We had another excellent talk by ASE member, Dr Bruce Vickery, entitled: Venus Tablets of Ammisaduqa. This was followed by two descriptive ‘scope talks’ detailing equipment and tips by ASE members, Pat Devine and Hugh Somerville.

Bruce’s lecture was a fascinating in-depth analysis of the origin and importance of a famous cuneiform tablet describing astronomical observations of Venus and his attempts to try and help date Babylonian history by its interpretation. Bruce essentially acts like a modern-day astronomical detective and comes up with some surprising conclusions which undoubtedly will be useful and intriguing for archaeologists and historians to engage and develop further.

The ancient clay cuneiform tablet dates to a few thousand years old and was found by archaeologists at the site of the destroyed great ancient library of Ashirbanipal in Ninevah in the middle of the nineteenth century. The importance of the astronomical inscription on the tablet was realised when it was deciphered in 1912 as it could be used to accurately date the Babylonian history of king Ammisduqa, so helping to piece together Babylonian history.

Bruce described the theory and observational constraints of observing Venus, before introducing the Babylonian calendar system, which is based on the Lunar cycle. (This was quite topical, especially as Ramadan had just begun with day one of the Ramadan crescent moon observed a few days before here in Edinburgh!)

We were then drawn into exploring Bruce’s modern day sleuthing detective work as he explained how he recreated the ancient Babylonian calendar and combined the ancient Venus tablet observational data. Bruce used data methods derived from Jean Meeus’s book: “Astronomical Algorithms” and we were shown how possible success with his dating methods would allow parts of Babylonian history to be correctly dated, showing how astronomy can greatly help archaeologists!

Bruce’s renowned expert historical knowledge, combined with this ancient astronomy detective work leads us to hear some very interesting and surprising conclusions. This was a fascinating and intriguing talk and a great one to view.

Two excellent and enjoyable ‘Scope talks’ then followed:

The first was by ASE member, Pat Devine. Pat introduced us to his ‘astrophotography journey’, describing how he started and what he decided to buy when looking at software and hardware controllers for his telescope and camera set-up.

Pat described and praised a single hardware package controller which he uses called a ‘ZWO ASIAIR’. This is based on Raspberry Pi technology and is a single Wi-Fi multi controller for aligning his telescope and taking photographs. Pat uses his smartphone to control the ASIAIR and so basically all of his telescope set up and has produced many fantastic images, some of which he showed during his talk.

Pat’s presentation also had several clear technical presentation slides which are also available to download as a PDF.

The meeting finished with ASE member Hugh Somerville giving the second scope talk. Hugh introduced us to his ‘astronomy journey’ and described in detail all his equipment. Hugh illustrated his talk with great images which he had taken and importantly showed all his modifications and attachments which he has meticulously made to his telescopes! (I doubt that there are many others who have made as many modifications to their equipment as Hugh!).

These scope talks were excellent and are the next additions to a number of previous scope talks which have been given by members in the past. These previous talks are available to be viewed from the past meeting section of our website and YouTube channel and I highly recommend them to gain some great tips, tricks and equipment ideas.

Will Joy