Another well attended meeting took place tonight with the added bonus of some clear sky for a change! Tonight’s main talk was actually a selection of three shorter talks presented by Dr Alan Wood and Liam, one of his students, from Nottingham Trent University. We started off with a short video and opening introduction showing the sort of things that NTU do in their own observatory which led on to the first short talk by Liam.
Liam presented a short yet informative talk on how space weather interacts with our atmosphere to produce disturbances in the ionosphere which can lead to disruption for radio signals and in particular GPS. The main area of his study is the decay of plasma, which may help lead us to better understand, predict and prepare for this disruption. Liam then answered a few well posed questions before handing back to Dr Alan Wood.
Next we saw some of the images students of NTU have taken with the observatory with a description of what each one was and the relationships between them. Such as the globular clusters being outside of the main disc of galaxies, the death of stars leading to either black holes or planetary nebulae and so on. There were some very interesting shots, including a rather nice spectrograph image of the Sun. Showing the absorption lines which help us determine which elements are present.
Lastly Dr Wood gave a short presentation about Venus. We had a quick look at some of the early missions by Russia and then on to more recent missions and observations. This tied in quite well with Liam’s talk by explaining how by studying the effects of space weather on Venus’ atmosphere we could deduce quite a lot about the composition of the atmosphere. It is certainly not somewhere you would like to visit for a holiday.
After the guest speakers Mike made an announcement regarding one of our founder members Keith Marriott. Keith sadly passed away on the 18th February suddenly at his home in Toton. Keith had become interested in Astronomy at the age of around 10 when he received a book for Christmas. His interest was rekindled a few years ago by the BBC Stargazing Live programs and as a result joined the Astronomical Society here at the school at the inaugural meeting in 2012. Keith leaves partner Ruth, a handful of cousins and close friend Robert.
Mike then went on to tell us about the upcoming Solar eclipse on March 20th and how to observe it safely. For those who would like to purchase a suitable Solar filter, the two products mentioned were: Baader Solar Film and Thousand Oaks Solar Film. There are other product available but please do buy only from a reputable source and follow instructions very carefully. Also a guide to what is coming up at the Stargazing Live event was given. More information on that coming very soon.
We rounded off with an observing session where we looked at the Moon which will be the key player in next months Solar eclipse.
Our next public event is Weds 25th March and is our Stargazing Live event, look out for details here in the next week or so. After that the next Society meeting is on Thursday 26th March and is one not to be missed. We have guest speaker Paul Money from “Sky At Night Magazine” who will be guiding us through 10 of the images he considers to be some of the most influential in the world of astronomy.