AAS

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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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.

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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!

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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

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Lunar eclipse

Well it stayed clear over Abergavenny for most of the Lunar eclipse – that is until just after the maximum, at which point it promptly clouded over.  Still the best part was visible.  The picture below was taken at around 3:15.

Don’t forget tonight’s meeting with Andy Burns presenting on Sir John Herschel.

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Why is Monday the 28th September going to be so special?

Well one of the reasons is that between 1:13 am and 6:31 am on Monday morning the moon will be totally eclipsed.  The eclipse is caused by the Earth’s shadow being cast on the Moon as the Moon Earth and Sun align.  As the sunlight refracts through the Earth’s atmosphere it can produce beautiful blood red colours on the moon – a sight not to be missed – you do not even need a telescope!  At the moment (Friday) the weather forecast is looking promising.

The other treat to make Monday even more special is that it is our first monthly meeting after the summer break.  We are in our new venue The Hen and Chickens – just around the corner from the King’s Arms.  This month Andy Burns is coming to talk about John Herschel.

Andy has been into Astronomy since  he was 8 years old in 1961 and when, like many of us, he was given the Patrick Moore book ‘Astronomy’.

He bought his first telescope 6” TAL2 in 1992 and has never looked back
He joined the fledgling Wiltshire AS in 1992, became Vice Chair and now Chair since 2006.  He  set-up, equipped and Co-directs the Griffon Educational Observatory in Andalucía; which some of our members visited last summer.
In 2005 he sold his business and retired to spend more time doing astronomy and joined the Herschel Museum in Bath, as a financer, committee member and education astronomer. He now gives talks on the Herschels world wide – USA 2008 (to the Astronomical League of America congress) and the Johannesburg and Cape Town observatories 2009, and an invite to the astronomy league of America in 2017. And many other topics, particularly related to managing expectations for budding astronomers of all levels.
He was privileged to be given the Sky at Night Achievement in Amateur Astronomy Award in 2010 for ‘outstanding contributions to advancement and promotion of astronomy’.

Andy will give a talk onSir John Herschel, 1st Baronet of Slough, the forgotten man of science.
The talk will cover the life and works of one the most important influences in 19th century science, along with Babbage, Faraday, Darwin, Fox Talbot, and the Astronomers.  Sir John Herschel was a Mathematician, Botanist, Chemist, Linguist, Natural Philosopher, Geologist, Artist, Musician and so much more. He was one of the great scientists and often decorated and feted around the world… and so few know about this humble man. He even translated Homer’s Illiad into the modern English hexametre (and regarded this as his finest work). He is buried next Isaac Newton, and Darwin buried alongside him in Westminster Abbey.
Meeting starts as usual at 7:30, we look forward to seeing you there.

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We had the best weather for a solar eclipse!

The Sun was splendid this morning for the partial solar eclipse and a large group turned out at Usk Observatory; including a good contingent from Abergavenny Astronomy Society and the general public.  It remained clear for the whole period.  There were 5 telescopes used including 2 H alpha ‘scopes to give wonderful views, of not only the eclipse but some excellent prominences, filaments, spots and other surface features.  Even the rugged edge of the moon could be seen silhouetted against the brilliant Sun.

 

For those not able to be there the image below was taken through one of the H alpha instruments in the second half of the event.

 

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