The Journal of the British Astronomical Association

Volume 118, No.2: 2008 April

Summary contents page

Detailed contents: Notes and News / Articles / Observers' Forum / Reviews / Letters / Meetings / BAA Update

Cover image

A view of the gibbous Mercury captured by NASA's Messenger on 2008 Jan 14 at a distance of 27,000km, 80 minutes after closest approach. A false-colour image with enhanced colour contrast made by combining images through red, infrared and ultraviolet filters. The bluest features are the youngest. The Caloris basin can be recognised in the lower left quadrant. South is uppermost. (This and all other Messenger images are provided by NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington. See the website at [This image forms Figure 1 of Dr Richard McKim's article in the Notes & News section below.]

Notes and News

Messenger at Mercury, 2008 January (Richard McKim ) / From the President (Roger Pickard ) / Solar Section (Lyn Smith) / More supernova discoveries for Ron Arbour & Tom Boles (Stewart L. Moore) / Talking astronomy at Rathillet Primary School (Lyn Smith) / The opposition of Mars, 2007 - Interim report (Richard McKim) / Rob McNaught names asteroid for Harry Ford (Dave Gavine)

[Right: An almost-capacity audience for the talks at a recent Exhibition Meeting. Photo: Hazel McGee.]

Refereed papers

Jupiter in 2001/2002: Part I ... John H. Rogers, Hans-Jörg Mettig, Michael Foulkes, Damian Peach & Antonio Cidadão

2001/2002 was the most northerly apparition of the jovian cycle, and it was again very well covered by CCD images from observers around the northern hemisphere. In addition to the usual description of the planet's weather systems in visible light, we give a brief account of features visible in ultraviolet and infrared (methane band) images, which reveal features in the high-altitude haze over Jupiter. The most obvious change on the planet was the breadth and redness of the North Equatorial Belt, following the broadening event in 2000. Together with a pale yellowish shading spread over the northern Equatorial Zone, this comprised the first significant colouration episode for ten years. As another typical consequence of the NEB broadening event, an array of small dark and white ovals developed within the expanded belt. There was also a trapped rifted region of NEB.

'Larrieu's Dam': the 'rediscovery' of a seldom explored topographical lunar feature in the foothills of the Rupes Altai ... Nigel Longshaw

An overview of a minor topographical feature situated in the foothills of the 'Altai Scarp', with reference to its brief appearance in a little known astronomical publication, from which sketch drawings are compared with recent visual observations.

Note on an early attempt to correlate visual and UV studies of Venus ... Richard Baum

A pioneering attempt to relate visual and ultraviolet observations of the atmospheric markings of Venus is briefly reviewed and fragments of supporting anecdotal evidence presented.

Photometry and astrometry of SS Leo Minoris during the 2006 October superoutburst ... Jeremy Shears, David Boyd, Tom Krajci, Robert Koff, John R. Thorstensen & Gary Poyner

We report unfiltered CCD observations of the first confirmed superoutburst of the SU UMa-type dwarf nova SS LMi in October 2006. From a quiescent magnitude of ~21.7 it rose to 16.2, an outburst amplitude of ~5.5 magnitudes. It declined at 0.17 mag/d for five days before slowing to 0.11 mag/d for a further three days. The light curve revealed common superhumps with a peak-to-peak amplitude of 0.3 magnitude, which decayed and then re-grew concurrently with the change in decline rate. These were followed by a phase-changing transition to late superhumps. Analysis of these observations has revealed evidence for an orbital period of 0.05572(19)d and a common superhump period of 0.05664(2)d, giving a fractional superhump period excess of 0.017(5). From astrometry of SS LMi in outburst we have established for the first time its correct position as RA 10h 34m 05.85(1)s, Dec +31( 08' 00.00(18)" (J2000). The position commonly given for SS LMi is that of a nearby star.

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  • Joint meeting of the BAA and the Society for the History of Astronomy, Birmingham, 2007 April 21 ... Kevin Kilburn & Richard Miles
  • [Right: The Grade II Listed building of the Birmingham & Midland Institute. Photo: Stuart Williams]

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  • E. W. Maunder and the 'Maunder Minimum' ... Wilfried Schroeder
  • The sky during totality ... Peter Parish
  • Sketched vs CCD camera images ... David Harley
  • Interferometry ... Sheridan Williams & Alan Cooper

  • Reviews

  • The Haunted Observatory by Richard Baum
    Prometheus Books, New York, 2007. ISBN 9781-59102-512-2. Pp 416, £19.99 (hbk).
    Reviewed by Lee Macdonald
  • Cometography: a catalogue of comets, Volume 3 by Gary W. Kronk
    Cambridge University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-521-58506-4. Pp 650 + xvi, £150.00 (hbk).
    Reviewed by Jonathan Shanklin

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    Observers' Forum

  • Saturn and the 'opposition effect' ... David Arditti
  • The VSS long term polar monitoring programme ... Roger Pickard & Gary Poyner

  • Observing the 'Pacman' nebula ... Stewart L. Moore

  • BAA Update

  • The BAA at Astrofest ... Ann Davies
  • Help needed - 'Back to Basics' assistant(s) ... Roger Pickard & Hazel Collett

  • Sky notes for 2008 April & May by Neil Bone

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