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 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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Have you Booked your Ticket for the 23rd Jan Yet?

The details were given out by Carol at Monday’s meeting.  If you weren’t at the meeting or didn’t book your place let Carol know as soon as possible at  secretary@abergavennyas.org.uk  

The venue is the Regency 59 restaurant, next to the Kings Head, time 7:00/7:30pm.

The buffet style menu is Nepalese/Indian, with Chef Krishna Bhandari having brought his experience from Michelin-starred London eateries.  Krishna is also booked to provide demonstrations at the Abergavenny Food Festival.

The usual fun, good food, good chat and a good (hopefully easy!) quiz amongst other attractions.  Do come along and join in our social event and meet up with other members of the society.  All are welcome.  

As usual we will be joined for the fun and frolics by our friends from Usk AS and Ebbw Vale (HoVAS)


Next Meeting 9th Jan : Reminder & Amendment

A quick reminder of Monday’s meeting, 7:30pm, The Kings Head, Abergavenny

Unfortunately Nick is unable to present the observing session but David Thomas, Usk Astronomical Society, has agreed at short notice to come and talk about The sky and observing in the winter.

The other 2 items, Latest News & Arrangements for the buffet will be on the agenda as planned.  I will email the menu separately on Friday so you can see what’s in store.

Look forward to meeting up.

Next Meeting Monday 9th January

This month we are having a General Meeting on the 2nd Monday

1)     Recent news items.

2)     Beginners Session – Observing the Winter Sky : with Eye, Binoculars or Telescope

3)     Details of the fun evening on the 23rd January.  The restaurant requires numbers 2 weeks before hand so could you please sign up asap and bring your cash (£20) along to the meeting.  All are welcome – will be a great evening.  Contact Carol at   secretary@abergavennyas.org.uk      

“Happy New Year – Blwyddyn Newydd Dda” to all our subscribers

Update on News Items, 12th December

At the last meeting, 12th December, a couple of questions were asked on the News Items which went unanswered.  Also there is a bit more info available.

1) 15 things we haven’t seen….Black Holes
2) New evidence on the formation of the solar system
3) Second-generation stars identified, giving clues about their predecessors

If you want to read more please go to the Cosmology page.

Date for your diary – annual dinner Monday 23rd January

party-timeThis year’s party will be a bit different – we have decided to hold it after Christmas, when life it a bit quieter on Monday 23rd January, and have an Indian buffet.  It will be in the restaurant next door to our usual haunt, the King’s Head in Abergavenny.   As usual we will be joined for the fun and frolics by our friends from Usk and Ebbw Vale Societies.  More details will be released shortly, this is just a notice to save the evening in your diary.

This evening’s meeting, 28th November

Tonight Geoff Hill will give a talk on the constellation of Orion.  This iconic constellation is a large an obvious feature in the winter sky – a constellation that everyone with any interest in astronomy will immediately recognise.  It is also a constellation that has some of the best examples of star forming nebulae, reflection nebulae and dark nebulae.  Many of the stars in the constellation are close and bright and represent stages in stellar evolution from the new born, through middle age to old age.  Whether you are a seasoned observer or an absolute novice this will be a talk well worth listening to.

Nick Busby will also present an introduction to observing some easy to find open star clusters.  These objects are a great starting point for new observers as they are bright, easy to locate and in many cases can be seen in binoculars.  This is also a good time of year for observing them and a great way to cut your teeth in observational astronomy.

Usual venue, the King’s Head, 7:30 pm.

See you there.

Basic astronomy sessions – slide pack now available

For those members that have been following the basic astronomy sessions, that are held after the normal meetings, the slide pack is now available as a PDF.  It may be found on the website under the tab “Download” – it is under the “PDF presentations” and called “The life and times of stars”.  You may also access it by clicking here


Don’t forget meeting tomorrow evening, 24th October.

Tomorrow evening we will be pleased to welcome Helen Usher from Cardiff University.  Helen will talk to the Society about her work on comets, those mysterious denizens of the outer reaches of the solar system, that for centuries have be portents of disaster and social upheaval.  She will also give something of a personal view of her developing relationship with the subject of astronomy.  You can find more by clicking here.

Meeting starts as usual at 19:30 upstairs in the Kings Head and everyone is welcome.


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.


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.