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The Journal of the British Astronomical Association, 2020 April

Volume 130, Number 2

Galaxies of the spring sky, the life of a little-known Suffolk astronomer, how to support the ARIEL mission by observing exoplanets and mentoring for budding spectroscopists.

Log in or join the BAA today to view this journal online. A full list of contents is also available.

Selected highlights from this Journal:

Refereed Papers

Roland L. T. Clarkson: a Suffolk astronomer
R. L. T. Clarkson (1889–1954) lived nearly all his life in Suffolk and the surrounding counties, under the dark skies of rural England. A complete set of beautifully illustrated observational notebooks allows us to trace the life of this typical and uncontroversial amateur astronomer, along with his interactions with the BAA. Throughout most of his life Clarkson suffered from a shortage of money and was even forced to sell his best telescopes during the Great Depression. Some previously unpublished details are presented here about the work of the lunar observer H. G. Tomkins of Dedham, with whom he collaborated in the 1920s & ’30s. Like Tomkins and many others of his epoch, Clarkson favoured a volcanic origin for the lunar craters: the subject of his only contribution to our Journal. Late in life, he was a founder member of the Ipswich and District Astronomical Society, the forerunner of the modern Orwell Astronomical Society Ipswich.
Richard McKim
Saturn during the 2005/2006 apparition
A report of the Saturn, Uranus & Neptune Section (Director: M. Foulkes). This report describes observations of Saturn made by members of the since-renamed Saturn Section during the 2005/2006 apparition. In particular, this report describes the observations of a bright storm that appeared in southern mid-temperate latitudes, which was also observed by the Cassini spacecraft. Details of other storms observed are also described, including a light spot at high southern latitudes. Only a small segment of the northern hemisphere was visible but within this, a narrow bright blue zone was recorded. Observations of an occultation of the star BY Cancri are also presented.
Mike Foulkes
Solar prominences as markers of the Sun’s poloidal magnetic field
Solar prominences were used to track the orientation and meridian bearing angles of their associated filaments over a nine-year period. Since filaments lie at right angles to the prevailing magnetic field, they were used as ‘compasses’ to plot its direction. The field lines marked by the filaments diverged from the meridian symmetrically, eastward and westward, with maximum divergence near the solar poles. The net mean field direction, over nine years, lay closely aligned with the N–S solar meridian. Filament formation was nevertheless asymmetrical, with an excess of filaments whose fields were directed westwards of the meridian. Asymmetrical filament formation appeared to be cyclical, as the proportion of westward-diverging to eastward-diverging filaments peaked during high sunspot activity, suggesting an interaction between the Sun’s poloidal and toroidal magnetic fields.
Fred Nye
Noctilucent cloud over Britain & Western Europe, 2018
A report of the Aurora & Noctilucent Cloud Section (Director: Sandra Brantingham). A summary, by the Assistant Director of the Section, of noctilucent cloud (NLC) activity observed during the 2018 season.
Ken Kennedy