Obituary: Ron Maddison

By Phil Barnard

Ron Maddison

On 6 January 2020, I received the following sad news, reported on:

Ronald Charles Maddison passed away peacefully at the Advent Hospital in Orlando, aged 84. Ron will be lovingly remembered by his wife Margaret, dear father to Christopher, Julia and stepson Mark. Ron was born in Birmingham, England, where he taught Astrophysics for 33 years. He moved to Florida in 1991 and was Observatory Director at the BCC Planetarium until 2006. He was a great lover of steam trains, spending many happy hours building models.

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Geminids 2019 Backscatter Data

By Trevor Clifton

Pictured below is the backscatter data for the 24 hour period covering the Geminid maximum.

Some of the gaps in the data is due to high levels of RF interference which although the meteor data is logged in a text file its not printed on the graph as it may be unreliable.

Backscatter data covering the 24 hours of the Geminid maximum
Backscatter data covering the 24 hours of the Geminid maximum

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Transit of Mercury

By Richard Harvey

The transit of Mercury which occurred on the 11th November 2019, was the third Mercury transit this century, (other transits being 2006 and 2016). The next transit however, won’t occur till, 2032, so we felt it important that a group observation session should be arranged for the 2019 event.

With the Sun being only twenty degrees above the horizon at first contact, and heading lower, it was vital that we found an observation spot that offered a clear view of a low horizon towards the south. The Vineyard at Halfpenny Green seemed an ideal location, and we were lucky to be given permission to use the area outside the café.

Members started arriving around 11.30, to allow plenty of time for setting up scopes in readiness for first contact at 12.30. A fine array of telescopes adorned the grass area, with refractors, reflectors, and Schmitt-Cassegrains. Baader filters were firmly secured, and photographic equipment poised in readiness.

Telescopes set up for transit of Mercury
Telescopes set up with solar filters ready for the transit of Mercury
Members set up ready for the transit
Members with their scopes set up ready for the transit

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Partial Lunar Eclipse 16th July 2019

By Cath Adams

The evening began at Perton Library listening to Andrew Lound give his talk Apollo – A Moon Odyssey 50th Anniversary Special. Andrew’s talk was fascinating, full of interesting information about the Apollo missions and original footage from 1969.

Andrew Lound - Apollo talk at Perton Library
Andrew Lound – Apollo talk at Perton Library (Photo by Richard Harvey)
Doug's Apollo display at Perton Library
Doug’s Apollo display at Perton Library

There were displays around the library featuring photos and artefacts from the Moon landings, which Doug had set up in conjunction with the library. It was all very impressive. After Andrew’s talk there was much discussion amongst a few of us as to where would be the best place to go to attempt to view that evening’s Partial Lunar Eclipse. Several people decided to stay in Perton and go to the lake area to view it, Richard suggested heading out Albrighton way as he thought there might be some good viewing points there.

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Events Update

By Richard Harvey

On Sunday the 23rd June WOLVAS club members gathered at the society observatory for an afternoon visit. The rain kept off for the most part, and we were able to review the workings of the dome, site security, and the problems we’d had aligning the current scope to the ecliptic, (a problem that will hopefully be remedied for the winter 2019 observing season, when we should have the observatory working at full pelt, with a guided mount. We’ll keep you posted!)..

WOLVAS Observatory Visit 23rd June 2019
WOLVAS Observatory Visit 23rd June 2019
Observatory Visit Group Photo
Observatory Visit Group Photo

Quite a few members were making their first visit to the observatory, and commented how lucky we were to have it sited in such a secure and scenic location, (only seven miles from the city, on the Shropshire/Staffs border, but away from any intrusive lights). We met in a nearby cafe after the visit, for coffee and further astro chat.

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Solar Viewing at Perton 20th June 2019

By Doug Bickley

Solar Observing at Perton Library
Solar Observing at Perton Library

Perton Astronomy Group which is affiliated to WolvAS meet on the third Thursday of every month. The June meeting saw ten people, mostly Wolvas members meeting at 7pm.

The sun was out, great, because we had a whole range of equipment looking at the Sun on a lovely balmy evening. I had taken the Society PST but no webcam, but I managed a couple of dodgy afocal shots off my phone. The PST is a bit tricky to get right, and the etalon filter adjustment is sensitive, but we did see some granulation (but no flares).

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Arietids Backscatter Data

By Trevor Clifton

A daytime meteor shower occurs on the morning of the 7th June. Known as the Daytime Arietids, this shower is linked to the sun grazing comet 96P/Machholz. Detectable only by radar backscatter, the Arietids produces a level of activity comparable to that of the Perseids.

The activity graph is produced below and is obtained via my automated system. The missing bar at around 7 am is due to a high level of interference which causes my system to reject that 10 minutes block of data.

Arietids backscatter detections
Arietids backscatter detections 7th June 2019

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Lyrids Backscatter Data

By Trevor Clifton

The Lyrids may have been clouded out for visual observers, but Trevor managed to spot them using backscatter detection with his radio antenna.

The bar charts are produced in real time and a sample of the data log is attached.The first two bar charts show the run up to the event giving the background rate and the third the event itself.

Background detection rate in run up to the Lyrids (17th-18th April)
Background detection rate in run up to the Lyrids (17th-18th April)
Background detection rate in run up to the Lyrids (21st-22nd April)
Background detection rate in run up to the Lyrids (21st-22nd April)

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Recent Club Activities

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.

First group visit to the Wolvas Observatory
First group visit to the Wolvas Observatory

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.

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15th Wolverhampton Beaver Scouts – Astronomy Badge

by Cath Adams

A few weeks ago I was asked by a work colleague if I would help the children of a local Beavers Group out with their Astronomy Badge. Of course I said yes and then set about recruiting help as I was told there could be around 20 to 30 children! Fortunately the first person I asked, Richard Harvey, said he would come along and help.

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