There have been some successful meetings at the Observatory of the Observing Group on Monday evenings, devoted to CCD work and computer imaging. Two striking images of Jupiter and Saturn by Neil Grubb were published in September's Astronomy Now.
Non-electronic observations have been somewhat hampered by a very wet and cloudy summer and the present autumn seems to be continuing this trend. No sooner was our last Journal at the printers than a huge aurora occurred on April 6/7. It went on all night and was seen by many of our members. Of the many photographs Lorna McCalman's were most striking. The whole sky was covered in vivid pulsating red, green, white, yellow and pink rays, with several coronal peaks, although the sky was hazy. Neil Bone phoned to say that the aurora was overhead in Chichester. A few days later Dave Gavine went to the BAA's Winchester Weekend, to give a lecture - on the Aurora! He says that everybody down there had seen the aurora and all their photographs were much better than his! Following a large solar mass ejection another great aurora with red, green and white coronal rays occurred on July 15/16, but again in a poor sky, twilight and moonlight. This was most unusual in that as the aurora began to fade at 0100 Dave Gavine detected gradually brightening Noctilucent Cloud bands. The presence of both phenomena simultaneously is rare and of great interest. During a meteor watch on Aug 10/11 Dave saw a moderate rayed display from 0110, then he and Ron watched a small display with red rays at Glasgow Observatory on Sept 15/16. With the current high activity on the sun we can expect more aurora so watch the northern sky every clear night.
Dave, Ron, Lorna and Graham Rule saw several Noctilucent Clouds this summer but they were all faint: June 2/3, 9/10, 14/15, 25/26; July 13/14, 19/20.
Dave was the only serious observer of this year's Perseid meteors, with 10 Perseids and 6 others in 2 hours on Aug 10/11, and in 11/4 hour on 11/12 before it clouded over he saw 35 Perseids and 3 others, none of them very bright. Both nights had a bright moon, and unfortunately 2000 is a year in which most of the meteor showers are affected by moonlight.
Lorna, Ron and Dave continue an extensive Variable Star programme. Lorna has become a member of the BAA and hopes to contribute to its observing sessions.