The Journal of the British Astronomical Association

Volume 120, No.6: 2010 December

Summary contents page

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

On the cover

The Alnitak region of Orion, with Barnard 33, the Horsehead Nebula, silhouetted against the bright emission nebula IC 434. The emission-type Flame Nebula, NGC 2024, shows its dark dust lanes. Total exposure time 2.5 hrs, Canon 300D DSLR, processed with Photoshop, Astronomy Actions and NeatImage. Alan C. Tough.

Notes and News

A busy two months for meteor observers (John W. Mason) / From the President (David Boyd) / Mars in 2009-2010: 2nd interim report (Richard McKim) / Autumn supernova discoveries by BAA members (Stewart L. Moore) / David Grennan’s supernova: a first for Ireland! (Guy M. Hurst) / Solar Section (Lyn Smith) / CfDS award for Isle of Wight hotel (Bob Mizon) / Comet prospects for 2011 (Jonathan Shanklin) / Comet Hartley 2 seen by NASA’s EPOXI (NASA/JPL) / A day to remember - a meeting with Sir Patrick Moore (Mark Stewart)

Refereed  papers

  A home-built, fully automated observatory
... Mike Beales

     This paper describes the design of an automated observatory making use of  off-the-shelf components and 
     software. I make no claims for originality in the design but it has been an interesting and rewarding exercise to get
     all the components to work together.

The great perihelic opposition of Mars, 2003: Part 11
... Richard McKim

In concluding the BAA report upon the 2003 perihelic opposition we examine white cloud statistics and both polar regions. The SPC recession curve was very similar to 2001 and 1988 but showed significant differences from earlier decades. Novus Mons was detached at the same seasonal date as in 1988.

The strange case of pseudo-twilight on the Moon ... Richard Baum

Measuring the superhump period of the dwarf nova RX J1715.6+6856
... Jeremy Shears, Ian Miller & Richard Sabo

We report unfiltered CCD observations of the first confirmed superoutburst of the dwarf nova RX J1715.6+6856 in 2009 August. At quiescence the star was magnitude 18.3 (CCD, clear). The outburst amplitude was at least 2.4 magnitudes and it lasted at least 6 days, although the first part of the outburst was probably missed. Analysis of the light curve revealed superhumps with peak-to-peak amplitude of 0.1 magnitude, thereby showing it to be a member of the SU UMa-family. The mean superhump period was Psh= 0.07086(78)d with a superhump period excess of e= 0.038 and an estimated mass ratio q= 0.167. In the final stages of the outburst, as the star approached quiescence, the superhumps disappeared to be replaced by a modulation corresponding to the orbital period. The star was regularly monitored between 2007 August and 2009 September revealing a total of 12 outbursts, with an outburst frequency of approximately once per month.

Invisible sunspots and ‘orphan’ prominences: an observational study ... Frederick Nye

The distribution of bright prominences between the east and west limbs of the Sun was studied during a period of solar minimum. An E-W asymmetry was detected, involving prominences not associated with visible sunspot regions. The anomaly may be explained by the presence of four clusters of ‘orphan’ prominences, three on the west limb and one on the east. At the time of observation these orphan prominences could not be linked to the limb transits of any recognised groups of sunspots. Data presented support the hypothesis that all four prominence clusters were associated with the limb transits of invisible active sunspot regions.

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Centenaries for 2011 ... Barry Hetherington


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  • Observing and cataloguing nebulae and star clusters by Wolfgang Steinicke
    Cambridge University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-521-19267-5. Pp xii + 648, £90 (hbk.)
    Reviewed by Lee Macdonald
  • Pluto - sentinel of the outer solar system by Barrie W. Jones
    Cambridge University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-521-19436-5. pp 231 + xii, £25.00 (hbk).
    Reviewed by Richard Miles
  • Atlas of the Galilean satellites by Paul Schenk
    Cambridge University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-521-868358. pp xi + 394, £95.00 (hbk).
    Reviewed by John Rogers
  • Stargazers’ Almanac 2011 Text by Bob Mizon
    Floris Books, 2010. ISBN 978-086315-757-8. A3 size opening to A2 size. £14.99 (pbk).
    Reviewed by Maurice Gavin
  • CLICK HERE to read scores more authoritative book reviews from the BAA Journal

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    Observers' Forum

  • Simeis 147 - another supernova remnant in Taurus  ... Stewart Moore
  • Observations of NGC 40 ... Owen Brazell
  • Gyulbudaghian’s nebula - the story continues ... Grant Privett
  • A deep fade of HR Lyrae ... Jeremy Shears & Gary Poyner
  • BAA’s Ridley Grant helps variable star observer ... Gary Poyner
  • Jupiter and Europa with a small telescope ... Michael A. Covington
  • Comet 103/P Hartley in October ... Alan C. Tough
  • Image of Simeis 147 by Bob Winter.

    Sky notes for 2010 December & 2011 January by Callum Potter

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