The Journal of the British Astronomical Association

Volume 114, No.3: 2004 June


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

On the cover: Stars like grains of sand

This image of the central portion of the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 300, taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys on the Hubble Space Telescope, shows myriads of stars in the galaxy separately resolved. NGC 300 is a member of the nearby Sculptor group of galaxies, at a distance of 6.5 million light-years, making it one of the Milky Way's closer neighbours. Only the brightest stars in the galaxy can be resolved from the ground. NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI); F. Bresolin (Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii).

Notes and News

Observing the Transit of Venus (John Mason) / A new Director and a new nebula (Stewart Moore) / From the President (Tom Boles) / Aurora Section (R. J. Livesey) / Campaign for Dark Skies: the ODPM sees the light! (Bob Mizon) / Janet Akyuz Mattei (1943-2004) (Roger Pickard) / Solar Section (Geoff Elston) / Cassini is almost home (NASA/JPL/SScI)

Main articles

The aurora in 2002... R. J. Livesey

This report summarises observations of the aurora relating to the northern hemisphere collected by members and correspondents of the Aurora Section in 2002. (6pp)

Simultaneous transits ... J. Meeus & A. Vitagliano

Mercury and Venus can be in transit simultaneously across the solar disk. The next two occurrences of such simultaneous transits have been found. We also found several cases when a transit of Mercury or Venus occurs during a solar eclipse. (4pp)

Emergence of low relief terrain from shadow: an explanation for some TLP ... Raffaello Lena & Anthony Cook

We show that two observational transient lunar phenomena (TLP) reports concerning an Alphonsus observation by Poppendiek & Bond on 1958 November 19, and a Ptolemaeus observation by Bartlett on 1973 November 3, are not TLP but are normal appearances for these craters. (4pp)

Elmer Reese's pre-discovery of the internal circulation of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter ... Walter H. Haas

The nature of the famous Great Red Spot on Jupiter was long the subject of speculation. Finally, Bradford A. Smith and Elmer J. Reese determined from photographs at the New Mexico State University Observatory that it is a vortex at the visible surface of Jupiter, as revealed by the motions of spots observed on its outer edges in 1966 and 1967 ... Curiously, Elmer Reese had made basically the same discovery more than 16 years earlier in his amateur astronomy days. (1pp) John Tebbutt and observational astronomy at Windsor Observatory ... Wayne Orchiston During the nineteenth century, John Tebbutt (1834-1916) was the doyen of Australian astronomy and a prominent figure in international positional astronomy. From his modestly-equipped Windsor Observatory, near Sydney, he single-handedly carried an amazing observational load over more than half a century, with emphasis on comets, variable stars, double stars, minor planets, planets, eclipses, transits of Mercury and Venus, lunar occultations and Jovian satellite phenomena. He discovered two of the Great Comets of the nineteenth century, and a nova. In addition, he actively popularised astronomy, maintained a local time service and a meteorological station, carried out studies of tides and floods, and was intimately associated with the founding of some of Australia's earliest formal astronomical groups. Tebbutt published almost 390 scientific papers and notes in Australian and international journals, as well as two books, two chapters of books, and a stream of booklets, including Windsor Observatory Annual Reports. He is proof that it was still possible for a talented, dedicated amateur astronomer working in virtual geographical and intellectual isolation to make a valuable contribution to forefront astronomical research during the nineteenth century. His is a remarkable story of achievement, which can only serve to inspire present-day astronomers, amateur and professional alike. (14pp)

Visual observation of comets ... Jonathan Shanklin

Despite the rapid increase in the use of CCDs in the last few years, visual observations are still valuable and with practice are easy to carry out. There are usually several comets visible in simple equipment every year and observing them is a rewarding pastime. This description of techniques for the visual observation of comets is abridged and updated from material presented at the BAA Workshop in York on 2003 September 6. (3pp)

Nova patrolling ... Guy M. Hurst

The coordinator of the UK Nova/Supernova Patrol describes how you could find a new exploding star with just the naked eye or very simple equipment. (3pp)

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


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  • Observing and measuring visual double stars by Bob Argyle (Ed.)
    Springer-Verlag, 2004. ISBN 1-85233-558-0. Pp xii + 326 (pbk) + CD-Rom, 26.00.
    Reviewed by Martin Nicholson

  • Astronomy of the Milky Way, by Mike Inglis. Springer-Verlag, 2004. reviewed by Stewart Moore
    Volume I: The Northern Sky. ISBN 1-85233-709-5. Pp xiii + 242 (pbk), 19.95.
    Volume II: The Southern Sky. ISBN 1-85233-742-7. Pp xiii + 236 (pbk), 19.95.

  • Expedition Mars by Martin J. L. Turner
    Springer/Praxis, 2004. ISBN 1-85233-735-4. Pp xxi + 321 (pbk), 24.50.
    Reviewed by Nick James
  • Asymptotic Giant Branch Stars by Harm J. Habing & Hans Olofsson (Eds.)
    Springer-Verlag, 2004 (Astronomy and Astrophysics Library). ISBN 0-387-00880-2. Pp ix + 559 (hbk), 73.00.
    Reviewed by Callum Potter

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    Meeting reports

  • Out-of-London Weekend and 3rd Observers' Workshop, 2003 September 05-07 ... Hazel McGee
  • Annual General Meeting 2003 October 29 ... Dominic Ford
  • Ordinary Meeting 2003 October 29 ... Dominic Ford

  • BAA Update

  • The BAA Campaign for Dark Skies: Fifteen years on ... Bob Mizon
  • Obituary: Lionel George Mayling, 1924-2004 ... Henry Hatfield
  • Project Quixote - a Variable Star Section pilot project ... Roger Dymock

  • Sky notes for 2004 June & July

      by Neil Bone

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