The Journal of the British Astronomical Association

Volume 114, No.5: 2004 October


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

On the cover: The sky from the Sinai desert

The Milky Way and the Sagittarius/Scutum star clouds imaged from the Egyptian Sinai Desert on 2004 June 9 by Nigel Evans, using a Canon 10D digital SLR camera with an 8mm f/4 lens. 65 minute exposures combined and dark frames subtracted by Nick James; the light pollution to the south (right side) is the resort of Sharm el Sheikh, some 40km distant. N. S. Evans & N. D. James.

Notes and News

From the President (Tom Boles) / Autumn meteor activity: Whither the Leonids? (Neil Bone) / Mercury and Venus Section (Richard McKim) / A new bright supernova (Stewart Moore) / New BAA Handbook Editor appointed (Gordon Taylor) / Solar Section (Geoff Elston & Mike Beales) / Aurora Section (Ron Livesey) / Near Earth Object discovered via the Internet (Hazel McGee)

Observers' Forum

  • Comet NEAT and the Beehive ... Guy Hurst
  • Scutum star clouds... Nick James
  • A Perseid meteor passing the Pleiades... John Kemp
  • Not quite so near... Andrew Hollis

  • Main articles

    The 2003 Presidential Address: Pro-Am collaborations in astronomy... Guy M. Hurst In my second Presidential Address, I wish to discuss the very real opportunities that exist for collaboration between professional and amateur astronomers in a wide variety of fields. As the scope of research in astronomy grows by the day and some questions are answered, we are often faced by even greater challenges. Professional astronomers naturally adjust their goals and areas of investigation. The result is that gaps are left in which the amateur can take over the role. Alternatively where there is a considerable technical challenge, the task can be shared by professional and amateurs with frequent exchanges of results and discussion. (12pp)

    Astrophysics and cosmology in the 21st century ... Malcolm S. Longair

    There are real perils in predicting the future development of disciplines such as physics, astrophysics and cosmology. Nonetheless, I will try to provide a personal account of a few of the areas which I believe will be of central importance for the development of these disciplines. There are a number of important themes underlying all the examples I will discuss.
    One of the important lessons we have learned from past experience is that the Universe is full of surprises. It is interesting to compare the astronomy which we said we would carry out with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) in 1977, when the project began, with what has actually been achieved. Everyone involved in the project would unhesitatingly state that the HST has far exceeded our most optimistic expectations. The actual science programme carried out has been much more exciting than what now seem our rather mundane proposals based on the astronomy of the 1970s. (4pp)

    Music from upstairs - a personal contribution ... David Forshaw

    Music is as much a phenomenon of physics as it is of the heart, and composers throughout the ages have searched for a satisfactory marriage between the two. More especially this has obsessed the minds of 20th century composers. Indeed, up to the 1950s composers such as Schoenberg, Webern, Boulez and Stockhausen leaned so heavily on the former that many of their listeners have almost given up the idea of discovering any reference to the human soul in their output. This article investigates how music and astronomy have tried, over time, to bed down together, more specifically with reference to the writings of the author. (3pp)

    Observing the aurora ... Dave Gavine

    Although auroral and upper-atmosphere research is carried out mainly in polar regions by professional scientists, it is still worthwhile for the amateur to observe this beautiful and sometimes spectacular phenomenon for its own sake. Occasionally, however, the BAA Aurora Section is called upon to supply information on displays to a variety of professional organisations, and so it has become important to receive reports, to log them in a standardised method and to maintain a continuous archive which can be consulted by interested persons. Through the kindness and foresight of the late Dr Michael Gadsden this has been done - all our auroral and noctilucent cloud data from the time of Director James Paton in the 1940s up to the present is preserved in the special Balfour Stewart Archive at the Library of Aberdeen University. (4pp)

    Annual Report of Council and Accounts, 2003-2004

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


    In Association with

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

  • Babylon to Voyager and beyond: A history of planetary astronomy by David Leverington
    Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-521-80840-5. Pp x + 558, 65.00 (hbk).
    Reviewed by John Rogers
  • Mary Somerville and the world of science by Allan Chapman
    Canopus Publishing, 2004. ISBN 0-9537868-4-6. Pp xv + 157, 12.95 (hbk).
    Reviewed by Jacqueline Mitton
  • John Herschel's Cape Voyage: private science, public imagination and the ambitions of empire by Steven Ruskin; Ashgate Publishing Company, 2004. ISBN 0-7546-3558-9. Pp xxix + 229, 45.00 (hbk).
    Reviewed by Terry Mahoney
  • Starry Night Pro Plus: computer software for Windows & Macintosh
    Reviewed by Mike Carson-Rowland
  • Impossible extinction: Natural catastrophes and the supremacy of the microbial world by Charles S. Cockell
    Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-521-81736-6. Pp ix + 181, 18.99 (hbk).
    Reviewed by Edward Hanna

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    Meeting reports

  • Ordinary Meeting and Christmas Lecture, 2004 January 10 ... Dominic Ford & Martin Mobberley
  • Ordinary Meeting and Observers' Workshop, 2004 February 28 ... Nick Hewitt

  • BAA Update

  • Meeting of the Deep Sky Section, 2004 March 6 ... Lee Macdonald
  • Obituary: J. C. D. Marsh, 1927-2004 ... Edward Ellis

  • Sky notes for 2004 October & November

      by Neil Bone

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