David Rayner
               Chris Hadfield - Space Oddity
Venue:    Tamar Room 402, Top Floor, Babbage Building, Plymouth University
Time:      7.30-9.30pm


Friday 12th July 2013
Talks:      The Night Sky in July
               Gould's Belt, by Mike Shearer
               Observing the Setting Moon, by Charles Spreat
Venue:    Tamar Room 402, Top Floor, Babbage Building, Plymouth University
Time:      7.30-9.30pm


Sunday 11th August and/or Monday 12th August 2013
Viewing of the Perseids from a car park near Clearbrook.
This car park is on the road to Clearbrook, off the A386 going
north from Plymouth to Yelverton and Tavistock.  Please see the map below.
Bring binoculars, telescopes, etc for viewing other objects and arrive by 10pm.




There is no "talks" meeting in August.
The next meeting is on Friday 13th September.



The Oldest Light in the Universe

The Planck space mission has released the most accurate and detailed map ever made of the oldest light in the universe, revealing new information about its age, contents and origins.

The map results suggest the universe is expanding more slowly than scientists thought, and is 13.8 billion years old, 100 million years older than previous estimates. The data also show there is less dark energy and more matter, both normal and dark matter, in the universe than previously known. Dark matter is an invisible substance that can only be seen through the effects of its gravity, while dark energy is pushing our universe apart. The nature of both remains mysterious.

For further information see Planck and this ESA video.



NASA's GALEX Reveals the Largest-Known Spiral Galaxy

This composite of the giant barred spiral galaxy NGC 6872 combines visible light images from
the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope with far-ultraviolet (1,528 angstroms)
data from NASA's GALEX and 3.6-micron infrared data acquired by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.
A previously unsuspected tidal dwarf galaxy candidate (circled) appears only in the ultraviolet, indicating
the presence of many hot young stars. IC 4970, the small disk galaxy interacting with NGC 6872, is
located above the spiral's central region.  The spiral is 522,000 light-years across from the tip of one
outstretched arm to the tip of the other, which makes it about 5 times the size of our home galaxy, the
Milky Way. Images of lower resolution from the Digital Sky Survey were used to fill in marginal areas not
covered by the other data. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/ESO/JPL-Caltech/DSS.
GALEX Mission News - 10/1/2013




Lunar Eclipse - composite photo taken from Beijing



The Next Supernova?


NASA's Hubble Telescope captured an image of Eta Carinae. This image consists of ultraviolet
and visible light images from the High Resolution Channel of Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys.
The field of view is approximately 30 arcseconds across.

The larger of the two stars in the Eta Carinae system is a huge and unstable star that is nearing

the end of its life and the event that the 19th century astronomers observed was a stellar near-death
experience. Scientists call these outbursts supernova impostor events, because they appear similar to
supernovae but stop just short of destroying their star.

Although 19th century astronomers did not have telescopes powerful
enough to see the 1843 outburst
in detail, its effects can be studied today. The huge clouds of matter thrown out a century and a half ago,
known as the Homunculus Nebula, have been a regular target for Hubble since its launch in 1990. This
image, taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys High Resolution Channel, is the most detailed yet,
and shows how the material from the star was not thrown out in a uniform manner, but forms a huge
dumbbell shape.

Eta Carinae is one of the closest stars to Earth that is likely to explode in a supernova in the relatively
near future (though in astronomical timescales the "near future" could still be a million years away). When
it does, expect an impressive view from Earth, far brighter still than its last outburst: SN 2006gy, the brightest
supernova ever observed, came from a star of the same type, though from a galaxy over 200 million light-years
away.

Image Credit: ESA/NASA






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