Dr Keith Ross: A Tribute and Remembrance

By Phil Barnard

Keith Ross at Highfields
Keith Ross at Highfields

The very sad news that Society member Dr Keith Ross had passed away at Compton Hospice on 21 April 2020 will have come as a great shock to those who knew him. Keith was a modest and unassuming member, but who was at the same time never happier than when talking about astronomy and passing on his knowledge and enthusiasm to others. It comes as no surprise to learn from his daughter Samantha that this included members of his own family, who clearly enjoyed spending time with him as he explained the wonders of the night sky when weather permitted.

He was also an active member, as evidenced by the included photograph, taken in March 2014 when he assisted the Society at an event organised during Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics week at Highfields School. Again showing Keith doing what he loved most, imparting his knowledge to a younger generation.

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Obituary: Dr Keith Ross

15th March 1946 – 21st April 2020

Dr Keith Ross

Keith passed away peacefully at Compton Hospice on 21st April 2020. A retired Consultant Paediatrician at New Cross Hospital for nearly 30 years, he was responsible for establishing the Neonatal Unit and was a greatly admired and respected doctor.

His retirement gift from his colleagues was a telescope. He had a love of science and planned to use his retirement to learn more about the sky. Owning a narrow boat, and travelling the waterways with his wife Sandra, gave him the perfect opportunity to sit on dark canal paths and look at the stars. His membership in the Wolverhampton Astronomical Society was very important to him and he always looked forward to his Monday night evenings. He enjoyed sharing this passion with his family, buying junior telescopes for the grandchildren, and regularly phoning to update them on what they could see in the sky. The whole family spent cold evenings waiting for clouds to disperse and stars to emerge, not always with success!

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Obituary: Ron Maddison

By Phil Barnard

Ron Maddison

On 6 January 2020, I received the following sad news, reported on: https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/merritt-island-fl/ronald-maddison-8979371

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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