By Richard Harvey
The first few months of 2019 have been a very busy time for the society. As well as our regular meetings and lectures at the Environmental Centre, we’ve been working on the observatory and have also been involved in several outreach events. I thought it might be worth having a look back on our activities in the first part of 2019 in the virtual pages of Lyra.
On Saturday 9th February we had our first group visit to our new observatory. It was fantastic to finally ‘unveil’ the pod and show members around. We’ve already started using the dome, (see previous Lyra article on comet 46p/Wirtanen). The dome currently houses the society’s 16″ Orion Optics Dobsonian, and observations made in the early months of 2019 have been recorded for a future Lyra article.
The week following the observatory visit, on the 13th, Doug and Steve gave a talk on the Faulkes Telescope Project at Wolverhampton University. A chance meeting between Steve Wootton and Dr Andrew Gascoyne (senior lecturer in Maths & Physics) had started this off. The University then contacted our Society with a view to collaboration between us, Doug followed it up and they all met up to have a chat.
Andrew had some physics students who were interested in astronomy as part of their degree course. Doug made a PowerPoint presentation about the Faulkes Telescope Project and he and Steve presented this to around 25 students in the morning and a dozen in the afternoon. Doug writes … There were lots of questions and the students showed a lot of interest. In the afternoon session we showed them how to decide on a target to image, there was a lot of interaction here and eventually we decided on one, a wide field image of NGC3169 and NGC3166 galaxies near the star Regulus. We have sent the raw files to the university and have offered to have a return visit to go through processing. A very quick edit is shown below.
On the 28th February, Doug, organised a ‘Planets and Pizzas’ event at the Kingswood Trust project near Albrighton. Doug had been contacted via Perton Library, and ably assisted by Steve, Cath and John gave a presentation followed by a plenary Q&A session where they were grilled about astronomical topics. The pizzas weren’t grilled, they were cooked outside in the centre’s cob oven. [Hope the puns improve later in the year! – Ed]
The evening proved a success and our new roller banners were again in evidence.
The Paul Pope lecture at the St Peter’s Collegiate School on the 4th March proved a great success, and we thank Jay Tate for his fascinating talk. The club made a donation towards the Spaceguard Centre, and we hope to arrange another club visit to the centre soon. It really is a fascinating place for anyone with the slightest interest in science and astronomy. More info on their website: https://spaceguardcentre.com
On Saturday March 9th, quite a few Wolverhampton Astronomical Society members attended the new Practical Astronomy Show in Kettering. The one day event was very well attended, and the array of telescopes on display was phenomenal. I’m pleased to learn this event will happen again in 2020.
On the 14th March, Cath helped the Perton Beavers group earn their astronomy badges. Helping the children find out about space is a very rewarding, if sometimes exhausting, activity. Cath received a nice email:
It was fun, informative and had the Beavers attention throughout. I can safely say that all Beavers had a lovely time and I had some great feedback from parents and our district commissioner, who saw it all on Facebook.Laura Dovey, club leader
I was asked if I would give a talk about telescopes to the year fives at the Royal School on the 29th March. I took the society’s Tom Collier Dobsonian along, and for an hour was bombarded with some very interesting questions on practical astronomy and space. We used the chapel which is in the grounds of the school. My thanks to teacher Mandy Gollings for organising it.
It’s certainly been a great start to the year, and there’s plenty more to look forward to.