Notes and Links from the July Meeting

Chairman’s reports and sky notes

See Sky Notes. In particular:

  • There will be no actual astronomical darkness until August as the sun skims under our South Lakes horizon.
  • The moon will rise on Friday 27th July at 21:12 already in the maximum phase of a total lunar eclipse – see data for the lunar eclipse for Kendal 27th July
  • During the latter part of July, all the visible planets will be in the night sky from Kendal although Mercury will be too close to the sun to observe

Astronomical News

A second visit to Alston Observatory is being organised for Tuesday 2nd October

The JAXA spacecraft Hayabusa 2 successfully arrived at the asteroid 162173 Ryugu, on 27 June due to return material from the asteroid to Earth by the end of 2020. See also: Astro Bob.

Two new methods of detecting exoplanets in the news:

  • by detecting disturbances in the molecular gas (carbon monoxide) within the protoplanetary disc using ALMA
  • by direct imaging using a occulting coronagraph and adaptive optics with the  ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) discovered the first planetary accretion disc 

Comet imaging in Stereo

One of our members presented images of comets which may be viewed through a Stereograph. The main obstacle to Astro-stereo images is determining an adequate separation between two simultaneous images. Images were displayed that had used overlapping times from a telescope in Spain and a telescope in South America. Also, a stereograph was available during the break to view a video gif of the displacement of a close-approach comet imaged from the Earth at two different times. 

Guest speaker Professor Jim Wild, Weathering Solar Storms

Professor Wild gave an illustrated talk that progressed from the physics of solar storms, through a history of destructive storms to current developments to defend against the effects of a violent storm of electrically  charged particles on our society dependent on electricity, electronics and satellite transmissions not forgetting long-distance space travel out of the Earths protecting magnetic field..

A sequence of early photographs of a comet showed the effects of a solar storm passing by in the background. Current forecasting of the arrival of one of the many storms from the sun is made difficult by only be able to view an approaching storm head-on, compared with the numerous meteorological stations used for weather forecasting, A number of satellites are planned to be placed in the Lagrangian points (parking places) relative to the Earth and the Sun that would be able to detect approaching storms from side-on.

Implications for exoplanets were highlighted.  A necessary condition for a planet to sustain life (see Goldilocks Zone) is that the planet must have a magnetic field – that will protect from charged particles released from the parent star.