ASE logo The Astronomical Society of Edinburgh


No 56 - June 2008

Society news

The Annual General Meeting on 2008-03-21 elected the Office Bearers and Council. This left three vacant Councillor positions which the new Council has since filled by co-option. The resulting Council is as follows:

The AGM was followed by the Presidential Address entitled "We are star dust", in which Iain took us around the cycle of stellar evolution from star formation and planet formation from interstellar gas through synthesis of heavy elements in stars and in supernovae, and to the return of material into interstellar space via stellar winds, planetary nebulae and supernova remnants.

In his talk on 2008-03-07 Prof Andrew Collier Cameron of St Andrews University reported on the SuperWASP project. Using off-the-shelf (and on occasion off e-bay) telephoto lenses and state of the art CCD detectors, they search for brightness dips due to transits of extra-solar planets in front of their stars. They are remarkably successful with 14 new planets discovered so far, quite a few of them presented to ASE as world exclusives. On 2008-04-04 Russell Eberst spoke on satellite tracking and "other things". He is one of the amateur observers who fill in the blanks in public knowledge about secret military satellites. He mentioned a few 50th and 100th anniversaries and a number of aspects of observing objects of the solar system from the Moon and its earthshine to the sometimes vanishing rings of Saturn. Ken Kennedy from Dundee on 2008-05-02 spoke on the lunar maria. Until the mid 20th century lunar craters were thought to be volcanic, but now we know that they are impact craters. It is in fact the lower, flatter maria that resulted from liquid magma seeping through the floors of giant impact basins, filling them only 100 to 700 million years after the impacts themselves.

At the 2008-03-10 Observing Group meeting the sky was overcast. Nonetheless two novices could be instructed in the setting up and simple use of their equatorial mount. On 2008-04-07 the weather seemed unfavourable, too, but the crescent Moon and earthshine made a surprise appearance in the end.

Renovation work continues on the Astronomer's House, leading to continued minor disruption of access to the Calton Hill Observatory by the southern door; access to the Ordinary Meetings by the eastern gate is unaffected. Significant work has also been carried out on the footpaths, including installation of new lampposts. It is to be welcomed that the City Council are carrying out these improvements on Calton Hill, and we in particular look forward to the replacement of the missing lead on the roof of the Playfair Building (the central building in the Observatory grounds). This roof repair has now been scheduled by the City Council and some scaffolding was in place in early May.


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