ASE logo The Astronomical Society of Edinburgh


No 55 - March 2008

Astronomical Society of Edinburgh - Annual Report for 2007

Editor's note: The official version of the Annual Report is the PDF version (100 kByte).

The Astronomical Society of Edinburgh is registered Scottish charity SC022968.

The Astronomical Society of Edinburgh was founded (as the Edinburgh Astronomical Association) in 1924 and is governed by a Constitution adopted in 1937 and since modified (most recently on 13th January 1995). A copy of this Constitution has been supplied to each member and may be referred to in the Society's Library at the City Observatory and on the Society's web site. Copies may be obtained from the Secretary.

Clause 1 of that Constitution is:

The name of the Society shall be "The Astronomical Society of Edinburgh" and its objects shall be to advance the education of the public about the science of Astronomy and to promote astronomical research chiefly in Edinburgh and its neighbourhood. In furtherance thereof:

The Management of the Society is vested in a Council, elected from the Ordinary Membership of the Society at the Annual General Meeting. The following served from 1st April:

The following Council members held office during the early part of the year (from 1st January to March 31st): Des Loughney, Iain McEachran, David Small, Graham Rule, Alan Ellis, Maurice Frank, Danny Gallacher, Pete MacDonald, Alastair Mackie, Kenneth Thomas, Adelaide Webster.

The Society's principal address

c/o Graham Rule
105/19 Causewayside
Edinburgh, EH9 1QG
Telephone 0131 667 0647

Our meetings take place at

The City Observatory
Calton Hill
Edinburgh EH7 5AA

There is currently no post box at the observatory which the post office can reach.


On the 31st December 2007 the membership of the Society was 73 of which 7 are honorary members.

Honorary Members

Honorary members are Dr M. Brück, Dr H. Ford MBE, Dr D. Gavine, Dr N. Grubb, and Prof D. Heggie. The Honorary Presidents are Prof Andy Lawrence BSc PhD FRAS FRSE (Regius Professor of Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh) and Prof John Brown BSc PhD DSc FRSE FRAS (Astronomer Royal for Scotland).


Editions 52, 53 and 54 of the Society's Journal were published in 2007 under the editorship Horst Meyerdierks.

Members are issued with the latest edition of the Federation of Astronomical Societies "Astrocalendar" on payment of their subscription to the Society.

Electronic Communication

The Society's website may be found at

Email contact addresses have also been set up for some Society Officers:

Full details of the Society's activities and information about how to join are on the website.

The Council expresses its thanks to the Royal Observatory Edinburgh for continuing to provide web space and email forwarding.


The Society has held the following meetings during 2007:

January 5th Dr David Clarke - Glasgow University
The Zodiacal Light
February 2nd Brian Kelly - Dundee AS
Its About Time
March 2nd Des Loughney - President, ASE
Star Spots
16th Annual General Meeting
April 13th Prof Andy Lawrence - ROE
Cosmic Explorers: Mapping the Universe
May 4th Storm Dunlop - BAA
Optical Phenomena in the Atmosphere
5th BAA Variable Star Section Meeting
held at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh
June 1st David Paterson - Dundee AS
Imagined Planets
July 6th Dr Suzanne Ramsay Howat - ROE
A Selective History of Astronomy
August 3rd Members' Night
Short presentations by members of the Society
September 7th Prof Ian Robson - UKATC
Active Galaxies and Supermassive Black Holes
Robert McNaught - Siding Spring Survey
Rob showed images of comets, in particular his bright one of early 2007
29th Doors Open Day
October 5th Dave Gavine - Past President, ASE
Thomas Dick
8th Observing Group
November 2nd Andrew Elliott - BAA
Real time video astronomy
5th Observing Group
December 7th Lyn Smith - BAA Solar Section Director
Observing the Sun in White Light and Hydrogen Alpha
10th Observing Group
21st Observing Evening
Mars opposition and Moon in the Pleiades
mince pies and mulled wine

The Council wishes to thank Alan Pickup for kindly presenting the "Monthly Sky Map" talk to the Society whenever he was available. Thanks also go to Dave Gavine for arranging speakers for many of the meetings.

Council Meetings

The Council of the Society met on 12th January, 26th January, 23rd February, 30th March, 27th April, 28th September and 30th November.


An arrangement has been made with a local organisation which allows our members use of a Dark Skies site. Members are being required to pay a deposit for keys to this site and we look forward to seeing the results of observing done there.

Dr Neil Grubb kindly donated a 10 inch Meade LX200 telescope to the Society. After a little bit of repair work this is now fully operational and has been used on a number of occasions at the Observatory. The Society expressed its thanks to Neil by electing him an Honorary Member of the Society.

The Cooke telescope has also been put to good use on meeting nights, observing nights and at other times with fine views of Mars and Saturn being seen.

The Observatory

Last year we reported the restriction on the Society's activities imposed when part of the ceiling in the Playfair Building collapsed. Since then we have been assured that it is safe to continue to use the stairs and are now able to make full use of the Cooke telescope.

Some lead was stolen from the roof of the Playfair Building, the small Transit Building and the City Dome in February. This was patched up by City Council workmen on the day it occurred and it was hoped that a permanent repair would be done before the start of the winter.

Unfortunately we have to, once again, regret the absence of repairs to the Observatory. Despite an optimistic meeting with the Leader of the City Council, Cllr. Jenny Dawe, the City's finacial situation would appear to mean that work will not be done until internal damage is clearly visible.

The Council welcome the restoration work being done on the Observatory House, the forthcoming pathwork repairs and signage that the City are providing but feel that a higher priority should be given to the Playfair Building to ensure that it continues to be available as a place where people can learn about astronomy and the telescope donated by Sir William McEwan over a hundred years ago.

The water supply to the site was not working for some months but this has since been fixed and there is once again a toilet available for use by members of the Society and our visitors.

Doors Open Day in September was a great success with thousands of visitors in the space of a few hours. We continue to open to the public from time to time and people wishing to arrange group visits are encouraged to contact the Secretary to discuss this.

Throughout the summer months the City's Parks Rangers ran weekly walking tours of the hill and, when available, your Secretary opened the observatory to these tours. For many people from Edinburgh this was the first they had known that the observatory was still in use.

The Astronomical Society of Edinburgh Trustees

A former Vice-President of the Society, Mr John Henry Lorimer RSA left a substantial bequest to the Society when he died in 1936. This bequest has been assigned to "The Astronomical Society of Edinburgh Trustees" and is managed by them under conditions set forth in a Deed of Trust granted in favour of Rev Dr James Patrick DD BSc and others, dated 10th December 1937.

The following are the trustees in terms of that deed:

All of the above trustees are members of the Society.

Financial Report

The financial report for 2007 shows that we incurred a deficit of £1,884 on our income and expenditure statement. The main reasons for this are:

  1. Reduced donations from radio groups due to the condition of the Cox Dome. Donations were £322 compared to £620 last year.
  2. Subscription receipts are down to £777 compared to £1086 last year.
  3. Meeting expenses are £730 compared to £300 last year.
  4. Increased communications costs.
  5. Lorimer Trust Income is currently being held in reserve by the ASE Trust where a better interest rate will be obtained. Around £4,800 in deferred payments due to the Society will be invested by the Trust.

It was considered useful to split the expenditure into costs associated with the Society and those directly relating to the Observatory and as can be seen this amounts to £1,714 and £1,497 respectively.

Statement of Balances for the year ended 31 December 2007

Bank Balances at 31 December 2006
       Current Account £3,297.44
  Business Investment Account £5,443.68
Total balance   £8,741.12
Less Liabilities for 2006 £17.50   Note 1
Plus Receipts for 2007 £1,327.64
Less Payments for 2007 £3,212.01
Bank Balances at 31 December 2007
  Current Account £1,366.31
  Business Investment Account £5,472.94
Total balance   £6,839.25

Income and Expenditure Report for year ended 31 December 2007

ASE Annual Subs £777.00   Note 2
Dark Sky Site - Key Deposit £20.00   Note 3
Donations £322.00   Note 4
Gift Aid £145.54
Bank Interest £63.10   Note 5
Total Income   £1,327.64
Meeting Expenses £730.27   Note 6
Travel Expenses £25.75   Note 7
Library £9.99
Magazines & Subscription £104.50   Note 8
Communications £419.85   Note 9
Dark Sky Site £140.00   Note 10
Equipment £113.63   Note 11
Astrocalendars £170.67
Total Society Expenditure   £1,714.66
Electricity £479.79
Phone £216.90
Insurance £634.48   Note 12
Observatory sundries £116.95   Note 13
Observatory repairs £49.23   Note 14
Total Observatory Expenditure   £1,497.35
Total Expenditure   £3,212.01
Income - Expenditure   -£1,884.37

The form of presentation of this report conforms to the Charities Accounts (Scotland) Regulations 1992, which also requires the following statements to be made:

Note on Statement of Balances and Income and Expenditure Report

At the 31st December 2007 one cheque had not been cleared. This represents a liability for the Society of £57.00. Cheque number 011866 for £57.00 to Federation of Astronomical Societies membership fee for 2007/2008.

General Notes:

  1. The 2006 Liability of £17.50 represents cheque payments made during 2006 but not cleared until 2007.
  2. Annual subscriptions are still due for 2007/2008 from a significant number of members. It is hoped this shortfall from the £1,273 figure can be made up during this year.
  3. Dark Sky key deposits received from two members.
  4. Donations of £200 from Radio Ramadan for use of the Observatory premises for radio broadcast plus content of the Playfair Building donations box £122.
  5. Interest from Current account £33.84 and Investment account £29.26.
  6. Meeting expenses - Speakers' Hospitality £505 and Travel £155 and Refreshments.
  7. Additional travel on Society Business.
  8. Magazines £94.50 and SAG subscription £10.
  9. Journal production (new toner cartridges, previous inkjet cartridge costs and postage). Also Astrocalendars and other letters. Also Internet Domain name registration renewal (2 years).
  10. Dark Sky site annual rent (£120) plus four keys (£20).
  11. President's Medal inscription plate and presentation box replacement (£95) and DVD player for lecture hall (£18).
  12. Insurance - General Contents £6,498 and specified items of individual equipment ranging from £1,695 to £3,264. Also included is £5 million public liability insurance.
  13. Observatory Sundries - Exterior lighting and additional keys.
  14. Blocked drain repair.

This report was approved at a meeting of the Council of the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh held at the City Observatory on 29 February 2008.

Graham Rule, Secretary
For and on behalf of the Council of the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh

Report by the independent examiner

I have examined the Annual Report, the Society's accounting records, and the above Receipts and Payments Account and Statement of Balances. To the best of my knowledge and belief, and in accordance with the information and explanations given to me:

  1. The association is eligible under section 7(1) of the Charities Accounts (Scotland) Regulations 1992 to choose to have an independent examination, instead of an audit. I therefore do not express an opinion on the view given by the accounts.
  2. The Receipts and Payments Account and Statement of Balances have been prepared from the records of the Society and are in agreement with them.
  3. The Receipts and Payments Account and Statement of Balances comply with the Charities Accounts (Scotland) Regulations 1992 and with the Society's constitution.

David Thomson, 7th March 2008


Cover page

Society news

Astronomical Society of Edinburgh - Annual General Meeting


Astronomical Society of Edinburgh - Annual Report for 2007

UN declares Year of Astronomy

Scottish Astronomers Group - reincarnated

UK astronomy in funding crisis

John Christopher Bartholomew, MA. FRSGS. FRSE.

Book review: The lost language of the stars

Recent observations

Forthcoming events

Asteroid "Harryford" 6907

About the ASE Journal

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