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Thursday, June 28

June Meeting Report

Our June meeting consisted of a fascinating talk from Dr Keith Robinson on "The Colourful Universe". Keith took us on a comprehensive tour of colour in the universe and how astronomers use the colour properties of light to determine much information about distant stars.

Despite the talk covering many more technical concepts than the title might imply, Keith's clear concise explanations and obvious enthusiasm for the subject ensured that everyone got something from talk. Even those with science degrees were left thinking "why hadn't I thought of that before", myself included.

Also at the meeting we took the opportunity to present Stuart Atkinson (our founder and now Secretary of the Eddington Astronomical Society) with Honourary Membership of CAS as a token of our appreciation of his work for the society for over 15 years.

Keith was the third guest speaker to talk at CAS this year, and as usual these things don't happen by themselves. So, thanks to Keith for coming and his wife Liz for driving him. Thanks also to Robin for making all the arrangements and providing a opportunity for people to view the sun's spectra through his spectrograph before the meeting.

Friday, June 22

June CAS Meeting - "The Colourful Universe"

Our June meeting is this coming Tuesday (26th June) usual time and place. This month we are delighted to have Dr Keith Robinson of The University of Central Lancashire to talk to us about "The Colourful Universe". As usual we'd like a really good turn out for our guest so please remind other members if you get chance. Of course the talk is open to members of other astronomical societies. Admission is free for full CAS Members and £2 for anyone else.

On the subject of colour, don't miss the opportunities to observe the colourful spectrum of the sun (weather permitting of course). Robin will be setting up his spectrograph outside the church hall from about 7pm. The talk will start at around 7.30pm.

Hope to see you all there.


Thursday, June 14

Eris more massive than Pluto

Recent calculations add insult to injury . . Eris is not only bigger but more massive than Pluto. Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer) has the full story.
Artist concept of Eris and Dysnomia
Artist drawing of Eris and Dysnomia. Remember, the camera adds ten pounds. Copyright Robert Hurt, IPAC

Eris was discovered a few years back, and observations indicated it might be bigger (that is, have a larger diameter) than Pluto. This is pretty hard to do, because it didn’t look like much more than a dot in telescopes; the diameter had to be inferred by its known distance and its brightness. If it’s made of something dark (like organic chemicals, common on distant objects), it must be big to look as bright as it does; if it’s made of something reflective (like snow or ice) then it’s smaller. Subsequent Hubble observations indicated it was indeed bigger than Pluto, and the former ninth planet took one more body blow.

Now it’s known that not only is Eris bigger, it’s more massive. About 30% more massive, in fact.

 blog it

Wednesday, June 13

Does Saturn have more active moons?

We've all heard of Saturn's active moon Enceladus with it's geysers spraying water vapour into space. Well evidence is emerging that tow other moons may have some form of geological activity. The report from Space Spin has the details.
clipped from spacespin.org

Saturn's moons Tethys and Dione are flinging great streams of particles into space, according to data from the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini mission to Saturn. The discovery suggests the possibility of some sort of geological activity, perhaps even volcanic, on these icy worlds.

The particles were traced to the two moons because of the dramatic movement of electrically charged gas in the magnetic environs of Saturn. Known as plasma, the gas is composed of negatively charged electrons and positively charged ions, which are atoms with one or more electrons missing. Because they are charged, the electrons and ions can get trapped inside a magnetic field.
 blog it

Tuesday, June 12

Living Space - the latest astro podcast

Remember a while back I told you about the Jodcast, well here is another astro - podcast which is worth a listen. Called "Living Space" it is a collaboration between Chris Lintott and Harriet Scott of Heart FM and aims to cover the latest news from the worlds of astronomy and spaceflight.

Saturday, June 9

Meetings update

At the May meeting Bill bravely tackled the subject of Dark Matter. Usually the cause of much heckling from certain members every time it is raised in meetings, Bill revealed several pieces of strong evidence for it's presence and indeed explained how the very structure of the Universe depends on the way this mysterious substance behaves. However, despite knowing many of its properties and eliminating many possible candidates, we are still no nearer understanding exactly what it is!

The next meeting is 26th June when we will have our third guest speaker of the year -Dr Keith Robinson of The University of Central Lancashire who will be giving a talk entitled "The Colourful Universe" If you have ever wondered what is behind all the wonderful colours you see an astronomical images then this is your chance to find out!

As an added bonus, if it is sunny, I will have my spectrograph set up outside from 7pm before the meeting So if you have not had a chance to view the solar spectrum in glorious high resolution, be sure to arrive a few minutes early.

See the ISS and Space Shuttle Tonight!

Thanks to Stu over at Cumbrian Sky for the "heads up" on this one. Tonight (Saturday 9th) you can see the International Space Station closely followed space shuttle Atlantis pass over within minutes of each other. (ISS 22:45 and Atlantis 22.59 at their highest due South but they will be visible in the West a few minutes earlier, before disappearing off into the East) Watch out for more good passes on Heavens Above.

This stunning picture of the ISS was taken from the UK by Mike Tyrrell using an amateur telescope. Visit his website for more amazing images.