WADHURST ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY
MARCH NEWSLETTER 2004
INDEX: MEETINGS, OTHER NEWS, CONTACTS
You Were Here - For Astronomers
talk given by Lillian Hobbs on Wednesday 18th
Lillian Hobbs is an avid amateur astronomer with
two domes in her garden and has recently bought a 14-inch
Mead Catadioptic telescope.
She has also written a book called “The ETX telescope
As a member of the Southampton Astronomical Club,
and working as a software engineer, Lillian presented
her fascinating talk using computer graphics, stills
and video-camera clips via a computer projector.
Because of her work, she does a lot of world
travelling, and has taken this opportunity to build
up material during visits to observatories and space
centres world wide.
Lillian began her talk by taking us on a tour
round the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, visiting
various launch pads, the museum and the IMAX theatre.
Then she showed a video clip of the public observation
area whilst preparing to observe a night-launch, only
for it to be cancelled at 6 seconds from blast-off.
Having arranged to watch the next launch, that
was also cancelled at nine minutes because of thunderstorms.
The metal bleachers became a hazard because of
the electric storm.
Hilary Clinton was taken to safety, but everyone
else had to wait before departing for her security!
We next visited the
Smithsonian Space Museum in Washington with its
pioneering aircraft and early space exhibits.
Our next stop was at the Goddard Space Centre
with a demonstration launch from the car park.
Then across America to the
Jet Propulsion Laboratories at Pasadena, where Lillian
visited the Space Control Centre that had been used
on a number of interplanetary missions.
In the museum were models of Voyager and Galileo
and many other space satellites.
There was also a very impressive detailed globe
of the surface of Venus.
At 6,000 feet above sea level Lillian had visited
the Mount Wilson
Observatory with the 100-inch telescope and then
to the 5,550 ft Mount Palomar observatory to see the
200-inch Hale telescope.
A sign outside warned of rattlesnakes!
Arizona Lillian and her brother left Phoenix in Arizona
in snow to take some stunning pictures of Monument Valley
and Meteor Crater enduring temperatures of 90 degrees
Above Flagstaff, Lillian spent a nostalgic visit
to the Percival Lowell
Observatory, where they were able to see in the
library many measuring instruments and artefacts actually
used by the astronomer himself. At 7,000 feet, there was more snow,
but she still managed to visit the 24 inch Clark refractor
Telescope used by Lowell to study Mars around 1896.
Via Page damn and the Grand Canyon, Lillian took us to see Kitt Peak Observatory, with glimpses of the 4 metre telescope, the 2 metre telescope and the McMath solar telescope. She then went on to meet and talk to Alan Bean, the Apollo 12 Lunar Module Commander at nearby Nova Graphics.
Sands Testing Grounds, we were shown an impressive
memorial window to
Clyde Tombaugh who had discovered Pluto in 1930,
and then a quick visit to Roswell UFO museum, a converted
old cinema. There
were slides in another area of the moon buggy used by
the astronauts for training but with pneumatic tyres. Murray’s eye lit up as we passed
the rusty base of a V2 rocket, and then past Wernher
von Braun’s plane to the space centre where Lillian
had a shuttle simulator all to herself!
In the car park of the Almagordo
National Space Hall, Lillian found two trailer-observatories.
She thought they may have been capable of housing
either 12 or 16 inch reflecting telescopes.
Lillian visited the Robert Goddard Workshop,
which had been re-constructed to be as nearly as possible
a replica of his original shop. Lillian thought that this was the
best museum she had ever seen; and it was free!
There was also a TV monitor continually showing
Quickly, Lillian showed us pictures of her visit
to the Sydney
Observatory adjacent to the Harbour Bridge in Australia.
The observatory is now just a museum, but she
found it worth a visit.
Then we were taken on a visited to
This was well out of Perth itself, and the skies
were very black and clear. The observatory consisted of quite
a number of small domes housing mainly small telescopes.
She was shown one dome housing a 14-inch Celestron
Lillian had attended the Annual Whirlpool Star
Party at Birr
in Ireland. Here
she was even able to look through a 5¼ inch eye-piece
on the famous old Great Telescope tube, although at
the time the telescope was in its lowest position; -
and it was day-light!
Lillian had also visited China.
When asked by members of her tour where her equipment
was to view the eclipse, she realised that on that exact
day, there was to be a partial eclipse of the sun.
She showed us the only photograph she had managed
to take of the partially covered sun.
Her final video was of a total eclipse of the
sun, viewed from the little village of Lyndhurst in
the Outback someway inland from Perth.
Normally a population of 20 turned to 20 thousand
on the day. The
eclipse only lasted 15 seconds, but the video was good
enough to see the corona and one or two prominences.
It really was a tour guide for astronomers, and was well presented.
Duncan had been a very talented engineer.
He had been employed at Napier’s, working on
the demanding lubrication systems of aircraft engines.
he had worked on high intensity light sources as used
in research of the cell structure.
related a time when he had been shown a device Duncan
had worked on in research to predict the effect of a
It was a highly polished double-focus mirror
which used a very high intensity pulsed zion light source.
The object was to see what the effect of a bomb
dropped over Westminster might be.
It was discovered that clothes would be set alight
even as far away as Tunbridge Wells.
maintained three exceptionally well equipped engineering
workshops in his garden, one housing a computer-aided
went on to say what a privilege it had been to know
Duncan, and all members that knew him readily agreed.
Transit of Venus 2004
Joan Grace produced some very interesting and
detailed information about the June 8th Venus
transit across the face of the sun.
Joan had downloaded the press release from the
European Southern Observatory web site at www.eso.org/outreach/press-rel/pr-2004/pr-03-04.html.
I have visited the site and found that the whole
site is worth a visit. There is also a lot of very detailed
information about the VLT and much more.
If you do visit the site and want to print out
any of the pages, it is worth setting your printer to
“Landscape” to prevent losing material to the right
of the page.
At the next meeting on Wednesday March 17th 2004,
the speaker will be Dr. Robert Smith. His talk is called "Extra Solar
As usual, the meeting will be held in the Drama
Studio at Uplands College.
The doors open at 7.15 and the meeting starts
at 7.30 prompt.
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There will be Observing Sessions on the following Fridays:
The sessions meet at 7.30 pm in the Crow and Gate pub, about a mile south of Crowborough on the A26 main Uckfield road. Then at 8.00 pm the group move onto Ashdown Forest with Sean’s and the Society’s telescopes and possibly others.
suggests that interested members phone him between 6.00
pm and 7.00 pm to make sure the session is going ahead.
We now have 42 paid-up members but 8 are still in hibernation. It is possible that these members think they are paid up to date, so it may be worth looking at their last Society Receipt to see if it covers the current period.
LIGHT POLLUTION DEBATE
Some Society members wrote to their MP with regard
to the Government's recent response to
Light Pollution and will be delighted to hear that
the Government has announced it is to introduce planning
curbs on light pollution to preserve energy and protect
the night sky, although this may not be published until
This will affect large lighting designs, but
still will not address the many badly installed private
though, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs is considering whether to make Light Pollution
a statuary nuisance like pollution of other kinds.
from interested parties may be showing signs of paying
off after all!
Chairman: Murray R. Barber
Treasurer: Ian Reeves 01892 784255
Web Site: Michael Harte
Obs: Sean Tampsett
LAST DATE FOR COPY FOR INCLUSION IN NEXT NEWSLETTER 31 MARCH 2004
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