The Journal of the British Astronomical Association

Volume 113, No.6: 2003 December


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

On the cover: Destruction of the night

A colour-coded map of Europe showing artificial night-sky brightness, compiled from satellite images taken in 1996 and 1997. 'Based on radiance calibrated high resolution DMSP satellite data and on accurate modelling of light propagation in the atmosphere, it provides a nearly global picture of how mankind is proceeding to envelope itself in a luminous fog.' (from the abstract to Cinzano et. al.) P. Cinzano, F. Falchi (University of Padova), C. D. Elvidge (NOAA National Geophysical Data Center, Boulder, Colorado). (c) Royal Astronomical Society. Reproduced from Monthly Notices of the RAS, 328, 689?707 (2001) by permission of Blackwell Science. See also The World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness and the recent report of the UK Parliament Select Committee on Science & Technology, 'Light Pollution and Astronomy'.

Notes and News

Select Committee report 'all that we had hoped for' (Bob Mizon) / From the President (Tom Boles) / Comet prospects for 2004 (Jonathan Shanklin) / Mars in 2003: Fourth interim report (Richard McKim) / Aurora Section (R. J. Livesey) / Solar Section (Geoff Elston) / Spots on Saturn in visual wavelengths ( David Graham & Damian Peach) / A note for observers of Mercury (Mario Frassati) / Our turbulent Sun (Kevin Smith)

Main articles

The colours of photographed Leonid meteors ... S. J. Evans

The photographic opportunities afforded by the recent strong Leonid meteor stream returns have been realised in many superb colour photographs. The apparent change in colour demonstrated by many Leonids recorded on the appropriate medium is discussed, and an explanation provided. (3pp) Australia's earliest planispheres
Wayne Orchiston Australia's earliest-known planispheres were made by a Sydney amateur astronomer named George Butterfield in 1870 and 1877, although a similar but more crudely-made 'noctural dial' was created by Philip Parker King in 1852. This paper discusses these pioneering endeavours, other nineteenth century attempts to popularise astronomy, and the prevailing astronomical climate in Australia at that time. (4pp) Towards the virtual observatory
R. J. Dodd A brief introduction to the digital universe and the virtual observatory is given. Some of the material currently available via the World Wide Web which may be used in an astronomical project is examined by means of a worked example using the galactic cluster Ruprecht 55. The possibility that this object may in fact be two clusters lying in almost the same line of sight, as has been suggested by Orsatti, is further examined using proper motions from the UCAC1 catalogue and Australia Telescope National Facility neutral hydrogen radio observations. (7pp) Lancaster Astronomical and Scientific Association - a history
Peter Wade A hundred years ago, on 1903 May 5, the first general meeting was held of what was at first known as the Lancaster Astronomical and Meteorological Association. The main speaker was the Revd John Bone of St Thomas' Church in Lancaster (Figure 1), who had been a member of the first provisional committee of the BAA. His subject was 'The possible extent of amateur astronomical observation'. The other speakers at the meeting were Dr B. W. Hogarth, who recalled his early experiences as an amateur astronomer, and Mr S. Keir on the study of variable stars and meteors. (3pp) The maximum possible duration of a total solar eclipse
Jean Meeus The theoretical longest possible duration of a total solar eclipse for a point on the Earth's surface slowly varies with time. Its value has been calculated from 2000 B.C. to A.D. 7000. (5pp)

Centenaries for 2004
Barry Hetherington

The BAA Observers' Workshops: Workshop 1, 2003 February 15.
Observing variable nebulae ... Nick Hewitt

Most deep sky observers enjoy their Universe for the aesthetic beauty on display, and to strive to pull out detail in their quarry, or capture the gossamer detail by drawing, by photographs, or more recently using CCDs. Only a minority consider doing real science and pursuing any of the deep sky observing projects that the British Astronomical Association promotes. Nevertheless there are some areas that can be regarded as scientifically useful. These include supernova patrolling, measuring double stars, extragalactic nova patrolling, monitoring Active Galactic Nuclei, observing variable stars within deep sky objects, and variable nebulae. It is this last discipline that I wish to introduce and promote.

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


In Association with

(Here is a new easy way to obtain your astronomy books, and help the BAA at the same time! Any books or other goods ordered from Amazon after following a link from this site - not just books reviewed here - will generate a small commission for the BAA.)

  • The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Amateur Astronomy by Michael E. Bakich
    Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-521-81298-4. Pp xii + 342 (hbk), 35.00.
    reviewed by Martin Mobberley
  • The Smithsonian Book of Mars by Joseph M. Boyce
    Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002. ISBN 1-58834-074-0. Pp xiv + 321, 26.95 (hbk.)
    reviewed by Richard McKim
  • New Worlds in the Cosmos: The discovery of exoplanets by Michel Mayor & Pierre-Yves Frei, translated by Boud Roukema
    Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-521-81207-0. Pp xii + 248 (hbk), 18.95.
    reviewed by Roger O'Brien

  • Search:
    In Association with

    Search for all your reading needs at

    Meeting reports

  • Ordinary Meeting and Observers' Workshop, 2003 February 15 ... Nick Hewitt
  • Ordinary Meeting and Special General Meeting, 2003 March 19 ... Dominic Ford

  • BAA Update

  • Obituary: Thomas Roland Cave III (1923(2003) ... Richard McKim & Tom Dobbins
  • The 37th BAA Winchester Weekend and 2nd Observers' Workshop... Rita Whiting
  • BAA Awards and Medals for 2004... Ron Johnson
  • The third international Dark-Sky symposium, Stuttgart, 2003... Bob Mizon

  • Observers' Forum

  • September moons ... Maurice Gavin
  • A new nova in Messier 31 ... Guy Hurst & Tom Boles

  • Sky notes for 2003 December & 2004 January

      by Neil Bone

    A copy of this or any recent issue of the Journal may be ordered from the BAA office. Back to top of page

    Go to the BAA Journal home page