Notes and Links from the April 2019 Meeting

Members’ Observing Sessions

Now that the clocks have moved forward one hour the next Members’ Observing Session will be in late September. We still need volunteers to organise a few future Members’ Observing Sessions.

Sky Notes for April 2019

  • at dusk on the 5th April Mars lies on a straight line between the Hyades and Pleiades
  • the Orion constellation is now setting shortly after the sun but Leo (the backwards question mark) is well placed high in the south from dusk containing a number of galaxies
  • Virgo, rising at 9 PM, contains Markarian’s Chain and the galaxies of the Leo Triplet including M65 and M66.
  • the Ursa Major constellation  (The Plough) is almost directly overhead above Leo again including many galaxies. M81 and M82 are very close together above the ‘saucepan’, and M51 the Whirlpool Galaxy [and actually in Canes Venatici] is just below the end of the ‘tail’. 

Markarian’s Chain taken by to our member Simon White

News Roundup for April 2019

Hayabusa2 takes fires at Ryugu

At the end of February Hayabusa 2 took a sample from the sub-surface of the asteroid Ryugu after an orbiting module fired a bullet at the surface. The meeting was shown a comparison between Ryugu and Bennu, the target of the OSIRIS-REx mission . While similar in shape, Ryugu appears smoother and more rounded than a typical asteroid and proves to be hollow and totally lacking water. By contrast, Bennu contains water and volatile molecules possibly from the early solar system.




While cosmological distance determines age the opposite does not have to be true. Some of our faint satellite galaxies prove to have been among the first formed in the Universe.

Furthermore, a star does not need to be far along the in its life before the first planets a formed. From the lack of any elements heavier the Helium, the young HR8799 already has four giant, exoplanets.

The Drake Equation

A member gave a talk on the history of the Drake Equation proposed in 1961 to estimate the probability of another civilization in our Milky Way. Since its proposal, we now have much more quantifiable numbers for factors such as the fraction of those stars that have planets some factors. Nonetheless, many factors, such as the fraction of planets that could support life that actually develop life at some point are still highly conjectural.

Stuart Atkinson  Unseen Apollo – Images from the Archives

EAS member Stuart Atkinson gave an illustrated talk with images from the Apollo programme rarely publicised. Only five images exist of Neil Armstong on the first moonwalk. Other than the reflection of Armstrong in Aldrin’s visor the other four only show parts of his body.

Among a number of lesser-known facts, the size of the Saturn V rocket to launch the modules and their engines to the Moon as compared to the more recent Shuttle.

See also: NASA Apollo missions