Abergavenny AS

Our inaugural meeting was on the 8th November 2010 and we officially formed in February 2011.
AAS holds monthly meetings with guest speakers.

All guests are welcome!
No knowledge is necessary,
just a curious mind.

We are able to provide assistance with setting up your telescope or just helping to find your way around the night sky.

AAS is able to host discussions on subjects as varied as Dark Energy through to 'How dark is your sky'.

Come along and get a new perspective on the universe in which you live!

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As you may have seen from the link on the web page we now have a Facebook page, HERE.

At the moment it mirrors the postings that are on the webpage but we are thinking about how best to develop it.  If you are on Facebook perhaps you can like the page, if that is the correct terminology.

Dates to remember next week

Monday 23rd May, Professor Mike Edmunds, from Cardiff University School of Physics and Astronomy, will be attending the Society’s monthly meeting and will present on the subject of  The Great Quasar debate.  Mike is no stranger to the many of us that have attended his talks in the past – he is always a star performer (no pun intended!) and is certain to enthrall us again on Monday evening – 7:30 Kings Head.

Quasars – for those unfamiliar with the term (quasi-stellar radio sources) – are extremely bright and distant objects that have provided mystery and fascination in equal measure since their discovery around half a century ago.  Mike is sure to show these enigmatic objects in a new light (pun intended).


Modesty prevents me from praising the next speaker:-

In support of the Geopark Festival, next week Wednesday 25th May 7pm, Nick Busby will be bringing the Geopark together with the International Dark Sky Reserve in an inquiry into heavenly bodies.  He will be giving a lecture in Brecon entitled “From Pen y Fan to Olympus Mons (The highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons and the highest mountain in the solar system)”

Our Old Red Sandstone is an iron-stained sequence of sandstones and other sedimentary rocks deposited by rivers eroding a mountain chain around 400 million years ago. And it was an ancient body of water that deposited the red sedimentary rocks of Mars billions of years before.
A talk on the geology of the 4 inner planets of the solar system, looking at the forces that have shaped them and made them what they are today.
At Elim Hall, Canal Road, Brecon LD3 7HL
Cost: tickets £5 on door (£3 concessions)
Event sponsored by
Brecon Beacons Park Society

Rain stops play!

Unfortunately it looks like the weather is not going to allow us to observe the Sun today so we will have to call off the session in Usk, looking for the transit of Mercury this afternoon.  One of the perils of a weather dependent hobby!

See you at the meeting this evening


Looking a bit dodgy for tomorrow!

Today has been gorgeous but it looks like a weather front is coming in so it may be that the transit of Mercury will be a bit of a washout tomorrow.  Still you never know – we will see what tomorrow brings.  If there is any chance of seeing the transit we will set up some ‘scopes in Usk as planned.  Check the website or give me a call on 07889 658403 if you want to check what is happening.

Keep your fingers crossed


Mercury transit, Monday, May 9th 2016

On Monday May the 9th, in the afternoon, there will be a rare opportunity to observe a transit of Mercury.  Why not join other members in Usk to enjoy this fascinating event.  Find out more below:

What is it? Mercury will be positioned between the Sun and the Earth and will be seen as a small black disk against the brilliant surface of the Sun.

How often does it happen? It happens when Mercury is not only in the correct place in its orbit (every 116 days) but when the inclined orbits of Mercury and the Earth are also favorably aligned. Mercury usually passes north or south of the Sun as viewed from the Earth but the transit alignment happens every 13 or 33 years for May transits and at 7, 13 and 33 years for November transits.  There are up to 14 a century, the last one was almost 10 years ago (Nov. 2006).

Why is it important?  Today there is not much scientific importance – but it is a fascinating astronomical phenomenon.  The transit of Venus, which occurs in pairs of transits 8 years apart but then over 105 years until the next pair, was very important in understanding the size of the solar system.

When will it happen? It will start at 12:12 BST on Monday 9th May and last until 19:42 as seen from the UK.

How can I view it?  You must only attempt to view it if you are or are supervised by an experienced solar observer with the correct equipment.  You will not be able to see it using simple solar filters – Mercury is just too small and requires a telescope suitably filtered.  If you do not have the skills and or equipment Usk Astronomical Society will be hosting an observing session from their observatory in Usk.  The observatory is located at the back of the Old Grammar School (opposite the Spar) in Maryport Street, Usk – starting at midday.  There will be selection of quality solar instruments that you will be able to look through, with experienced demonstrators.  All this assumes it will be clear!  As I write this (Wednesday 4th) the forecast is mixed sun and showers.  I will update this outlook nearer the time.  If you have got this via e-mail you will also get the update via e-mail.  Otherwise have a look at the Abergavenny website Abergavenny Astronomical Society

What will I see?  Mercury is very small and will appear as a tiny black circular dot on the Sun – it is 1/155th of the Sun’s diameter.  It will slowly progress across the face of the Sun.  Mercury is always a difficult planet to observe as it is so small and is always close to the Sun.  Even many experienced observers will admit to never having seen it – this is your chance!  Of course looking at the Sun through solar telescopes is always a fascinating experience in itself.  If they are present we will be able to see sunspots, prominences, filament of gas and so on.

And finally – under no circumstances attempt to look at the Sun even with a naked eye.  Properly designed filters and suitable instruments must be always used. 

The picture below is a mock-up of what we might expect to see.


Meeting tomorrow evening

Monday 25th April – 7:30, King’s Head, Abergavenny – Keith Moseley from MARS (Monmouth Astronomy Research Society – Monmouth School) will give a talk on the subject of asteroids – fossils from the formation of the solar system 13.4 billion years ago.

Keith was Head of Physics at Monmouth School (1983 to 2015), an associate lecturer in astronomy at the Open University and for Lifelong Learning a Cardiff University. He is now retired (pretty much). Fellow of the RAS and Chartered Physicist, although his career began in geology. Hobbies include photographing comets with a camera and an Astrotrac. Believe it or not he just bought a telescope for the first time in 42 years!






Vesta, with a mean diameter of 525 kilometres is one of the largest objects in the asteroid belt – NASA

Free Magazines

Are you aware that if you are a member of Monmouthshire libraries you can download e-zine copies of a number of magazines?  The MCC website is here
Magazines include New Scientist (UK), Sky at Night (UK) and Astronomy (US).
This week, for example, there are articles in NS on modified MOND (that’s Modified MOdified Newtonian Dynamics!) to explain the formation of our local group of galaxies and in “Sky at Night” on dark skies in Wales.  Did you know that Wales has the highest proportion of protected dark skies in the world?
You can probably do the same through other local library services but I haven’t checked.

Monday 21st March – Abergavenny Astronomical Society AGM

Monday 21st is our Annual General Meeting, please do attend it is a great opportunity to have you say in how the Society is working and let us know if you want to change something or have other activities.  After the AGM Nick Busby will give a talk, illustrated with demonstrations, on how to photograph the Moon.  Even if you have never taken an astronomical picture and have little by way of equipment, producing dramatic pictures of the Moon is much easier than you might think.  This talk will show you how you can produce pictures with a simple smart phone or compact camera and a very basic telescope.  It will conclude with a demonstration on how with a simple webcam you can produce fantastic hi- resolution panoramas.  One not to be missed by budding astrophotographers!

Usual place  – The King’s Head at 7:30 – see you there!


Observing session this Friday 5th February

On Friday 5th February we will be joining with Usk Astronomical Society for an observing session at the Llandegfedd Reservoir Visitors Centre, between Pontypool and Usk click here for location information.

It may be cloudy but we will also have the planetarium and other attractions so come along anyway.  If you have a telescope don’t forget to bring that and if you do not know how to use it we can teach you!  We will be there from around 6pm.

Hope to see you there!

Monday 26th October at 7:30 in the Hen and Chickens – Journey to the centre of the Earth!

Meteorites are samples of our solar system, from its formation 4.6 billion years ago and beyond! The oldest rocks on the planet we call home are 3.8 billion years old, many meteorites are reliably dated 800 million years older than and may contain particles much older still.  Nick Busby will show how a study of these ancient alien rocks can provide insights into the formation of our planets and possibly even life itself.  The talk will be illustrated with a wide range of meteorite specimens from ancient planetisimals and even our present day planets.  If you have a hand lens bring it along to see rocks as old as the Sun itself – close up.

A section through the Mounionalusta fine octahedrite – one of the oldest known meteorites at 4.57 billion years BP

Mounionalusta_DSC_0029 scale