Our inaugural meeting was on the 8th Nov 2010 and we officially formed in Feb 2011.
AAS holds monthly meetings, often 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.

We host discussions on subjects as varied as "finding your way around the sky" to "Dark Energy".

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



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Next meeting of the Society is Thursday 15th October at 7pm by Zoom

The next meeting of the Society is Thursday 15th October at 7pm by Zoom.  Bob Wright from Usk Society will present on the planet Venus.  Venus is presently an early morning object, it rises in the east in the constellation of Leo,  before the Sun at around 4 am.  For those early birds it is hard to miss as it is very bright at more than magnitude -4.  It has recently had a lot of media interest owing to the detection of a so called “biomarker” gas in its atmosphere – Phosphine.  The work was done by an international team of astronomers, led by led by Prof. Jane Greaves from Cardiff University, who many of you may remember gave an excellent talk to Abergavenny Astronomy Society in March 2019.

As usual the meeting will start at 7pm by Zoom, the details of which are below. 

There has been some feedback that a few people have experienced problems joining the meeting by Zoom from the link.  The link launches Zoom in your internet browser, the settings in some people’s browsers block certain features and do not allow Zoom to launch.  If you experience that if the browser says it has blocked Zoom, click on “allow”.  Alternatively go to the Zoom site in advance (https://zoom.us/download) and download and install Zoom on your computer, it is free.  Start the programme and simply enter the meeting number and password when requested and it will take you into the meeting.

Topic: Venus the morning star
Time: Oct 15, 2020 07:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 840 6657 6842
Passcode: 487218
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kwMTULve1

Mars at its closest

Mars is currently at its closest point to the Earth and will not get closer for around 17 years, so now is the ideal time to observe it.  Technically it was at its closest point on the 6th October but it reaches its opposition – that is when the Sun, the Earth and the planet are all in a straight line, on the 13th October.  In the case of Mars the opposition does not exactly coincide with the closest point owing to its rather eccentric orbit.  It will be well positioned for observing for the next few months but will be getting smaller as time goes on.  Presently its diameter is just over 22 arc seconds but that will decrease by about 23% per month.  Realistically you will need a telescope to see any details on its surface but the rocky and sandy deserts are then quite easy to spot.  You may even be able to see the southern polar cap – although that is looking very small now as the Martian summer gets into full swing.  The picture shows the planet from Abergavenny on the 5th October when it was almost at its closest.  In this picture South is up and you can just see the little polar cap.  The light coloured areas near the edge of the planet are clouds.

summer get into full swing.

Next virtual meeting is Thursday 1st October

The next virtual meeting of the Society will be at 7pm on Thursday the 1st October.

Mars is presently at it very best for observing and will be like that for the coming weeks.  A combination of various factors mean that it will not be as easy to observe from our northern latitudes for many years to come.  In the meeting we will explore the best ways to observe the planet and what you might expect to see.

Winter is almost upon us and as a plus it brings the brilliant winter constellations in this meeting we will have a look at what there is to see in the November night skies.

Topic: Astronomical Society Meeting
Time: Oct 1, 2020 07:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 833 1123 0592
Passcode: 684277

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kddq8Ftj13

Next virtual meeting 17th September, 7pm

This Thursday we will have another virtual meeting of the Society along with members from Usk Astronomical Society.  This will be another in the back to basics type talks, this time on an absolute beginners guide to astrophotography. 

Astrophotography is a large and complex subject that can also be very costly in equipment, but like anything if taken gradually bit by bit it becomes much more accessible.  This talk looks at how with basic equipment – say a digital camera of some sort or even just a smart phone you can start to produce some amazing results.  You do not even really need a PC but it does help.  Basic instructions to get you started will be given plus some top tips to avoid common pitfalls.

The meeting will start at 7pm and it will be open from 6:50, please log on before 7 if possible so we are ready to start on time.

Topic: Astronomical Society Meeting
Time: Sep 17, 2020 07:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 846 7002 6528
Passcode: 884442

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kcGvE078P

Meeting this Thursday 3rd September

There will be a Zoom meeting of Abergavenny Astronomy Society, joined with Usk Astronomy Society this Thursday evening at 7 pm.  The details for joining the meeting are below, just click on the link.  David Thomas from Usk will lead a discussion on various hot topics/ recent news in astronomy.

If you have not joined a Zoom meeting before don’t be shy it could not be easier.  You can use whatever device you are reading this message on e.g. smart phone/ laptop/ tablet/ desktop.  Simply click on the link below.  If you have Zoom installed on the device it will ask you if you want to use it, otherwise it will just connect you through your standard browser.  That’s all there is to it, you can then just sit back and listen

Topic: Usk & Abergavenny Astro Societies meeting
Time: Sep 3, 2020 07:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 893 6091 6194
Passcode: 518423

DIY stargazing

Although the good weather seems to have taken a turn for the worst and the Perseid meteor show was pretty effectively clouded out, clear skies will surely return and you may want to try the following podcast that describes some simple things to look for in the August/ September skies.   The planets Jupiter and Saturn are very prominent in the south and for the night owls Mars rises after midnight in the east and will get easier to observe as we get into autumn.

Naked eye Comet 2020 F3 (NEOWISE)

Comet 2020 F3 (NEOWISE) is one of  the brightest naked eye comets we have seen from this part of the world for some years.  In the past couple of weeks it has been delighting amateur photographers as a pre-dawn object but for the night-owls (as opposed to the early birds) you will be pleased to know it is now easily observable in the evening sky (weather permitting of course).  Start to look in darkish twilight i.e. around 11 pm, just as the stars are emerging.  Look a little way above the horizon in a north-west to north direction (you need a reasonable north horizon) and you should be able to spot it quite easily.  It will be available for the next couple of weeks but it is getting dimmer now so will get harder to see, although binoculars show it even more easily.  Being quite bright it is also easy to photograph.  For good results make sure your camera is steady, for example on a tripod.  Use an ISO of around 800 to 1000 and an exposure of around 4 seconds with your lowest f number, you may need to experiment a bit.  The picture below was taken from my garden in Abergavenny on the 16th July with a compact camera.  Happy comet hunting and fingers crossed for some clear skies.

Some Topics

Our last meeting was in March and it is clear that nothing is going to happen before our regular “summer break”.  Hopefully come September/October the situation will be clearer and we will have an indication of the AAS restart date.
In the meantime I thought I’d share 3 items I’ve read in the last couple of weeks (just in case anyone is interested!).  Further details on the topics and the sources I have read are on the “General Items” page.

  • Nottingham University have carried out some calculations and have concluded/suggested that there may be over 30 civilisations in the Milky Way. This looks a bit like an update of the Drake Equation to me (chances for intelligent life in the galaxy).   If they are there then why haven’t we heard from them?  The researchers have determined that the average distance to these civilisations is 17,000 light years.  Of course it is only 125 years since we invented radio and it wasn’t until 1932 that Karl Jansky built the first radio astronomy dish.  17,000 years ago the British Isles didn’t exist, see map at LINK, and there were probably no inhabitants here either as it was towards the end of the last glacial maximum.  So, aliens needed to have been transmitting thousands of years before we built Stonehenge and would therefore be much more advanced than we are now, assuming they have survived.
  • Another study, by the University of British Columbia, has estimated that there could be 6 billion earth like planets in the Milky Way, using data from NASA’s Kepler mission. So, plenty of opportunities for those 30 civilisations?
    To be considered Earth-like, a planet must be rocky, roughly Earth-sized and orbiting Sun like (G-type) stars. It also has to orbit in the habitable zones of its star — the range of distances from a star in which a rocky planet could host liquid water, and potentially life, on its surface.  The 6 billion number comes from an estimate that 7% of the ~400 billion stars in the galaxy are G-type stars with 0.18 earth like planets per star.
  • Sagittarius & Milky Way Galaxies

    Looking back a bit further astrophysicists at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) in Tenerife have been considering what may have triggered the formation of our sun, and ultimately the Earth.
    Using an analysis of the ESA Gaia data they have concluded that a collision between the Milky Way and the Sagittarius Galaxy created the conditions for a burst of star formation. The Sagittarius Galaxy is much smaller than the Milky Way and is in a polar orbit which has passed through the our galaxy a number of times in the past.  After an early period of star formation the MW settled down, having reached a balanced state.  Then, to quote from the SD article “This cosmic “fender bender”- which occurred as Sagittarius’ orbit plunged it through the plane of our galaxy – helped to concentrate cosmic dust in and usher in a period of heightened star formation”.  These periods of increased star formation occurred roughly 5.7, 1.9 and 1 billion years ago.  Our sun is thought to have formed some 4.5 to 5 billion years ago.

Mercury & Starlink : (26th May)

Had a look to see if I could spot Mercury the other evening.  Unfortunately, from my location the Blorenge is “to high in the sky”!

Nick posted about the Starlink Satellites on the 20th April and suggested that observational astronomers are not happy with the potential interference.  Starlink aim to have around 1,600 satellites in orbit by 2022 with the long term objective of up to 12,000, providing satellite internet access.
Well, it is not only observational enthusiasts that are concerned radio astronomers are upset as well.
I have posted a message from the BAA-RAG group (British Astronomical Association – Radio Astronomy Group) on the “General Items” page ( LINK ) that outlines their concerns.

Looking for the messenger of the gods

Mercury can be an elusive planet, it is not very bright and is always near to the Sun so in twilight.  It can also be dangerous to look for if you have not let the Sun set.  However for those that have never seen it now is your chance.  This evening (22 May) it will be very close to Venus, which is really easily to spot as twilight falls in the north west.  At 10pm BST Venus will be on an azimuth of around 298 degrees and at altitude from the horizon in Abergavenny of around 10 degrees, so pretty low.  Mercury will be very close by to Venus’ left side (east).  It has a good chance of being clear so why not go out and have a look.  Maybe a good photo opportunity.