BAA Handbook 1922

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Martin Mobberley

Hello Bill,

Pasted straight from my Hepburn files, with no attempt to sort out the line length etc….Hepburn said the following at the
October 26th 1921 BAA AGM (JBAA Vol 32, 1, pages 4 – 5) re. the imminent 1922 Handbook.

Very many of us must have felt that we had lost a friend
when we learnt that the Editors of that excellent magazine
The Observatory found themselves unable to continue publication
of their annual Companion. Perhaps the best compliment
I ever heard paid to it was that of a somewhat lukewarm
admirer, who said he had but little use for it, since there was
not much of its contents that he could not find either in the
Nautical Almanac, Whitaker’s Almanac, or the English Mechanic.
It has been felt that something ought to be produced to
take its place, and the Council has decided that this Association
should publish an annual ” Observer’s Handbook ” on somewhat
similar lines. The work has been very ably carried out under
the direction of Mr. Comrie, with the assistance of the Computing
Section and other Members of the Association, and I hope that
the number for the ensuing year will be in your hands before
the end of next month. Besides the ” almanac ” matter, it
will be found to possess features of great interest. There is,
for instance, a comprehensive list of Astronomical Constants
from authoritative sources, such as is published in some foreign
national Ephemerides, but is conspicuously lacking in our own
Nautical Almanac. There is also an instalment of a glossary
of astronomical terms, the need for which was pointed out by
my predecessor in this Chair at the last annual meeting. In
place of tables of the times of rising and setting of the planets
is an ingenious diagram which enables one to see at a glance
what planets are at an observable distance above the horizon
at any hour of any night in the year, as well as the exact times
when they become observable in the evening either by rising
or by the Sun’s setting, and, conversely, when they cease to be
observable by setting or with the dawn.
The expense of this publication has to be closely considered,
and it has been decided to provide for it at present by dropping
the number of the Journal following the Conversation Meeting.
There will, however, be some saving of space which will be
available for other matter, by relegation to this annual Handbook
of detail which would otherwise appear in the Journal,
as, for instance, tables of phenomena of Saturn’s satellites,
and cometary search ephemerides. It is hoped that many
Members will make a point of ordering an extra copy of the
Handbook for knockabout daily use, so as to preserve a clean
copy for binding. This will be well worth while, as it contains
much matter which is not ephemeral and which will not
necessarily be repeated from year to year. If a considerable
proportion of Members will do this the Handbook may soon
become nearly self-supporting.