The Journal of the British Astronomical Association

Volume 113, No.2: 2003 April


On this page: Notes and News / Articles / Letters / Reviews / Meetings / BAA Update / Observers' Forum

On the cover

Noctilucent clouds observed from Finland. The inset photo (top) is of a man-made noctilucent cloud: the trail of a rocket created an artificial cloud showing iridescence. Photos reproduced with permission from Observing Noctilucent Clouds by M. Gadsden and P. Parviainen, published by the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (1995). ISBN 0-9650686-0-9. See Michael Gadsden's paper on page 77 of this Journal.

Notes and News

From the President (Guy Hurst) / Appointment of Mercury and Venus Transit Coordinator (Robert Steele) / The The transit of Mercury, 2003 May 7 (Peter Macdonald) / Light pollution in the UK: your chance to make a difference (Bob Mizon) / Observing Mars in 2003 (Richard McKim) / Solar Section (Geoff Elston) / Aurora Section (R. J. Livesey) / The Mount Stromlo fires: a major heritage loss for Australian astronomy (Wayne Orchiston) / Back home on Stromlo! (Penny Sackett)

Main articles

Noctilucent clouds: anywhere, anytime?... M. Gadsden & M. J. Taylor

Recent findings suggest that noctilucent clouds are showing an increasing frequency of occurrence. This has become so marked that at high latitudes they can occur almost every night in June and July in the northern hemisphere. Whatever may be the cause of this increase, it is possible that noctilucent clouds are spreading to lower latitudes. Also, there are several observations of noctilucent clouds during wintertime. So it seems now to be profitable to watch for noctilucent clouds at all times and from any latitude. (7 pp)

Eclipsing dwarf novae... W. J. Worraker & Nick James

After reviewing the classification of dwarf novae, we show how observations of eclipsing systems, notably U Geminorum, have informed the current understanding of dwarf nova physics with special reference to the outburst mechanism. Methods for deducing astrophysical information from eclipse light curves are explained. Following a detailed list of all eclipsing dwarf novae currently known to us, the results of observing campaigns on several of these stars are presented; most of these campaigns have involved professional-amateur collaboration. Finally we suggest possible observing projects for amateurs, and indicate the techniques and resources needed. (18pp)

Transits of Mercury... R. L. Stratford

The passage of Mercury across the Sun's disk is a rare but scientifically interesting phenomenon. The author explains the larger number of November transits of Mercury and the apparently irregular intervals between transits. (3 pp) Observations of (1) Ceres between 1980 and 1988 ... A. J. Hollis
Observations of (15) Eunomia between 1981 and 1988 ... A. J. Hollis
Observations of 16) Psyche between 1980 and 1989 ... A. J. Hollis
Predominantly visual observations of the asteroids (1) Ceres, (15) Eunomia and (16) Psyche by members of the Asteroids and Remote Planets Section in the 1980s are analysed and figures derived for the albedos and photometric parameters of these objects. (4 pp)

(Copies of any of these articles may be ordered from the BAA office.)


In Association with

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  • The practical astronomer's deep-sky companion by Jess K. Gilmour Springer-Verlag, 2003. ISBN 1-85233-474-6. Pp xiv + 140, 25.00 (pbk).
    reviewed by Nick Hewitt
  • Photographic atlas of the Moon by S. M. Chong, A. C. H. Lim & P. S. Ang. Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-521-81392-1. Pp ix + 146 (2531.5 cm), 40.00 (hbk).
    reviewed by Alan Wells

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  • Viewing the 2003 May 31 annular eclipse in Iceland... Thorsteinn Saemundsson
  • The reality of 'light pollution' ... Ron Livesey
  • Read the letters here

    Observers' Forum

  • Multiple green flashes at the sunset eclipse (2002 December 4) ... Nigel Evans and Graham Cliff
  • Comet C/2002 V1 (NEAT) at perihelion ... Martin Mobberley & SOHO/LASCO
  • Variable stars for spring ... Roger Pickard

  • Meeting reports

  • Ordinary Meeting, 2002 May 29 ... Nick Hewitt
  • Ordinary Meeting and Exhibition Meeting, 2002 September 21 ... Dominic Ford
  • A day out at the Cavendish: Photos of the 2002 Exhibition Meeting ... Hazel McGee

  • BAA Update

  • CfDS: a team effort, Part II ... Bob Mizon
  • A new mentoring scheme for the Variable Star Section ... Karen Holland
  • Obituary: Michael Francis Atchison, 1932-2002 ... Richard McKim & Henry Wildey

  • Sky notes for 2003 April and May

    by Neil Bone

      Messier 97, the 'Owl Nebula'. Photo by Geoffrey Johnstone with a 305mm reflector, hypersensitised 2415 film.

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