ASE logo The Astronomical Society of Edinburgh


No 60 - July 2009

Society news

Closure of the City Observatory

Following the formal closure of the City Observatory by the Society in January, it was vital to vacate the premises before the new council tax (and business rates) year began. During February and March, from weekend to weekend the hours put in by members grew, the task being to move things first from the Playfair Building to the City Dome, then into boxes, and finally into storage, recycling or waste disposal. Thanks are due more than a dozen members for getting this done.

Our books occupy a significant fraction of the hired storage space. Iain McEachran and Danny Gallacher have been busy researching the value of each book. We will probably keep the most valuable items as investment. Less valuable items will probably be sold to reduce the volume of stored books and at the same time to contribute to the cost of storage.

Meetings and Council

At most Ordinary Meetings Alan Pickup gives a presentation about the sky in the forthcoming month, usually including snippets of recent news in the fields of observational astronomy and spaceflight.

Following the Annual General Meeting on 2009-03-13, Angus Self gave a most interesting presentation not only about, but also with meteorites. On 2009-04-03, we watched an official movie for the International Year of Astronomy - Eyes on the Skies. The presenter in the movie is Jochen Liske, who was a member of the Society when he worked in Edinburgh. On 2009-05-01, Andy Taylor of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh gave an engaging talk about dark matter, dark energy and cosmology. On 2009-06-05 John Davies - always good for an entertaining talk - spoke on runaway rockets and other disasters in space exploration.

The Annual General Meeting elected the following Council of the Society, which took office on 2009-04-01:

The meeting passed by acclamation a vote of thanks to Iain McEachran as outgoing President. The AGM being held on Red Nose Day, David Small and Rachel Thomas did "something funny for money" and raised £45 for Comic Relief. At its first meeting, on 2009-04-03, the new Council co-opted Vincent Balfour into the remaining vacancy of Councillor.

Moon watch on Calton Hill
Ready for the public - Moon watch on Calton Hill, outside the City Observatory. Photograph by Horst Meyerdierks.

International Year of Astronomy etc.

A Scottish launch of the International Year of Astronomy was held on 2009-02-25 at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh. Horst Meyerdierks represented the Society at this meeting of scientists, amateur astronomers, teachers and outdoor educators.

The International Year of Astronomy spring Moon watch week was 2009-03-28 to -04-05, and Ken Thomas initiated our own six-night Moon watch on Calton Hill, with a few others joining in and bringing their telescopes. The first three nights were from the Observatory proper, but from then on - having handed back the keys - we had to make do with the car park and paths. 2009-03-30 itself doubled up as a farewell gathering of members and friends of the Society. The Saturday, 2009-03-28, saw Earth Hour, when much of the building illumination in the City was switched off for an hour. However, street lighting remained on and the effect on the sky brightness was probably minor.

Following last November's Moon watch at the Seabird Centre in North Berwick, we returned to take part in a 3-day festival "John Muir Odyssey", focussing on environment and outdoor pursuits and part of the Homecoming Scotland events. David Small again took the lead in this effort, but thanks go to all who put in a presence. We made good use of our Hα telescope, but in the absence of sunspots and prominences the best views were of Venus in the day sky through our 114 mm Newtonian and Ken Thomas' 200 mm Schmidt-Cassegrain.

Neil Bone

Sadly, Neil Bone died in April after a long battle with cancer, aged only 49. Born in Campbeltown, during his stay in Edinburgh, Neil was a member of the Society and during the 1980s and early 1990s a frequent contributor to the Journal. He was on the Council of the Society and Vice President in 1985 and 1986, until employment drew him south. Having built up the Northern Network of the BAA Meteor Section, he went on to become Directory of the entire Section in 1992. He was a columnist for both the Journal of the BAA and Astronomy Now. He has written a number of books on amateur astronomy. Neil had only recently had an asteroid - (7102) Neilbone - named after him.


Cover page

Society news

A letter to the Journal of the BAA

A grand event to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy

Forthcoming events

Obituary: Mary Brück

The international month of the Moon?

About the ASE Journal

This journal as a single web page

This journal as PDF file (780 kByte)

web: ISSN 1756-5111
print: ISSN 1756-5103

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