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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Notes for Meeting Monday 9th Oct. : Black Holes and Dark Matter

I have posted brief notes for tomorrow’s meeting on the downloads page  HERE 
Feel free to expand/correct these thoughts.  I won’t be upset!

I have just checked the Links on the Notes and they don’t appear to be working.  So, as I haven’t got time to check them out now they are repeated below:

Dark Matter                               :           Top 5 candidates for Dark Matter
Black Holes & Dark Matter          :           NASA     :     AAAS     :      The Guardian

I look forward to an interesting discussion.

Meeting Monday 25th September, The Kuiper belt and beyond, Keith Moseley


This Monday we welcome back Keith Moseley who will give a talk entitled “The Kuiper Belt and Beyond”. The Kuiper belt is named after Gerard Kuiper and is the region of the solar system beyond Neptune where the short period comets come from.  It is also the home to the so-called Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) that are attracting increasing interest from astronomers; particulary since the New Horizons mission produced stunning pictures of Pluto, itself a TNO.  What is becoming increasingly clear is that much of what astronomers believed about the solar system and its formation is being turned on its head as its outer regions are explored.

Meeting as usual starts at 7:30 pm upstairs in the Kings Arms and all are warmly welcome.

The Sun – Next meeting this coming Monday 11th Sep @ 7:30pm

Every thing you wanted to know about our Sun but were afraid to ask (well maybe!).

5 Day Solar Show video from NASA

Nick will talk about our sun, the source of all life on Earth.  He will deal with the basics and no doubt will have photos taken with his solar scope.
Topics covered will include:-
–  Where does it come from;
–  What makes in shine;
–  What it’s structure;
–  What are solar storms and should we worry;
–  When will it go out?

Come along and make it a good start to our autumn series – Everyone is welcome
Usual Venue : The Kings Head, 59 Cross St., Abergavenny

September is on the way

3 items in this post:-

1) The schedule of meetings for the Autumn
2) The final fling of Cassini
3) An invitation to a GW lecture in Cardiff University

1) The schedule of meetings for the Autumn
The “Meetings” page has been updated for the period September to December.
Meanwhile, the September meetings are:-
11th September – Nick Busby, AAS  :  Basics – The Sun – what is it’s Structure and how does it work.

25th September – Keith Moseley, MARS (Monmouth Astronomy Research Society), ex Head of Physics, Monmouth School  :  Subject to be confirmed

2) The final fling of Cassini


A portrait of Saturn created by layering together 12 different images taken using different filters from
Cassini’s imaging instruments. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/G. Ugarkovic

An extract from the BBC news site, 14th August, 2017.  HERE

The Cassini probe has begun the final phase of its mission to Saturn.

The satellite has executed the first of five ultra-close passes of the giant world, dipping down far enough to brush through the top of the atmosphere.

It promises unprecedented data on the chemical composition of Saturn.

It also sets the stage for the probe’s dramatic end-manoeuvre next month when it will plunge to destruction in the planet’s atmosphere.

Cassini is currently flying a series of loops around Saturn that thread the gap between its atmosphere and its rings.

The 14th August swing-by saw the spacecraft go closer than ever before to the cloud tops – skimming just 1,600km (1,000 miles) above them.

This low pass was designed to allow the probe to directly sample the gases of the extended upper-atmosphere.

Saturn’s bulk composition is thought to be about 75% hydrogen with the rest being mostly helium, explains Nicolas Altobelli, the ESA’s Cassini project scientist.

“It’s expected that the heavier helium is sinking down,” he told BBC News. “Saturn radiates more energy than it’s absorbing from the Sun, meaning there’s gravitational energy which is being lost. And so getting a precise measure of the hydrogen and helium in the upper layers sets a constraint on the overall distribution of the material in the interior.”

Dipping down into the atmosphere should create a drag on the spacecraft, requiring Cassini to use its thrusters to maintain a stable flight configuration and stop itself from tumbling. But the mission’s scientists think any buffeting effects ought to be manageable.

They are hopeful that when the post-pass analysis is done, the probe will be permitted to go even lower on the remaining four dip-downs before 15 September’s goodbye plunge.

Cassini is a joint venture between the US, European and Italian space agencies. They are ending the probe’s operations after 20 years because it is running low on fuel and will soon become uncontrollable.

Scientists want to avoid the possibility of a future collision with Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus, which could conceivably support simple microbial life. And the only way to prevent that is to deliberately drive the probe to destruction in the atmosphere of the giant planet.

Eos article “Saturn Unveiled: Ten Notable Findings from Cassini-Huygens”  HERE

 3) An invitation to a GW lecture in Cardiff University

What  :  Gravitational Waves: Natures biggest explosions
When  :  6th September, 2017  :  Time 17:00 – 20:00
Where  :  Cardiff University, Main Building, Park Place, CF10 3AT
Entry  :  Free entry – but you need to book a place
Open to all
More details  :  Website and Booking Page HERE

Gravitational waves — ripples in the fabric of space-time — were one of the first major predictions of Einstein’s theory of gravity, and are the last to be directly measured. These waves are produced by some of the most violent phenomena in the universe, such as collisions of black holes, the explosive deaths of massive stars, and the big bang itself. But they are so fantastically weak that they have only recently been observed, following decades of effort by a worldwide collaboration.

In this inaugural lecture, Professor Patrick Sutton from the School of Physics and Astronomy will discuss Cardiff University’s role in the discovery of gravitational waves, and how the team are using them as a new probe of Nature and its most extreme environments.

Registration and refreshments (VJ Gallery) from 5pm, with the Lecture (Large Chemistry Lecture Theatre) at 6pm. A drinks reception will take place after the lecture in the VJ Gallery.


Meteor watching party this Saturday!

Its that time of year again, time for the Perseid meteor shower.  They are around for the first couple of weeks of August and in Abergavenny tonight it is forecast to be clear so you may see some.  The Moon  is not well placed tonight but certainly worth a try.  Saturday evening is close to the peak, the Moon is much better placed and the forecast is clear.  This year Usk Astronomical Society are having a party! Proceeds will go to support the Velindre Cancer Unit.  It is in a beautiful (and very dark) location next to Llangorse Lake.  There will be a hog roast, planetarium, guided sky tours with telescopes, meteorite talks… what more could you ask for?  The details are as follows:

Location – Ty Mawr Farm (sign posted at the entrance to the drive “Lime Ltd.”), Llangasty, Brecon, LD3 7PJ

Admission including all activities and food – £20pp

Camping facilities £5

For tickets please contact Bethany.evans@lime.org.uk

Event starts at 7pm and goes on as late as you like!

Hope to see you there should be a wonderful evening.  If you are coming and want to bring a telescope or binoculars, maybe you want some help in there use, then bring them along.

Last Session of the Summer – Dr Chris North

A good last session of the summer from Chris North this week and a good turnout.  Lots of questions both technical and on the value of fundamental research

An interesting article has been published recently on the discovery of an orbiting pair of super massive black holes, each around 15 billion times the mass of the sun, around 750 Lyrs distant.  They are estimated to be 24 Lyrs apart and orbiting every 30,000 years.  Although they will merge it won’t be for millions of years yet.
Will give the gravitational wave observers something to look for over the next few years.

One other point from the paper that links to a question that Chris answered on detection systems: “While mergers of SMBHB’s are expected to be common emitters of GW radiation, modulating pulsar timing observations have not yet detected any evidence for a GW signal”. Quote from a 2016 paper, but the authors are hopeful that with the size of these BHs and improved sensitivity that may change.

Science Daily     :     phys.org     :     Original Paper 

Enjoy your summer and see you all at the next meetings in September.

Next meeting this coming Monday 26th June – Dr Chris North, Gravitational Waves

Monday 26th is the last meeting before we break for the summer and we have a treat in store.  Following the successes in recent years of detecting and interpreting gravitational waves we thought it was about time we invited a speaker that could present authoritatively on the subject.

We will be very pleased to welcome back  Dr Chris North from Cardiff University (School of Physics & Astronomy).  Chris is the Ogden Science Lecturer for Cardiff University and holds an STFC Public Engagement Fellowship, focusing on Gravitational Wave research.  This means that he is engaged with a lot of outreach work, particularly encouraging the take-up of physics by school and university students.

Chris is a great presenter and very knowledgeable so we expect to finish the year with an exceptional evening.

As usual 19:30 upstairs in the King’s Head, all welcome.

Next Meeting 12th June @ 7:30pm

The next meeting is a Cosmology Discussion group.  The topics will be

1)  Recent news stories – around 6 items,
2)  Cosmic Inflation  –  What is it and why is it necessary
This is the theory that the universe underwent a massive expansion in the first micro second after the Big Bang.

I have put some brief notes together that may be of use, NOTES.

In addition there are a couple of you tube videos that may be of interest,
1) Why is the universe flat (5:46)and
2) Space and Time Cosmic Inflation (2:35)

Usual time & place, 7:30pm at The Kings Head.

Come along and share your opinions and knowledge with us, I’m sure we will all learn something new.  All welcome

Is this what is in store for the Milky Way & Andromeda?

I came across a Hubble video recently.  It consists of a computer simulation of 2 galaxies colliding along with 5 pictures of actual collisions as a comparison.
The details are on the “General Items” page.

Observing in June

As we get into summer the nights get very short and it’s tempting to pack away the binoculars and telescopes until the Autumn.  However there is still plenty to see and this month Martin Griffiths has kindly provided a guide as to what you may look for.

The Night Sky in June 2017

This Posting has been moved to the page “Observing”/”2017 Observing” HERE