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AYLESBURY ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY
What’s Up?! JANUARY 2011
Aylesbury Astronomical Society Newsletter Issue No. 513
STOP PRESS! January meeting tonight (10th) at 7.30 pm Scout Hut, Oakfield Road, Aylesbury. DVD Evening.
Newsletter and website
Please forward any contributions for insertion to the Editor (See link at end.)
Newsletters will be forwarded by email to as many members as possible saving postage and printing. I appreciate that many still prefer a hard copy which will still be available.
The Society website, www.aylesbury-astronomy.org.uk, has undergone a recent make-over and it is hoped this meets members’ approval. The basics of the site are in place and over the coming months additional features will come online including a members' area with a forum. Please visit the site and if you have any comments or suggestions, email the Webmaster.
Observing nights on 14th and 28th January. You are welcome to observe any time. Members are entitled to hold a key – apply to Steve Edwards 01296 427098 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Please attend the observatory with at least one other person in case of mishap.
All at 7.30 pm Scout Hut, Oakfield Road, Aylesbury unless otherwise stated.
Monday 10th Jan: (Note, not the first Monday in January): DVD evening.
Monday 7th Feb: Simon Leach formerly of Marconi Space and Defence on “What goes up should stay up providing it got up there in the first place”.
Monday 7th Mar: or Monday 4th April: Possible visit to OU Observatory as suggested by Prof Nigel Mason.
Friday 8th April: Observing at Winchendon Observatory if not at OU Observatory.
Monday 9th May: AGM.
Monday 6th June Visiting speaker to be confirmed.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?
MOON New: 4th Jan; 1st Q: 12th Jan; Full: 19th Dec; Last Q: 26th Jan.
The Moon will be close to:
1st and 30th: Venus.
Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 23 degrees on 9th Jan when it will be visible in the eastern sky just before dawn.
Venus reaches greatest western elongation on 8th when it will be a stunning magnitude -4.4 in the morning sky.
Mars is too close to the Sun to be seen this month.
Jupiter is still brilliant at magnitude -2.2 in the evening sky. The South Equatorial Belt is reappearing, so it is worth keeping an eye out for more changes.
Saturn is magnitude +0.7 in the constellation of Virgo in the morning sky. The rings are open at about 10 degrees.
Uranus is still fairly close to Jupiter in the evening sky at about 6th magnitude.
Neptune is getting closer to the Sun and only about 17 degrees above the horizon once the sky gets dark.
ALGOL: This bright variable star fades from its usual magnitude of 2.1 to 3.4 at the following times:
3rd 20:06; 18th 04.07; 21st 01.05; 23rd 22.04; 26th 19.02.
The constellations of Auriga and Perseus are high in the sky at 22.00 in the middle of the month. Binoculars or a small telescope reveals many open star clusters sprinkled around this area of sky. Orion is now high in the south with his sword and the vast nebulous patch M42 and its Trapezium multiple star system nestled within. Monoceros is also has a bright non-Messier nebulae including the Rosette Nebula and Hubble’s Variable Nebula and a multitude of open clusters.
Member Gordon Rogers sent a picture of the M42 Orion Nebula taken on 16" RCOS telescope mounted on a Paramount ME with a Santa Barbara Instrument Group ST10XE camera and a CFW8 Filter wheel with AO7 Adaptive optics unit, this can be seen on the gallery and more pictures available on www.gordonrogers.co.uk
Stuck for a holiday this year? Fancy a trip to Mars?
Er there is a catch. Nasa is looking whether astronauts could be flown to the red planet, or its moons, with a view to staying there permanently. The multi-billion pound project, called Hundred Year Starship, is being led by Nasa's Ames Research Centre, based in California.
The estimated cost of such a mission to the red planet could be more than £7bn and may be achieved by 2030. The Pentagon has already contributed around £600,000 towards the plan and Nasa has put in another £60,000. But Ames director Pete Worden is hoping for more cash and is trying to attract the world's billionaires to the project.
Among those who have been asked is Google co-founder Larry Page.
Mr Worden said: "We hope to inveigle some billionaires to form a Hundred Year Starship fund.
"The human space programme is now really aimed at settling other worlds. Twenty years ago you had to whisper that in dark bars and get fired.
He added: "Within a few years we will see the first true prototype of a spaceship that will take us between worlds."
Mr Worden said Mr Page had shown interest in the project.
"Larry asked me a couple weeks ago how much it would cost to send people one way to Mars and I told him $10bn (£6.3bn) and his response was: 'Can you get it down to one or two billion?'
"So now we're starting to get a little argument over the price."
Researchers have claimed such a human mission is technologically feasible and would be cheaper than returning astronauts to earth.
Their new study, in the Journal of Cosmology, found the costs of safely returning a crew would take up the majority of such a mission's budget.
Dirk Schulze-Makuch, an associate professor from Washington State University and Paul Davies, a physicist and cosmologist from Arizona State University, said four volunteer astronauts could undertake the first mission to permanently colonise Mars.
A one-way human mission to Mars would be the first step in establishing a permanent human presence on the planet.
Sources of Information
A new astronomy website providing up to date information on coming celestial events. It is intended as a quick way to access a calendar of astronomy, and includes a mailing list which sends a regular bulletin of the coming month's events.
The calendar information and other astronomy related matters are sent out on Twitter, the page is at http://twitter.com/AstroCalendar. A monthly calendar is available by email by subscribing to the email list.
Click the following for video updates on various topics including ISS:
Ralph Campbell 81 Narbeth Drive, AYLESBURY, HP20 1NY 01296 421328 email@example.com
Sue Macdonald 107 Willis Road, Haddenham, AYLESBURY, HP17 8HG 01844 299031 firstname.lastname@example.org
Simon Leach 28 Vicarage Road, Winslow, Bucks, MK18 3BE 01296 713061 email@example.com