Whilst astronomers aren’t afraid of the dark it’s lovely sometimes to get together during the day for an event and a chinwag with other members. This partial eclipse, even though the obscuration was only about 15%, seemed a good opportunity, so we arranged a meeting at our observatory. This was combined with induction training and reminders for the observatory pod plus a bit of ground clearance.
Alongside our internet lectures and Zoom meetings, the society has arranged several observations sessions and outreach events in the past few months. Here’s a quick overview of what’s been going on ‘off-line’ recently.
On 12th August we met once again at Halfpenny Green Vineyard for a meteor watch, on the evening of the peak of the Perseids. This was a most successful event, with quite a crowd turning up. We were blessed with clear skies for once, and over sixty Perseid meteors were seen over three hours. Some were bright fireballs with smoke trails, and one showed a bright green hue. This was a real fun event, as many people got excited as they spotted Perseids streaking across the sky, it was like a cosmic piece of theatre! Using the BAA meteor observing forms I tried to keep track of them all, and some of us also managed to do some deep-sky and planetary observing as well. Quite a few members tried to capture an image, and Doug’s photo shows a Perseid in Aquarius, above Jupiter (there’s an un-cropped version of Doug’s photo on the society’s Flickr page).
With the relaxation of Covid guidelines for outside gatherings for June 2021, we were pleased to be able to safely arrange an outside observation session for the partial solar eclipse which occurred on Thursday 10th June. We once again met at Halfpenny Green Vineyard, and even with a 100% cloud cover forecast, around fourteen members turned up, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Moon’s silhouette obscure part of the Sun. This would be the first partial eclipse viewable from the West Midlands since 2015.
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.
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).