The Journal of the British Astronomical Association

Volume 115, No.2: 2005 April


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

On the cover: The world's first views of Titan

Prof David Southwood (top left), Director of Science at the European Space Agency, quotes a poem by John Keats to a packed press conference in Darmstadt, Germany on 2005 January 15, as he shows the first images returned by the Huygens probe from the surface of Titan (centre). Prof John Zarnecki from the Open University (top right) introduces the first results from his Surface Science Package. Huygens images courtesy ESA, NASA and the University of Arizona; Darmstadt photos by Hazel McGee. See pages 60 & 61.

Notes and News

The surface of Titan revealed (John H. Rogers) / From the President (Tom Boles) / 'Silent, upon a peak in Darien...' (Hazel McGee) / Comet Machholz, 2004 Q2 (Jonathan Shanklin) / Aurora Section (Ron Livesey) / Solar Section (Mike Beales) / RAS award for Guy Hurst / Mercury & Venus Section (Richard McKim) / Extended mission for SMART-1 (Roger O'Brien) / The Co-op takes the lead against light pollution (Joy Griffiths)

Main articles

Jupiter in 2000/2001. Part III: The South Equatorial Disturbance - a large-scale wave in a prograde jet... John H. Rogers, Antonio Cidadao, Tomio Akutsu, Hans-Joerg Mettig, Damian Peach & Glenn S. Orton The South Equatorial Disturbance (SED) was a unique disturbance that lasted from 1999 to 2002, comprising a solitary wave in the South Equatorial jet. In this second report on it, we describe its changing appearance and dynamics, combining data in many wavebands from amateur observers, from the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, and from the Cassini spacecraft.

The focus of the SED appeared in visible light as a bright rift in SEBn with a dark bluish patch in EZ(S); it was most prominent in the first half of 2000. It generated major disturbance in the EZ(S) for a long way preceding it. The main complex drifted more slowly than System I, but features preceding it moved faster, eventually reaching the full speed of the South Equatorial jet (hereby detected from the ground for the first time). Images in the near-infrared revealed major reorganisation of the cloud layers throughout the disturbance, at least from early 2000 onwards. At ~0.8 and 1.6 µm, the visibly bluish patches were extremely dark, suggesting that mid-level cloud layers were disrupted. At 4.8 µm, some areas were transparent but others were not. In the methane absorption bands (0.89 and 2.3 µm), the usual bright haze of the EZ(S) was absent over and preceding the SED.

The SED was well placed for Cassini imaging, which revealed an anticyclonic circulation in the main complex. This reinforces its similarity with the great white spots of 1979 and 1879. Analysis of its dynamics may give insight into the more numerous wave disturbances that are familiar in the North Equatorial jet. (9pp)

Notes on the phase anomaly and markings of Venus ... Alan W. Heath & Edward Ellis

Ever since the first serious observations of Venus were made by J. H. Schröter and others towards the end of the eighteenth century, a number of puzzling appearances has been noted: bizarre dusky markings, irregular contours in the line of the terminator, projections on the limb, cusp extensions, and of course, the well known phase anomaly. The authors review these aspects in a general manner with a view to reminding visual observers of the challenges offered by our neighbour world. (5pp)

The Geminid meteor shower in 1999 ... N. M. Bone

Cold, clear weather over the British Isles favoured the Geminid meteor shower at its 1999 return, which was also little affected by moonlight. Whilst lacking the bright events which were the signature of the previous well-observed return in 1996, activity was again high, reaching a corrected Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of 90-100 late on 1999 December 13-14. (3pp)

Henry McEwen of Glasgow: a forgotten astronomer? Part II: Cambuslang (1916-1955) ... Richard McKim

In Part 1, we tried to reconstruct McEwen's early days in Dyke, Moray, and his training as an engineer. We discussed how he came to direct the BAA's Mercury & Venus Section, and described his early observational work carried out from the heights of Mount Florida, Glasgow.
In 1916, in the middle of the First World War, McEwen and his family moved to Cambuslang (population circa 25,000), a small town south of the Clyde, and some five miles SE of Glasgow. McEwen's move was surely driven more by professional circumstances than by a personal search for better skies, but nevertheless it turned out to his advantage.. (11pp)

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

Observers' Forum

  • Brightening of Hind's Variable Nebula ... Stewart Moore
  • Imaging the Moon and the Sun... Damian Peach & Dave Tyler
  • An eclipse and an aurora captured in the autumn sky... Charles L. Calia & Jay Brausch

  • Reviews

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  • Observing variable stars, novae and supernovae by Gerald North & Nick James
    Cambridge University Press, 2004. Pp ix + 230 + CD-ROM. ISBN 0-521-82047-2 (hbk), £30.00.
    Reviewed by Roger Pickard
  • The Real Mars by Michael Hanlon
    Constable, 2004. ISBN 1-84119-637-1. xiv + 250 pp, £25.00 (hbk).
    Reviewed by Richard McKim
  • Collins atlas of the night sky by Storm Dunlop, Wil Tirion & Antonin Rukl
    Collins, 2005. ISBN 0-00-717223-0. Pp 224, £20.00 (hbk).
    Reviewed by Neil Bone

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    Meeting reports

  • Ordinary Meeting & Exhibition Meeting, 2004 April 24 ... Dominic Ford

  • Letters

  • Gamma Virginis - an important observing opportunity in May ... Christopher Taylor
  • The Star of Bethlehem ... Terry Moseley
  • Seeing for oneself ... Ron Livesey
  • Some thoughts on 'doomsday asteroids' ... Andrew J. Hollis
  • An annular-total solar eclipse ... Alex Vincent

  • BAA Update

  • Obituary: Angus McKenzie, 1933-2005 ... Doug Daniels

  • Sky notes for 2005 April & May

      by Neil Bone

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