The Journal of the British Astronomical Association

Volume 118, No.5: 2008 October

Summary contents page

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



Cover images

The solar eclipse of 2008 August 1 was observed along a track that stretched from Canada through Greenland and northern Russia to northwestern China (see Notes & News below).
Top: Canon 10D, ISO 200, 28mm, f/3.5. Combination of two sequential frames with exposures of 1/2s and 1/8s. Gobi Desert near Jinta, China. Nick James.
Bottom: 1/50s, Canon 450D + Williams Optics 350mm FL f/6, ISO 800. Weizixia, near Hami, China. Sheridan Williams


Notes and News

The 2008 August 1 total solar eclipse (Nick James et al. ) / From the President (Roger Pickard ) / A web-based 'Portal to the Universe' (Pamela Gay) / A bright Taurid year? (Neil Bone) / Jupiter in 2008: Aftermath of the global upheaval (John Rogers) / Dark Sky Discovery 2009 (Martin Male) / Mercury at eastern elongation, 2008 May (Richard McKim) / Another four supernova discoveries from Tom Boles (Stewart L. Moore) / Solar Section (Lyn Smith) / Venus near inferior conjunction, 2007 (Richard McKim)


Refereed papers

The Leonid meteor shower in 2001 ... Neil Bone

New models of the Leonid meteor stream led to expectations of further very high activity in 2001, following the storm of 1999 and a couple of strong peaks in 2000. Storm-level Leonid rates were observed in two distinct intervals on 2001 November 18, the second of these producing the highest activity so far in the current round of enhanced activity associated with the 1998 perihelion return of Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle.

Right: Bright Leonids in Orion. A composite of three 5-minute exposures on Kodak Gold ISO 800 print film with a 28mm f/2.8 lens, 2001 Nov 18, Palau, Micronesia. Hazel McGee


The eastern and western elongations of Venus, 1991-1998 ... Richard McKim, Keith Blaxall & Alan Heath

This Report discusses ten successive morning and evening elongations. Data concerning phase anomaly, bright and dark atmospheric markings, cusp extensions and the Ashen Light are discussed. Systematic visual observations over days and weeks again provided definitive evidence for the 'four-day' retrograde 'weather' period, and measurements over a longer, eight-year epoch yielded a reliable average period of 3.99524 0.00027 days, closely comparable with the long-term average derived by C. Boyer and others. The phase anomaly was never very large, but 1994 E yielded a significantly higher anomaly than the other elongations. Occasional records were made of the blunting of the S cusp near dichotomy; the less commonly blunted N cusp was well observed at the 1995 W elongation. High resolution data for two elongations suggest that cusp-blunting may simply be due to the presence of high latitude dark bands at such times, or strong polar turbulence. Of the other discrete bright features (recorded mostly at the limb), there was a definite preponderance of the southern over the northern hemisphere. During 1991 to 1998 there were somewhat more records of the true Ashen Light (i.e., when it appeared brighter than the surrounding sky) compared with the equivalent period from 1999 to 2006, with the 1991, 1993 and 1996 evening elongations yielding a significant number of independently confirmed sightings.


Jay Brausch and the North Dakotan aurora, 1981-2006 ... R. J. Livesey

From 1981 Jay Brausch, a BAA Merlin Medallist, has observed the aurora at Glen Ullin, North Dakota. He has followed in the tradition of North American auroral observers such as Greely at Toronto from 1853 to 1880 and Bentley at Jericho, Vermont from 1883 to 1931. Jay's observing site lies at geographic latitude 46 48'N, 101 46'W at a corrected geomagnetic latitude of about 57.5N, equivalent to Shetland. From 1981 to 2006 inclusive Jay recorded 2243 aurora event nights of which 160 comprised major auroral storms. He photographed many events and copies of his pictures have been lodged with the Aurora Section archives. This short paper reviews Jay's observations in comparison with sunspot and geomagnetic activity.


The orbital and superhump periods of the deeply eclipsing dwarf nova SDSS J122740.83+513925.9 ... Jeremy Shears, Steve Brady, Jerry Foote, Donn Starkey & Tonny Vanmunster

During June 2007 the first confirmed superoutburst of the eclipsing dwarf nova SDSS J122740.83+513925.9 was observed using CCD photometry. The outburst amplitude was at least 4.7 magnitudes. The orbital period was measured as 0.06296(5)d from times of the 31 observed eclipses. Time series photometry also revealed superhumps with a period of 0.0653(3)d, thereby establishing it to be a UGSU-type system. The superhump period excess was 3.7% and the maximum peak-to-peak amplitude of the superhumps was 0.35 magnitudes. The eclipse duration declined from a maximum of 23 min at the peak of the outburst to about 12 mins towards the end. The depth of the eclipses was correlated with the beat period between the orbital and superhump periods.

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Reviews

  • Universe: stunning satellite imagery from outer space by Heather Couper
    Cassell Illustrated, 2007. ISBN 978-1-84403-437-6. Pp 287, 2734cm, 30 (hbk).
    Reviewed by Ann Davies
  • British University Observatories 1772-1939 by Roger Hutchins
    Ashgate, 2008. ISBN 978-0-7546-3250-4. Pp xxiv + 533, 60 (hbk).
    Reviewed by Lee Macdonald
  • The Rough Guide to the Universe by John Scalzi
    Rough Guides Ltd, 2008. ISBN 9-781-84353-800-4. Pp vii+401, 10.99 (pbk).
    Reviewed by Neil Bone


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    Observers' Forum

  • Observing the Horsehead Nebula ... Stewart L. Moore

  • Forthcoming events on Saturn ... Mike Foulkes

  • A convenient and garden-friendly telescope cover ... Geoffrey Johnstone

  • Left: Image of IC 434 and the Horsehead nebula obtained by Gordon Rogers with a Takahashi FSQ 106 guided by a 16-inch RCOS. 80 minutes H-alpha plus 20 minutes each RGB; SBIG ST10 CCD.


    Sky notes for 2008 October & November by Neil Bone



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