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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Obituary: John Dovey

John Dovey

Dad was born in 1936 in Colchester as his father Tom Dovey was stationed in army barracks there at the time. Shortly after, the family relocated to Shropshire and Dad was raised in Sutton Maddock near Madeley. When Dad left school he held several forms of employment including coffin maker before commencing his stint in National Service. During this period Dad served in the Military Police and was mainly stationed in Germany. Upon leaving the army in the late 1950’s Dad joined the Police Force where he remained until the late 1960’s before successfully securing a job in what was then Wolverhampton Borough Council Finance Department based in the old Town Hall in North Street. Dad remained with the Council up until he retired in 1995.

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Obituary: Simon & Leslie Barnett

Simon Barnett

Simon Barnett

Simon Barnett, son of Leslie and Helga, was born in Scotland on January 4th 1966. The family soon moved to Helga’s homeland in Germany, where Simon went to Kindergarten, and he and Leslie then relocated to England when the latter’s marriage to Helga failed. Accordingly, Simon’s very early childhood was somewhat unsettled. They laid down roots in Cannock, Staffordshire, in 1974, when Leslie married Mary Oates. The new family – including Mary’s children, Philip and Carolyn – established a family home in Hatherton Road. Simon was eight years of age, just old enough to start school at Walhouse Junior School in the same year as his step-brother. The union of Leslie and Mary was a marriage that would last for almost forty years.

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Comet 46P/Wirtanen

By Richard Harvey

46P/Wirtanen is a small short-period comet with a current orbital period of 5.4 years. It was discovered on January 17, 1948, by the American astronomer Carl Wirtanen, and expectations were high for the comet’s 2018 visit.

Many astronomers hoped for naked eye brightness reminiscent of 1997’s Hale Bopp, (which I remember seeing easily over the Albert Memorial from Queens Square, Wolverhampton. Hard to believe that was over twenty years ago!). Unfortunately, comet 46P/Wirtanen appeared fainter than hoped. At its closest approach, on the16th December 2018, it was only visible in binoculars from semi-rural sites. But even so, it gave amateur astronomers a fantastic, rare chance to study a comet.

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