BAA 2022 April
Vol. 132 No. 2

Journal of the
British Astronomical Association

Farewell to C/2021 A1 (Leonard)
Detecting exoplanets with the BAA
Journal of the 2022 April Vol. 132 No. 2
British Astronomical
Editor: Mr Philip Jennings Refereed papers
Papers Secretary: Prof Jeremy Shears British Isles aurorae, 1560–1715, Part I: 1560–1644 John Simpson 87
Meetings Recorder: Alan Dowdell
Lunar domes near Lavoisier K
Raffaello Lena, Barry Fitz-Gerald & K. C. Pau 103

The Journal is published six times per year, in February,
Identifying the peaks of Montes d’Alembert Alexander Vandenbohede 109
April, June, August, October & December.
HR Lyrae: the restless slumbers of an old nova Jeremy Shears 117
Library subscription (UK and surface mail overseas): £76.00.
To purchase single copies of specific issues please see
Notes & News
The Association is not responsible for individual opinions
expressed in articles, letters, reviews or reports of any kind. From the President David Arditti 71
Material published in the Journal does not necessarily In brief Philip Jennings 72
express the views of the BAA Trustees or Council.
Asteroid (7177) Melvyntaylor Alex Pratt 72
Contributions Photograph: Moretus & the lunar south pole Davide Pistritto 73
Papers should be sent by e-mail (preferred) or by post New Director for the Radio Astronomy Section Paul Hearn 73
(three copies) to the Papers Secretary at the address Winners of the BAA Christmas Quiz Philip Jennings 73
shown inside the back cover of each issue. They will
be refereed, and, if approved by Council, published as Celebrating Mary Somerville (1780–1872) Marie-Louise Archer 74
soon as reasonably possible. Those wishing to speak at a NEMETODE detects 500,000th meteor Alex Pratt & William Stewart 75
meeting should contact the Meetings Secretary.
A great display from comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard) Nick James 76
All other contributions should be sent to the Editor, Auroral & NLC activity 2021 December 16 – 2022 Sandra Brantingham 79
at As well as Letters to the
Editor, he will be pleased to receive contributions to December 15
Observers’ Forum, particularly interesting astronomical Mars in 2022: a pre-opposition preview Richard McKim 80
images, drawings and photographs. Colour images are
especially welcomed. Photos and media will be returned Solar Section Lyn Smith 82
only if a suitable stamped addressed envelope is enclosed. Equatorial platforms, Part II Martin Lewis 85
From the Journal archive John Chuter 86
Small advertisements should be sent to the Office, The Archives
accompanied by the appropriate remittance. Members’ From the BAA bookshelf Richard McKim 122
small advertisements are FREE and may be sent directly
to the Editor by e-mail. From the BAA Archives John Chuter 123
Display advertisements and loose inserts: For a
rate card and further information, please contact the
Meetings Alan Dowdell
Journal Advertising Manager, Ms Marie-Louise Archer, BAA Annual General Meeting, 2021 October 23 124
at: BAA Ordinary Meeting, 2021 October 23 126
Deadlines Review
Please send material for possible publication to the Editor A shining furrow: the life of Charles T. Whitmell, John Thorpe 127
by the following dates:
astronomer & educationalist (Sellers)
Issue Date
2022 June
2022 August
2022 Apr 25
2022 Jun 27
Later dates apply, by arrangement, to electronic advertising copy H i and H ii: A spectroscopist’s guide Jeremy Tatum 127
for which space has been reserved. Star Count 2022 Brian Mills 128
Membership of the BAA BAA Update
The annual subscription for Ordinary standard membership The BAA Awards & Medals for 2022 Bill Tarver 129
of the Association for the 2021–2022 session is £50.50. Nominations for the Ballot for the BAA Council Bill Tarver 129
For details of concessionary rates, digital-only member-
ship and other information, see page 102 of this issue. & Board of Trustees
Members who pay UK income tax are requested to
complete a Gift Aid certificate in order to benefit the Observers’ Forum
Association, which is a registered educational charity. [To Visual photometry of Markarian 421, 1981–2021 John Toone 130
claim Gift Aid you must pay an amount of UK income
tax and/or Capital Gains tax at least equal to the tax NGC 6210 – A forgotten planetary nebula in Hercules Stewart Moore 131
which we reclaim on your donations in the relevant tax
year (currently 25p for each £1 you give us).] Membership information 102
New members 128
Published by: Sky notes for 2022 April & May Nick Hewitt 132
The British Astronomical Association, Meetings diary, notices & small advertisements 134
Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0DU
Tel: 020-7734 4145 Board of Trustees and Council, Session 2021–2022 135
On the cover
C/2021 A1 (Leonard) Gerald Rhemann
Journal © British Astronomical Association 2022. Indi-
vidual articles, illustrations etc. remain the copyright of This beautiful photograph was taken at Farm Tivoli, Namibia, on 2021 Dec 27 with
the author or imager, whose permission must also be an ASA Astrograph 12-inch telescope (ƒ/3.6) and ASI 6200 camera. Images were
obtained before reproduction.
taken in L, R, G, and B, with 120s of exposure in each. The comet’s tail showed
ISSN 0007–0297
exquisite structure at this time, as further detailed in Nick James’ special report on
The Magazine Printing Co., Hoddesdon, EN11 0FJ p.76 of this Journal.

70 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Notes & News

The Baker Street Irregular Astronomers gath-

ered for a meeting at the Hub in Regent’s Park,

From the President David Arditti
London. (Photo by Philip Stobbart)

I n my last ‘From the Presi-
dent’, I mentioned the foun-
dation of the Association in
Branch, continues today as Glasgow Astro-
nomical Society. In the USA, the Association
of Lunar & Planetary Observers was founded
We have been talking to similar charities,
such as the Royal Astronomical Society and
the Institute of Physics, to learn from how they
1890 as the first national so- in 1947 by Walter Haas and was modelled af- have worked to make themselves more diverse
ciety geared to serving ama- ter the BAA, with which it had many members and inclusive, and Council recently voted to
teur astronomers. This caused in common. create a new post of Outreach & Diversity Of-
Gerard Gilligan, Chair of the It is one of my ambitions as BAA President to ficer. We have not appointed this person yet. If
Society for the History of Astronomy, to write retie some of these threads of relationships with you are interested in volunteering, or have any
to me to remind me of the role that the Liverpool other societies across the UK and internation- comments on the subject, please let me know at
Astronomical Society had in those events. ally. In November, I spoke to the FAS conven-
The LAS was founded in 1881 April and tion (which the BAA sponsored), encouraging
elected its first President, Richard C. Johnson, in delegates to tell me what local societies (both af-
1882 September. For a brief period in the 1880s, filiated and non-affiliated) need from the BAA. New website
the LAS filled a void by effectively being Brit- We are hoping to restart Back-to-Basics meet-
ain’s national society for amateur astronomers, ings in collaboration with the SPA, and I am Amongst the many things that have been go-
with members all over the country. After many in discussions with the ALPO on the idea of a ing on behind the scenes at the BAA recently
of its personnel joined (and were instrumental in trans-Atlantic virtual planetary conference. has been the construction of a new website (see
the setting up of) the BAA in 1890, it reverted On similar collaborative lines the Comet image below), by a team led by past President
to the status of a local society. It was however Section Director, Nick James, has been part of Callum Potter. By the time this is published it
an influence on the re-founding of Leeds Astro- a group organising a European pro-am comet will have gone live. It has all the same function-
nomical Society in 1892 and Manchester As- meeting. This is now scheduled for Jun 10–12 ality of the existing website, but works better on
tronomical Society (previously the North-West this year, and both physical attendance (in mobile phones and is easier to maintain, being
Branch of the BAA) in 1903. Prague) or virtual attendance will be possible. based on the popular WordPress content man-
Once again, the BAA is helping to fund this agement system.
conference. It is now possible to register interest The website is a major part of the BAA’s
Local, national & international (see output, and has some remarkable features.
Logged-in members are able to upload images
These facts remind me of the incredibly strong of the sky that can be plate-solved automatical-
history of local astronomical societies in the Diversity in amateur astronomy ly, so we have an archive searchable by observer
UK. The mid-20th century, with the two world or name/class of object. We have the members’
wars limiting activity, seems to have been some- One of the newest societies on the scene is the forum, for informed discussion on everything to
thing of a low point for them, but a great many Baker Street Irregular Astronomers, who meet do with astronomy. And the new site features a
were founded or revived in the 1960s and ’70s monthly for public observing in London’s Re- searchable Journal archive, back to 1890.
in response to the massive interest in the Space gent’s Park. They have had a lot of success in If you are a member and you have Internet
Race. The societies founded then had a striking- attracting people more diverse than you will access, do set up your account if you have not
ly young membership (rather different to today) see at a typical amateur astronomical meeting – already done so, to get full access to the facili-
and most of them are still going. younger, more gender-balanced and more multi- ties of the website. And please upload your ob-
The Federation of Astronomical Societies cultural. I have been discussing with the organ- servations! However simple or sophisticated
(FAS), a network to link local societies, started isers how the BAA can support their activities. they may be, they are all valued.
in 1974. The Junior Astronomical Society was Despite its early history as a home
founded in 1953 and changed its name in 1994 for a number of notable female as-
to the Society for Popular Astronomy; its struc- tronomers, the BAA now is clearly
ture was always clearly based on that of the very male-dominated (about 90%),
BAA, and the Section Directors of the two bod- and does not appear representative
ies have often been the same people. of the UK population in terms of
The BAA’s influence has always been inter- ethnicity either. As a charity receiv-
national. One of its stated methods of operation ing certain legal benefits in return
(until the major revision of the by-laws in 2015) for a public educational function,
was the formation of branches. Most of those we cannot ignore this issue. It sug-
formed were short-lived, but the New South gests we are not serving people who
Wales Branch, founded in 1895, continues today could potentially take an interest in
as the Sydney City Skywatchers. The Scottish astronomy as comprehensively as
branch, founded in 1895 as the West of Scotland we should be.

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 71
Notes & News

In brief Asteroid (7177) Melvyntaylor
Melvyn Taylor, one of the Association’s most
Lunar impact flash study: can active visual observers, passed away in 2017
you help? August. Last autumn Mark Simpson (a past
President of Leeds AS) proposed that an aster-
oid should be named after Melvyn, to recog-
The Acting Director of the Lunar Section, nise his lifetime’s work in amateur astronomy.
Dr Tony Cook, requests monitoring of the lu- Thanks to the concerted effort of Mark,
nar surface for impact flashes. Visible-light ob- Guy Hurst and Robert McNaught, one of
servations made by amateurs during April will Robert’s discoveries is now named (7177) 17.4R in Pisces, moving towards Aries. The
complement short-wave infrared work being Melvyntaylor: a main-belt asteroid lying be- image comprises five 30s exposures (binned
carried out in that period by Daniel Sheward, a tween Mars and Jupiter, taking 4.4 years to or- 3×3), taken with a 0.35m Schmidt–Cassegrain
PhD student at Aberystwyth University, using a bit the Sun. It is 7.4km in diameter and rotates and ZWO ASI1600MM Pro CCD camera on
metre-class telescope at Côte d’Azur Observa- once every 3.3 hours. 2022 Feb 10 at 19:31 UT.
tory, Nice, France. This photograph was obtained by David
The flashes are caused by meteoroids slam- Storey (Isle of Man AS) when it was magnitude Alex Pratt
ming into the lunar surface at tens of kilometres
per second, resulting in a burst of light lasting
less than a tenth of a second and the excava- Honorary doctorate for Alan Heath
tion of a small crater. Although these events are
frequent and detectable with modest equipment, Alan Heath, celebrated observer and past Direc-
they are difficult to capture on the sunlit hemi- tor of the BAA Saturn Section, will be awarded
sphere of the Moon, so studies are restricted to an honorary doctorate in science from Notting-
video-monitoring of the Earthshine. ham Trent University in April. Many congratu-
It is hoped that the Côte d’Azur study may lations to Mr Heath, who features in an inter-
uncover rare instances of elongated flashes, view to be published in the Journal soon.
which are suspected to be caused by meteoroids
delivering a ‘glancing blow’ to the lunar sur-
face. Successful optical detections by amateurs MeerKAT spies mouse & snake
may be included in any scientific papers that re-
sult from the study. Unprecedented radio imagery of the galac-
To find out how to get involved, e-mail Scaled-down solar system opens tic centre has been published, obtained by the
Dr Cook at 64-antenna MeerKAT telescope in South Africa.
A scale model of the solar system designed by The images have a resolution of 4 arcseconds.
artist and children’s author Oliver Jeffers, incor- The below example shows supernova remnant
Fireball hunters sought porating a 10km three-dimensional sculpture G359.1-0.5 (central), out of which the bright
trail in Northern Ireland and Cambridge, opens pulsar known as the ‘Mouse’ (left) appears to
A year on since the recovery of a meteorite on April 22 and runs until October 16. The proj- have been ejected. Keeping to the animal theme,
observed to fall near Winchcombe in Glouces- ect, entitled ‘Our Place in Space’, also includes the long radio filament (right) is the ‘Snake’.
tershire, volunteers are being looked for to im- an interactive augmented-reality app as well as
prove coverage of future meteorite-dropping major learning and events programmes.

I. Heywood, SARAO
fireball events. The associated app will allow users across the
Dr Luke Daly (University of Glasgow) of the world to take a walk through our solar system,
UK Fireball Alliance (UKFAll), says: ‘We ex- experiencing the planets in augmented reality.
pect that meteorites like this impact the UK at See
least once a year. It’s a real shame that right now
we don’t have complete coverage in Scotland, NA S A
JWST alignment
particularly over Scotland’s dark sky parks.’
Richard Kacerek, UKFAll member and success
founder of UKMON, agrees. ‘Anyone look-
ing to set up a new meteor detection camera in Another milestone in
Scotland, or anywhere in the UK, should join the optical alignment of BAA sponsors masterclasses
the growing UKMON community of amateur the James Webb Space
astronomers. You can then choose to get one Telescope was reached The BAA is sponsoring a series of three virtual
of our pre-made base kits for £185 or try to as- on March 11, with the masterclass sessions held by The Sky at Night
semble the station yourself.’ completion of the fine phasing Magazine and hosted by its editor, Chris Bram-
Mira Ihasz, a volunteer in the search party stage. This development sees the telescope’s ley. The first, on March 24, featured a talk by
which assembled to recover the Winchcombe Near-Infrared Camera fully aligned with the BAA member and 2021 Sir Patrick Moore Prize
meteorite, found the largest fragment on 2021 observatory’s mirrors, and the resulting test im- winner Mary McIntyre, who shared her exper-
March 6, weighing 152 grams. ‘The thought age of a star (above right) has been described by tise on telescopes and mounts for beginners.
that it had spent millions of years in space be- Ritva Keski-Kuha, deputy optical telescope ele- The two remaining talks advise on tele-
fore falling to Earth in a field full of sheep poo, ment manager, as ‘beating specifications’, with scope set-ups for the intermediate observer
where I was the first human being to ever lay a resolution of 70 milliarcseconds. (April 7) and in-
eyes on it, is incredible’, she says. ‘I’d recom- The remaining stages of alignment will be stalling a garden
mend that anyone who has an interest in space completed in the coming weeks, with JWST’s pier or observato-
signs up and gets their own cameras to join the first full-resolution images and data expected to ry (May 26). See
network’. be released in the summer.

72 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Notes & News

Moretus & the lunar south pole. Member Davide

Radio Astronomy Section Pistritto recently uploaded this fine image of the
Moon’s rugged southern limb to the BAA website.

New Director for the Radio
It was obtained from Bari, Italy on 2021 Mar 4 at
01:58 UT, with a Vixen VMC260L ƒ/11.5 telescope,
ASI 178MM camera and Astronomik IR 742nm fil-

Astronomy Section ter. Amateur lunar imagery features in two papers in
this issue (pages 103 & 109). – Ed.

Winners of the BAA
In 2022 January, the Radio Astronomy Section we have had a monthly seminar, each featuring
welcomed a new Director, Paul Hearn, who suc- a presentation from a leading academic. Sub-

Christmas Quiz
ceeds John Cook in the role and is already well jects covered so far have included active auro-
known to members as the Section’s Meetings ral research, X-ray cosmology, analysis and
Coordinator. imaging of solar flares, pulsars for galactic
After John took over from Jeff Lashley as
Coordinator of the Radio Astronomy Group in
late 2018, his excellent work at the helm saw
navigation, magnetars and fast radio bursts.
What started as a lockdown initiative will prob-
ably become the backbone of the Section in the
T hank you to all who had a go at the Jour-
nal’s Christmas Quiz, the answers for
which were in the February issue [132(1),
the Group transition into being a full Section of future. We have also had some online training pp.10–16]. The high standard of submis-
the BAA. John continues to be involved, and his sessions. sions made determining just one winning
report of the Section’s 2021 radio observations entry a challenging task. After calculating
will shortly be published in the Journal. Paul Hearn, Director the scores, Quizmaster Marie-Louise Archer
Paul (pictured) introduces himself below. decided to award joint first place to three in-
If you are interested in getting involved in the Section, dividuals: Steve Bosley, Graham Jackson
see p.135 for Paul’s contact details. The Section’s up- and Shaun Taylor. They each receive the

H aving spent a career in electron microscopy
working for a Japanese company, I retired
four years ago and wanted to get back to my
coming online events are listed on p.134. first prize of Celestron Skymaster 15×70 bin-
oculars, donated by First Light Optics (FLO; Special thanks go to
roots of electronics and coding. I had the idea FLO for their great generosity in providing
of building a spectrometer for my telescope, but prizes to all three worthy winners. No sec-
became somewhat frustrated by our garden’s ond-place prize is awarded this year.
high horizon, constant cloud cover and street The third-place prize of an invitation to
lighting close by (it is like daytime in the middle the Herschel Museum of Astronomy, Bath
of the night). is awarded to Rita Whiting. In joint fourth
All this led me to radio astronomy and I was place, Clive Butcher and Daryl Dobbs each
astonished by the observations that could be receive a copy of Stargazers’ Almanac 2022
achieved using modest kit. Supported by some by Bob Mizon. Thank you to Floris Books
instrumentation from UKRAA, I was able to set ( for donating these.
up a magnetometer and a VLF receiver for solar The highly commended entries are by Nigel
observation using low-frequency radio propa- Crabb, Bob Evans, Mark Green, Thomas
gation. My current project involves cosmic Morris, Trevor Pitt and John Thorpe.
radiation detection by counting atmospheric Many congratulations to all. Finally, a sin-
muons. cere debt of thanks is due to Marie-Louise
The Radio Astronomy Section has become Archer, who orchestrated the quiz, was its
very active in the last year. Since 2021 March, primary author, and undertook the immense
task of reviewing the submissions.
its crust, could then precipitate and be deposited Philip Jennings, Editor
Signs of life could be preserved on the icy terrain. A team led by Arola Moreras
on Europa’s surface Marti at the University of St Andrews studied
similar deposits at Lost Hammer spring on Axel
Organic signatures of microbes living in Eu- Heiberg Island, Canada, and found that organ-
ropa’s subsurface ocean could be detectable by ics were sufficiently preserved in sulfate salts to
forthcoming space-probe missions Europa Clip- remain identifiably microbial in origin.
per and JUICE, research suggests. The full results are at
Any biomarkers ejected from the Jovian
moon’s salty ocean, by geysers or fissures on Philip Jennings, Editor

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 73
Notes & News

Celebrating Mary Somerville (1780–1872)
In the Journal’s Christmas Quiz, Marie-Louise Parry’s Arctic expeditions –in The term
Archer featured a question about the contribu- homage, Parry named an island
tions to astronomy made by Mary Somerville. in northern Canada after her). ‘scientist’
As the 150th anniversary of Somerville’s death In 1817, William and Mary was coined
approaches, Marie-Louise takes a closer look at embarked on a ‘Grand Tour’ of for Mary
her extraordinary life. Europe, where they met many
famous astronomers and scien-
tists before settling in London’s
Marie-Louise Archer fashionable Hanover Square
two years later. On their return, they mixed with

I t is difficult to sum-
marise the genius of
Mary Somerville, other
many eminent figures from the sciences and arts.
She forged a lifelong friendship with Sir John
Herschel, who was the son of William Herschel
than to describe her as and a notable astronomer in his own right.
a polymath and ‘super- Her literary endeavours began with rather a
woman’ of the 19th century. Born in 1780, she shaky start, as the conclusions of her first scien-
reached the grand age of 92, and is known as tific paper on magnetism and the solar spectrum
much for her grace, beauty, artistry and musi- were shown to be incorrect – this had a devas-
cality as for the formidable intellect which en- tating effect on her, and she felt that she had
abled her to become a brilliant mathematician, pulled all women down as a result. But Mary
astronomer and populariser of science. She was was passionate about astronomy, believing it
indeed an inspirational character. combined all aspects of physical science. She Mary Somerville (1780–1872) as a young woman,
Born and raised in Scotland in an upper mid- commented: by John Jackson. (With kind permission of the Prin-
dle-class family, she developed a voracious ap- cipal and Fellows of Somerville College, Oxford
‘In [astronomy] we perceive the operation of a
petite for reading and was fascinated by the natu- force which is mixed up with everything that University)
ral world. But her dilemma was that although she exists in the heavens or on earth [sic]; which
had a brilliant mind, she had to battle against the pervades every atom, rules the motions of ani-
mores of 19th-century society, which limited her mate and inanimate beings, and is as sensible in undergraduate mathematicians at the University
access to any formal education. She did not mas- the descent of a rain-drop as in the falls of Ni- of Cambridge until the 1880s.
ter elementary mathematics until she was a teen- agara; in the weight of the air, as in the periods It was her second book, On the Connexion of
ager, and it is reported that even her parents were of the moon.’ the Physical Sciences (1834), that cemented her
mindful to limit her education, as they felt that reputation as one of the leading scientists of her
such study had contributed to her sister’s death. Her first book, Mechanism of the Heavens time (in fact the term ‘scientist’ was coined es-
Her riposte was simple: she thought it ‘unjust (1831), which was a translation of a five-vol- pecially for Mary by the scientist and historian
that women should have been given a desire for ume thesis written by the established French William Whewell, as he could find no other ap-
knowledge if it were wrong to acquire it’. astronomer and scientist, Pierre-Simon Laplace propriate title for her which would encompass
Her problems continued, as her first hus- (known as ‘the Newton of France’), received all her diverse abilities and accomplishments).
band was strongly opposed to female learning glowing reviews. This book had been intended Her thesis was a true academic tour de force
and discouraged her from academic pursuits. to be accessible to the general public, even to as it covered every branch of physical science
However, at the age of 27, she was prematurely those with basic English, but it went far beyond and was instrumental in making modern phys-
widowed. Although having a young child to this. Rather than just a mere translation, it was ics a discipline in its own right. What the book
support, this new-found freedom enabled her to an involved treatise on astronomy and physics, discussed was staggering in its sheer range of
feed her insatiable desire for knowledge. and gave a summary of gravitational mathemat- subject and detail: the electrical and magnetic
Her second husband was thankfully much ics and the mathematical workings of the solar causes of the aurora borealis, the cause of
more enlightened: in 1812 she married her system. It was used as a standard textbook for meteor showers (virtually identical to what is
cousin, Dr William Somerville, who fully sup-
ported the advancement of her learning. Indeed,
at a time when, as a woman, she could not use
the Royal Society premises, he would willingly
spend days transcribing important articles for
her. He was extremely proud of her, and they
enjoyed 48 happy years together. Even so, in
public, she was careful to hide her intellectual
ability, instead concentrating on her domestic
abilities, as was required of her (her status as
a ‘domestic goddess’ was reportedly sealed by
making orange marmalade for one of William

▶ Somerville College, founded in 1879, reflects
the virtues of inclusion, tolerance, liberalism and
academic excellence, all of which Mary Somerville
represented. Among its alumni are Indira Gandhi Somerville crater on the Moon,
and Margaret Thatcher. (With kind permission of as seen by NASA’s Lunar Recon-
Jack Evans) naissance Orbiter. (NASA)

74 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Notes & News

NEMETODE detects 500,000th meteor

Alex Pratt & William Stewart

N EMETODE (NEtwork for MEteor Tri-
angulation and Orbit Determination) was
founded in 2012 by William Stewart (Ravens-
moor, Cheshire) and Alex Pratt (Leeds, West
Yorkshire).1 We had recorded meteors inde-
pendently for some years, before a post on a
meteor forum resulted in a collaboration that
led to the creation of NEMETODE. It is a net-
work of video cameras, primarily installed in
the United Kingdom and Ireland, that monitors
meteor activity throughout the year and uses Figure 1. Radiants of major meteor showers (and selected minor showers) from NEMETODE data. The annual
multi-station triangulation to determine meteor data sets are publicly available on our website.1
magnitudes, radiants, trajectories, velocities and
solar-system orbits.
From the outset, NEMETODE’s primary journal of the International Meteor Organiza- camera, monitoring the same field, so we can
goals have been to encourage collaboration tion), copies of which are all available on the evaluate the results from both systems.
amongst its observers, share best practice in NEMETODE website.1 The team also uses dif- These RMS stations have added a further
equipment and techniques, and publish the fraction gratings to obtain meteor spectra and we ~90,000 meteors to our data set. RMS can gen-
analysis of the gathered data in peer-reviewed collaborate with Bill Ward to identify the parent erate multiple records for bright meteors and ex-
journals. Dozens of detection systems have been meteors of his high-quality spectra. In addition, tra records if a meteor transcends two consecu-
built, tested and supplied, while multiple work- we also operate radio detection systems. tive video clips. We find that the system works
shops have been held to train in the use of UFO We have considered a number of alternative very well from dark locations, but less so under
Capture, Analyser and Orbit software. Signifi- meteor detection solutions. Since 2020, we have light-polluted suburban skies; the illuminated
cant growth in the membership of the network built and operated some Raspberry Pi Meteor clouds create large numbers of false detections
over the past 10 years has improved our cover- Station (RMS) cameras, which contribute data and data vetting is hence required. All meteor
age and as of 2022 February, these stations have to the Global Meteor Network. These ‘next gen- detection systems have their pros and cons.
recorded ~500,000 meteors, enabling analyses eration’ systems are lower cost (to purchase and Video capture and analysis of meteors is now
of characteristics of the major (and selected mi- operate), are more sensitive than most analogue much less of a technical challenge than it was
nor) meteor showers. cameras and automate the analysis and upload- only 10 years ago; it has moved from niche to
These analyses are submitted to the BAA ing of the captured data. In addition, the RMS mainstream. NEMETODE too is evolving and
Meteor Section and are used to revise the Me- software is regularly updated to incorporate user the team is currently reviewing opportunities for
teor Diary in the BAA Handbook. They are also suggestions and address the (now very few) per- the next decade.
summarised in a series of articles and papers in formance issues it once had. Some of our RMS
the BAA Journal and occasionally WGN (the stations are run in parallel with a UFO Capture 1

▶ accepted today) and the Earth’s own rota- the age of 89, she produced a thesis entitled On and opened these subjects up to the masses. In
tion; she went on to discuss fixed stars and bina- Molecular and Microscopic Science (1869), as fact, her books helped to shape the thinking of
ry systems and the diversity of ‘misty nebulae she had become fascinated by the latest ideas many future generations. She was further hon-
and star clusters’. She also predicted the exis- about the composition of matter and the recent oured in 2017 when the Royal Bank of Scotland
tence of Neptune, based on the idea of a hypo- discoveries of spectroscopy. issued a polymer £10 note with her image on its
thetical planet ‘perturbing Uranus’. It is inter- Throughout her life she also took a great in- front – she was the first non-royal woman to be
esting to note that a young John Couch Adams, terest in politics and campaigned for women’s honoured in this way. Fittingly, a lunar diagram,
who studied at Cambridge, was inspired by suffrage and education. (Even as a child she re- taken from Mechanism of the Heavens, appears
her, and he later successfully predicted Nep- portedly gave up sugar in her tea to fight against when the note is viewed under UV light.
tune’s position. slavery.) She was also a devout Christian all When she died in 1872 November, The Morn-
In 1835, she and Caroline Herschel were her life. ing Post, a London newspaper, declared in her
elected as the first female honorary members of Her legacy runs deep. Who else can claim obituary that ‘Whatever difficulty we might ex-
the Royal Astronomical Society. She was also four influential ‘bestsellers’ and has an Oxford perience in the middle of the nineteenth century
given a host of other honours. College, a crater on the Moon, an island in the in choosing a king of science, there could be no
She then published two further books on Arctic, an asteroid and even a Google ‘doodle’ question whatever as to the queen of science’. A
aspects of geology, geophysics and physical named after her? It is generally recognised that fine tribute to such an extraordinary lady, who
geography when she and her family moved to she did more to advance women’s equality in the social constraints on 19th century women
Naples; these too were well received. terms of suffrage and access to education than could not stop from becoming one of the
In her old age, she was looked after by her anyone else in Victorian society, while she also most influential astronomers and scientists of
two surviving daughters. But astonishingly, at popularised all branches of physical science, that age.

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 75
Notes & News

Comet Section

A great display from comet
C/2021 A1 (Leonard)
Nick James The first observation received by the BAA and so the bright central region was elongated
Director was made by Denis Buczynski (Tarbatness) in long exposures. Short-exposure, high-resolu-
on the morning of 2021 Jan 6, when the comet tion images showed no evidence of disruption

T he first comet to be
discovered in 2021
was found by Catalina Sky
was still on the Minor Planet Center’s Possible
Comet Confirmation Page as object C4AGJ62.3
The comet brightened gradually through most
and there was no sign of any significant biases
in astrometry submitted to the Section.
On the morning of 2021 Dec 3, the comet
Survey observer Gregory of 2021 and remained at a high northern decli- had a close approach to the globular cluster M3.
Leonard on Jan 3. He was using the 1.5m Mt nation, moving slowly through Canes Venatici Unfortunately, the weather over much of the
Lemmon survey telescope and he reported it (CVn), Ursa Major (UMa) and then back into UK was poor, but excellent images of the con-
as a 19th magnitude object in Canes Venatici, CVn. Through this period observations were re- junction were received from Ian Sharp (Spain),
with an apparent 10-arcsecond coma and five- ceived from Denis, Peter Carson, David Swan, Peter Gudgeon (Spain), Martin Mobberley (New
arcsecond tail.1 At the time, comet C/2021 A1 David Hardwick, Tony Angel, Richard Sargent Mexico) and Mazin Younis (Morocco). From
(Leonard) was just over 5au from the Sun. and David Strange. the UK, Andrew Robertson (Norfolk) managed
Numerous pre-discovery images were found By the start of 2021 October, the comet had to get a visual view of M3 and the comet us-
in the Pan-STARRS archive going back to 2020 reached 13th magnitude. It was 1.8au from the ing 7×50 binoculars as the sky cleared just be-
Apr 30, but the earliest astrometry was from Mt Sun and 2.4au from Earth, and it was beginning fore dawn. He commented that in a 0.30m, ƒ/12
Lemmon on 2020 Apr 11, when the comet was to show quite a nice tail to the north in telescopic
magnitude 21.8.2 The pre-discovery astrometry images. Brightening rapidly during October as it Above: The comet on (L–R) 2021 Dec 20, 22, 23,
allowed a precise orbit to be computed very got closer to the Sun and Earth, it reached 10th 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 & 29. Taken with a Canon 60Da
quickly. This indicated that the comet would magnitude by early November when it was well and 200mm ƒ/4 Newtonian. (Justin Tilbrook, Pen-
come to perihelion on 2022 Jan 3 at a distance placed in the morning sky. Colour images from wortham, South Australia)
of 0.62au, and that it would pass within 0.24au Martin Mobberley and Mazin Younis showed a
of Earth on 2021 Dec 12 and 0.029au of Venus strong green coma, with a gas tail pointing to the
on 2021 Dec 18. northwest. By Nov 15, the gas tail was around
The inbound orbit had a 1/a value of 2° long as measured by imagers at dark sites.
+0.00057, corresponding to an original period On Nov 24 the comet passed near to two
of around 75,000 years. The relatively small prominent galaxies, NGC 4631 and NGC 4656
perihelion distance and the fact that it was (the Whale and Crowbar); several imagers cap-
not a first-time visitor to the inner solar sys- tured this event at different scales. The comet
tem suggested that the comet could become a was now bright enough for spectroscopists to
naked-eye object in 2021 December, although get good results. On 2021 Nov 25, Robin Lead-
at the time this was very uncertain. The geom- beater obtained a spectrum (see opposite page)
etry of its orbit favoured a strong enhancement using an ALPY 200, which showed prominent
of the brightness due to forward scattering on Swan band emission lines out to around two ar-
the days around 2021 Dec 14, but the extent of cminutes from the photocentre.
this brightening would depend on the amount The comet was now showing significant
of dust in the comet’s coma and tail. The best structure in the inner coma and, towards the end
views would be from the southern hemisphere, of November, there was some speculation that
as the comet would be significantly south of the the nucleus was breaking up. At this time the
celestial equator when at its brightest. apparent motion of the comet was quite large The light curve. See text for list of observers.

76 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Notes & News

Mewlon telescope, M3 appeared more 1 arcmin
concentrated and slightly brighter than the
comet’s coma.
The comet was now moving rapidly
south through Boötes and images from
Tim Haymes, Martina McGovern, Michael
Buechner, James Weightman, Peter
Tickner and Manolo Rodriguez showed
the lengthening tail. From UK latitudes,
the comet was diving into the morning
twilight and the last UK observations submit- just two days later,
ted to the BAA were obtained on the morning of when Venus passed
Dec 11. The comet was only 11° up at the start of through the tail.5
astronomical twilight, but the weather favoured Considerable detail was visible in the coma.
the eastern side of the country and both Peter Images from Terry Evans (South Australia) show
Carson and I obtained images using portable jet features in the inner coma extending into the
equipment at two different locations in Essex. tail (see overleaf). The length of the gas tail
At this time the comet was 0.79au from the Sun, was then increasing rapidly. On Dec 22.5, Rob The comet’s growing tail (these three images are
0.24au from Earth and around 5th magnitude. Kaufman (Victoria, Australia) reported from his shown to scale). Left: 2021 Jan 6, 01:04 UTC. 0.36m
After the comet disappeared from UK skies, images a tail length which exceeded 13°, with a ƒ/6 SCT, ASI 1600MM, 20×120s. (Denis Buczynski,
Tarbatness) Middle: 2021 Oct 5, 05:04 UTC. 0.31m
it brightened rapidly. On Dec 14, Mike Olason prominent disconnection event around 5° from
ƒ/8 Dall–Kirkham, QHY600, 20×60s. (Peter Carson,
(Arizona) reported the first in a series of small the coma. Other imagers from very dark sites re- Fregenal de la Sierra, Spain) Right: 2021 Nov 9,
outbursts. The outburst appears to have in- ported even longer tail lengths. 11:40 UTC. 0.51m ƒ/4.5 CDK, FLI-PL11002M,
creased the amount of dust in the coma and In late December, the best images were com- LRGB 300,120,120,120s. 46×33arcmin. (Martin
enhanced the effect of the predicted forward ing from robotic telescopes at dark sites in the Mobberley, New Mexico)
scattering. The overall effect was to boost the southern hemisphere, particularly Namibia. The
comet’s magnitude to around +3 for a short pe- tail structure continued to evolve over the Christ- that time the comet had faded back below 10th
riod. Images from the SECCHI/HI-2 camera mas period, and it was recorded in some stun- magnitude.
on the STEREO-A space observatory, taken on ning images. One of the most detailed was taken With the exception of the outbursts and for-
2021 Dec 14, confirmed the increase in activity by Gerald Rhemann on 2021 Dec 27 (see cov- ward scattering in mid-December, the comet’s
since they were not affected by the forward scat- er), using a fast astrograph from Namibia. Alan light curve was well behaved. Jonathan Shank-
tering.4 A further small outburst appears to have Tough also managed to capture this detail using lin derives the following magnitude parameters
taken place on Dec 17, but by then the comet a Namibian remote telescope. The development from observations submitted to the Section:
was fading rapidly as the forward scattering be- of the tail over multiple nights is well shown in
came less significant. the sequence of images in the BAA’s image ar- H10 = 8.14 ± 0.05, k = 11.74 ± 0.20
The outbursts led to a significant increase in chive.6 The tail continued to develop as the year
gas production from the nucleus and this led drew to a close, with Peter Goodhew’s image The following observers contributed to this
to a dramatic change in the tail. Images from (overleaf) showing the situation on Dec 31. light curve: Jose Aguiar, Denis Buczynski, Peter
Dec 18 onwards show a rapidly developing ion The comet was now fading, having reached a
tail and exquisite detail, both in the inner coma peak magnitude of around +3 around the middle
and in the tail itself. At this time the comet was of December. Perihelion was on 2022 Jan 3 and
0.30au from Earth, but only 0.03au from Venus. there was a small outburst around Jan 8. By
It would have been a stunning sight for any Ve- then the comet was dropping below naked-eye
nusians who were lucky enough to have a break visibility as it moved away from Earth and the
in their sulphuric-acid clouds, and they may also Sun. The last image in the archive at the time
have experienced a spectacular meteor shower of writing is by Kaufman, on 2022 Feb 2.4. By

2021 Nov 25, 02:25 UTC. 0.28m ƒ/5.5 SCT, ATK314,
ALPY 200, 3×600s. (Robin Leadbeater, Cumbria)

2021 Dec 15, 01:28 UTC. 50mm FL, ƒ/3.5, ST-
2021 Nov 25, 05:41 UTC. 0.28m ƒ/10 EdgeHD, ASI 6200MM, 21×60s. (Nick James, Chelmsford) 402ME. Mike Olason, Arizona

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 77
Notes & News

Left: 2021 Dec 3, 05:06 UTC; 0.10m, ƒ/6.25 APO, Trius Pro 694; L 6×120s, RGB 180s each (Ian Sharp, Andalucía, Spain). Top right: 2021 Dec 7, 04:00 UTC. 0.10m, ƒ/5.8
APO, ASI 294MC, 23×120s. (Martina McGovern, Cambridge). Bottom right: 2021 Dec 9, 06:02 UTC. 0.36m, ƒ/10 SCT, ASI 071MC, 160×8s. (Peter Tickner, Berkshire)

2021 Dec 27, 19:00 UTC. 0.20m ƒ/3 RH astrograph, QHY600M, 2×80s. (Alan Tough, Hakos, Namibia)

2021 Dec 31, 10:33 UTC, 0.106m, ƒ/5 Petzval, FLI-PL16803, 24×60s LRGB. (Peter Goodhew, NSW, Australia)

2021 Dec 20, 11:17 UTC. 0.20m ƒ/8.8 APO, SX-694, 2022 Jan 9, 11:25 UTC. 0.28m, ƒ/2.2 RASA, EOS 6D, 300s. (Mike Mattiazzo, Victoria, Australia)
10×60s. (Terry Evans, Moorook, South Australia)
years ago, this comet will never return. We were 3 MPC Possible Comet Confirmation Page: minor
Carson, Mike Collins, Kevin Hills, Nick James, lucky to have been here for its final show in this
4 ‘Comet Leonard appears in STEREO telescope’:
Michael Mattiazzo, Yoshimi Nagai, Giuseppe star system!
Pappa, Johan Warell and Christopher Wyatt. 5 Zhang Q. et al., ‘Preview of Comet C/2021 A1
The comet’s orbit was changed by gravita- References (Leonard) and its encounter with Venus’, Astron.
tional perturbation as it moved through the inner J., 162(5), 194 (2021):
solar system and the outbound path was slightly 1 CBET 4907 (2021) 6 BAA/TA comet image archive:
hyperbolic. Having last visited around 75,000 2 MPEC 2021-A99 (2021) cometobs/2021a1/thumbnails.html

78 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Notes & News

Aurora & Noctilucent Cloud Section

Auroral & noctilucent cloud activity
2021 December 16 – 2022 February 18
Sandra Brantingham In early February, there were four G1-class
Director storms, two R1 storms and 18 sightings. The
first four were on Feb 3/4 by De-
nis Buczynski from Tarbatness, Jim

W ith the sunspot
numbers regu-
larly in double or even triple figures, as
Henderson from Torphins, Ronan
Newman from Benwee Head, Mayo,
Ireland, and Alan Tough from Elgin.
The aurora imaged from Galloway Astronomy
well as coronal mass ejections and sev- The next two were on Feb 4/5 by Alan Centre on Feb 10/11. Mike Alexander
eral coronal holes, the Sun is now lift- Tough from Elgin, and by me from
ing out of minimum and at a faster rate Glenbarry, Banff. Alan Tough got it
than forecast. An X-class flare has also again on Feb 5/6 & 9/10. The final ten
been picked up from the far side of the sightings were on Feb 10/11 by Denis until by 2022 Jan 10 it was circular to 80°S.
Sun, which bodes well for the future. Buczynski from Tarbatness; Jim Hen- The story became interesting when, on Jan 15, a
Aurora sightings over this period are at derson from Torphins; Ronan New- volcano near Tonga erupted with such force that
29, while the Section’s noctilucent cloud man from Dowagh, Connemara; Alan the plume reached the mesosphere (go.nasa.
(NLC) sightings are at zero, although Tough from Hopeman; me from Glen- gov/3q28z01) reported one from barry, Banff; Fran Goodman from Whether this had any effect on the NLC is
Argentina. East Lothian; David Rees from 51°N, still unknown but is under investigation. The
Mike Alexander from the Galloway 1883 Krakatoa eruption was the start point of
Astronomy Centre, Keith Moseley NLC sightings.
Aurora from 51.75°N and Mary McIntyre By Jan 24, the NLC was circular to 75°S,
from Tackley in Oxfordshire. with patches to 60°S, and on the next day there
In late December, there was one G1- was a reported sighting from 51.6°S (Argenti-
class storm, five R1-class storms and one na). As I write this (Feb 18), the NLC has faded
sighting. This was by Ronan Newman Noctilucent cloud to one tiny patch and the season is almost over.
from Inagh Valley, Connemara, Ireland
on Dec 19/20. Noctilucent cloud was very late in
In January, there was one G2 and five starting in the southern hemisphere General
G1-class storms, one R2 and five R1- this year – even later than last year,
class storms, one S1-class storm and with the first ice in the mesosphere be- There is a website for those of you who are
10 sightings. The first four were on Jan ing detected on 2021 Dec 14 via the stuck in light-polluted areas or are out of range
8/9 by Alan Tough from Elgin, Gor- AIM satellite. It gradually expanded of the aurora. It is a webcam (
don Mackie from Thurso, Jim Hender- operated by the Shetland tourist board, that
son from Torphins, Aberdeenshire and looks north and, if there is no cloud, will give a
Ronan Newman from Connemara. The good view of any aurora or NLC (and you can
next four were on Jan 14/15 and were by listen to the waves and sea birds). In addition to
Keith Moseley from SE Wales, Tracey ▶The eruption of an underwater volca- this, they have added two more cameras further
no near Tonga in 2022 January sent this
Harty from Penrhyn Bay, N Wales, How- plume of gas, steam and ash to an alti- north specifically for the aurora. These are at
ard Davies from Swansea, and Stuart tude of 58km at its highest point. Volca- and
Baldwin from Keeper’s Pond (51.47°N). nic dust transported to the mesosphere I would like to thank all the observers who
The last two were by Alan Tough from may spawn noctilucent cloud. (NOAA/ have contributed, and I ask you to keep sending
Elgin on Jan 21/22 & 28/29. NESDIS). in those reports to

An auroral display was photographed on 2022 Jan 14/15 by Stuart Baldwin (left, seen over Keeper’s Pond, 57.41°N 003.40°W) and Tracey Harty (right, taken
from Penrhyn Bay, N Wales).

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 79
Notes & News

later I published analyses of the dust storm by their dust-raising they were responsible for
Mars Section data collected.4,6 maintaining the intensity of this albedo feature.6
Observations of the current apparition started It had become invisible by the early 1980s. Note

Mars in 2022: a fully a year before opposition. As in 2020, the
Section web pages will start to publish a regular
blog for the opposition by the time this preview
that Trivium Charontis and Cerberus were rela-
tively conspicuous then, but today they are vir-
tually invisible. On the other hand, Oxia Palus,
pre-opposition appears in print. Most observers will limit their
work to the period when Mars is at least six arc-
which lies at the N. tip of Margaritifer Sinus,
was small at that epoch.

preview seconds in diameter, between 2022 mid-May
and 2023 mid-April. Of course, we are keen to
encourage a good level of coverage outside this
Other changes may be spotted by those famil-
iar with the planet’s current appearance. Mars is
a constantly changing world.
period too, as useful imaging is still possible at
four arcseconds or even less.
Of the seasonally comparable oppositions cit- Features of the apparition
ed above, I have chosen to illustrate in Figure 1
Richard McKim that of 1960, when opposition fell on Dec 30. At the start of the current apparition, we were
Director A set of very artistic drawings was made by keen to know whether a certain change caused
Michael Atchison, and none have been previ- by the 2018 global dust storm had survived the

M ars will be at opposition on
2022 Dec 8, when it will be
in high northern declination and
ously published in colour.5
The drawings show a well-marked N. polar
cap close to its maximum seasonal extent. The
solar conjunction. This was the darkening of
Indus: a broad, dark streak uniting Oxia Palus
with the SE corner of Mare Acidalium. (See
therefore well placed for UK observers. Its ar- Solis Lacus took its usual E–W elongated form: the images by Nick Hewitt and Alex Pratt in
eocentric longitude (Ls) will equal 351°: late major dust storm activity can alter its shape Figure 2.) The answer was supplied by Clyde
summer in the Martian southern hemisphere. considerably. The sweeping curve of Nepenthes Foster as early as 2022 Jan 24, when he secured
Mars is closest to Earth on Dec 1, when its di- is seen, emanating from the eastern side of the a good image of the tiny disc, showing those
ameter will be 17.2 arcseconds. Syrtis Major. Until the early 1960s, dust storms features to be unchanged. When will they al-
The opposition is classed as aphelic, for it over Libya–Isidis Regio were quite frequent, and ter next?
occurs within 90° of aphelion (Ls = 70°; when
Mars is most distant from the Sun). In terms of
seasonal characteristics, it will be in a similar Figure 1. Mars near opposition in 1960–’61, by Michael Atchison. The 203mm (8-inch) and 457mm (18-inch)
situation to those oppositions observed by the refractors (OGs) were those of Mill Hill Observatory, London. South is uppermost in Figures 1 & 2. (Mars
BAA in 2007, 1990, 1975, 1960, 1943, 1928, Section Archives)
1911 and 1896. Downloadable PDF versions of
all published reports are available at our web-
site,1 together with a programme of observation (A) 1960 Dec 17, 00:02 UT, CM = 030°; 152mm OG (E) 1961 Jan 1, 00:22 UT, CM = 263°; 203mm OG.
(Hampstead Observatory, London), ×210, ×340. (F) 1961 Jan 9, 00:40 UT, CM = 198°; 203mm OG.
and reference maps.2 Oppositions at this time
(B) 1960 Dec 27, 20:40 UT, CM = 244°; 203mm (G) 1961 Jan 11, 20:12 UT, CM = 106°; 457mm OG
of year can so easily be ruined by the British OG, ×228, ×400. (powers as in (C)).
weather: of the ones mentioned, 1928–’29 was (C) 1960 Dec 29, 21:28 UT, CM = 239°; 457mm (H) 1961 Jan 14, 21:12 UT, CM = 094°; 203mm OG.
one of the least well observed of the 20th cen- OG, ×275, ×400.
tury.3 There was never any BAA report writ- (D) 1960 Dec 31, 00:56 UT, CM = 280°; 203mm Drawings A and C–H were made under seeing condi-
ten for 1928–’29 or 1943, though many years OG (powers as in (B)). tions of Antoniadi I.

80 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Notes & News

the basis of the purely dynamical grounds used position angle of the N. point of the Martian
Seasonal dates for 2022–’23 in the model, we do not predict a global storm in disc) and Q (the position angle of the greatest
2022, but the study does suggest epochs at which phase defect) tabulated (and explained) in the
Season Ls Terrestrial ‘forcing conditions’ for storms are maximised Handbook.
(°) date (and at which times regional events may be most As ever, we shall publish a list of contributing
S. spring / N. autumn begins 180 2022 Feb 24 likely). There will always be one or more region- observers on the website, and in the final report.
S. summer / N. winter begins 270 2022 Jul 21 al storms (defined as events that cover more than Good observing!
S. autumn / N. spring begins 360 2022 Dec 26 2,000km, or 34° in angular measure upon Mars,4
S. winter / N. summer begins   90 2023 Jul 12 in their long axes) during southern spring and
summer. Indeed, as I write this in mid-February,
there has just been some dust activity in the Hel-
A few seasonal dates for 2022–’23 are shown in las basin which was visible from Earth. In 2020 Notes & references
the above table. These data were computed by there were two large regional storms, which be-
Jean Meeus.10 gan at Ls = 225° and Ls = 313°,8,9 as well as nu- 1
As of 2022 February, the S. polar cap has merous smaller events.
3 The Orient Express was lost for five days in deep
reappeared from beneath its winter cloud hood I will review recent BAA observations at the snowdrifts in 1929 February, when central Euro-
and will soon begin to sublime, but by opposi- April meeting in Leeds, devoted to planetary pean weather was at its worst for decades. Inconve-
tion this year it will have disappeared again be- and stellar atmospheres (see back cover). nient and dangerous for the passengers it may have
neath the hood, and the N. polar cap will be on One final (and remarkably coincidental) been, but it provided a useful backdrop for Agatha
show. The equatorial cloud belt will not be vis- date for your diary: on opposition day around Christie’s famous 1934 novel. We must hope for
ible, but morning and evening cloud, as well as 05:00 UT there is an occultation of Mars by the better things from the UK winter of 2022–’23!
the orographic clouds over some of the Martian Moon, lasting about an hour. See page 39 of the 4 McKim R. J., Mem. Brit. Astron. Assoc., 44 (1999)
volcanoes, should be looked for.7 BAA Handbook. 5 M. F. Atchison published several Martian research
papers in our Journal in the 1960s, paying spe-
While the polar deposits and white clouds are
cial attention to the Aetheria region, which was
largely predictable, we cannot determine when changeable at the time.
even the greatest dust storms will occur with How to contribute observations 6 The relationship between dust storms at this loca-
certainty. However, in a recent study by J. H. tion and the visibility of Nepenthes was discussed
Shirley (NASA, JPL) and me, predictions were Please send your observations directly to me at by the Director in J. Brit. Astron. Assoc., 106,
made for 2020 and the next few oppositions. On the address on the inside back cover of the Jour- 185–200 (1996).
nal, or to the e-mail address 7 The orographic cloud at Arsia Mons, for example,
appending this article, as I was active between Ls = 157–211° and 250–318°
Figure 2. The appearance of the Indus and Oxia Palus in 2020, which in 2020, so its activity should cease before opposi-
formed a dark streak upon images by Nick Hewitt from Northampton (A) do not have time to search
tion in 2022.
and Alex Pratt from Leeds (B), as well as in a drawing by David Graham for what members post
8 McKim R. J., J. Brit. Astron. Assoc., 130, 262–263
from Barton, North Yorkshire (C). upon their personal pages (2020)
on the BAA website. 9 McKim R. J., ibid., 131, 208–209 (2021)
(A) Sep 22, CM = 009°; 237mm Schmidt–Cassegrain telescope (SCT) and
ZWO ASI 224 colour camera. New contributors – 10 Meeus J., Astronomical Tables of the Sun, Moon
whether beginners or ad- and Planets, Willmann–Bell, Inc., 1995. Up till
(B) Sep 21, CM = 353°; 279mm SCT and CMOS colour camera.
vanced – will be welcome. 2018 we had used the dates of the equinoxes, sol-
(C) Oct 30, CM = 004°; colour drawing with 230mm Maksutov–Cassegrain With any first contribution, stices, aphelion and perihelion conveniently given
(MKT), ×200 and ×250. please give full telescope from time to time in the Communications in Mars
The reference map is that of S. Ebisawa (1957). details and your postal ad- Observations of the Oriental Astronomical Soci-
ety, Japan, which in turn were derived from the
dress for my records. Put
JPL planetary and lunar ephemerides, which were
the Martian south pole pre- obviously precisely calculated. The values of Ls
cisely at the top of every were also rigorously calculated by Meeus. The
drawing or image submit- Director has noticed differences of as many as a
ted, taking care to make few days from the ephemerides generated by the
use of the values of P (the WinJUPOS software.

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 81
Notes & News

Dec 17, all three groups dominated the disc. AR2907, AR2908 and AR2909 are seen

Solar Section They remained D-class, but with AR2908
consisting mainly of two penumbral sunspots
progressing across the solar disc in this 2021
Dec 19 H-alpha image. The same active re-
aligned north–south as opposed to the east– gions two days earlier are shown in the image
Lyn Smith west configuration of the other two groups. below. (Photo by Gary Palmer)
Director The most northerly sunspot of AR2908 broke
up the following day, the group becoming
type Cai and presenting a more east–west in longitude to become type Eai, now in the
2021 December configuration. The groups all crossed the CM NW quadrant. Decay was rapid thereafter,
on Dec 19, 20 & 21. AR2908 began to break with the group type Bxo on Dec 31 and ap-

A ctivity in December was
the highest recorded by the
Section since 2015 September, with the south-
up on Dec 21 and was rapidly decaying by
Dec 23. By the following day, only AR2907
remained as a substantial sunspot group, with
proaching the NW limb.

AR2920 S17°/239° formed on the disc in the
ern hemisphere being the most active of the two. AR2908 and AR2909 barely visible. AR2907 SW quadrant on Dec 26, not far from the CM,
Despite observing conditions being good in the rotated around the limb on Dec 25/26, but the and underwent rapid development overnight
UK during the first half of the month, they dete- following groups had dissolved. to type Cao. This development did not last,
riorated significantly during the latter part, with and the group reduced to type Bxo on Dec 28.
one observer noting the worst conditions for 19 AR2916 S18°/192° rounded the SE limb on It then faded on the disc.
years. Members’ written reports for this period Dec 21, initially being a single Hsx sunspot,
therefore lack the usual detail. but by the following day it was accompanied AR2921 N30°/246° formed in the NW quadrant
December produced 23 active areas, many by a follower. By Dec 25, the follower section on Dec 27, not far from the limb. This was
being small and short-lived. The main groups had expanded substantially, with the group another group that underwent rapid develop-
are listed below. being of type Ekc. The group crossed the CM ment overnight and was type Dao on Dec 28.
on Dec 28 and started to reduce slightly on The group remained type Dso until it rotated
AR2898 S24°/246° survived on the disc from Dec 30 but was still impressive at the end of over the limb on Dec 30.
the previous month and was type Dao, ap- the month, when it was midway across the
proaching the SW limb on Dec 1. The group SW quadrant. 20 observers reported a Quality number of Q =
was visible on Dec 3 as a single Hsx sunspot, 9.82 for December.
very close to the limb. AR2918 N20°/209° formed over the NE limb
on Dec 22, initially as a single Axx sunspot
AR2900 S25°/257° also remained on the disc that rapidly developed the following day to H-alpha
from the preceding month, immediately pre- type Dao. By Dec 25 the group had further
ceding AR2898. The group was type Hsx on developed, particularly in the following re- Prominences
Dec 1 and rotated around the limb on the fol- gion. It was type Dki on Dec 25 & 26 but
lowing day. began to reduce thereafter. The group was 14 observers reported a prominence mean daily
clearly in decay by Dec 28 and had extended frequency (MDF) of 4.82 for December.
AR2902 N20°/196° was the third group to re-
main on the disc from November, located
in the northern hemisphere just west of the
central meridian (CM), type Cro. A few more
pores joined the group on Dec 2, but by Dec 3
it had reduced to a single Hrx-type sunspot. It
reduced further to type Axx on Dec 4 and was
not reported on Dec 5.

AR2906 S29°/343° formed in the mid-southeast
quadrant on Dec 14 as a C-class group con-
taining six sunspots. The group started to fade
on Dec 17, reducing to type Hsx, and was un-
changed on Dec 18. It faded on the disc as it
crossed the SW quadrant.

AR2907 S21°/320°, AR2908 S21°/295° &
AR2909 S21°/283° were three groups which
travelled together across the solar disc, with
AR2907 being seen on Dec 14 as a D-class
group over the SE limb. The following day,
AR2908 and AR2909 followed over the SE
limb; all were D-class groups containing AR2907 (right), AR2908 (middle) and AR2909 (left), captured at 430nm in Preston, Lan-
14, eight and four sunspots, respectively. By cashire on 2021 Dec 17, 10:27 UT. (Stuart Green)

82 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Notes & News

BAA sunspot data,
2021 December – 2022 January
December January
Day g R g R

1 3 34 2 29
2 2 29 2 21
3 2 24 0 5
4 1 11 1 9
5 1 12 2 19
6 1 12 2 32
7 1 11 2 32
8 0 2 2 36
9 0 0 3 41
10 0 0 3 38
11 0 0 4 51
12 1 10 5 58
13 1 19 6 67
14 3 39 7 85
15 4 60 6 85
16 5 88 6 70
Left: A busy Sun on 2022 Jan 14, imaged at 13:18 UT in H-alpha. (Ella Bryant) Right: On the
17 6 104 5 68
same day, this impressive C4-class flare was caught emanating from AR2925. (Brian Halls) 18 5 92 4 53
19 6 101 4 47
20 7 99 3 40
On Dec 1, a loop prominence rising to about On Dec 4, a long southern-hemisphere fila- 21 7 104 2 19
56,000km was reported on the SW limb. ment was seen, around 110,000km in length. A 22 7 108 2 21
north–south filament was preceding AR2904 on 23 7 124 1 16
An arch prominence about 40,000km in
24 6 91 2 42
length and about 50,000km wide was seen on Dec 5. 25 5 93 4 51
the SE limb on Dec 4; two parallel column A BMR associated with AR2904 had a con- 26 4 83 4 56
prominences rising to 70,000km were on the spicuous diagonal line matching the division 27 4 81 4 61
SW limb. between opposing magnetic polarities on Dec 9. 28 4 79 3 56
Three prominences rising to about 20,000km Two east–west-aligned filaments underscored 29 3 56 3 49
and covering an area of about 60,000km around AR2907 and AR2908 on Dec 17 & 18 and re- 30 3 43 4 62
the NW limb were reported on Dec 9. mained present until the group rotated around 31 3 43 4 68
A flame-type prominence was seen on the the SW limb. MDFg   3.16 (44)   3.67 (44)
NW limb on Dec 11 and several prominences, The northern hemisphere also showed a num- Mean R 50.60 (41) 51.74 (42)
including a flame-type example, were seen on ber of east–west-aligned filaments, particularly
the NW limb on Dec 12. on Dec 17.
A small loop prominence was on the SW limb AR2907, 2908 and 2909 each had sepa- North & south MDF of active areas g
on Dec 17. rate BMRs associated with them, well seen on MDFNg MDFSg
On Dec 29, a double arch prominence was Dec 19.
December 0.86 (34) 2.23 (34)
on the SW limb, attaining a height of approxi-
January 1.43 (36) 2.31 (36)
mately 47,000km. On Dec 30, two tower-type
prominences were on the same limb, rising to CaK g = active areas (AAs)
83,000 and 58,000km respectively. Also on MDF = mean daily frequency
Dec 30, there was a fast-changing prominence Brian Mitchell reported a CaK MDF of 3.75 R = relative sunspot number
off the NW limb and a large prominence off the (4 days) for December.
The no. of observers is given in brackets.
SW limb.

Bipolar magnetic regions, filaments & towards the end of the month. The Quality value
plage Andy Devey reported an M1.9 flare in associa- for January was also the highest recorded so far
tion with AR2908, at 12:00 UT on Dec 20. Derek for Cycle 25. Sunspots were recorded on all
Glover reported flares on Dec 4 & 12; Kevin days of the month.
11 observers reported a filament MDF of Kilburn recorded a C1.5 flare in association with
4.57 and 11 reported a plage MDF of 3.56 for AR2907 on Dec 19 and Monty Leventhal re- AR2916 S13°/192° remained on the disc in the
December. corded a 3B-type flare associated with AR2906 SW quadrant from the previous month, type
Plage was reported with AR2898, 2900, on Dec 14, as well as another 3B-type flare as- Dao and with an area of 320 millionths on
2901, 2902, 2904, 2905, 2907, 2908, 2909, sociated with AR2916 on Dec 24. Jan 1. The group rotated around the SW limb
2910 and 2911. on Jan 3 amidst faculae.
Bright plage was seen accompanying
AR2900 on Dec 2 and the associated bipolar AR2924 S30°/038° was seen on Jan 4 not far
magnetic region (BMR) was well seen, includ- 2022 January from the SE limb; it was a small Hrx-type
ing a faint dark filament crossing the region. In sunspot amid faculae. The following day the
the NE quadrant on the same day, the extensive Activity in January was similar to that seen in group was Hax and by Jan 6 it had further de-
BMR associated with the decayed AR2901 had December, again with the southern hemisphere veloped into a compact Dsc group. On Jan 7
a mottled look about it. dominating. Although many small groups were it was quite impressive, consisting of a pen-
A north–south-aligned filament was preced- present, more substantial groups also formed, umbral leader and two lines of sunspots arc-
ing AR2902 on Dec 2 & 3. with the largest of the cycle so far being seen ing north and south towards a penumbral ▶

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 83
Notes & News

▶ follower. The group further developed and by an arc of plasma looping northwards for about
Jan 8 was E-class, containing 17 sunspots and 100,000km. This feature was also reported on
approaching the CM. On Jan 9 it presented Jan 26.
as a substantial Eai group, with an area of A column prominence was seen on the SE
490 millionths and several pores remaining limb on Jan 30, rising to 70,000km. An arch
between the leader and follower sunspots. prominence about 40,000km high was also ob-
There also appeared to be a photospheric served, extending for about 90,000km around
island within one of the umbrae. By Jan 12 the limb.
the group had decreased in size to an area of
370 millionths, with the leader and follower
penumbral sunspots having reduced, as had Bipolar magnetic regions, filaments & plage
the number of sunspots between the two. On
Jan 13, the leading sunspot sported three fol- 14 observers reported a filament MDF of 4.19
lowers, but on the following day these had and 13 observers reported a plage MDF of 3.45
disappeared, and no sunspots were seen be- for January.
tween the leader and the follower as the group Plage was reported with sunspot groups
approached the SW limb. Gerard Cauchi, in South Australia, obtained throughout the month.
this Calcium II K image of AR2936 on 2022 On Jan 1 near the centre of the disc, the BMR
AR2925 S32°/005° rotated around the SE limb Jan 29. associated with AR2919 was easily identifiable,
on Jan 5, in the wake of AR2924. Initially the with some supercell structure visible.
group was C-class, containing three sunspots. containing many penumbral areas. By the On Jan 4, a short east–west filament was just
On Jan 7 it was type Cso, consisting of a following day, these had coalesced into two north of AR2924, and a broader filament was
small penumbral leader and two close follow- main penumbral sunspots in a bipolar form, seen near to the limb south of this sunspot group.
ers. The group reduced to type Hsx on Jan 8 with an area of 970 millionths. On Jan 31, Activity within AR2924 was reported as
and remained so until Jan 15, when it started there were fewer pores within the group and ‘superb magnetic interplay’ between the com-
to fade. It was barely visible as it approached though it was still of type Dkc, it was slightly ponents of this sunspot group on Jan 7, with
the limb on Jan 17. smaller in area, being 850 millionths. The curved field lines between the leading and fol-
group was seen with the protected naked eye lower sunspots. A short north–south-aligned
AR2929 N10°/323° formed midway across on Jan 29, 30 & 31. filament surrounded by plage was also noted on
the NE quadrant on Jan 13 as a collection this day, following AR2925.
of small sunspots, type Bxo. The group un- AR2939 S15°/037° was seen around the SE On Jan 9, a ‘huge and beautifully symmetri-
derwent rapid development; it was type Dso limb on Jan 31, with a large penumbral leader cal’ BMR associated with AR2924 was reported.
on Jan 14 and Dao on Jan 17, with an area and two smaller sunspots following. By mid-month the solar disc sported numer-
of 240 millionths. The group had an unusual ous filaments, with a broad filament conspicuous
configuration as it was highly inclined, with AR2940 N17°/034° was seen around the NE in the SE quadrant south of AR2927 on Jan 13,
the leading sunspot oriented away from the limb on Jan 31, as a collection of small pen- which continued to be present until Jan 17 when
equator rather than towards it. The group was umbral sunspots. it extended significantly in longitude. On Jan 19
seen approaching the limb on Jan 19. is reduced again and remained until it rotated
20 observers reported a Quality number of Q = over the SW limb on Jan 21.
AR2930 N21°/326° formed to the north of 10.59 for January. On Jan 22, a filament about 150,000km in
AR2929 around the same time, being a length was reported in the northern hemisphere,
Bxo-class group on Jan 14. It developed over while another in the southern hemisphere ex-
the coming days, being a small Dso group on tended to about 160,000km.
Jan 16 and a more substantial Dso group on H-alpha Another long filament was reported on Jan 26
Jan 17. It was last seen as a single H-class in the southern hemisphere, extending to about
sunspot on Jan 20, on the NW limb. Prominences 150,000km.
On Jan 29, the BMR around AR2936 was
AR2933 S21°/286° formed in the SE quad- 17 observers reported a prominence MDF of very obvious and a bright spot within the sun-
rant on Jan 16 as a Cso group, comprising a 3.99 for January. spot group was the afterglow of an earlier
small penumbral leader and two small fol- On Jan 1, a curtain-type prominence hearth C3.9 flare.
lowers. The group was a small D-class group was observed extending around the SE limb for
on Jan 17, but reduced to C-class where it about 120,000km and varying in height from
remained until Jan 20 when it reduced to 40,000km to about 65,000km. This evolved into CaK
H classification. The group rotated around the three large prominences the following day.
limb on Jan 23. A pillar prominence was seen on the NE limb Considerable CaK activity was noted through-
on Jan 5, rising to about 65,000km. out the month and not only in association with
AR2934 S24°/172° was reported close to the SE On Jan 13, a curved pillar prominence graced sunspot groups. The most activity recorded was
limb on Jan 20, type Hsx. It crossed the disc the NW limb, rising to about 70,000km. It was on Jan 16, with 10 active areas counted.
without significant change, having an area of still present on Jan 14 but reduced in height. CaK MDF 5.05 (1 observer, 17 days).
200 millionths on Jan 22 & 29. The group was A fine fila-prominence was on the SW limb
near to the SW limb at the end of the month. on Jan 21, in the form of a small hedgerow on
the limb and a longer triangle of filament across Flares
AR2936 N18°/114° was the largest group seen the disc from the limb.
during the month. It was first seen close to the An extensive curtain prominence stretched Flares were recorded by A. Bowyer, A. Devey,
NE limb on Jan 24 as a single Hsx sunspot around the NW limb for about 100,000km D. Glover, A. Johnston, M. Leventhal, P.
amidst faculae. As the group rotated onto the on Jan 22, but rose to only 10,000km or so in Meadows, L. Smith and A. Stone. On Jan 14, a
disc, it attained D classification, containing height. On Jan 23 on that same limb, a tower C4.3 flare was reported within AR2925. On
several small penumbral sunspots. By Jan 29 prominence rose to about 84,000km. Jan 17, a C2.8 flare was reported in association
it was approaching the CM as a complex On Jan 25, a prominence with a wide base with AR2930 and on Jan 29, a flare was seen in
Dkc group with an area of 710 millionths, of around 60,000km was on the SW limb, with association with AR2936.

84 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Notes & News

Equipment & Techniques Section

Equatorial platforms, Part II

Martin Lewis edge rollers: one on the east side and one on
Equipment adviser the west. If the large north sector is one piece,
you only need one central rear face roller, as
in Figure 2. If made in two pieces, however,

P art I of this set of three ar-
ticles explained how equa-
torial platforms work and outlined three main
with separate north-east and north-west sec-
tions, then extra face rollers are needed. Figure 1. Simplest suitable variant, with Gee/Poncet hy-
Overall, this is a good mechanical design brid sectors at north and south ends.
types: Poncet, Gee and d’Autume. In this article, but it requires strong bracing, particularly for
I discuss three variants. All are appropriate for the larger angled north sector. There are also
heavier telescopes, due to their load-carrying drive roller considerations, which we will re-
ability and solidity, and might be suitable for the turn to in Part III.
competent amateur wishing to build their own If you are feeling more adventurous, then
equatorial tracking platform. you might like to attempt the d’Autume vari-
Equatorial platforms can be difficult to un- ant (Figure 3). Here, the north end rollers are
derstand and unless you have a full grasp of the horizontal and so support the edge without
principles for the design you are building, you needing a second set to prevent lateral slip- Figure 2. Gee/Poncet hybrid from north end, showing
will struggle. I will convey these principles here page. Horizontal rollers are easier to mount rollers.
rather than giving detailed plans; if you under- and to drive from a motor and gearbox; the
stand them, you can adapt the design to suit your downside is that such rollers require the sec-
preferences. tor face to form part of a cone. In addition,
The three variants, in order of increasing dif- the vertex of that cone needs to be located on
ficulty of manufacture, are: the polar axis, at the same height above the
ground as the contact line of the rollers. This
– Glee/Poncet hybrid at both north and south
is best done by attaching the north sector to
sectors (easiest)
the platform, solidly mounting the whole plat-
– d’Autume at north end with Gee/Poncet hy- form onto a real temporary mechanical axis,
brid at south end coincident with the polar axis, and then grind-
ing the sector’s conical edges in situ, with
– Vertical North Sector (VNS) with Gee/Poncet
something like a disc sander. This task really Figure 3. More advanced variant, with d’Autume north
hybrid at south end (hardest)
needs a workshop or garage set-up and some sector and Gee/Poncet hybrid rear.
You will see that all three have the same arrange- sort of computer-aided design capability to
ment at the south end and use a Gee/Poncet hy- achieve the accuracy needed.
brid sector. In the basic Poncet or Gee platform, The most sophisticated variant of the three
the south end normally uses a simple pivot. The is shown in Figure 4. Here, the north end is
basic d’Autume design, however, has a sector at composed of two sectors rather than one.
this end rather than a pivot, which is better. By They are vertically set but angled to each
having sectors at both ends and increasing their other, as seen in the top-down view shown in
diameters, the polar axis can move upwards, Figure 5. Again, as the north rollers are hori-
away from the platform. This allows you to po- zontal, the edges of the north sectors must be
sition the polar axis through the telescope’s cen- conical, with the cone’s vertex meeting the
tre of gravity. This reduces torque on any drive polar axis at the same height as the rollers’
roller used to rotate the whole platform, making contact faces. The comments for the previous Figure 4. Most advanced variant, with vertical north sec-
it less likely to slip when driving. variant apply on how to achieve this. tors (VNS).
In the three designs, the benefits of the This VNS variant is the most compact, and
d’Autume south sector are exploited, but sim- potentially the strongest of all the designs
plified, by making the sector edge cylindrical in discussed here. With the north sectors being
form rather than conical and using two sets of vertically set, the strong bracing to support a
inclined rollers, to increase stability and make it sloped north sector is not needed.
suitable for a wider range of latitudes. The south Despite the advantages, this variant is prob-
sector really is a hybrid of the main north sec- ably the hardest of all to visualise and draw
tors for the Gee and the Poncet – using inclined up prior to manufacture. It helps to know that
rollers running on the edge from the Gee, and over their lengths, the bottom edges of each
rollers at 90° to the edge set but running against of the north sector plates should approximate
the sector face, as in the Poncet. the shape of the edges of a large circular disc
The first variant, shown in Figure 1, uses es- centred on the polar axis and perpendicular
sentially the same sector described above, but at to it (the N. disc in Figure 1 of the previous
both ends of the platform, with the north sector article). Those edges, after grinding, should Figure 5. Viewed from above, the separate north sectors
in the VNS design follow the curve of the ellipse which is
being of larger diameter. The cylindrical faces look elliptical when viewed from the north the N. disc tilted by the latitude.
of the sectors are significantly easier to make end and like a diagonal line perpendicular to
than the conical edges of the d’Autume. They the polar axis, when viewed from the side. the N. disc – which is also elliptical in shape
can be shaped off the platform and fitted later, Furthermore, in the design stage, you should from that perspective (see Figure 5).
although there is the added complexity of the position the sectors so that when viewed from Part III will discuss methods of driving the
roller pairings to mount. Each sector needs two above they both approximate short sections of platform and aligning the polar axis.

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 85
Notes & News


John Chuter issue is a long letter
Archivist from an author about
a review of his book. It

D uring 2022 April, Mer-
cury slowly becomes bet-
ter placed for observation as it
is very interesting and
worth looking up, but I
only wish to highlight
approaches greatest eastern elongation from one paragraph here (right). With the greatest my last ‘From the Archives’ piece [132(1),
the Sun, and its highest in the sky, on Apr 29. elongation of Mercury imminent, it is a re- p.55]. This presentation took place at a
As would be expected, the Journal has from minder of the use of binoculars, remembering meeting at Savile Row on 1996 Oct 30,
its beginning included numerous mentions that the Sun need be heeded. when it was awarded to Patrick Moore. I fin-
of the innermost planet. During the late 19th In the 1997 April issue can be found draw- ish by showing the first couple of paragraphs
and early 20th century, the rotation periods ings by David Gray of Mercury (below right), (below left).
of Mercury and Venus were still not fully de- which are self-explan-
termined and the subject of much debate and atory. Perhaps similar
many observations. sequences of observa-
We have here (top left) one of several items tions will be made in
in the 1897 April Journal regarding the rota- 2022 April.
tion periods of both planets, and another (top In the same issue
right) from the 1922 April issue. The debate there is mention of
continued, but by then it was seeming to the Lydia Brown
reach a conclusion. Medal for ‘meritori-
In the last issue, I mentioned letters in the ous service to the As-
Journal [132(1), p.22]. In the 1972 April sociation’, featured in

86 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
British Isles aurorae, 1560–1715
John Simpson Part I: 1560–1644

This is the first of two papers in which, together, 28 previously unrecognised cases of probable aurorae seen in the
British Isles between 1560 and 1715, and over 100 new candidate cases, are presented. It provides a resumé of the
documentary sources for that period, brief accounts of the historical compilations of various luminous phenomena
reported in the British Isles, and of more recent scientific catalogues of reported aurorae. Criteria for reviewing
reports to distinguish probable aurorae from more doubtful ones are set out. For the period 1560–1644, 29 nights
of probable aurorae are identified and documented, with extracts from original sources and full references. Of
these, 14 are previously unrecognised. 14 less certain candidate cases are presented briefly, of which 13 are previ-
ously unrecognised. Misdated or untraceable catalogued aurorae are also documented. The period 1645–1715 is
covered in the second paper, with an analysis of the combined results.

Introduction The auroral record in the British Isles
before 1560
These two papers aim to provide a documented baseline of au-
roral observations in the British Isles for the period 1560–1715, The earliest known credible accounts of aurorae seen in the British
for future researchers to use and refine. The British Isles here Isles date from the 6th century. There are around 50 such records
comprise today’s Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Isle of from then until the 1400s, along with >100 doubtful cases.3,4 Most
Man, Scotland, Wales and England. The observations are only are from monastic chronicles and are brief and ambiguous, show-
from published documents, and have not exhausted these sources ing little or no distinction between aurorae and other astronomical
– indeed, many such reports probably remain undiscovered. The or meteorological phenomena. Chroniclers sometimes linked them
period of study is chosen on practical grounds – reports from be- with an important event (for example a monarch’s death or a great
fore 1560 are scarce but mostly well-documented, whilst after the battle), or interpreted them as a presage to some later calamity.
great auroral displays of 1716, the scientific literature is relatively After the dissolution of the monasteries in England, Wales and
rich in reports.1,2 Ireland by Henry VIII in the late 1530s, monastic chronicles were
This first paper begins with a brief account of the auroral re- no longer maintained, and many were destroyed or lost. Howev-
cord in the British Isles before 1560. There is then an outline of er, the last such known records of aurorae in the British Isles are
the published material from which reports have been recovered much earlier – in 1388 by a monk from Leicester, and (less certain)
for the period 1560–1715, followed by a resumé of observations in 1428 at a monastery in St Albans.5,6 For details about English
made over the succeeding 100 years. The next section reviews chronicles, see Gransden (1974 & 1982).7,8
the evolution of scientific catalogues and other compilations of The gap in reported aurorae, from around 1400 to 1560, cor-
historic aurora reports relevant to the British Isles, from the early responds approximately to the Spörer Minimum, a period of low
18th century to the present. solar activity named after the 19th century German astronomer.9 It
The problem of identifying probable cases of the aurora is then has only one known report of a probable aurora, from Scotland in
discussed, followed by brief sections on auroral sound, STEVE 1529.10–12 Two less likely reports, from Lincolnshire in 1467 and
and calendar adjustments. 29 probable aurorae (counted accord- Surrey in 1551, illustrate some of the difficulties of interpreting
ing to the number of nights) are then presented, of which 14 are accounts of the period. The Lincolnshire report states:
previously unrecognised. Where space permits, these reports are
given in full. A further set of 14 candidate cases (of which 13 are ‘… horsemen and men in armour were seen rushing through the
air; so much so, the Saint George himself, conspicuous with the red
previously unrecognised) is also briefly reviewed. These are cases cross, his usual ensign, and attended by a vast body of armed men,
where either the source might be unreliable or the account, whilst appeared visibly to great numbers.’13
consistent with an aurora, suggests that some other phenomenon
is more likely. There is then a short section noting 11 previously The Surrey report has:
catalogued aurorae that are mostly misdated or untraceable. All
‘… this yere was sene in the Lent besyde Martyn abbe many men
the cases are listed chronologically in summary tables. The pe- in harnes syttynge in the eyere, and soo came downe agayne
riod 1645–1715 is covered in the companion paper, which also un-to the grownde and vadyd awaye agayne, and also in dyvers
includes analyses and discussion of the results. other places.’14
J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 87
Simpson: British Isles aurorae, 1560–1715, Part I: 1560–1644

Sources for the period 1560–1715
The 16th century saw an increase in civic and legal records as
well as in personal and official diaries, although these only began
to be published some 300 years later, and even today many exist
only in manuscript. They provide several eyewitness accounts of
aurorae. In addition, printed leaflets and pamphlets were becom-
ing a common means of disseminating news, and contained often
lurid reports of phenomena including aurorae, along with dire
warnings about what they meant. An early example is Thomas
Day’s account of an aurora in 1583, which occupies no more than
a page, followed by a 12-page appeal to England to ‘repent’.15
A few reports are found in published works by historians of the
time, such as John Stow and William Camden,16,17 but usually the
source is not given.
Compilations of natural phenomena also began to appear in
England, the earliest being A Goodly Gallerye by the Puritan
theologian William Fulke, in 1563.18 Fulke’s work marks one of
the earliest attempts since Aristotle at a scientific explanation of
the aurora. Drawing on Aristotle’s work, he identified and de-
scribed several classes of ‘fyery Meteores’, of which ‘burning
Beames’, ‘round Pillers’ and ‘burning Speares’ probably refer to
the aurora.19 His book remained in print for over a century, and
was ‘the state of meteoric science in the English-speaking world
at the time’.20 A concise account of Fulke’s theories, as well as the Figure 1. A contemporary engraving of the Puritan theologian
William Fulke.
emerging ideas of his contemporaries and later writers about the
causes and nature of aurorae, can be found in Eather’s Majestic
Lights (1980).21
In 1646 another Puritan, called Samuel Clarke, published the about timing, direction and elevation often missing from earlier
next significant English compilation, A Mirrour or Looking-Glasse, accounts.32,33 Some reports included annotated sketches. These
both for Saints and Sinners, in which he listed ‘examples of cases are covered in the second paper.
strange Prodigies’.22 Several more compilations followed until
early in the 1700s.23–26 Essentially religious treatises, the prodigies
that they listed included several cases of possible aurorae. In the Observations in the century after 1716
early 1660s three anonymous propaganda tracts, known collec-
tively as Mirabilis Annus, appeared.27–29 These works contain >30 The 1716 event also prompted more systematic observing.
contemporary reports from 1660–’62 of phenomena that might be Thomas Neve, who kept a daily weather diary near Lough Neagh
auroral (and will be covered in the second paper). in County Derry, recorded 15 aurorae during 1716–’25.34 Martin
Most compilers reflected (and sometimes sought to influence) Folkes (later President of the Royal Society), in King’s Lynn, not-
the political and religious climate of the day. Reports of natural ed 19 aurorae during 1718–’22; this series was continued there by
phenomena were often accompanied by comments that interpret- a preacher, William Rastrick, during 1723–’27 (adding 11 more).
ed them as messages, warnings, or presages directly relevant to John Huxham, a physician in Plymouth, recorded >120 during
current affairs. Some works were designed as propaganda, mak- 1726–’50, and Thomas Short, a physician in Sheffield, listed
ing the task of distinguishing aurorae from other phenomena, real around 30 during 1736–’50.35–38 Together, their observations ac-
and fictional, much more difficult. count for almost 80% of the published reports from the British
The early 1700s marked a change towards more scientific re- Isles during 1716–’50. During this period, the observations of
porting. One of the earliest scientific papers to describe a probable more than 20 individuals were reported in some 35 contributions
aurora seen in the British Isles appeared in 1708, when the Philo- to the Philosophical Transactions.
sophical Transactions of the Royal Society included a letter from There are few published observations from the 1750s and
William Derham describing a display witnessed by Thomas Neve 1760s, but from 1771 to 1805 Thomas Hughes, an apothecary
in Ireland in 1707.30 Derham, a clergyman and knowledgeable in Stroud, recorded 71 aurorae, almost all during 1771–’89.39 In
naturalist, was aware of its importance, remarking that it was an 1786, the chemist John Dalton and the former naval commander
example of ‘that which some call the Northern Streaming, which Peter Crosthwaite began observations in Kendal and Keswick, re-
I do not remember the Society had ever any Accounts of…’. spectively, recording 250 nights with aurorae during 1786–’93.
A very active auroral display in 1716 March prompted a paper From 1794, Dalton observed in Manchester for many years,
by Edmond Halley, ‘An account of several extraordinary meteors spanning a period of low solar activity (the Dalton Minimum of
or lights in the sky’.31 The 1716 event appears to have triggered around the 1790s to the 1820s). In 1834, Dalton published these
the memories of William Whiston and Roger Cotes (Cambridge observations along with several others from around the British
professors of mathematics and astronomy, respectively), whose Isles, gleaned mainly from scientific publications and newspaper
eyewitness accounts of aurorae in the early 1700s included detail reports, and totalling >180 nights for the period 1794–1833.40

88 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Simpson: British Isles aurorae, 1560–1715, Part I: 1560–1644

Aurora catalogues & other compilations The compilations of Britton (to 1450) and Lockwood &
Barnard (from 1700) thus leave a gap. As noted above, known
aurorae are scarce until 1560, but reports are frequent thereafter
The first aurora catalogues were compiled by Jean-Jacques and mostly undocumented.
d’Ortous de Mairan (1733) and Johann Frobes (1739). They list
<10 cases from the British Isles, despite covering >1,000 years
of European observations.41,42 None of the observations by Neve,
Folkes, Rastrick, Huxham and Short feature in these works. Criteria for assessing the 1560–1715
De Mairan expanded his catalogue in 1754 and included sev- reports
eral historic aurorae listed by Short as well as some of Short’s
own observations, although these were not explicitly identified.43
Short also published compilations in 1749 and 1767.44 They are Each report is assessed on whether it is (a) from a reliable source,
mostly about weather and disease, but contain lists of supposed and (b) describes features that are auroral. If both tests are passed,
aurorae seen in the British Isles, beginning in 112 CE. His lists then the report is classed as a ‘probable’ aurora, whilst if neither is
were criticised by the American lexicographer Noah Webster, passed, the report is rejected. Where there is uncertainty in either
who wrote ‘[n]o dependence can be placed on the dates of events test, the report is classed as a ‘candidate’ case. Unfortunately, both
found in Short…’.45 tests are complex and can only be evaluated subjectively. It is
In 1870 the naturalist Edward Lowe published Natural Phe- therefore essential to guide the decision process as far as possible,
nomena and Chronology of the Seasons, a catalogue of weather as outlined below.
events, wheat prices, earthquakes, aurorae, outbreaks of plague,
etc., covering the British Isles for the period 220 CE to 1753.46
However, many of Lowe’s entries are simply one-line notes and Assessing the reliability of sources
some aurorae are misdated, whilst very few of the aurora observa-
tions by Folkes, Huxham or Short are included. Table 1 (overleaf) sets out the scheme that was used in deciding
Charles Britton’s compilation of 1937, ‘A meteorological chro- whether, or to what extent, each source and the relevant parts of
nology to A.D. 1450’, probably marked the first well-documented the text could be regarded as reliable, that is, fit for use. The main
survey of historic British aurorae (and of several hundred other factors to consider are credibility, clarity, completeness and cor-
meteorological events). It covered the period from the earliest re- roboration – the ‘four Cs’.
cords up until 1450.47 He identified >50 candidate aurorae and In typical cases it is not possible to fully evaluate all these
around 30 ‘quite fictitious’ and ‘unhistorical’ cases, mostly listed criteria, nor to do so objectively. For example, after what time
by Short. interval does a writer cease to be contemporary? In the cases of
Our knowledge of early aurorae was improved by the work of probable aurorae presented in these papers, more than half of the
Cicely Botley and Derek Justin Schove. Botley made more than reports were written within five years of the event, while just one
100 contributions to the Journal of the British Astronomical As- case relies wholly on a work written >20 years later (1602, where
sociation between the 1940s and 1980s, of which more than 20 the lapse in time is 54 years; see page 96 for further informa-
concerned historical aurorae, but mainly from outside the British tion). As another example, what is to be made of an author about
Isles.48 Schove wrote two articles for the Journal detailing pos- whom opinion is divided? In the case of the historian John Knox
sible English aurora reports from the early 1660s, and another (1564; see page 91), one scholar recognises a report of an au-
for the British Archaeological Association, which included almost rora while another accuses Knox of ‘imbecility’ and ‘supersti-
30 candidate cases arising from visions reported from the British tion’ with regard to the same text. Subjective decisions are also
Isles in the 5th–8th centuries.49–51 Unfortunately, there is insuf- needed to deal with textual problems. For example, what did
ficient evidence in the great majority of Schove’s cases to warrant Thomas Hill mean by ‘gaping’ (1565) or Sir Archibald Johnston
them being regarded as probable aurorae. by ‘yokings’ (1652)?
As part of an extensive international listing, Silverman collat- It must also be noted that both reliable and unreliable features
ed most of the published British observations post 1716 (but not may be found together, in which case more subjective weight is
those of Neve) and made his files available in 1998.52 given to the latter; for example a contemporary eyewitness ac-
In 2015, Lockwood & Barnard published results from an ex- count from a propaganda source would be considered unreliable,
tensive search of aurora reports from the British Isles post 1700.53 unless it is corroborated by an independent report (this is dis-
Their paper included an analysis of the changing geomagnetic lat- cussed further in a following section).
itudes of key locations since 1650, indicating that from then until
nearly 1800 most of the British Isles, including the south of Eng-
land, was within the ‘auroral oval’ (geomagnetic latitude 57–63°), Assessing auroral features
and well placed for seeing the aurora. They located 17,761 inde-
pendent reports from known locations, on 7,640 nights between Having assessed the source, the next step is to examine to what
1705 and 1950. These include cases identified from handwritten extent the physical features being described relate to an aurora.
marginal notes made by Lowe in his own copy of Natural Phe- Neuhäuser & Neuhäuser (2011) have proposed criteria for de-
nomena, which had been found in the Museum of English Rural termining this.55 These are: the presence of colour, auroral-type
Life at the University of Reading. motion, northerly direction, nighttime, and repetition within three
Vaquero & Vázquez (2009) provide further details concerning nights. These criteria have however been criticised, especially
the history of auroral catalogues.54 for very active displays, which may be visible towards the south

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 89
Simpson: British Isles aurorae, 1560–1715, Part I: 1560–1644

Table 1. Features to consider when assessing the reliability of sources & texts – the ‘four Cs’

Criterion Aspect Reliable source Unreliable source
Credibility Origin of source Provenance is documented Untraceable
Contemporary with event Written much later
Text is as originally written Unverifiable translation or copy
Purpose of source Record of facts Propaganda, poetry, fiction
Author Known Anonymous
Good reputation for accuracy Not well-regarded by scholars
Link to event Eyewitness Hearsay
Source text Contains verifiable facts Some information is incorrect
Narrative of event Clear and ordered Garbled
Style of writing Simple and neutral Fanciful imagery
Terms used In common use Unfamiliar, idiosyncratic
Have known meanings Meanings unclear
Date & location Both are given, and precise Not given, vague
Physical detail Includes timing, direction, Insufficient to interpret
form, colour etc.
Corroboration Direct Independent report(s) of No other reports traced
the same event
Indirect Evidence of sunspot activity Absence of sunspot activity
Evidence of 27-day recurrence No evidence of recurrence
Absence of other phenomena Reports of comet, meteors, thunder

or during twilight.56 Their criteria are therefore used with cau- Independent corroboration
tion here.
Neuhäuser & Neuhäuser also regard references to fire, armies Every report has been cross-checked with >10 published aurora
and dragons in medieval texts as indicating the presence of both catalogues from continental Europe and East Asia (references are
colour and movement, and this approach is cautiously adopted, given in the text) for independent corroboration on the same or
since such terms are part of the standard auroral imagery of the adjoining night. A search of the five most comprehensive cata-
period. For example, statements that record battles or armies logues reveals that an aurora was seen in Europe or East Asia on
fighting in the sky were used by many witnesses even as late as just 1.5% of nights between 1560 and 1715,64–68 so such corrobo-
the great aurora of 1716 March.57 However, such imagery some- ration provides strong support.
times refers to non-auroral phenomena, for example a meteorite The reports were also cross-checked with records of sunspots
fall in 1628 and a dark cloud in front of the Sun in 1651.58,59 Less (both unaided-eye and telescopic observations) and with evidence
fanciful accounts refer to flames or fire, terms often associated of recurrent activity. Active areas on the Sun can persist for sev-
with aurorae, but which were also applied to fireballs: for exam- eral months, so the same large sunspot may come into view at
ple, in 1662 and 1676.60,61 Some reports of aurorae refer to blaz- successive synodic rotations (the rotation of the Sun as viewed
ing, a term also used in relation to comets in 1618, 1664, 1677 from Earth), typically recurring at 27-day intervals.69 Auroral dis-
and 1680.62 plays, initiated by this activity, can also recur at the same typical
It follows that where such imagery is used, other aspects of the interval, but offset by the time required (usually a few days) for
report (duration, movement, etc.) should be considered carefully solar material, in the form of interplanetary coronal mass ejec-
and a subjective judgment made (of, for example, whether the tions (ICMEs), or co-rotating interaction regions (CIRs), to in-
duration of the phenomenon is sufficient to rule out a fireball). teract with Earth’s magnetosphere. Reports of naked-eye sunspot
Neuhäuser & Neuhäuser consider lunar phase as an aid in ruling observations or of aurorae, at multiples of 27 days in the periods
out halo and night-rainbow phenomena, and this additional check before or after a candidate aurora report, can support (but not
has been adopted. prove) the claim.
Where possible, meteorological reports were consulted, in par-
ticular to check for thunderstorms as an explanation of an appar-
The aurora code ent aurora.70 Cross-checks were also made with published cata-
logues of comets and meteor showers.71,72
An attempt has been made to assign the BAA’s aurora codes to
each probable aurora. They follow the 1963 International Auroral
Atlas, classifying each aurora according to its form (e.g. an arc), Auroral sound
the condition of that form (quiet, active, etc.), a further qualifier
(e.g. fragmentary), its structure (e.g. rayed), brightness and co- Some records note sounds accompanying a possible auroral
lour.63 Very few reports before 1716 contain usable information to display. Sudden loud noises or rumbling sounds might suggest
permit a full or reliable classification, but partial codes are noted a detonating fireball or a thunderstorm, respectively,73,74 but re-
in the summary table. ports of apparent sound should not rule out an aurora. A study of

90 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Simpson: British Isles aurorae, 1560–1715, Part I: 1560–1644
auroral sounds in the 1970s revealed hissing, crackling, rustling Probable aurorae
and swishing noises as the most common.75,76 Earlier, a rumbling
sound was reported by the Norwegian geologist John Oxaal, who This section documents 29 nights with probable aurorae observed
described an experience during a lull in an auroral display in Fin- between 1560 and 1644, of which 14 are newly recovered.
land in 1911:

‘I heard in the North a peculiar, even insistent rumbling noise not 1560 January 30, London
unlike distant thunder.’77
This case, from the compilation of meteor sightings by William
Auroral sound has puzzled researchers for more than a century, Fulke, is catalogued by Link (1962) and recently confirmed as a
many suggesting that it is imaginary. However Laine, a Finnish probable aurora by McBeath & Gheorghe (2007).83–85 It is listed
acoustic engineer, proposed a physical explanation in 2016, based as a possible STEVE by Bailey et al.86 This aurora was also seen
on the discharge of static electricity associated with the tempera- in central Europe.87,88 Under the heading ‘Of burning Speares’,
ture inversion layer found in the lower atmosphere.78 Fulke notes:

‘This impressio[n] was seen in Lo[n]don, Anno dom. 1560. the
thirty daye of Ianuary, at eight of the clocke at night, the ayer in
all other places beyng verye darke, but in the North east where
this cloude burned, it was as lyght as when the daye breaketh, to-
A discussion of ‘Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhance- warde the Sunne rysyng, in so much, that playne shadow of thyngs
ment’ is beyond the scope of this paper, but recently Bailey opposite, was seen. The edge of this cloude was in fashion lyke
et al. (2018) put forward several candidate cases of STEVE, in- the Raynbowe, but in collour very bryght, and often tymes casting
foorth almoste innumerable dartes, of wo[n]derfull le[n]gth lyke
cluding events reported in the British Isles in 1560 and 1564,
squybbes, that are cast vp into the ayre, sauing th[at] they moued
both of which appear to be probable aurorae, and less likely more swiftly then any squybbes.’
candidate aurorae in 1650, 1676, 1706 and 1707.79 However,
Gallardo-Lacourt et al. (2018) conclude that STEVE is not an
auroral phenomenon.80
1564 February 15 & 18, Scotland

Calendar adjustments This case is catalogued by Link, citing the 19th century historian
John Burton.89,90 The earliest known source is a history by the
Unless otherwise stated, the dates quoted follow the Julian calen- Scottish minister John Knox, written between 1559 and 1571:
dar until 1582 October 4, and then the Gregorian calendar. This
is a convention for dating astronomical phenomena, and is neces- ‘In the moneth of February, the fifteenth and eighteenth dayes
sary because different parts of Europe adopted the new calendar thereof, there was seen in the Firmament battels arrayed, spears
at different times, one authority listing some 20 different dates and all other weapons, as it had been the joyning of two Armies.’91
of adoption.81 The Gregorian calendar was 10 days ahead of the
Julian, increasing to 11 days at the end of 1700 February, and was William McGavin, who edited an edition of Knox’s work in 1831,
not fully adopted in the British Isles until 1752. recognised this passage as a description of the aurora, unlike the
However, this is not the only complication. In the British historian Henry Glassford Bell, who wrote in 1828 ‘It would
Isles the civil, ecclesiastical and legal year began on Lady Day, thus appear that Knox’s mind was either a strange compound of
March 25, so in a town record an event dated, say, 1581 March 8, strength and imbecility, courage and fear, sound sense and super-
actually occurred on 1582 March 8. However, personal records stition, or that duplicity was more a part of his character than is
such as diaries used either March 25 or January 1, whilst in Scot- generally supposed.’92,93
land, January 1 was adopted in 1600.82 Some chroniclers used An aurora, previously unreported, was seen in Germany on
regnal years (numbered years of each monarch’s reign) whilst February 16,94 whilst there are several catalogued reports, mostly
others had their own conventions – for example, a chronicle from from Germany, on February 18 & 19.95,96 The Scottish reports are
Shrewsbury (see later) began each year’s entries in late Septem- misdated February 6 & 9 in the catalogue by Fritz (1873).97
ber, when new bailiffs were appointed, but used March 25 as the
New Year.
Therefore, after 1582 the (Julian) dates found in the extracts 1564 October 7, London, Shropshire(?) & Bristol
quoted in this paper disagree with the headline date (Gregorian)
and throughout 1560–1715 the adjusted year may sometimes dif- London
fer from the year quoted in a given source. This case is again catalogued by Link and more recently not-
Whilst it is usual BAA practice to assign a double-date to au- ed by Buisman (1998).98,99 It is listed as a possible example of
rora observations (given that they may straddle midnight), this STEVE.100 The historian John Stow’s chronicle (1575) has the
paper, in common with historical aurora catalogues, assigns the following account:
civil date on which the observation began, as given in the texts.
An error of one day may arise if a writer has followed the earlier ‘The vij day of October at night, fro[m] viij. of the clocke till af-
medieval practice of starting each new calendar day at sunset, but ter ix. of the clocke, al ye North partes of the Element seemed to
no such cases have been identified in the sources used here. be couered wth flames of fier, proceeding from the Northeaste and

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 91
Simpson: British Isles aurorae, 1560–1715, Part I: 1560–1644
Northwest towarde the middest of the firmament, wher after it had gatheryd grew in to a rednys, as it were a very sangwyn or blode
staied nighe one hower, it decended West: & al the same night cowlar, and this contynewyd tyll ix of ye cloke; and all ye same
(being ye next after ye cha[n]ge of the Moone) semed nighe as light nyght was more lyghtar then yf ye mowne had shone moste bryght,
as it had bene faire day.’101 wheras no mone shone that nyght, for yt chaungyd but one day
before, whiche was Fridaye.’102
The description is unusual for the 16th century, as it includes
the time, duration, direction and movement. Stow’s wording is Shropshire(?)
very similar to the report from Shropshire (see next subsection). An anonymous manuscript chronicle covering the period
There is no such note in the 1565 edition of the same chronicle, 1372–1603 contains several reports of probable aurorae, but has
even though this includes events slightly later than 1564 October. gone unnoticed. It was probably compiled from the late 1570s
However, other material owned by Stow but not published until onwards by an unknown draper connected with the civic admin-
1880 indicates that the aurora was indeed seen over London: istration of Shrewsbury.103 Extracts were published in 1880, but
earlier historians had access to the manuscript.104,105
‘The vij day of Octobar, beynge Satowrdaye, anno 1564, at viij The first of these reports states:
a cloke at nyghte, was sene comynge out of ye northe easte very
great lyghtes lyke great flames of fyre, whiche shott forthe as it
[were] gonepowdar fyeryd and spred out in a longe frome ye nor- ‘This yeare and in these baylyffs times in the moonthe of October
the easte, northe, and northe west, in dyvars placis at once; and was seene in the Elyment many fierie impressyons as it were pro-
all mett in ye mydes of ye fyrmament, as it war ryght ovar London, ceedinge owt of the Elyment and all the northe parts seemyd to
and desendyd somewhat west warde, and all ye flames beynge ther be coveryd wth flames of fyer stainge the most parte of an houre

Table 2. Probable aurorae, 1560–1644

Date(s) Timing (h) Initial Location Source Cited by Auroral features (note 3) Corrobor-
(note 1) start end direction (note 2) (note 2) ation
(note 4)
1560 Jan 30 20 – NE London  18   4 p2 – R3 A 4 – yes
1564 Feb 15 & 18 – – – Scotland   91    4 a – R – – – yes
1564 Oct 7 20 21 NW–NE London 102    4 p2 c R3 – 4 d
– – – Bristol 107 – p2 – R3 – – d
– – N Shropshire? 104 – p2 – R3 – 4 –
1565 Nov 26 05? – E London? 108 – – – – – – – yes
1571 Aug 4 02 04 – London 112 115 p2 – – A – –
1574 Nov 14 & 15? 24 05? N London?   17    4 p2 c R3? – – – yes
22 05? – Burton upon Trent 125   46 – – – – 4 –
01 05? SW–NW Shropshire 104 – p2 – – – – –
1575 Mar 13 21 24 – Shropshire 104 – p2 – – – 4 –
1575 Sep 28 – – – Cheshunt (Herts.) 128   46 – – – – – – yes
1575, about Oct 7 – – N Shropshire 104 – – – – – – –
1580 Mar 5 <21 21 E–W arc London 133 132 Q – H A 2? – 1580 Sep 10 21 01 W Shropshire 104 132 p2 – – – 4 – yes 1581 Aug 26 20:30 21:30 N–S arc Mortlake (Surrey) 141 138 Q – H A – – yes 1582 Mar 8 21 – N&W Mortlake (Surrey) 141 138 p2? c – – – d yes 21 – SW–NW London 151 – – – – – – d – – E Shropshire 104 – p2 – – – – – 1583 Mar 31 20 >21 NE Shropshire 104 – p2 – – – – d
1583 Sep 12 20–21 >24 – London   15 – p3? c S? – – d yes
1584 Oct 29 20 22 N Shropshire 104 – p2 – – – – –
1592 Sep 11 – – – Shropshire 104 – p2 – – – 4 –
1602 Sep 1 – – – Chester 165   46 – – – A – d
1605 Nov 14, 15, 16 – – – Gloucestershire 168 – p4 – – – – – yes
1612 Nov 8 19 – – London 175 – Q – – A – –
1617 Feb 23 – – – London? 179 – Q – – – – d yes
1630 Feb 5 – – – London? 181 – p – – – – – yes
1630 Mar 4 – – – London? 181 – p – – – – –
1640 Jan 27 – – E&N Healing & Grimsby 185 184 p4 – RA A – – yes
1643 Mar 20 23 01 N? London & S Engl. 188 187 Q – H A? 4 –

1 Dates after 1582 October 4 are adjusted to the Gregorian calendar.
2 Numbers are from the list of references. The ‘cited by’ column refers to auroral catalogues and other astronomical literature. Where there is no citation, the case is
previously unnoticed.
3 The six columns relate to the BAA auroral code.211 The codes used here (a subset of those available) are derived from interpreting, to the extent possible, the reported
descriptions. From left to right, they indicate the following:
Column 1, condition a: active; p: pulsing; p2: flaming; p3: flickering; p4: streaming; Q: quiet
Column 2, qualifier c: coronal
Column 3, structure H: homogeneous; RA: rayed arc; RA3: rayed, with rays >60°; S: striated
Column 4, form A: arc
Column 5, brightness 2: bright as moonlit cirrus; 3: bright as moonlit cumulus; 4: strong (casting shadows)
Column 6, colour d: red
4 ‘yes’ indicates that an aurora was reported in Europe within one night of the date of the British Isles report. In the 1617 case, corroboration is from Japan.

92 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
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and so descendinge west- the large number of people who saw it. It lasted two hours, and
ward and all the same nyght then broke up into many parts. Neither I nor any of my people
beinge next after the change saw it, but, as it was witnessed by 500 persons, I believe the
of the moone seemyd as lyght statement…’112
as it had been daye beinge
the vijth daye of October at Another coded letter by the ambassador, dated August 5 and ad-
dressed to Fernando Álvarez, the 3rd Duke of Alba (then Gov-
Parts of the account are al- ernor of the Netherlands), provides the original Spanish text,
most identical with that of noting that:
Stow, which could imply a
common origin. The Shrews- ‘…la noche anterior a las dos de la madrugada, había apa-
recido sobre Londres un arco de fuego muy grande que duró
bury chronicle occasionally
dos horas…’113
referred to events further
afield, usually in London. This confirms the version in the State Papers, and that the arch
was first seen at 2 a.m.
Bristol Both men were involved in the failed Ridolfi plot to kill Queen
The Bristol report is by Elizabeth I in 1571, and Guerau de Espés was expelled a few
William Adams, a draper of months later, but there is nothing to indicate that the report is not
Bristol. It was probably writ- authentic. It is listed in the catalogues by Fritz and by Křivský
ten in the 1620s.106 He wrote: (1996), but in both cases it is misdated July 25.114,115
Figure 2. 1605 monument of John Stow
‘This year the 7th of October at St Andrew Undershaft, City of London.
here was seen in the element (John Salmon (2009) /
1574, about November 14 & 15.Two successive nights;
red beams in length like the
pole, and also fire like a fur- London(?), Shropshire & Burton upon Trent
This case has been cited as a very active auroral display, seen on
Adams’s source is unknown, and very little is known about Adams two successive nights.116 However, the date of the first night, given
himself, but the text implies that the aurora was seen in Bristol. in the three independent British sources, varies from November 13
to 15. The aurora was also reported in Germany and Bohemia,
most sources giving the dates November 14 & 15.117–119
1565 November 26, London(?) The first account is by Stow. The historian Raphael Holinshed
has an account identical to Stow’s, while that of William
Thomas Hill was an eyewitness to this aurora. Hill was an as- Camden is less detailed but appears to draw on the same origi-
trologer, translator, an expert on beekeeping, and the author of nal report.120,121
the first popular book on gardening to be written in English. In a
work titled Contemplation of mysteries, published in about 1574, ‘The fourteenth of November being Sonday, about midnight fol-
he wrote: lowing, diuerse straunge impressions of fire and smoke were seene
in the aire, to proceede foorth of a blacke cloud in the north to-
ward the South, which so continued till the next morning that it was
‘The Author sawe a terrible Gaping in the East, in the yere .1565. day light. The next night following, the heauens from all parts did
and in the .26. daye of Nouember, after fiue of the clock in the seeme to burne maruellous ragingly, and ouer our heads the flames
morning.’108 from the horizon round about rising did meete, and there double
and roll one in another, as if it had bene in a cleare fornace.’122
His brief report could relate to a twilight phenomenon. However,
Hill offered several definitions of gapings, each one noting their The following accounts are
fiery nature, consistent with aurorae. Indeed, an aurora was re- recorded in the chronicle of
ported in Germany on the same night, the only dated aurora of events in Shrewsbury:
that year.109 Hill also noted that in 1529 ‘a mighty gaping’ was
seen in Germany on January 9. An aurora is catalogued by Link ‘This yeare and the xiiijth
of Septe’ber about myd-
on that date, reinforcing an auroral interpretation of Hill’s obser-
night there aperyd in the
vation of 1565.110,111 Elyme’ fyery impressyons
in the northe towards the
southe and so contynuyd
1571 August 4, London untyll daye light and the
next nyght followinge
the heve’ from all pts dyd
This aurora is reported in a coded letter from Guerau de Espés seeme to burne marvelous
del Valle, Spain’s ambassador to England, to Gabriel de Zayas, ragynge from the horizon
the Spanish King’s secretary. A translation was published in the rownd about as yf it had
British State Papers: ben in a clere furnace.’
Figure 3. Engraving of Thomas Hill aged
‘On the 4th instant, at two o’clock in the night, a great arch of 28, from The proffitable arte of garden- ‘This yeare and the xiijth
fire appeared in the heavens here, according to the statement of ing, 1568. day of November from one
J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 93
Simpson: British Isles aurorae, 1560–1715, Part I: 1560–1644
of the clocke in the morni’ge untyll the rysynge of the soon apeeryd ‘This yeare and about the vijth daye of October 1575 was seene in
in the Elyme’t all alongst to saye from the northe weast unto the the night in the Elyme’t towards the northe sutche fyerye inflama-
sowthe west bright beames wth fyery inflamac’ons and the next cons in man’ as they were the last yeare before rehersid.’131
morni’ge followinge in a man’ as frightfully.’123

Here the date is given as ‘about’. There are no known reports of
The first of these accounts from Shropshire is dated September 14, aurorae elsewhere on or close to October 7, so this text may relate
when no aurora was reported elsewhere, and its wording sug- to the widely reported display of September 28.
gests that it is derived from one of the reports (Stow, Camden
or Holinshed) that relate to November. However, the second
report from Shrewsbury, dated November 13, appears to be 1580 March 5, London
The third independent account, cited by Lowe, is from a his- In a recent paper in the BAA Journal, the author provided de-
tory of Staffordshire by the Reverend Stebbing Shaw.124,125 It is tails of a previously undocumented eyewitness report by Thomas
the only account to state that the display’s brightness peaked at Twyne: one of a series of aurorae seen at 27-day intervals in that
around 4 a.m. Lowe has: year, probably corresponding to the rotation of an active solar
‘November 15 and 16. Burton on Trent, from 10 p.m. till dawn, as ‘And I my selfe also, vppon the fifth day of March last past, being
bright as day, most so at 4 a.m.’ Satersday, almost at nine a clocke at night, in the company of
certaine Worshipfull Gentlemen, beheld a strange, and great ex-
halatiue impression in the Aire, whiche in mine opinion was not
This report may however be less reliable than the first two. It was fired, but very thinne and cleere, for I might very perfectly behold
written more than 200 years later, and Shaw’s book has been de- the fixed Starres through it. The situation thereof was stretching
scribed as ‘a strange jumble of undigested, unarranged and indis- endlong from the East to the Weast, ouer the Citie of London, or
somewhat more Southerlie, and the forme therof was as the shape
criminating matter’.126
of the lath of a Crossebow without a string, whose backe be[n]ded
towards the North, and the bellie towardes the South. … by nine a
clocke or a little past, it was quite vanished.’
1575 March 13, Shropshire

This is another auroral report from the Shrewsbury manuscript: 1580 September 10, Shropshire

‘This yeare and the xiijth daye of m’che from ix of the clocke at In the same paper, details were given of a previously undocu-
nyght unto xij of the clocke apered in the Elyme’t fiery inflamac’ons mented anonymous report in the Shrewsbury manuscript.134,135
as it were feightinge one wth another being throughe the meanes
thereof as light as it had ben at the brecke of daye.’127 ‘This yeare and the xth daye of Septe’ber aperid in the Elyme’t
at ix of the clocke at night westward fyery inflamac’ons and so
contynewyd tyll one of the clocke that it apeered to the beholders to
No corroborating reports have been located. be soom flames in the ayre wch shewyd sutche light that men might
well deecerne any thinge in their hands were it never so small and
beinge as light as the brecke of day in the soomr tyme.’
1575 September 28, Cheshunt
An aurora was widely reported in Europe during the same
An edited extract of a memorandum dated 1575 September 30 night.136,137 It was the third display of that year to fall on an exact
from Lord Burghley (William Cecil, who was Lord High Trea- multiple of 27 days, following a probable sighting of the aurora
surer at the time) to the Queen’s principal secretary Francis australis on February 7. The other two were on March 5 (above)
Walsingham, published in the State Papers, reads: and July 18 (seen in Germany).

‘Fearful fiery meteor on Michaelmas eve.’128
1581 August 26, Mortlake (Surrey)
Lord Burghley wrote from his home in Cheshunt and probably
witnessed the event. Taken alone, his description is insufficient to This report was first noted in 2000 by Jan Buisman, a Dutch histor-
indicate an aurora, but there were several unambiguous reports of ical geographer, who considered it unlikely to be an aurora; how-
aurorae from the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Swit- ever aurorae were reported during the same night in Switzerland
zerland and the Czech Republic. Link lists two of these in his (listed by Link) and Germany (not previously catalogued).138–140
catalogue.129 Lowe lists an aurora on this date but his reference The text is from the diary of Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster and
is incorrect.130 mystic John Dee:

‘Aug. 26th, abowt 8½ (at night) a strange meteore in forme of a
white clowde crossing galaxiam, whan it lay north and sowth over
1575 October 7(?), Shropshire
our zenith; this clowd was at length from the S.E. to the S.W. sharp
at both endes, and in the west ende it was forked for a while; it
This is another of the auroral reports from the Shrewsbury manu- was abowt sixty degrees high, it lasteth an howr, all the skye clere
script: abowt, and fayr starshyne.’141

94 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Simpson: British Isles aurorae, 1560–1715, Part I: 1560–1644

Figure 4. Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster John Dee wit-
nessed two aurorae in the early 1580s.

1582 March 8, Mortlake (Surrey), Shrop-
shire & London

This aurora report is also from Dee’s diary, and
noted by Buisman.142 Dee’s entry reads:

‘March 8th, cœlum ardere et instar sangui-
nis in diversis partibus rubere visum est circa Figure 5. John Dee and Edward Kelley invoking a spirit. This is a copperplate engraving of circa 1790 by
horam nonam noctis, maxime versus septentrio- John Ames, from a drawing by Ebenezer Sibley.
nalem et occidentalem partem: sed ultra capita
nostra versus austrum frequenter miles quasi
sanguineus.’143 There are also two previously unreported accounts from Eng-
land. One is from the Shrewsbury manuscript mentioned above,
which states:
The first part of Dee’s text states that the sky was aflame like
blood, especially towards the north and west, and that various ar- ‘This yeare and the viijth daye of Marche 1581, were seene in the
eas of sky became red. He notes that this occurred at about the Elyme’t in the nyght woonderfull fyerye flames rysinge from the
ninth hour of the night, which, to judge by other entries in his east spredinge it sellffe almost ov’ all the northewest horison con-
tynewinge the space of an howre and more.’150
diary, almost certainly means 9 p.m. (its more common mean-
ing would be 3 a.m.). The last part of the text is more significant
however, indicating that the aurora extended southward over the The date of 1581 March is Julian, and here means 1582, since the
zenith. A plausible interpretation of his text is that high in the Julian year ended on Lady Day, March 25.
sky toward the south, blood-coloured infantry were assembled in The other account is from a personal journal of the explorer
great numbers.144 and clergyman Richard Madox:
Dee usually wrote in English, but was apparently moved to use
Latin on this occasion. 1582 March 8 was significant in Dee’s life ‘March 8, dined at the Dean of Westminster’s table; talked of ‘that
for another reason – earlier that day he first met Edward Kelley, great and bloody meteor which was seen at 9 overnight, from the
who claimed to communicate with angels, and to have occult vi- north-west to the south-west.’151
sionary experiences. He impressed Dee so much that they worked
on the occult together for several years.145 By itself, Dee’s account This event has recently been studied in detail by Hattori et al.
could therefore readily be discounted, were it not for the reports (2019), who confirm an earlier suggestion by Willis & Stephenson
of aurorae on the same date in France, Prussia, Switzerland and (2000) that the displays seen during the period March 6 to 8 were
Japan.146–149 associated with an intense geomagnetic storm, and conclude that

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 95
Simpson: British Isles aurorae, 1560–1715, Part I: 1560–1644

it was among the four most intense storms on record since that flashes and aspirac’ons that any person might deserne the value
time.152,153 Hattori et al. recovered 39 European and 11 Asian re- of a peece of money as yf it had ben breke of daye (to say light in
darknes) the omnypotent God have m’cy upon us.’161
ports of aurorae on those dates, which hints at the as yet largely
untapped body of information that is probably available to re- Again, no corroborating reports have been located.
searchers. To emphasise this point, the author has found two fur-
ther reports from the Berlin area and Prague on March 7 not listed
by Hattori et al.;154,155 nor do they list the reports from Shrews- 1602 September 1 (Gregorian), Chester
bury and Madox’s journal.
This aurora is noted by Lowe, whose text is from Pigott’s 1815
History of the City of Chester.162,163 However, a much earlier
1583 March 31 (Gregorian), Shropshire account is found in a geographical description and history of
Cheshire dated 1656, from a section compiled by William Webb,
The Shrewsbury manuscript records: a clerk in the mayor’s office in Chester, which lists its mayors
and sheriffs from 1242 to 1655, along with occasional notable
‘This yeare and the xxjd. day of Marche about viij of clocke at events. His account may well have been taken from an unpub-
nyght aperid in the Elyme’t fyery flames p’ceadinge owt of the
lished chronicle compiled by an earlier mayor, William Aldersey,
northe east and so passinge towards the weast the Elyme’t in that
parte for the space of more than an owre toornyd as redd as blood who died in 1616.164 Webb wrote:
and so vanyshid awaye.’156
‘The 22. of August in the night time, a wonderfull exhalation of
No corroborating reports have been located. fiery colour, likewise a Canopy was seen over this City, and in Sep-
tember following, the great Plague began in Chester…’165

1583 September 12 (Gregorian), London There was a full Moon on that date, but the description appears
more consistent with an aurora than a lunar halo.166
Thomas Day published an account of an aurora shortly after
the event:
1605 November 14–16 (Gregorian; at least three nights),
‘As on Munday, beeing the second of September, Anno 1583. was Gloucestershire
seen very strange sights in the ayre, beginning betwixt the houres
of eight & nine at night. And so increasing & continuing till after
midnight, but chiefly betwixt eleuen & twelue was seen maruailous According to the vicar James Vernon, writing in 1888, an anon-
strange, rare, miraculous, & wonderful permouements, ad and ymous schoolmaster in Olveston reported an aurora borealis in
regrediacions, with constellations of the ayre, and watery ele- 1605 November, followed by lightning damage to the village
ments, which were sometime darke, sometime red, sometime fiery, church less than 40 days later.167 The schoolmaster’s brief account
and bloody colloured, with streames like sharpe speares, shoot-
is contained in a printed address to King James:
ing straight vpwarde, and meeting togeather, (as it were) in a
round point, with flashes, much brightnesse, many streames, and
straunge and vnwonted collours of the rainebow. As also with the
collour of the fire of Brimstone, and seeming as it were burning ‘Three thinges there are, which … within the space of 40. daies
with fierye flashes and smoake.’157 haue very extraordinarily, and wonderfully succeeded, that dese-
rue likewise more then ordinary remembrance. Of the first, withal
others that had an vse of their eye sight, I was for many nights
This display was widely reported in Europe.158,159 togither an ey-witnesse, but not without great wonderment … The
first therefore worthy of admiration, and so of commemoration,
was the streaming, flaming, & burning of the heauens for many
nights togither, both before, at, and after the time that … butcherly
1584 October 29 (Gregorian), Shropshire treason … should haue beene executed…’168

The Shrewsbury manuscript records:
He associated the auroral displays with the gunpowder plot (the
‘This yeare and the xixth daye of October betwixt 8 and x of ‘butcherly treason’), intended for the state opening of parliament
the clocke at nyght apeerid in the ellyme’t northeward fyery on 1605 November 5 (Julian), corresponding to November 15
inflamac’ons and aspyringe flames verey myraculows.’160 (Gregorian).169 The references to ‘many nights togither’ and ‘both
before, at, and after’ the plot imply that the aurora was seen on at
No corroborating reports have been located. least three consecutive nights: November 14, 15 & 16.
Aurora catalogues note displays in central Europe on No-
vember 16, 17 & 18.170–172 To these may be added aurorae seen
1592 September 11 (Gregorian), Shropshire in Friesland on November 14 (not previously reported) and in
Spain on November 17.173,174 There were no sunspot observa-
This is the last of the aurorae recorded in the Shrewsbury manu- tions, but the overall duration of auroral activity (five nights)
script: and low latitudes of some of the observed aurorae suggest a geo-
magnetic storm. Given the widespread reports of November 17,
‘This yeare and the first in Septe’ber 1592 in the night were the aurora may have been visible in Gloucestershire on this date,
woonderfull fierye inflamac’os and brightnes withe sutche light weather permitting.

96 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Simpson: British Isles aurorae, 1560–1715, Part I: 1560–1644
1612 November 8 (Gregorian), London 1640 January 27 (Gregorian), Healing & Grimsby
This eyewitness account is by Sir Charles Cornwallis, treasurer of
the Prince of Wales’ household. This case was noted in 1968 by Francis Celoria in the BAA
Journal. The aurora was witnessed by three royalists: Edmund
‘This evening there appeared a fatall signe about two houres or Lynold, vicar of Healing, Gervase Holles, a lawyer and antiquar-
more within the night, bearing the colours and shew of a Rainbow,
ian in Grimsby, and Captain Guy Molesworth, also of Grimsby.
which hung directly crosse and over Saint Jameses House, it was
first perceived about seven a clock at night, which I my selfe did The text is taken from a contemporary manuscript in the Brit-
see, which divers others looking thereupon with admiration, con- ish Museum:
tinuing untill past bed time, being no more seene.’175
‘…extraordinary Coruscations wch began to arise in the East and
North, but especially Eastward … for the most part most like to
There was a full Moon on that date,176
but the description is per-
a Battalia of pikes countermarching … Not long after the North-
haps more consistent with an aurora than a lunar halo, which erne part was much more troubled, the Streames arising up out
would have changed position during the hours that it was visible. of a blacke thicke Cloud eleuated from the Horizon about eight
Cornwallis called it a fatal sign because it occurred a few days degrees … it described a perfect Arch of a Circle in the Convexity
before the prince died. Nevertheless, the account appears to be of it … From aboue the Westerne part of ye clowd beforenamed,
there seemed to be a great opening with broad gleames arising wch
authentic, and may indicate a geomagnetic storm associated with
inlightned that part in an Extraordinary manner…’184,185
a very large sunspot seen 81 days (three solar rotations) earlier by
Galileo, with the unaided eye and by telescope.177 Sunspot activ-
ity was very high, with Thomas Harriot reporting eight groups on Link lists an aurora seen in Germany on the same date.186
November 6.178

1643 March 20 (Gregorian), London & South England
1617 February 23 (Gregorian), London(?)
This aurora was first noted by Rizzo & Schove (1962).187 John
Walter Yonge was member of parliament for Honiton in Devon. Evelyn’s diary records:
His diary records a phenomenon apparently seen in London:
‘I must not forget what amazed us exceedingly in the night before,
‘The 13th of February 1616–17, there was seen in the air like the namely, a shining cloud in the air, in shape resembling a sword, the
appearance of a fire-brand wrapped in a red cloak, and shining at point reaching to the north; it was as bright as the moon, the rest of
both the ends, as John Harvy wrote (Francis Haies) from London, the sky being very serene. It began about eleven at night, and van-
and that he the said Jo. Harvy and many other saw it.’179 ished not till above one, being seen by all the south of England.’188

The next diary entry notes: An aurora was reported from Holland two nights later.189
Table 2 gives a summary of the probable aurorae presented
‘About the same time was seen at Wellington the like sight; viz. the above.
likeness of fire in bignesse as big as a child of seven or eight years
old, which fell out of the air, making a very great noise…’

This second entry is probably an unrelated fireball seen in Somer- Candidate aurorae
set in early 1617. The diary is very sparse at this point.
Osaki’s catalogue of aurorae seen in Japan includes one dated The literature of the period contains some reports that cannot be
February 24.180 positively identified as aurorae but which nevertheless cannot be
ruled out. It is likely that many of these cases are not auroral, as
will be discussed in the second paper. The 14 candidate aurorae
1630 February 5 & March 4 (Gregorian), London(?) are summarised in Table 3.

Another member of parliament, William Whiteway, represented
Dorchester. His diary records: Notable candidate reports

‘26 January. This night there were strange flashings of light seen Two of the reports in Table 3 merit further attention here, owing to
in the sky, and the like on the 22nd February, which much troubled the circumstantial evidence associated with them.
the King and the Court…’181

Link lists aurorae in central Europe on January 29 & 31 (Grego- 1576 September 20 (Julian), Shrewsbury
rian), then February 3 & 4, but only the latter is from a contem-
porary source. An anonymous booklet of 1630, previously unno- The Shrewsbury manuscript has the following entry:
ticed, describes active and prolonged auroral displays in parts of
Germany and Poland on February 4, 5 & 6.182,183 The March 4 ‘This yeare and the xx daye of September was a playne crosse seen
event noted by Whiteway is not reported elsewhere, but occurred in the Elyme’t right over the north syde of Shreusberie towne con-
27 nights later. tynewinge a full halfe howre and the’ vanyshyd awaye.’190

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 97
Simpson: British Isles aurorae, 1560–1715, Part I: 1560–1644
The ‘playne crosse’ is probably a reference to heraldry. An heral- nor did it move … for one howre together. … [T]here did ascend
dic guide of 1576 depicts several examples.191 The term relates to at the South-west end of the fiery openings or ends of the lightning,
a cross of four arms of equal length, horizontal and vertical. Such … Stars like fire-balls of a proportionable greatnesse, which with
a cross could imply a halo, but it was seen in the wrong direction great celerity and quick motion ascended sometimes directly up
towards the Ecliptick and above it … there was other such like ap-
for a solar halo, and the date is two nights before the new Moon,
pearances West-ward, with a still quiet and gentle thunder … there
ruling out a lunar halo.192 The 19th century historians Hugh Owen was in the Westerne quarters all this while plentifull flashings and
and John Blakeway suggested that the setting Sun projected the lightnings, but it was rather above the Eclipticke … and still these
cross of one of the spires in Shrewsbury onto a dense cloud, fiery balls shot upwards towards those Stars that are above the
something that one of them had witnessed in 1823.193 Ecliptique and have north latitude … as these furious whirling
An aurora remains another possibility. In a recent paper, Stars did move towards the North, … there was still darting and
Hayakawa et al. (2019) point out that such a celestial sign has casting this way and that way … and to all quarters in a nimble
been observed during extreme space-weather events, citing ex- and violent motion…’195
amples from 1872 and 1874.194 At present however, there is no
other evidence of high solar activity in 1576 September. The spectacle ended at about 11 p.m., when it seemed to pass
over the ‘midland counties’, presumably towards the north-west
of London. His account is not inconsistent with an active auro-
1644 July 10 (Gregorian), London ral display, and although it was centred towards the south and
west of the observer, this may have been due to extensive cloud
In 1644 July, the astrologer and propagandist William Lilly pub- cover elsewhere in the sky. Major displays in the British Isles can
lished a 900-word account of a phenomenon which he claimed to include optical phenomena in a southerly direction, one well-
have seen in London from 8.30 p.m., towards the south and west. documented example being an auroral beam in the southern sky
It could be fictional, but to publish an invented story in London so reported at Guildown Observatory (Surrey) during a great geo-
soon after the event, when his readers there would know if it were magnetic storm on 1882 November 17.196
false, would surely have invited ridicule. The following extract 1644 early July was the last episode of heightened sunspot
(which includes four different spellings of ‘ecliptic’) covers some activity before the Maunder Minimum and probably the highest
of his observations: for the next 70 years. The Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius
was the only regular observer of the Sun in 1644, and an analy-
‘…farre below the Eccleptick … the skie was very pale, or some- sis of his drawings by Letfus (2002) indicates that the daily sun-
what like a duskish tynn colour … flashes of lightning appearing spot number peaked at 95 on July 7 (Gregorian).197 The draw-
faintly … the flashes extended themselves in length just East and ings show a very large spot that crossed the central meridian on
West; Many times, or after 7. or 8. severall flashes of lightning, we
May 10, and probably persisted (though changing form and size)
did sensibly perceive … a long yellowish … shape almost like to a
Serpent, incurvating a little at each end … I saw no dissipation … for several solar rotations, crossing the meridian again around
July 3–5.198 Aurorae in Germany are noted by Link on May 13
and September 1, probably associated with
Table 3. Candidate aurorae, 1560–1644 this persistent active area, whose dates cor-
respond to about two solar rotations before
Date Location Source Cited by Category Remarks
(note 1) (note 2) (note 2) (note 3) and after Lilly’s account.199
Whilst Lilly’s ‘still quiet and gentle
1560 Dec 27 England 212 97 DS see note 4
1569 (1568?) Jan 25 England 213 – II see note 5 thunder’ suggests a distant thunderstorm,
1576 Sep 20 Shrewsbury 104 – AP see text an auroral sound cannot be ruled out.
1602, about Sep 28 Nant-y-Ffrith 214 – AP twilight phenomenon? Sounds are sometimes reported during
(NE Wales)
1604 Nov 5 London 214 – AP fireball? displays; typically terms like ‘rustling’,
1638 & 1639 unknown 213 – II ‘crackling’ and ‘hissing’ are used,200,201 but
1640, unknown dates unknown 215 – II a sound like thunder is not unknown.202
1642 Jan 3 & 9 Dublin 216 – DS see note 6
1643 Feb 20 or 21 Aberdeen & Forfar 217 – AP mirage? Unfortunately, the published diaries do not
1644 Jan 11 Britain 218 – II mention the weather near London at the
1644 Jul 10 London 195 – DS, AP see text time.203 On the near continent, early July
1644 S & W England 213 – II
was hot but not thundery.204 The battle of
Cropredy Bridge near Banbury was fought
on July 10 (Gregorian), and military histo-
1 Dates after 1582 October 4 are adjusted to the Gregorian calendar.
ries mention hot weather at the time, but no
2 Numbers are from the list of references. The ‘cited by’ column refers to auroral catalogues and other astro-
nomical literature. Where there is no citation, the case is previously unnoticed. celestial phenomena.205–207
3 DS indicates a doubtful source; II indicates insufficient information; AP indicates that an alternative phe- A compilation of prodigies published in
nomenon is plausible. 1658 and attributed to another astrologer,
4 Gemma (1575) describes an aurora seen in Flanders, noting that it was seen in England, but giving no John Gadbury,208 contains the following:
details. It was also seen in Switzerland and Germany. No British record of this event has been found.
5 The year is either 1568 or 1569. If the latter, a naked-eye spot was reported on January 17, visible for
10 days,219 and aurorae (not catalogued) were seen in Germany 52 and 54 nights after this candidate au- ‘…two days before that fatall fight at Mar-
rora.220 ston Moor in Yorkshire, July 1644. our selues
6 An aurora was reported in Romania on 1642 January 4.221 and thousands more beheld strange Appari-
tions, clashings and fightings in the Air.’209

98 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Simpson: British Isles aurorae, 1560–1715, Part I: 1560–1644

The author is very grateful for the referee’s valuable suggestions
and supportive comments.

Address: 34 rue de l’Avenir, 44210 Pornic, France []

References & notes
1 Silverman S.,
datasets/aaa_historical_aurora/misc/temp01.txt (accessed 2018 July) lists
>250 aurorae seen in the British Isles, 1716–1750.
2 Usoskin I. G. et al., ‘The Maunder Minimum (1645–1715) was indeed a
grand minimum: a reassessment of multiple datasets’, Astron. & Astro-
phys., 581, A95 (2015),, indicates in
Figure 10 >300 nights with aurorae seen in Great Britain, 1716–1750.
3 Britton C. E., ‘A meteorological chronology to A.D. 1450’, Meteorological
Office Geophysical Memoirs, no. 70, H.M.S.O., London (1937) lists >80
cases, many of which the author questions.
4 Link F., ‘Observations et catalogue des aurores boréales apparues en occident
de –626 à 1600’, Travaux de l’Institut géophysique de l’Académie tchécoslo-
vaque des sciences, no. 173 (1962) includes about 40 British reports from
before 1560 in the catalogue.
5 Knighton H., Chronicon Henrici Knighton (vel Cnitthon) monachi ley-
cestrensis, vol. 2, ed. Lumby J. R., Rolls Series, Eyre & Spottiswoode, Lon-
don, 1895, p.260
6 Anon., ‘Chronicum rerum gestarum in monasterio Sancti Albani’, in
Riley H. T. (ed.), Chronica monasterii S. Albani, vol. 1, Rolls Series, Long-
mans, London, 1870, p.31
7 Gransden A., Historical writing in England: c. 550 to c. 1307, Routledge &
Paul, London, 1974
Figure 6. Portrait of William Lilly in 1647. (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)   8 Gransden A., Historical writing in England II: c. 1307 to the early 16th cen-
tury, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1982
9 Eddy J. A., ‘The Maunder Minimum’, Science, 192, 1189–1202 (1976) sug-
gested the term ‘Spörer Minimum’ for the period from around 1460 to 1550.
The battle of Marston Moor took place on July 12 (Gregorian), 10 Bone N., Aurora: observing and recording nature’s spectacular light show,
Springer, New York, 2007, p.107
so the timing agrees with Lilly’s account. Gadbury, a supporter of 11 The original Latin source is Lesley J., De origine moribvs, et rebvs gestis
Lilly at the time, later denounced him as a fraud.210 Scotorum…, Rome, 1578, p.433.

Table 4. Rejected cases, 1560–1644

Rejected cases Date Location Source Cited by Evaluation
(note 1) (note 2) (note 2)
The astronomical literature contains 11 ap- 1564 Feb 6 & 9 Scotland 90 97 misdated, relates to Feb 15 & 18
parent reports of aurorae that have been mis- 1569 & 1570 England 42 97 not traced
1571 Jul 25 London 222 4, 97 misdated, relates to Aug 4
dated, misinterpreted or which have not been 1574 Oct 7 London 223 224 misdated, relates to 1564 or 1575
traced. These are listed in Table 4. 1574 Nov 2 England 17, 102 225 misdated, relates to Nov 14
1575 Feb 13 – 46 not traced
1610 Aug 5 – 226 not traced; see note 3
1638 (?) – 229 not traced; see note 4
1643 Jan Kineton (Warw.) 227, 228 224 see note 5
Contemporary accounts of 14 probable auro- 1 Dates after 1582 October 4 are adjusted to the Gregorian calendar.
rae seen in the British Isles during the period 2 Numbers are from the list of references. The ‘cited by’ column refers to auroral catalogues and other
1560–1644 have been recovered from pub- astronomical literature. Where there is no citation, the case is previously unnoticed.
lished information. A further 15 previously 3 Cited by Schove but no text or source given. He states that aurorae were possibly seen in Prague and
Byzantium on the same date, which Fritz notes, citing a manuscript by the Swiss astronomer Daniel
recognised cases have been confirmed, but Huber, written around 200 years later.230 No reference to Britain has been traced.
11 other cases listed in aurora catalogues 4 Botley mentions an aurora that occurred when the future King James II was aged four. James was born
are rejected. 14 candidate cases that may in 1633 October, which could place the aurora in 1637 October – 1638 October. However Botley appears
merit further research have been identified, to refer to a later event, around 1660.
of which 13 are new. It is hoped that these 5 Silverman cites Captain Noble FRAS, 1897.231 Contemporary anonymous sources describe armies fight-
ing in the air at night on several occasions in 1643 January, but are very probably fictional propaganda,
results will provide a documented baseline of as the witnesses named in the sources appear not to have existed, the dates disagree between them, and
auroral observations in the British Isles for Kineton is located in the wrong county (Northants.).232 The phenomena were reported to King Charles,
the period 1560–1644, for future researchers and mark the earliest cases of a tradition of supposed ghosts at the site of the Battle of Edgehill in 1642.233
to use and refine.
J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 99
Simpson: British Isles aurorae, 1560–1715, Part I: 1560–1644
12 There is a Scots version in Dalrymple J. (tr.), The historie of Scotland, ed. 54 Vaquero J. M. & Vázquez M., The sun recorded through history, Springer,
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1575, p.40 Received 2019 December 4; accepted 2020 September 4

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102 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Lunar domes near Lavoisier K
Raffaello Lena, Barry Fitz-Gerald & K. C. Pau

In this study, we examine four lunar domes located near the crater Lavoisier K. The domes, termed
Lavoisier 1–3, have large diameters of over 25km, with linear rilles traversing their summits and slopes of
between 0.5° (Lavoisier 1–2) and 0.7° (Lavoisier 3). Another lunar dome, termed Lavoisier 4, has been
identified using telescopic imagery, while in LROC WAC imagery it is not apparent. It has a base diameter
of 5.7km and a height of only 40m, resulting in a slope angle of 0.76°. Based on rheologic models, we infer
the physical conditions under which the examined domes were formed. The main goal of this paper is to
promote serious lunar research among dedicated amateur astronomers who are interested in observing
and imaging the surface of the Moon, as well as in its geological history. In combination with high-resolution
spectral analysis techniques, such investigations might extend our present knowledge of the processes that
formed volcanic edifices on the Moon.

Comprehensive study of lunar domes is pos-
sible, based on images of the lunar surface
acquired under oblique illumination. These
conditions enable measurements to be made
and maximise the detail recorded. Most ap-
parent lunar domes are discernible in the topo-
graphic maps acquired by the laser altimeters
LALT and LOLA, on board the Kaguya and
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) space-
craft. However, they cannot be unambiguously
identified as lunar domes based on such data
alone. As a consequence, ground-based im-
ages obtained using telescopes and cameras
like those commonly used by well-equipped
amateur astronomers are of great value for the
morphologic and morphometric analyses of Figure 1. Domes Lavoisier 1–4. Image by K. C. Pau, taken on 2017 Nov 2 at 13:36 UT with a 250mm ƒ/6
lunar domes. Newtonian reflector, 20mm eyepiece (projection) and QHYCCD290M camera.
K. C. Pau has imaged four volcanic domes,
located near Lavoisier K (Figure 1). The LRO Wide Angle Cam- to: ζ = arctan 2h/D, where D is the diameter in kilometres. The
era (WAC) image shown here (Figure 2) displays the large and morphometric properties of the examined domes are reported in
elongated domes termed Lavoisier (Lav) 1–3. In this image, the Table 1.
shallow dome Lav 4 is not as prominent as in the telescopic im- Spectral results were obtained using the Chandrayaan-1 Moon
age (Figure 1). Associated topographic profiles of each examined Mineralogy Mapper (M3), an imaging reflectance spectrometer
feature were extracted from the LOLA DEM dataset, using the that can detect 85 channels between 460 and 3,000nm,4 and the
ACT-REACT QuickMap LRO global basemap (target.lroc.asu. Clementine UVVIS and NIR reflectance data.
edu/da/qmap.html). However, due to their low slope, the 3-D Finally, the primary goal of this study is to demonstrate that
reconstructions generated using QuickMap did not allow satisfac- high-resolution telescopic imagery of the elusive lunar domes is
tory results (Figures 5a–b & 16a–b). Therefore, we have obtained useful for the recognition of non-cataloged examples.
the 3-D reconstructions of Lav 1 and Lav 4 using photoclinometry
and shape-from-shading (SfS) techniques.1 These make use of the
fact that surface parts inclined towards the light source appear Table 1. Morphometric properties of the examined
brighter than those inclined away from it. The iterative scheme domes
used for photoclinometry and the SfS approach, applied to ter-
Dome Lat. Long. Diameter Height Slope Class
restrial telescopic images, is described in two of our preceding (°) (°) (km) (m) (°)
articles published in the Journal and it is not repeated here.2–3
Lav 1 39.83 –72.74 20×25 100 0.52 In1
The height, h, was obtained by measuring the altitude differ- Lav 2 40.61 –73.11 17×26 100 0.52 In1
ence in the reconstructed 3-D profile between the summit and the Lav 3 41.29 –72.77 18×25 145 0.70 In1
surrounding region, taking into account the curvature of the lunar Lav 4 40.47 –72.57 5.70 40 0.76 E2
surface. The average flank slope, ζ, was determined according
J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 103
Lena, Fitz-Gerald & Pau: Lunar domes near Lavoisier K

Results & discussion
The Lavoisier domes combine to form a broad but low
ridge, some 70km long from north to south, with Lav 3
forming the northernmost part and Lav 1 the southern-
most. To the east of the complex is a moderately con-
spicuous wrinkle ridge that runs in an ‘S’-shaped curve
between the craters Lavoisier A and Harding, whilst
to the west are the highlands of the western limb. The
region has been subject to both volcanic and tectonic
forces, which typify geological processes around mare
Extensive volcanism is evident in the form of the nu-
merous floor-fractured craters (FFCs) such as von Braun
and Lavoisier (and its numerous smaller neighbours) to
the west, and tectonism in the form of the complex wrin-
kle ridges produced by compressional forces within the
Procellarum Basin to the east. These tectonic forces, gen-
erated by the subsidence of the central Procellarum Ba- Figure 2. WAC image of the examined region. Note the dome Lavoisier 4, which is not prominent as in
sin, are also responsible for two extremely low-amplitude the telescopic image (Figure 1). The image is shown in cylindrical projection, removing the foreshortening.
scarps visible immediately to the east of the Lavoisier
domes. These scarps can be seen to almost ‘wrap around’
the southeastern margin of Lav 1 (Figure 2 & 3), which
suggests that the dome complex predates the subsidence
within the Procellarum Basin and the eruption of the sur-
rounding mare lavas.
The domes Lav 1–3 are of elongated shape and large
diameter, displaying linear or curvilinear rilles which are
the surface expressions of tensional stresses.5–6 Further-
more, their surfaces merge smoothly into that of the sur-
rounding mare and in the case of Lav 3, the dome outline
is limited by a fault.
Intrusions are subsurface concentrations of magma
that have locally uplifted the mare but have not erupted.
This is a mechanism reported for terrestrial laccoliths.
Laccoliths are shallow magmatic intrusions which
lead to the vertical displacement of the overburden, creat-
ing a characteristic dome-like topography at the surface.
Laccoliths have recently been proposed to explain vari-
ous geological features such as domes or floor-fractured
craters on the surface of the Moon, as well as Mars and
Mercury.7 Johnson & Pollard (1973) recognise that lac- Figure 3. LROC WAC image of the Lavoisier dome complex (yellow dotted line) in its wider setting.
colith formation is characterised by three distinct stages.8 Shallow scarps to the east of the complex (white lines) appear to ‘wrap around’ the southeastern margin
During the first stage, a thin sill-like unit undergoes lat- of Lavoisier 1, suggesting that their formation post-dates that of the domes. The white arrows indicate the
direction in which these scarps face. The red circle shows the location of a positive thorium anomaly, as
eral growth. The second stage consists of vertical growth measured by the Lunar Prospector Gamma Ray Spectrometer.
caused by flexure of the overlying strata due to the pres-
surised magma. If the flexure-induced vertical uplift exceeds a The domes Lav 1–3 (Table 1; see previous page) hence match
few hundred metres, piston-like uplift of a fault-bounded block the properties derived for a putative intrusive dome belonging to
may occur during the third stage of laccolith formation. Hence the class In1,1 and could imply an origin due to a subsurface intrusion
magma accumulating beneath the surface produces not only an of a large magmatic body.
upbowing of the surface rock layers but also failures in the rock Lav 1 is an elongated swell with a base diameter of 20 × 25
strata (fracturing).1 ± 0.3km and an elevation of 100 ± 10m (Figures 5–6), yielding an
A reliable discriminative criterion is the circularity of the dome average slope of 0.52 ± 0.05°.
outline: the putative intrusive domes are elongated and have low Lav 1 is the most obvious of the four domes, having a dis-
slopes (< 0.9°). Class In1 comprises large domes, with diameters tinct sub-circular outline and extensional fractures which are
above 25km and flank slopes of 0.2–0.6°, with linear or curvilin- mainly concentrated along the eastern half of the dome. These
ear rilles traversing the summit. Class In2 is made up of smaller fractures are of low visibility, but the most prominent has a maxi-
and slightly steeper domes, with diameters of 10–15km and flank mum width of approximately 200m and a depth of between 10
slopes between 0.4 and 0.9°. Class In3 comprises low domes with and 20m (Figure 4). Where this prominent fracture crosses from
diameters of 13–20km and flank slopes below 0.3°. the dome to the mare surface to the south, it transforms from a

104 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Lena, Fitz-Gerald & Pau: Lunar domes near Lavoisier K


Figure 5. Comparison of 3-D
reconstructions of Lavoisier 1. (b)
(a) Reconstruction based on
the terrestrial telescopic im-
age in Figure 1, by photocli-
nometry and SfS analysis.
The vertical axis is 30 times
exaggerated. (b) Reconstruc-
tion based on the LOLA DEM
and GLD100 data set, which
did not allow satisfactory re-
sults to be obtained.

Figure 4. SELENE image of Lavoisier 1, showing the basic outline (yellow dotted
line), surface fractures (white dotted line) and low scarps on the mare surface to
the east (blue dotted line). The main fracture can be traced southwards onto the
mare surface (lilac dotted line). A darker area of surface is associated with a par-
tially filled section of fracture (black circle), just south of a prominent 90° dog leg.

Figure 7. LROC WAC image of a small impact crater located near the edge of
Figure 6. LRO WAC-derived surface elevation plot of Lavoisier 1, based on the a fracture on the summit of Lavoisier 1. Note the bright areas interior to the rim,
LOLA DEM. which are boulder rich.

trough to a ridge a few metres high, that can be traced in a roughly associated with the rims and inner walls of small impact craters
straight line for 7km. This curious transformation could be re- in the < 500m size range (Figure 7). Some smaller IMPs can be lated to the presence of an intrusive dyke which is responsible for found within the fracture itself, especially along its edges and on both the fracture and the ridge, but this must remain in the realm the floor. These take the form of bright concentrations of boulders of speculation. set in small, irregularly shaped depressions with sharp boundar- The fractures on Lav 1 appear to be infilled in places, which ies, outside of which is the darker surface of the dome. could be regarded as evidence of lava flows and effusive volca- The IMPs on Lav 1 range in size from a few metres up to sev- nism. One section of the main fracture system where infilling eral tens of metres across. Where they are associated with craters, is conspicuous is located near a 90° dog leg, where the fracture they are typically found just inside the rim and in arcs of varying angles abruptly to the north, and just south of where it divides length around the circumference. This type of distribution is seen into eastern and western arms. There is a suggestion in this area at other locations on the lunar surface, where IMPs are associated of a lower-albedo surface with a low lobate margin (Figure 9), with small craters.9 which may represent a thin lava flow. The available imagery is The most likely explanation for these features is that they result however inconclusive, and any identifications of lava flows must from the energetic release of gas from beneath the surface, which be regarded as tentative at best. effectively blows away the finer fraction of the regolith, leaving A more confident identification is that of a number of irregular behind the freshly exposed larger rocks and boulders.10 The as- mare patches (IMPs), associated with this fracture and the east- sociation of IMPs with volcanic areas clearly implies that the gas ern branch north of the 90° dog leg. These IMPs are primarily involved is volcanic in origin, probably released during the very J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 105 Lena, Fitz-Gerald & Pau: Lunar domes near Lavoisier K latest stages of volcanic activity. The presence of IMPs the northern elongated dome Lav 3 around the margins of these small impact craters suggests (Figure 13). that the escaping gas has ascended to the surface via the Lav 3 has a base diameter of circumferential fractures and faults which surround the 18 × 25 ± 0.3km and height of 145 crater and were produced by the impact event. The same ± 15m, yielding a flank slope of 0.7 would apply to the margins of the fractures, where the ± 0.07°. bounding faults would also provide routes to the surface. The northernmost component Some of the craters that show IMP activity are relatively of the complex is Lav 3, which is old and partially buried, but the circular distribution of dominated by a 5km-diameter im- bouldery patches provides a good indication of a crater’s pact crater occupying most of the presence (Figure 8). If the formation of IMPs does involve central part of the dome (Figure 14). the mobilisation of the fine fraction of the regolith, rede- The eastern rim of this crater has col- position may account for some of the observed infilling of Figure 8. Buried impact crater that still lapsed inwards to form a crescentic shows IMP activity around its margins. the fracture. This seems unlikely however, as the volume torus, rather like one half of a con- of material required to fill a 200m-wide, 10m-deep trough centric crater. appears to be orders of magnitude greater than that missing from Fractures across the dome skirt either side of the crater, indi- the visible IMP. cating that it predates them. This would explain the rim collapse, Lav 1 is the only component of the complex to have a subsur- as uplift would potentially destabilise concentric faults around face gravity anomaly visible in the Bouguer gravity gradient data, the crater circumference, making slope failure more likely. The which may suggest the presence of a plutonic mass below. This dome surface to the east of this crater has subsided along a frac- may have a bearing on the presence of IMPs on this particular ture, leaving the western wall standing as a 100m-high east-facing structure, and the laccolith interpretation for its origin. scarp (Figure 14, white arrow). The subsided section, including Therefore, of the domes within the complex, only Lav 1 ex- the eastern wall of the fracture, appears to have been submerged hibits any clear indications of volcanic activity, in the form of the by the mare: another indication that the Lavoisier domes predate IMP associated with the fracture system crossing its sur- face, and this is of limited extent. The spectral properties of major lunar minerals exhib- it absorption bands that differ in their shape and position along the spectral domain. Pyroxenes (orthopyroxenes and clinopyroxenes) have two absorption bands, one centered near 1,000nm and another near 2,000nm. Olivine has a complex absorption centered over 1,000nm, with no ab- sorption at 2,000nm. Therefore, olivine-rich lunar depos- its are characterised by a broad 1,000nm absorption band which is enhanced relative to the weak or absent 2,000nm band. Figures 11–12 display the spectra of Lav 1 in two different locations. The spectrum of the unit located at 72.8°W and 39.9°N is characterised by broad 1,000nm absorption, and shows a secondary feature at around 1,100nm, while the 2,000nm absorption within these basalts is absent, consistent with the presence of olivine (Figure 11). Figure 9. Fracture on the summit of Lavoisier 1, showing the 90° dog leg of the eastern branch The surface unit located at 72.5°W and 39.7°N is char- (yellow dotted line), with a smaller fracture branching away to the north. A very low lobe-like acterised by broad 1,000nm absorption features, indicative scarp forms the boundary to a darker area, which may represent a lava flow adjacent to this section of the fracture. Note IMPs within the fracture and on the surface of the suspected flow. of a pyroxene-and-olivine mixture (Figure 12). Olivine content is thus the main difference between the two defined units of the region under study. Maps in wt% of the minerals plagioclase, olivine, clinopyroxene (high-calcium pyrox- ene) and orthopyroxene (low-calcium pyroxene), created from topographically corrected Mineral Mapper reflectance data acquired by the Kaguya mission, have recently been released. Based on the Kaguya Multiband Imager data set, Lav 1 displays high abundance of olivine in the examined region and nearby mare soils, which are also characterised by high FeO content (estimated at >20wt%).
Lav 2 has a base diameter of 17 × 26 ± 0.3km and an
elevation of 100 ± 10m (Figure 13), yielding an average
slope of 0.52 ± 0.05°.
The summit of this dome also displays rilles, indicat- Figure 10. Section of fracture between von Braun and Lavoisier A that shows small amounts of
ing, like for Lav 1, tensional stress. It is in contact with IMP activity (red circles).

106 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Lena, Fitz-Gerald & Pau: Lunar domes near Lavoisier K
the very youngest Procellarum lavas. This eastern wall is visible The effusive dome Lav 4 has a base diameter of 5.7 ± 0.3km
along a small section of the dome’s northeastern surface which and a height of only 40 ± 5m, yielding an average flank slope of
has not subsided (Figure 14, white arrow). 0.7 ± 0.073°. The edifice volume is determined to be 0.52km3. It
There are no clearly volcanic features on Lav 3 to suggest ef- appears to be less well imaged in the LRO data (Figure 2) than in
fusive activity, though the apparent infilling of some sections of our 3-D reconstruction (Figure 16a), obtained using SfS and pho-
the fractures might support such a conclusion. toclinometry derived from the terrestrial telescopic image.
A dearth of volcanic features also characterises Lav 2, the The rheologic parameters of lunar effusive domes allow us to
summit area of which is peppered with a cluster of secondary estimate the lava viscosity η, the effusion rate E and the magma
craters (Figure 15). A fracture crosses the dome in a roughly rise speed U, as well as the width W and length L of the feeder
SE–NW direction, with the more conspicuous sections being dyke.4 In the case of Lav 4, the rheologic model indicates an ef-
some 300m wide and 12m deep. For much of its course, however, fusion rate of 210m3 s–1, a low lava viscosity of 1.2 × 103Pa s,
it is fairly obscure, possibly as a result of infilling by ejecta from and a duration for the effusion process of 0.07 years. The lava
the secondary crater cluster already noted. It can be traced onto forming the dome ascended to the surface at a quick speed of
the mare surface to the west of the dome, which might suggest 1.9 × 10–3m s–1, through a dyke 5m wide and 20km long. Accord-
that rather than being a product of localised uplift as we seen in ing to the classification scheme for lunar domes,1 Lav 4, due to its
Lav 1, it is in fact a more regional structure that just happens to small diameter (< 6km), edifice volume and short effusion time, traverse Lav 2. belongs to class E2. Three rheologic groups of effusive lunar mare domes differ from each other by their rheologic properties and associated dyke dimensions,1 where the basic discrimi- native parameter is the lava viscosity. The first group, R1, is characterised by lava viscosities of 104–106Pa s, magma rise speeds of 10–5–10–3m s–1, dyke widths of around 10–30m, and dyke lengths between about 30 and 200km. Rheologic group R2 is characterised by low lava viscosities between 102 and 104Pa s, fast magma as- cent (> 10–3m s–1) and feeder dykes which are narrow
(1–5m) and short (7–20km). The third group, R3, is
made up of domes which formed from highly viscous
Figure 11. M3 spectrum of the examined region of Lavoisier 1 (see text for detail). lavas of 106–108Pa s, ascending at very low speeds of
10–6–10–5m s–1 through broad dykes of several tens of
metres to 200m in width, and 100–200km in length. The
dome Lav 4 belongs to the group R2. If we assume that
the vertical extension of a dyke is similar to its length,11
we conclude that the magma which formed Lav 4 origi-
nated from the lunar crust, for which an average total
thickness of 50km is given by Wieczorek et al. (2006).12

Figure 12. M3 spectrum of another unit in Lavoisier 1, indicating a mixture of high-calcium pyrox-
ene and olivine (see text for detail).

Figure 14. SELENE/JAXA image of Lavoisier 3, showing a pre-
existing crater with a partially collapsed rim. Note how the frac-
tures across the dome summit skirt either side of the crater. The
white arrow indicates the western wall of a fracture, which remains
standing after the eastern edge of the dome subsided downwards
Figure 13. Cross-sectional profiles of Lavoisier 3 and Lavoisier 4, based on LOLA DEM. and was submerged by mare lavas.

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 107
Lena, Fitz-Gerald & Pau: Lunar domes near Lavoisier K


Figure 16. Comparison of 3-D
reconstructions of Lavoisier 4. (b)
(a) Reconstruction based on the
terrestrial telescopic image in
Figure 1, by photoclinometry
and SfS analysis. The vertical
axis is 30 times exaggerated.
(b) Reconstruction based on the
LOLA DEM and GLD100 data
set, which did not allow satisfac-
tory results to be obtained.

Figure 15. SELENE image of Lav 2. Note the fracture crossing the summit, which
can also be traced on the mare surface to the west.

Summary & conclusion
It may be worth noting that another small field of IMPs can be
seen, associated with a fracture system that crosses a submerged
crater lying between von Braun and Lavoisier A (Figure 3). This
fracture trends in a roughly W–E direction and is in the order
of 800m wide and some 20–30m deep. Isolated patches of IMP
activity can be seen on its floor and walls, though all are small,
measuring a few tens of metres at most (Figure 10). The Lunar Figure 17. Cross-sectional profiles of Lav 4, based on the LOLA DEM.
Prospector Gamma Ray Spectrometer data demonstrate that a
positive thorium anomaly exists beneath the surface at this loca-
tion. Topographic data also show that the central area of this sub- References
merged crater bulges upwards in a somewhat dome-like manner.
1 Lena R., Wöhler C., Phillips J. & Chiocchetta M. T., Lunar domes: properties
The presence of numerous FFCs in the immediate area suggests and formation processes, Springer Praxis Books, 2013
that this may be a case where the submerged crater has also been 2 Lena R., Pau K. C., Phillips J., Fattinnanzi C. & Wöhler C., ‘Lunar domes:
affected by a similar form of magmatic intrusion. In von Braun a generic classification of the dome near Valentine, located at 10.26° E and
31.89° N’, J. Brit. Astron. Assoc., 116(1), 34–39 (2006)
and its neighbours, the result was a fractured crater floor, while in 3 Viegas R., Lena R., Wöhler C. & Phillips J., ‘A study of the T. Mayer B high-
the case of this submerged crater the result is an up-bowing of the land dome’, ibid., 116(5), 266–270 (2006)
overlying mare lavas. Clearly, magmatic intrusion has taken place 4 Besse S., Sunshine J. M. & Gaddis L. R., ‘Volcanic glass signatures in spectro-
at multiple locations within this corner of the Procellarum Basin, scopic survey of newly proposed lunar pyroclastic deposits’, J. Geophys. Res.
Planets, 119, doi:10.1002/2013JE004537 (2014)
to produce a diversity of structures. 5 Lena R., ‘Magmatic intrusion structure’, chapter in Encyclopedia of planetary
The Lavoisier complex appears to predate the youngest mare landforms, eds. Hargitai H. & Kereszturi Á., Springer, 2015
surface and the wrinkle ridges, whilst the presence of IMPs, which 6 Pollard D. D. & Fletcher R. C., Fundamentals of structural geology, Cam-
bridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 2005
are believed to be relatively young in geological terms, may rep- 7 Head J. W. et al., ‘Evidence for intrusive activity on Mercury from the first
resent the final gasp of volcanic activity in the area. Messenger flyby’, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 285, 251–262 (2009)
In this study, we have examined four lunar domes located near 8 Johnson A. M. & Pollard D. D., ‘Mechanics of growth of some laccolith intru-
sions in the Henry Mountains, Utah. I. Field observations, Gilbert’s model,
the crater Lavoisier K. The dome termed Lav 4 has been identi- physical properties and flow of magma’, Tectonophysics, 18, 261–308 (1973)
fied using telescopic imagery, while in LROC WAC images it is 9 Lena R. & Fitz-Gerald B., ‘Lunar domes & volcanic constructs in Mare Fe-
not apparent. cunditatis’, J. Brit. Astron. Assoc., 130(4), 219–227
10 Braden S. et al., ‘Evidence for basaltic volcanism on the Moon within the past
Lav 4 is of effusive origin, while for the domes Lav 1–3 we 100 million years’, Nat. Geosci., 7, 787–791 (2014): doi:10.1038/NGEO2252
identify an intrusion as the explanation for these elongated and 11 Jackson P. A., Wilson L. & Head J. W., ‘The use of magnetic signatures in
identifying shallow intrusions on the Moon’, Lunar Planet. Science, XXVIII,
fractured constructs. no. 1429 (1997)
It is likely that further domes of low profile may be present in 12 Wieczorek M. A. et al., ‘The constitution and structure of the lunar interior’,
this region, and these are left for future studies. Rev. Mineral. Geochem., 60, 221–364 (2006)

Address: Via Cartesio 144 D, 00137, Rome, Italy [] Received 2020 October 28; accepted 2020 December 5

108 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Identifying the peaks of Montes
Alexander Vandenbohede

The Montes d’Alembert are a chain of mountain peaks found along the western lunar limb. The individual
mountains were grouped into a Montes by Schröter in 1791 and were named after the French mathematician,
philosopher and physicist Jean le Rond d’Alembert. About 175 years later, Lunar Orbiter images showed that
the mountains are part of the complex landscape that is the result of the Orientale impact. Therefore, in 1970
the name Montes d’Alembert was dropped as official IAU nomenclature. There persists some indistinctness
in lunar literature as to what the Montes d’Alembert represent. The aim of this paper is therefore to identify
exactly where the peaks are on the lunar surface. It is found that the inner and outer Montes Rook, the
Montes Cordillera and the radial facies of the Hevelius Formation all contribute. Libration dictates which
peaks can be seen.

Montes d’Alembert
Between 5°N to 10°S latitude, a number of distinctive mountains
can be seen along the western lunar limb that stand out against
the dark background sky (Figure 1). This is roughly the area west
of Grimaldi, Riccioli and Hevelius. Johann Hieronymus Schröter
(1745–1816) was the first to depict the contours of these peaks
along the lunar limb.1 In his Selenotopographische Fragmente,
Schröter gives drawings of the mountains made under different
libration circumstances and even silhouetted against the Sun’s
disc during an eclipse.2,3 He collected the peaks under one name:
Montes d’Alembert.
Observations of the Montes d’Alembert area are highly depen-
dent on libration circumstances.4 This means that translating what
was seen in the telescope to geological structures was difficult,
especially at a time when lunar geology was in its infancy.1 It took
the rectification of limb-region images and the trained eyes of ge-
ologists to identify an impact basin along the western lunar limb.5
This basin, the Orientale basin, was dramatically depicted in 1967
by Lunar Orbiter 4. It became clear that the mountains of Montes
d’Alembert are not related to each other such that they form one
mountain range. Instead, they are individual peaks that belong to
the northern part of the Orientale multi-ring basin. Therefore, in
a 1970 meeting, the IAU dropped the name, which had only been
officially adopted in 1964. The reason was that ‘certain previ-
ously named features, especially those on or near Mare Orientale,
proved to be non-existent’.6
However, the mountain peaks are there and can be clearly ob-
served along the lunar limb. Therefore, the motivation of this pa-
per is to identify where they can be found on the lunar surface and
what their positions are, in the context of the Orientale basin.
Some indistinctness remains in lunar literature regarding these
mountains, specifically about their heights and locations. Neison
(1876), for instance, described the Montes as ‘a chain of consid-
Figure 1. Location of the Montes d’Alembert along the lunar limb, west of
erable mountains rising in places nearly 20,000 feet above the Grimaldi and Riccioli. C8 ƒ/10 Schmidt–Cassegrain telescope and ASI 290MM
surface’.7 Based on observations made by Mädler, he calculated camera. North is up.

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 109
Vandenbohede: Identifying the peaks of Montes d’Alembert
that the slopes have ‘a steepness of perhaps 25° in parts’. This Figure 3 shows the author’s 10 images, arranged according
quoted height estimate is often copied by others: for instance, to the location of the lunar limb that is maximally tilted towards
by Wilkins & Moore (1958), Price (1988), Wlasuk (2000) and Earth. They range from the northwestern limb region (2021
Garfinkle (2020) to mention a few.8,9,10,11 Moore says that ‘some Oct 27), over the southwestern limb, towards the southeastern
of its peaks may exceed 20,000 feet, but so far there are no reli- limb region (2020 Apr 9). The area between roughly 5°N to 10°S
able measures’.12 in latitude is shown. More irregularities of the lunar limb can be
There is also no consensus on the exact locations of the moun- seen towards the north and south, but these fall outside the range
tains on the surface and most of the authors remain vague on this defined as the Montes d’Alembert.
topic. To come back to Neison, he thought he was looking at the These images show a number of different mountains. As is the
border of ring plains beyond Riccioli.7 Of course, the concept of case on the drawings made by Schröter and Wilkins, it is diffi-
impact basins was unknown at that time. Patrick Moore gave that cult, not to say impossible, to correlate the peaks on the different
the mountains are associated with the Mare Orientale complex, images with certainty. The exact libration circumstances define
whereas John Moore believed that most of these peaks belong to which mountains can be seen, as was already the conclusion of
the Montes Cordillera.13,14 Garfinkle stated that they can be attrib- Wilkins.4 However, it is possible to divide them, using the crater
uted to the rims of the craters Schlüter and Hartwig.11 Schlüter as a border, into two groups. The first, here referred to as
John Moore was the only one, until now, to make an attempt the southern group, is found south of Schlüter and accords with
to pinpoint the exact locations of some of the peaks.14 He recon- the three peaks that Wilkins indicated with b and ε.17 The second,
structed the view of Schröter’s only dated drawing using the Lu- here called the northern group, corresponds with the four peaks
nar Terminator Visualisation Tool with the Kaguya global digital indicated with α and β.17
elevation model.15,16 Of the three peaks indicated by Schröter, the
inner and outer Montes Rook and the area north of the Montes
Cordillera could be assigned one peak each.
Identifying the peaks
The LROC QuickMap data visualisation tool is used to identify
Observations where the peaks exactly are.18 QuickMap is a web-based lunar
mapping and analysis tool. It has an option to make a 3-D visuali-
In recent years, the author made 10 images of the western lunar sation of the lunar surface with the albedo, or more correctly the
limb region under different libration circumstances. The images Wide Angle Camera normalised reflectance map, as texture.
were made with a Celestron C8 ƒ/10 Schmidt–Cassegrain tele- The simulated perspective is one of an observer flying above
scope. On 2011 Oct 14, 2011 Oct 15 and 2015 Mar 6, a Philips the lunar surface. Therefore, it is a little distorted compared to
PCVC740K ToUcam PRO camera was used. On 2018 Sep 25, the view an observer on Earth has, but this mainly affects the
2019 Dec 22, a ZWO ASI 290MM camera was used, whereas on area farther away from the region of prime interest. In Figures 4
2018 Sep 2, 2018 Oct 27, 2018 Nov 23, 2020 Jan 12 and 2020 to 7, such images are indicated as ‘simulated view’. With the
Apr 9, the ASI 290MM was used in combination with a ×1.5 Bar- QuickMap 3-D tool it is thus possible to make a view of the lunar
low lens. All observations show the area under a high sun. limb that mimics an actual observation. The artificial lunar globe
can also be rotated so that the view of the area of interest slowly
improves, and a peak can be identified. The result is indicated as
Counting the number of the ‘3-D view’ on Figures 4 to 7. The normal
Wide Angle Camera mosaic is used as tex-
mountains ture to optimally show the topography. With
the ‘simulated view’, a peak can be identified
Schröter and Wilkins present drawings under along the lunar limb. By turning it in towards
a number of observational circumstances and the observer, the ‘3-D view’ makes it possible
both identify quite a few individual moun- to pinpoint the location of the peak on the lu-
tains.2,3,4 However, it is impossible to correlate nar surface.
the mountains on different drawings with each The GLD100 and SLDEM2015 digital
other. The 1946 version of Wilkins’ 300-inch elevation models can be consulted with the
map depicts seven mountains (Figure 2).17 QuickMap tool.19,20 The global lunar digital
Wilkins & Moore (1958) give that ‘to the terrain model (GLD100), with a pixel spacing
east of Riccioli are three peaks and a remark- of 100m, is used to make 3-D models of the
able table-like mountain a little farther to the different locations. The SELENE and LOLA
north’.8 The ‘east’ direction predates of course digital elevation model (SLDEM2015) is ap-
the current 1961 IAU convention of east and plied to derive the heights of the identified
west, so the three peaks most probably relate to peaks. The difference between GLD100 and
those indicated with β on the map by Wilkins SLDEM2015 is in the order of a few tens of
(Figure 2). Alternatively, they could also be metres. Since the aim is to obtain an estimat-
the three peaks that are drawn more towards Figure 2. Part of section XIX of the 1946 ed order for peak heights, it is not necessary
300-inch Moon map by Wilkins, showing
the south (b and ε), since α (to the north) most the different peaks of Montes d’Alembert. to comment on the small differences between
probably represents the table-like mountain. South is up. GLD100 and SLDEM2015 any further.

110 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Vandenbohede: Identifying the peaks of Montes d’Alembert

Southern group A1 and A2 are clearly situated west of Lacus Veris, which hints
to the inner Montes Rook as their location. Notice for instance a
Not all of the author’s 10 images are of equal quality, so the pro- mountain peak, part of the outer Montes Rook, that is visible. If
cedure described is applied only to the best ones. the simulated view is turned towards the viewer, it is possible to
Consider the observation made on 2018 Sep 25 (Figure 4). pinpoint the exact locations of A1, A2 and A3. It is found that A1
Libration was favourable for observing the Orientale region. is a complex of mountains that is part of the inner Montes Rook.
Schlüter, Schlüter A, Lacus Autumni and Lacus Veris act as refer- This explains the relative width along the lunar terminator and the
ence points to compare the observation with the QuickMap simu- identification of more than one peak, seeming to merge. A2 can be
lation. At the limb, three easily recognisable mountains can be correlated with an impressive cliff-like structure that is part of the
seen. A1 actually consists of a broad peak that merges toward the outer Montes Rook. A3 is also part of the outer Montes Rook. The
north with a smaller example. This is considered as one complex, relief seen between A1 and A2 can perhaps be assigned to two
for reasons that will become clear. There is a second peak, A2, hills that are part of the inner Montes Rook, but this is difficult to
north of A1; a smaller one, here called A3, lies even more towards say with certainty.
the north. Between A1 and A2, two small irregularities of the lu- The image made on 2018 Sep 2 shows the Orientale region
nar limb are apparent, although they are much less pronounced under even more favourable libration circumstances than in the
than A1, A2 and A3 in this view. Sep 25 image. A1 consists of two connected table-like mountains

Figure 3. Different observations arranged according to the decreasing position angle of the location along the lunar limb that is maximally tilted towards Earth. Details
of the equipment used are given in the text. The peaks of Montes d’Alembert are subdivided into a northern group (red brackets) and a southern group (white brackets).
North is up.

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 111
Vandenbohede: Identifying the peaks of Montes d’Alembert

Figure 4. The observation made on 2018 Sep 25, compared to the simulated view
and a 3-D view showing the location of the different peaks.
Figure 5. The observation made on 2018 Sep 2, compared to the simulated view
and a 3-D view showing the location of the different peaks.

and is even more distinct along the lunar rim than on Sep 25. This
is apparently because the area is tilted more towards the viewer.
There are three smaller mountains visible north of A1. These
could correspond to A2 and the two small peaks that are visible
on the Sep 25 image.
However, the location of A2, as identified in the Sep 25 image,
is more to the east than that of A1. Due to the better libration on
Sep 2, the A2 area was tilted more towards the viewer, which
means that it should have been less clearly pronounced along the
rim. This seems to correspond with the observation. However, the
cliff that makes up A2 is visible as a bright line just east of the
mountain peak. To put it another way, the A2 peak is below the
rim as seen from Earth. The peak that is visible seems to be a
mountain other than A2, here called A4.
There is some more evidence for that. South of A1, the image
shows a broad plateau along the rim. It is possible to view that
plateau in the QuickMap simulation only if the A2 peak is indeed
turned too much towards the viewer to be seen along the limb.
Therefore, A4 can be traced to an area west of A2. Just like A2, it
is a cliff-like structure that is part of the outer Montes Rook.
What about the plateau itself? It is a high-lying area inside the
inner Montes Rook and west of the crater Maunder. It is perhaps
surprising that this feature, lying west of Maunder, can be seen
and the crater itself not. But the rim of Maunder is 1.8km lower
than the level of the plateau, which explains the observation.
There remain the two small peaks between A1 and A2/A4. As
Figure 6. The observation made on 2020 Apr 9, compared to the simulated view with the Sep 25 image, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact locations
and a 3-D view showing the location of the different peaks. of these peaks. However, they must be mountains that are part

112 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Vandenbohede: Identifying the peaks of Montes d’Alembert
of the inner Montes Rook, connecting with the A1 complex. The
Sep 2 image also shows the A3 mountain, confirming the location
derived from the Sep 25 observation.
The final observation used is from 2020 Apr 9. Unlike on the
two previous dates, libration was then very unfavourable for
viewing the Orientale region. In the image, Schlüter and Lacus
Autumni are located almost at the limb. However, there is one
mountain that is profiled against the dark backdrop, here called
A5. By tilting the QuickMap simulation, the location can be
traced to a complex that is part of the outer Montes Rook. Inter-
estingly, this complex was referred to as an ‘outer Montes Rook
peak’ in the 2018 Sep 25 observation. Finally, two very shallow,
broad peaks can be seen near Schlüter, but it is impossible to pin-
point their location on the lunar surface. Based on what is learned
from the previous images, these broad peaks must be part of the
outer Montes Rook.

Northern group
The northern group consists of a number of broad mountains
along the limb north of Schlüter. It is illustrated here using the
2018 Sep 2 & 25 images. Two peaks, named A6 and A7, can eas-
ily be traced on both images using the bright craters Schlüter U
and Maunder A as reference. A6 is a very broad structure and
shows in the Sep 2 image a stepped southern flank. This is less
conspicuous on the Sep 25 image. A7 is less broad than A6 on
both views.
Tracing back the location of A6 by tilting the QuickMap view
brings us to the Montes Cordillera. A6 represents a mountain com-
plex that is part of the Montes Cordillera, bordering the relatively
flat area between these and the outer Montes Rook. This explains
why there is hardly any relief visible along the limb between A3
and A6. A7 is also a mountain complex, situated to the north of
A6. Notice that A6 is most probably the table-like mountain α that
is shown on Wilkins’ map.17
Both images show two peaks north of A7 that are, however,
less pronounced. It is very difficult to pinpoint the location of
these structures. The reason is that this area is part of the radial fa-
cies of the Hevelius Formation.21 It is part of the Orientale ejecta
blanket of prominent sinuous ridges that extend radially from the Figure 7. The observations made on 2018 Sep 2 and Sep 25, compared to the
centre of the Orientale basin. The QuickMap simulation indeed simulated view and a 3-D view showing the location of the different peaks.
shows a number of such ridges north of A7 that can be profiled on
the limb against the background of space. the north–south-oriented parts are located too much to the east
and never appear along the limb. All the identified mountain
peaks are between 88°W and 98°W.
A1, found at 95°W, is part of the inner Montes Rook, charac-
Discussion terised by disconnected peaks that are similar to those in the peak
rings of smaller basins. They formed during the basin-producing
Figure 8a shows the identified locations in relation to each other impact, by the collapse of the central uplift and subsequent defor-
and to the large structures of the Orientale basin. The southern mation of the surroundings.22 The model based on the GLD100
group is part of the inner and outer Montes Rook, whereas the shows A1 as a complex of peaks; they rise up to 3.3km above the
northern group is connected to the Montes Cordillera and the datum level, which is about 3.6km above their base (Figure 9). The
Hevelius Formation. Figure 8b shows the topography given by complex has a number of broad mountains with a width of 6 to
the SLDEM2015. This illustrates clearly the localised higher to- 12km. Seen from the east, like for an observer on Earth, these cre-
pography of the identified locations. Notice that the d’Alembert ate the broad table-like mountains that are shown in Figures 4 & 5.
mountain peaks are all found in the region of the inner and outer West of A1, there is another complex that is part of the inner Mon-
Montes Rook and Montes Cordillera that is mainly east–west- tes Rook, rising to 5.3km above the datum level. Although this is at
oriented. It is indeed logical that these parts of the basin rings 98°W, it can presumably also contribute to the shape of A1 along
should be much better profiled along the lunar limb. Moreover, the limb under extremely favourable libration.

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 113
Vandenbohede: Identifying the peaks of Montes d’Alembert
A2 to A5 are all part of the outer Montes Rook and stretch between A6 and A7 are covered by the Hevelius Formation. Moreover,
88°W and 98°W. Unlike the inner Montes Rook, this ring was the ejecta blanket was deposited first, after which the faulting
formed by normal faulting.23 As the transient crater collapsed dur- occurred.23 The sinuous ridges radial to the basin centre that
ing the formation of the basin, there was an inward flow of warm characterise the radial facies are well expressed north of A7
and weak mantle material. This pulled the cooler crust along with (Figure 8). Heights up to 3.9km above datum level are found.
it, causing the faulting.22 This is most dramatically illustrated by The ridges of this radial facies make a number of broad but rela-
A2 and A4, which show the fault scarp (Figure 9). The part fac- tively low mountains that can be observed. As indicated before,
ing the basin centre is dropped relative to the more distal part. A2 it is impossible to connect such a mountain on an image with a
rises up to 3.2km above the datum level or to about 4.4km above specific ridge.
Lacus Autumni. The structure looks like a wall, but the slope is Moore identified three peaks, of which one is here called A2.14
actually ‘only’ 30°. During the collapse of the transient cavity, The two other locations are also indicated on Figure 8 as A8 and
there was not only faulting but also a rotation of crustal blocks A9. A8 is, like A1, a complex of different mountains that are part
because of the slope of the fault. Therefore, the rings are seen as of the inner Montes Rook. They rise up to 2.8km above the datum
mountain peaks along the lunar limb. A2 rises about 3km above level or 2km above the surrounding terrain. A8 is part of the radial
the inter-ring area between the outer Montes Rook and the Mon- facies of the Hevelius Formation and rises up to 5km above the
tes Cordillera. A4 shows a fault scarp similarly impressive to A2. datum level, or 2.5km above the surroundings.
The scarp rises about 5.5km above Lacus Autumni. This height, Although not considered as a member of the Montes
considerably greater than that of A2, explains why it can be seen d’Alembert, it is interesting to point out what the plateau is that is
along the lunar limb under favourable libration, even though it is visible on the 2018 Sep 2 observation. This is part of the Maun-
located 190km more to the west. der Formation, which consists of the impact melt of the Orien-
Parts of the outer Montes Rook are much more ruined and do tale event. The plateau is characterised by a rather abrupt drop
not show a nicely preserved fault scarp. The scarp has collapsed of about 2.6km towards the south and a much more gradual drop
into smaller elements. However, a number of high peaks do still of about 2.7km towards the east. It is this change of level that
exist. This applies for A3 and A5 (Figure 9). The highest moun- is visible on the Sep 2 image. The change in topography is due
tains of A3 rise up to 3km above datum level, or to 4km above to the cooling of the impact melt. This was accompanied with
Lacus Autumni. The highest peaks of A5 are 3.8km above datum a decrease in volume that triggered the faulting.24 The location
level, 4.6km above Lacus Autumni and 3.7km above the area be- mentioned here shows the most impressive result of this kind of
tween the outer Montes Rook and the Montes Cordillera. faulting in the Orientale basin.
A6 and A7 are part of the Montes Cordillera which are also,
like the inner Montes Rook, formed by faulting.22 A6 rises 6.1km
above datum level or 4.8km above the area between the Montes
Cordillera and the outer Montes Rook. A7 rises 4.7km above the Conclusion
datum level and 3.5km above the surroundings. The fault scarp
that defines the Montes Cordillera is clearly defined, which ex- The mountain peaks of what was once called the Montes
plains the steeper southern flank that appears on the images for A6. d’Alembert highlight a number of specific parts of the Orientale

Figure 8. Location of the identified mountain peaks of the Montes d’Alembert on the mosaic image made by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Wide Angle Camera
(shown at left) and the SLDEM2015 topography (shown at right). The inset image in the right-hand panel locates the main image on the large-scale Orientale impact basin.
The topography is given in metres above datum level.

114 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Vandenbohede: Identifying the peaks of Montes d’Alembert
impact basin. Evidently, this is not a new finding, and it was beau- References
tifully illustrated by the 1967 Lunar Orbiter image. This paper
1 Baum R. & Whitaker E. A., ‘Mare Orientale: the eastern sea in the west – dis-
clearly pinpoints the observed peaks on the lunar surface and con- covery and nomenclature’, J. Br. Astron. Assoc., 117(3), 129–135 (2007)
nects them with the structures of the basin. Some peaks are made 2 Schröter J. H., Selenotopographische Fragmente 1, Lilienthal, 1891
up by the inner and outer Montes Rook (A1 to A5 and A8) and 3 Schröter J. H., Selenotopographische Fragmente 2, Lilienthal, 1802
4 Wilkins H. P., ‘Section for the observation of the Moon. Tenth report of the
these agree with the mountains Wilkins indicated with b and ε Section’, Mem. Br. Astron. Assoc., 36(1), 1–20 (1947)
on his 1946 map.17 A second group of peaks agree with those 5 Hartmann W. K. & Kuiper G. P., ‘Concentric structures surrounding lunar ba-
Wilkins indicated with α and β. These are formed by the Montes sins’, Commun. Lunar Planet. Lab., 1(1), 51–66 (1962)
6 Menzel D. H. et al., ‘Report on lunar nomenclature by the Working Group of
Cordillera and the radial facies of the Hevelius Formation. The Commission 17 of the IAU’, Space Science Reviews, 12(2), 136–186 (1971)
mountains rise between 3 and 5.5km above their surroundings, 7 Neison E., The Moon, London, 1876
so the much-repeated value of 20,000 feet, or 6.6km, is too high 8 Wilkins H. P. & Moore P., The Moon: a complete description of the surface of
the Moon, containing the 300-inch Wilkins lunar map, Faber, 1958
but comes close. 9 Price F. W., The Moon observer’s handbook, Cambridge University Press,
As indicated by Wilkins, it is illustrated that libration has an 1988
important influence on the visibility of the mountains.4 Moreover, 10 Wlasuk P. T., Observing the Moon, Springer, 2000
11 Garfinkle R. A., Luna Cognita. A comprehensive observer’s handbook of the
different peaks can be visible depending on the libration circum- known Moon, Springer, 2020
stances. A5 is a good example. When libration favours the view 12 Moore P., Survey of the Moon, Eyre & Spottiswoode Ltd, 1963
of the Orientale region, A5 is not visible at all along the limb 13 Moore P., Patrick Moore on the Moon, Cassell & Co, 2001
14 Moore J., ‘Montes d’Alembert’:
because the area is turned too much towards the viewer. A2 and Alembert (accessed 2022 March 4)
A4 are also examples. Both areas are more or less in line when 15 Mosher J. & Bondo H., Lunar Terminator Visualization Tool (LTVT), 2006
viewed from Earth; which one of the two will be profiled along 16 Haruyama J. et al., ‘Lunar global digital terrain model dataset produced from
SELENE (Kaguya) Terrain Camera stereo observations’, 3rd Lunar and Plan-
the limb depends on the libration. etary Science Conference, LPI contribution no. 1659, id.1200 (2012)
The dependence on libration also means that the list of loca- 17 Wilkins H. P., 300-inch map of the Moon, 1946
tions identified here is probably not complete. Different libration 18 ACT-REACT QuickMap: (accessed 2020
May 24)
circumstances might show peaks other than those identified in 19 Scholten F. J. et al., ‘GLD100: The near-global lunar 100m raster DTM from
this paper. The best illustration of this is that two of the three LROC WAC stereo image data’, J. Geophys. Res., 117(E12) (2012)
mountains located by Moore were not derivable from the images 20 Barker M. K. et al., ‘A new lunar digital elevation model from the Lunar Or-
biter Laser Altimeter and SELENE Terrain Camera’, Icarus, 273, 346–355
taken by the author of this paper.14 (2016)
21 Morse Z. R. et al., ‘New morphological mapping and interpretation of ejecta
deposits from Orientale Basin on the Moon’, Icarus, 299, 253–271 (2018)
22 Johnson B. C. et al., ‘Formation of the Orientale lunar multiring basin’, Na-
ture, 354, 441–444 (2016)
Acknowledgements 23 Nahm A. et al., ‘Normal faulting origin for the Cordillera and Outer Rook
Rings of Orientale Basin, the Moon’, J. Geophys. Res. Planets, 118, 1–16
The author thanks Prof Bill Leatherbarrow and an anonymous 24 Vaughan W. M. et al., ‘Geology and petrology of enormous volumes of impact
referee for their valuable comments and suggestions. melt on the Moon: a case study of the Orientale basin impact melt sea’, Icarus,
223, 749–765 (2013)
Address: British Astronomical Association, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London
W1J 0DU [] Received 2020 May 24; accepted 2020 July 1

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J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 115
Vandenbohede: Identifying the peaks of Montes d’Alembert

116 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
HR Lyrae: the restless slumbers of an
old nova
Jeremy Shears A report of the Variable Star Section. Director: J. Shears.

We present the light curve of the old nova HR Lyr between 2013 and 2019. This reveals that the system
mostly varies over the magnitude range 15.2 to 16.5. The characteristic features are near-sinusoidal variations
with amplitude up to 1mag, although without coherent periodicity. There are some years when these were
prominent: for example, 2015, 2018 and 2019. By contrast, they were almost absent during other years (2013
and 2017). Another prominent feature in the light curve is a 70-day-long fading event during 2016, when the
magnitude dropped from ~16.0 to ~17.3. We also present results of a campaign organised by the Variable Star
Section of the BAA during 2019 to observe HR Lyr. CCD photometry revealed small hump-like features in the
light curve. These were variable in size; they were generally around 0.1 to 0.2mag in peak-to-peak amplitude,
but the larger ones had an amplitude of ~0.3mag. They occurred on timescales of 20 to 40 minutes, although
without a stable period, and were similar to the flickering seen in many cataclysmic variables. The long-term
fading trend of HR Lyr over the interval 1991 to 2019 was 0.006 ± 0.004mag/year, which is consistent with the
values reported by others.

Introduction to HR Lyr: a
century of observations
The year 2019 marked the centenary of the discovery
of Nova Lyrae 1919. HR Lyr, as it is now known, was
a magnitude 6.5 nova discovered on 1919 Dec 6 by
Johanna C. Mackie at the Harvard College Observato-
ry.1 The decline from eruption was fairly well covered,
showing a rapid (t3 ~ 80 days) and smooth decay. A
review of the photometric history of HR Lyr was pre- Figure 1. Light curve of HR Lyr, 2013 to 2019.
sented in the BAA Journal in 2007,2 finding that the
system has been relatively stable at V ~ 16 ever since occasional almost featureless.6 The absence of Balmer or He emission lines
post-nova monitoring (initially comprising visual observations) in the optical waveband is somewhat puzzling, but the quality of
began in 1925. More recently, the 22-year light curve between the spectrum presented is relatively poor. It must be noted that
1991 and 2012 was presented by Honeycutt et al. (2014),3 based several other novae that had no recognisable emission lines in
on photometry from the Indiana University remote monitoring Williams’ paper were subsequently found to show Balmer lines
programme supplemented with photometry from the Bunbury in better-quality spectroscopy. Hydrogen emission lines were de-
Observatory and the American Association of Variable Star Ob- tected in the near-infrared in 2006 by Harrison et al. (2013).7
servers (AAVSO). This showed that the system varied over the
range V = 15.3–16.3, with occasional excursions to V ~ 17. One
of these fades, in 2010, was discussed in the Journal.4 The light- Table 1. Observers whose CCD photometric data
curve variations often took the form of nearly linear rises and falls were used in this analysis
on a timescale of about 100 days. Occasional ∼0.6mag bright-
ening episodes were also seen, with properties similar to those Allen, Chris Johnston, Steve Poyner, Gary
Beech, Clive Leyland, Paul Rodriguez Marco, Miguel
found in some nova-like cataclysmic variables. Boardman, James Linnolt, Michael Rodriguez Perez, Diego
Leibowitz et al. (1995),5 working at the Wise Observatory in Boyd, David Mallett, John Sabo, Richard
the 1990s, reported quasi-periodic variations in HR Lyr’s light Cooney, Walter Menzies, Kenneth Sargent, Richard
Dufoer, Sjoerd Miller, Ian Sharp, Ian
curve with a periodicity of around 0.1 days, which they specu- Fleming, George Mobberley, Martin Shears, Jeremy
lated may be associated with the orbital period. However, no de- Gualdoni, Carlo Morelle, Etienne Smith, David
finitive period for the orbit has been published. Holmberg, Gustav Paxson, Kevin Storey, David
Iozzi, Marco Pickard, Roger Walton, Ivan
Limited spectroscopic studies have been performed on HR Lyr.
Williams (1983) presented a spectrum taken in 1981 which is
J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 117
Shears: HR Lyrae: the restless slumbers of an old nova
Selvelli & Gilmozzi (2019) have studied 18 classical
novae that have Gaia parallaxes,8 and HR Lyr does
not stand out in any metric.
Apart from photometric monitoring, HR Lyr has not
received much attention. Therefore, a campaign was
launched by the BAA Variable Star Section (VSS) in
early 2019,9 to cover the whole observing season, with
the aim of deepening our understanding of the object’s
photometric behaviour on a range of timescales.
This report summarises the results of the campaign
and presents the longer-time light curve of HR Lyr
from 2013 to 2019.

To produce a long-term light curve of HR Lyr, we
used CCD photometry from the BAA VSS database
and the AAVSO International Database. The photom-
etry comprised either unfiltered CCD measurements
with V-band comparison stars or V-band CCD mea-
surements. Measurements in other colour bands were
excluded from this study.
The observers whose photometry was used are
listed in Table 1. V-band and g-band photometry
from the All Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae
(ASAS-SN) was also used, covering the interval be-
tween 2014 Nov 1 and 2019 Nov 25. This is an auto-
mated sky survey to search for new supernovae and
other astronomical transients,10,11,12 which is able to Figure 2 (continued on opposite page). Light curves of HR Lyr for individual years.
detect and perform photometry on objects down to
18th magnitude. V-band data from the AAVSO Photo-
metric All-Sky Survey (APASS) were also used.13 50 days, with the maxima separated by 40 to 70 days. The pro-
files of three of these episodes, with maxima around JD 2458344,
2458667 and 2458796, superficially look rather similar and each
had an amplitude of up to ~1mag. These were interspersed with
Results & discussion smaller-amplitude ~0.5mag variations, with a similar duration of
~50 days. It is also worth noting that during the peak of the fi-
Long-term light curve nal brightening episode in 2019, HR Lyr was magnitude ~15.0:
brighter than it had been since 2006.
Figure 1 shows the entirety of the 2013–’19 light curve of HR Lyr. To check whether there are any periodicities in the light
Over this seven-year interval, the system is seen mostly to vary curve, we subjected the data to period analysis over the range
over the magnitude range 15.2 to 16.5, with one excursion to 30 to 300 days using the Lomb–Scargle and ANOVA algorithms
magnitude 17.3. Figure 2 shows the light curve for each year un- in the Peranso V2.60 software,14 but could not find a signifi-
der consideration, on an expanded scale. cant stable period in the power spectra (data not shown). Spe-
The main features in Figure 2 are near-sinusoidal variations cifically, we failed to find the periodicity at around 63.8 days re-
of up to 1mag in amplitude. There are some years when these ported by Leibowitz et al.5 Again, our results are consistent with
were prominent: for example, 2015, 2018 and 2019. By contrast, Honeycutt et al.3 [Note: One referee noted whilst reviewing the
they were almost absent during other years (2013 and 2017). This present paper that there are g and r-band light curves available
behaviour is similar to that seen in the 1991–2012 light curve pre- from the Zwicky Transient Facility. A brief inspection shows a
sented by Honeycutt et al.3 periodicity of ~64d, close to the value reported by Leibowitz
Visual inspection of the light curves shows that the variations et al.5 However, given that the total length of this data set is lim-
occur in an irregular manner, although during 2015, four consecu- ited (369 days in g and 401 days in r), that result should not be
tive 0.6mag episodes did appear to be at least quasi-periodic, be- given too much significance.]
ing separated by ~84, 82 and 74 days. The cause of these brightening episodes is not clear. They
The system was particularly active in the second half of 2018 may be similar to the ~0.6mag brightening episodes of HR Lyr
and throughout 2019, when several successive brightening epi- reported by Honeycutt et al.3 Noteworthy in the present study
sodes of up to 1mag were observed. In fact, it appeared to be are the near-continuous cyclic variations observed during 2018
continuously brightening and fading. Each episode lasted about and 2019. Superficially similar cyclic variations, although with

118 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Shears: HR Lyrae: the restless slumbers of an old nova
a shorter cycle time, have been seen periodically in a
few nova-like cataclysmic variables, such as UU Aqr,
Q Cyg, CP Lac, W Ser and RW Sex. Honeycutt calls
these ‘stunted’ outbursts,15,16,17 in which only part of
the accretion disc goes into outburst. Most recently,
stunted outbursts have been reported in the nova-like
system HS 0229+8016.18 Both HS 0229+8016 and
UU Aqr exhibit 0.6mag stunted outbursts of 10-day
duration for extended intervals of months to years, but
at other times these events are missing, in much the
same way as in the long intervals we found for which
this activity in HR Lyr reduced or even stopped.
Another prominent feature in the light curve is
the fading event during 2016, when the magnitude
dropped from ~16.0 to ~17.3. The decline took 30
days and the recovery was slower at 40 days; both the
decline and recovery segments were linear. The extent
of this fade was similar to the one observed in 2010,
but the duration of that in 2010 was much longer at
~150 days.3

Long-term fading

Long after their eruption, novae exhibit gradual fad-
ing resulting from a fall in the mass-transfer rate from
the donor star (usually a late-type main-sequence
star) to the white-dwarf primary. This is due to a
declining irradiation of the secondary as the white
dwarf cools following the eruption.19 Modelling of
the decreased irradiation and hence reduction in mass
transfer at times ~50 years post-eruption led to a pre-
dicted fading rate of ~0.007mag/year.20
Honeycutt et al. investigated the long-term fading
of HR Lyr over the interval covered by their study,
1991 to 2012.3 Omitting the data points for 2005 and
2006, which they argued to be anomalous, they found
a fading trend of 0.012 ± 0.005mag/year. We extended
their analysis by adding the average magnitude for
the system in the years covered by the present study
(2013 to 2019) to their data. The linear fit is shown in
Figure 2 (continued). Light curves of HR Lyr for individual years. Figure 3 and has a slope of 0.006 ± 0.004mag/year;
we too omitted the 2005 and 2006 data points.
Our value is only half that reported by Honeycutt
et al.,3 although given the size of the errors on both
measurements, they are consistent. We note that both
values are also consistent with Duerbeck’s (1992)
value of 0.010 ± 0.007mag/year for HR Lyr,19 and his
mean value of 0.010 ± 0.003mag/year from a sample
of 13 novae.

Time-resolved CCD photometry

As mentioned in the Introduction, Leibowitz et al.
speculated that HR Lyr might have an orbital period of
around 0.1 days,5 but no independent measurement of
Figure 3. Mean magnitude of HR Lyr by calendar year. The data points with error bars (standard the orbital period has been published. Hence, a princi-
deviation) are from the present study. The other data points are from Honeycutt et al. (2014).3 The
fitted line, which excludes the two high points for years 2005 and 2006 shown in grey (see text for pal aim of the 2019 VSS campaign was to confirm or
details), has a slope of 0.006 mag/year. refute this period.

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 119
Shears: HR Lyrae: the restless slumbers of an old nova

(a) (b)

(c) (d)

(e) (f)

(g) (h)

(i) (j)


Figure 4. Examples of some of the longer time-resolved photometry runs during the 2019 campaign. Observers: (a), (b), (i) – Ian Miller; (c), (e) – Richard Sabo; (d), (f),
(g), (h), (j), (k) – Kenneth Menzies.

120 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Shears: HR Lyrae: the restless slumbers of an old nova

Light curves from the longer photometric runs are shown in also of contributing to a coordinated campaign. It is clear from the
Figure 4. They are plotted to the same scale, where the x-axis light curves presented here that the 2019 VSS campaign resulted
represents 0.3 days (7.2 hours). Small hump-like features were in the most intensive coverage that HR Lyr has received, greatly
apparent in all the time-series runs. These were variable in size, enhancing the quality of the light curve.
but generally around 0.1 to 0.2mag in peak-to-peak amplitude; Although the 2019 VSS campaign has officially ended, the au-
the larger ones had an amplitude of ~0.3mag. Superimposed on thor hopes that observers will continue to monitor HR Lyr, prefer-
these was small-scale flickering. ably on a nightly basis. It will be interesting to see if, for example,
Visual inspection of the light curves shows that the humps oc- the brightening episodes of 2019 will be repeated, or whether it
cur in an irregular manner, with an interval between them of 20 will return to its more usual behaviour. Who knows what this rest-
to 40 minutes. Such behaviour is commonly seen in nova-like less old nova might reveal about itself in the second century fol-
variables. We analysed the combined data sets, as well as the dai- lowing its last eruption?
ly time-resolved photometry runs, using the Lomb–Scargle and
ANOVA algorithms in the Peranso V2.60 software over the range
0.01 to 0.3 days,14 but could not find a significant stable period in
the power spectra (data not shown). Acknowledgments
The author acknowledges with thanks the use of photometry from
Spectroscopy the databases of the BAA VSS, the AAVSO and the ASAS-SN.
In particular, he thanks all those who contributed to the BAA
HR Lyr is even less well characterised spectroscopically than VSS campaign during 2019. He is also grateful to the AAVSO
photometrically. It was therefore hoped to obtain spectroscopy for allowing him to use for many years the AAVSOnet remote
during the 2019 campaign. Amateur spectroscopy of HR Lyr is telescope at the Sonoita Research Observatory in Arizona. The
challenging due to the faintness of the star. Nevertheless, Robin research made use of the NASA/Smithsonian Astrophysics Data
Leadbeater obtained a low-resolution ALPY 600 spectrum on System and SIMBAD, operated through the Centre de Données
2019 May 19, which was similar to a low-resolution 1983 spec- Astronomiques (Strasbourg, France).
trum from the literature. It shows a blue continuum with no obvi- The author is also grateful to both referees, whose comments
ous emission lines, though there are hints of some small features have helped to improve the paper.
common to both spectra.21
Address: ‘Pemberton’, School Lane, Bunbury, Tarporley, Cheshire CW6 9NR

The long-term light curve of HR Lyr shows that the system most- References
ly varies over the magnitude range 15.2 to 16.5. The characteristic
1 Bailey S. I., Harvard College Observatory Bulletin, 705 (1920)
features are near-sinusoidal variations, although without coherent 2 Shears J. & Poyner G., J. Br. Astron. Assoc., 117, 136–141 (2007)
periodicity. There are some years when these were prominent: for 3 Honeycutt R. K., Shears J., Kafka S., Robertson J. W. & Henden A., Astron. J.,
example, 2015, 2018 and 2019. By contrast, they were almost 147, 105–113 (2014)
4 Shears J. & Poyner G., J. Br. Astron. Assoc., 120, 380 (2010)
absent during other years (2013 and 2017). Another prominent 5 Leibowitz E. M. et al., Baltic Astronomy, 4, 453−466 (1995)
feature in the light curve is the fading event during 2016, when 6 Williams G., Astrophys. J. Suppl. Ser., 53, 523 (1983)
the magnitude dropped from ~16.0 to ~17.3, lasting 70 days. This 7 Harrison T. E., Campbell R. D. & Lyke J. E., Astron. J., 146, 37 (2013)
8 Selvelli P. & Gilmozzi G., Astron. Astrophys., 622, 186 (2019)
behaviour is consistent with the 1991–2012 light curve presented 9 Shears J., J. Br. Astron. Assoc., 129, 132 (2019)
by Honeycutt et al.3 10 Information about the ASAS-SN is available at:
The long-term fading trend of HR Lyr over the interval 1991 (accessed 2020 April)
11 Shappee B. J. et al., Astrophys. J., 788, article id. 48 (2014)
to 2019 was 0.006 ± 0.004mag/year, which is consistent with the 12 Kochanek C. S. et al., Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac., 129, 104502 (2017)
values reported by Duerbeck and Honeycutt et al.19,3 13 AAVSO, ‘APASS: The AAVSO Photometric All-Sky Survey’: www.aavso.
Time-resolved photometry revealed small hump-like features org/apass (accessed 2020 April)
14 Vanmunster T., Peranso (2011): (accessed 2020 April)
in the light curve. These were variable in size, but generally 15 Honeycutt R. K., Robertson J. W. & Turner G. W., Astron. J., 115, 2527–2538
around 0.1 to 0.2mag in peak-to-peak amplitude. The larger ones (1998)
had an amplitude of ~0.3mag. They occurred on timescales of 20 16 Honeycutt R. K., Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac., 113, 473–481 (2001)
17 Robertson J. W., Honeycutt R. K., Henden A. A. & Campbell R. T., Astron. J.,
to 40 minutes, but without a stable period. Such behaviour is typi- 155, 61–68 (2018)
cal of many nova-like variables. We could find no evidence for a 18 Shears J., ‘Unusual stunted outbursts in the nova-like variable HS 0229+8016’,
0.1-day period reported by Leibowitz et al.5 J. Br. Astron. Assoc., 130(4), 234–239 (2020)
19 Duerbeck H. W., Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 258, 629 (1992)
20 Kovetz A., Prialnik D. & Shara M. M., Astrophys. J., 325, 828 (1988)
21 Leadbeater R., BAA Forum (2019): (accessed
2020 April)
HR Lyr: what next?
This work shows once again the importance of amateur astrono-
mers maintaining a long-term record of a star’s brightness and Received 2020 April 11; accepted 2020 December 5

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 121
From the BAA bookshelf
The Planet Saturn (1962) & The
Planet Uranus (1965) by Dr A. F. O’D
Richard McKim gradual and painstaking
Archivist discovery, alternating
between the rings and

D r Arthur Francis O’Donel
Alexander (1896–1971) will
be best known to older members
the globe, allowed him
to focus upon the efforts
of particular observers at
for his encyclopaedic 1960s books different epochs. There
about Saturn and Uranus (See Figure 1). His were many illustrations
obituary notice appeared somewhat tardily in the from the earliest times up
Journal [83, 353–355 (1973)], while much later till 1960. (Alexander cit-
in the Lunar Section Circular [31(5), 74 (1995)], ed just about every BAA Figure 1. The Planet Saturn (1962) and The Planet Uranus (1965). Due to de-
I gave a few further biographical details. Saturn Section report, mand, there was a later reprint of the earlier work as a softcover Dover edition.
Alexander successively directed the BAA but missed the second
Jupiter and Saturn Sections, taking over the of the two 1890s BAA Saturn Memoirs.) It was He gave a full account of the discovery of the
latter one first, in the autumn of 1946. He was an warmly received. Alexander had first floated planet, and of the spurious observations made of
excellent correspondent, and very quickly a large the idea of writing such a book in his Section its supposed rings by early observers. And that
team of observers was built up. He produced a correspondence in 1947, but as he admitted at takes me back to a day in the BAA Library in
number of Section Circulars for the rapid ex- the time, he had to await his retirement to tackle the late 1970s, at the time of the discovery of the
change of information. such an ambitious project. rings. With Alexander’s book in my hand, I was
Based in Dorchester, Alexander observed Encouraged by his earlier success, he followed discussing the discovery with a friend, when we
primarily with a fine 130mm Zeiss refractor, up with The Planet Uranus, with the same pub- were joined (or more accurately, ambushed) by
loaned from the BAA in 1944. He also used the lisher and with the subject matter arranged like that remarkable character Miss Cicely Botley.
152mm (6-inch) refractor of his good friend (and his previous one, in 1965. He was apparently She accurately remarked how Herschel could
variable-star observer) J. R. Bazin. He had sharp sceptical about Buffham’s (and later) observa- not have observed those Uranian rings.
eyesight, and although his planetary sketches tions of white spots, choosing not to illustrate Although there was less material available
were somewhat diagrammatic, they were accu- them. Today however, we know that such sight- for illustration than for The Planet Saturn,
rate and honest. As mentioned in a recent Mars ings were very likely to have been objective, as Alexander did a good job on the Uranus book
interim report [Journal, 130(5), 62–63 (2020)], bursts of activity upon the outer gas giants can and thereby produced another very readable
Alexander rallied BAA wartime observers for the produce conspicuous white spots. standard work. ▶
favourable opposition of 1941, and eventually
compiled a very detailed report [Memoirs, 37,
part 1 (1951)].
Alexander was one of the few amateur astron-
omers of his day to get to study Saturn with a
large professional instrument under favourable
conditions. In 1947 September, he led a small
group that included the young David Dewhirst
(then a student at Cambridge), to the Pic du Midi
[Journal, 58, 56–63 (1948)]. The trip made a
great impression upon Dewhirst, and I had sev-
eral discussions with him in the library office at
Cambridge Observatory before putting my own
1986 experiences on paper [Journal, 97(5),
280–287 (1987) and Pulsar, 78, no. 658, 22–26
(1987)]. The group had several chances to use
the 60cm folded refractor, witness prominences
and the inner corona with Bernard Lyot’s famous
solar telescope and enjoy spectacular scenery.
The only low point, he said, was the substitute
French coffee which was then the only sort
available. After his death, his archives passed
to Cambridge Observatory, and I am grateful to
librarian Mark Hurn for permission to publish
(for the first time) some photographs of that 1947
trip (see Figure 2).
The Planet Saturn, published by Faber &
Faber in 1962, is a gold mine of useful informa-
tion, arranged largely chronologically. While Figure 2. The 1947 BAA Pic du Midi expedition. (A) The expedition members pose at dawn after a night’s
B. M. Peek had arranged his own book The observing. From left to right: A. J. Newberry, Alexander, Henri Camichel (Pic staff member), Dewhirst and
Planet Jupiter according to the various belts and J. M. A. Danby. (B) & (C) The 60cm (24-inch) folded refractor. (D) A daytime group on the terrace. From left to
zones of that planet, Alexander’s treatment better right: Alexander, M. Decoureau (Pic staff), Dewhirst and Danby. (E) & (F) Two views of the early téléphérique
suited the subject matter. The many episodes of (cable car). (Courtesy of Mark Hurn and the University of Cambridge, Institute of Astronomy)

122 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
BAA Update

In 1990 the BAA celebrated
its centenary. The passage shown
here (top left) is from The BAA:
The second fifty years, written
by Dr Richard McKim, and de-
scribes two celebrations.
The ‘Grant of Arms’ that was
framed on the wall is shown
here (left). The coat of arms can
also be seen on the front of the
programme card produced for
the event (top right).
John Chuter The programme itself is shown (right). On the
Archivist wall was also a framed, tailored badge (above)
of the Liverpool Astronomical Society (LAS),

I n my last ‘From the Archives’
piece, I showed items on the
walls of the Herschel Room at Burlington House,
gifted to the BAA to commemorate the centena-
ry. It was presented at a two-day joint meeting
with the BAA in Liverpool in 1990 September/
which was the office of the BAA for 80 years, October. Both Presidents also cut a cake. The
until this year. Other interesting items were found LAS has a long history and was instrumental in
when moving out of the room. the formation of the BAA.

▶ Answering an enquiry from Richard Baum
in 1965 July, Alexander replied: ‘Though two
others … have already suggested my tackling a
companion volume on Neptune and Pluto, I have
not yet made up my mind whether to do so’. In
the end, he did not.
When it came to having a favourite planet,
though, Alexander’s was Mars. He produced nu-
merous Mars drawings between 1939 and 1952,
many of which are in our archives. In Figure 3
are two (until now, unpublished) that he made
at the Pic in 1947. Several of Alexander’s Mars
drawings featured in that 1950s classic, Astron-
omy for Everyman, edited by Martin Davidson
(Dent, 1953), to which Alexander contributed
chapters; and in our centenary publication, The
British Astronomical Association: the Second
Fifty Years, (Memoirs, 42, part 2, 1990). His
energy and infectious enthusiasm made a remark-
able impact upon the BAA planetary Sections,
assisting their recovery after the war years.
As mentioned earlier, Dr Alexander died in
1971. It would be good to know if any of his Figure 3. Mars, drawn by Dr A. F. O’D. Alexander on 1947 Sep 12 & 13 with the 60cm (24-inch) OG, ×900,
personal papers outside of our BAA files are still from Pic du Midi. The disc diameter was a mere 5.3 arcseconds; GMAT was the old system of time-reckoning
extant. that commenced at noon. (BAA Mars Section Archives)

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 123

BAA Annual General Meeting, 2021 October 23
held at the Institute of Physics, 37 Caledonian Road, London N1 9BU
Alan Lorrain, President Ron Livesey (1929–2021), a for-
mer Aurora Section Director and
Bill Tarver, Hazel Collett & Prof Jeremy regular solar observer, died in Feb-
Shears, Secretaries ruary. He was a winner of the Lydia
Brown Medal & Gift in 1995 and was
Alan Dowdell the Association’s Walter Goodacre
Meetings Recorder medallist in 2012. [An obituary was
published in the 2021 June Journal,

O wing to the COVID-19
pandemic, this was the first
face-to-face meeting of the Asso-
131(3), p.186.]
Peta Bosley (1954–2021) passed
away at the end of April. She was a
ciation for 21 months. Strict requirements were serving Trustee on the Association’s Left: Ron Livesey at a 2012 BAA meeting in Aberdeen, having
put into place to allow members to meet safely, Board and was also a member of received the Walter Goodacre Medal. (Photo: K. Kennedy.) Right:
while the meeting was also live-streamed on Council. [Mrs Bosley was remem- Peta Bosley, whose contributions to the BAA and the wider astro-
Zoom and the BAA YouTube channel, where a bered in the 2021 December Journal, nomical community were numerous. (Photo: S. Bosley.)
recording remains available. 131(6), p.389.]
The annual general meeting of the 131st ses- Our thoughts are with the family
sion of the Association was opened at 2.30 p.m. and friends not only of Peta and Ron, but of all the societies, and we hope to continue to use
by Alan Lorrain, the President, who welcomed whom we have lost in the last 12 months. Burlington House as our postal and registered
all in the auditorium and watching online. The Moving on to the day-to-day administration office address.
latter could comment and raise questions via the of the Association, both the Board and Council
Zoom ‘chat’ function. He commented that it was have continued to meet on a virtual basis, up until
good to see members in person once again. The this morning when the Council met in person Publications
minutes of the previous annual general meeting, at the Institute of Physics (IoP). I would like to
which had been made available to members on take the opportunity to thank them all for their Congratulations to our Journal Editor for another
the BAA website, were approved. effort and time in carrying out their duties for the six fine editions. Philip has clearly settled into the
Dr Geoffrey King, the Treasurer, was then in- Association, with particular thanks to those who role, bringing his own personal touch.
troduced. Noting that the full 21-page 2020–2021 are standing down at the end of the session – from Thanks are also due to Marie-Louise Archer,
financial results of the Association are available the Board, Callum Potter, Nick Hewitt and Tim who has taken on the role of Advertising Man-
on the BAA website, with extracts published Parsons; from the Council, David Boyd, Eliot ager, and Prof Jeremy Shears for all his work as
in the 2021 October Journal [131(5), p.313], Hall and Steve Bosley. Papers Secretary whilst supporting the Editor.
Dr King said he would only outline the most The Computing Section Director Steve
important items at this meeting. The Associ- Harvey and his team have yet again been hard
ation’s funds had grown in the last financial Instrument recovery at work putting the Handbook together, which
year due to a healthier state of the investments; members with paper subscriptions will have
overall the total reserves at the close of the year Regrettably, there has been an ongoing dispute received with their October Journal.
were £1.6 million. However, an area of concern regarding the ownership of various items of
is the £6,500–7,000 monthly operational loss, astronomical equipment that had formed part of
which he said needed to be addressed. In closing, the Association’s Instrument Collection. This Meetings & webinars
Dr King informed that the coming session of the has culminated in the Association having to take
Association would be his last as Treasurer, and legal action in the County Court to recover these Meetings Secretary Hazel Collett has worked
applications to succeed him in the role would items from the former Curator of Instruments, hard, as usual, in moving our scheduled meetings
be welcome. Bob Marriott. online and also liaising with the IoP to arrange
Mr Lorrain thanked Dr King and proceeded Following a court ruling on 2021 Sep 2, the the AGM today. Thanks go to her.
with the presidential review of the year. judge confirmed the BAA’s ownership of all All our meetings in the session were switched
significant items in dispute, as well as awarding to webinar format, including the Winchester
costs in the proceedings to the Association. I Weekend arranged by Ann Davies, and the
would like to thank our legal team for their work George Alcock Memorial Lecture. The latter
Review of the year, in bringing this to a conclusion. was given by Jonathan Shanklin, who also had
2020–2021 the honour of having an Antarctic glacier named
after him in in recognition of his work on ana-
Burlington House lysing the ozone layer.
The introduction of our regular online events
Alan Lorrain
The office staff have been working remotely for is an unexpected positive that has come out of
President (2019–2021)
the last 18 months, but we have still had to cover the pandemic. Some have said to me that they
the cost of retaining the physical office space, prefer to watch on YouTube rather than attend-
As I did in my 2019–2020 re- amounting to over £30,000 per year. ing in person. The range of topics covered has
view, I start by remembering the The Board and Council felt that this was not been impressive, including multiwavelength
members who have died during a good use of members’ subscriptions and so imaging of the Sun, binocular observing and
the session. Whilst COVID-19 remains preva- we have given notice to the Royal Astronomical sketching deep-sky objects, as well as a whole
lent, the numbers of deaths (32) have thankfully Society that we will relinquish our use of the series of talks by the Radio Astronomy Section.
been lower than last year. In this connection, I Herschel Room at Burlington House, the home Please may I express my thanks to everyone
would like to mention two in particular of the of the RAS. We have expressed to the RAS who helped organise these sessions and who
friends and colleagues that we have lost. that it is our wish to retain close links between presented at them.

124 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
brochure to promote their excellent work. I am
particularly pleased to say that the BAA remains
proud to support dark skies for everyone.
The two years of my presidency have not
been as I had initially anticipated, with the
opportunities to travel round the country and
meet members curtailed by the COVID-19
pandemic. However, I am proud of the way that
the Association has risen to the challenges it has
faced, and I would like to say ‘thank you’ for the
help and support that I have received during my
term of office.
Mr Lorrain then proceeded by giving his Pres-
idential Address, titled ‘Observing artificial
satellites and space probes’. [The Address will be
published in a forthcoming Journal.] Following
applause for his Address, Mr Lorrain asked the
Business Secretary, Bill Tarver, to give the results
of the ballot.
BAA Council members for the 2020–2021 session pictured during a virtual meeting, 2021 May 26.
Top row (L–R): Alan Lorrain, Nick James, Mike Frost, Dr Geoffrey King, Ann Davies. Second row: Lyn Smith,
Prof Bill Leatherbarrow, Sandra Brantingham, Dr Nick Hewitt, Mike Foulkes. Third row: Timothy Parsons,
Marie-Louise Archer, Dr David Arditti, Dr John Rogers, Andrew Wilson (guest and coordinator of meeting). The ballot for Trustees &
Fourth row: Dr David Boyd, Peter Carson, Dr Paul Abel, Prof Jeremy Shears, Dr John Mason. Bottom row:
Dr Richard McKim, Janice McClean, Philip Jennings. Not shown: Steve Bosley, John Chuter, Hazel Collett,
John Cook, Eliot Hall, Steve Harvey, Callum Potter, Dr Richard Miles and Bill Tarver. (Screenshot by Nick James)
The election of Trustees and Council again had
two components, with returns being submitted
The Sections The Board also approved a payment under both by post and using an online system run by
the terms of the Association’s Ridley Grant to Civica Election Services (formally Electoral
Our Sections are a key strength of the BAA. This Monty Leventhal, a BAA member in Australia, Reform Services). A total of 543 votes were cast,
year, online meetings were held by the Historical, to enable him to replace a solar filter that he uses of which 114 were paper and 429 were online.
Solar, Deep Sky and Radio Astronomy Sections. in outreach events at the Sydney Observatory. Seven paper and three (blank or void) online
Our Section Directors, and their supporting Finally, the Sir Patrick Moore prize for 2020 votes were invalid/spoilt.
teams, work so hard and we owe them a debt of went to Rita Whiting for her outreach work over Combined results were as follows (no. of
gratitude for their efforts. many years, both with Crayford Manor House votes received given in brackets). The Board
One of those Directors, Prof Bill Leather- Astronomical Society and the BAA. of Trustees: President, Dr David Arditti (490);
barrow, stepped down from his role, having led Vice-President, Alan Lorrain (ex officio); Trea-
the Lunar Section and edited the Lunar Section surer, Dr Geoff King (476); Business Secretary,
Circular over the past 12 years. Dr Tony Cook Website & Web Content Editor William Tarver (468). Five further members of
has agreed to stand in as Acting Director, assisted the Board were elected: John Chuter (359), Ann
by Tim Haymes, whilst Barry Fitz-Gerald has The BAA website remains our main showcase Davies (403), Janice McClean (394), Dr Richard
taken on the editorship of the Circular. to the world and following agreement by the McKim (395) and Lyn Smith (365). The votes
Board, we are developing a new site that should for Tim Parsons as Trustee (161) were added to
look better while being easier to navigate and to the votes to sit on Council.
Awards update. This is in its final testing phase and we The elected Council comprises the Board
hope that it will go live soon. [The new website of Trustees as listed above, plus the Papers
The Association’s awards are how we recognise was subsequently launched; see p.71.] Secretary, Prof Jeremy Shears (479); Meetings
people who have contributed significantly to the Earlier this year, Emily Bick joined our team Secretary, Hazel Collett (465); and the following
BAA or wider astronomical community. as Web Content Editor: the post previously oc- elected members: Marie-Louise Archer (406),
The Walter Goodacre Award went to Lyn cupied by Ade Ashford. Emily’s main role will Alexandra Hart (408) and Tim Parsons (423).
Smith, Director of the Solar Section and a be to assist the Section Directors with their web Mr Tarver thanked the scrutineers: Ms Madeleine
distinguished solar observer. This honour ac- pages, but it has also been particularly useful to Davey, Ms Julia Palmer and Mrs Jayne Rickard.
knowledges her huge commitment to analysing have her input on the website revamp. He also thanked Andrew Wilson for managing
and reporting on the work of the Section, as well Our Members’ Pages are a key part of our the online ballot.
as contributing to the Journal. online community and provide an outlet where Before a break for tea at 4 p.m., there was a
Dale Holt received the Steavenson Memorial as members we can show off what we are doing. question from the floor regarding what plans had
Award in recognition of his observations of I would like to encourage more members to take been put in place to reduce the deficit in the As-
under-observed galaxies – notably, those in the advantage of this facility, particularly while sociation’s accounts. Dr King returned to answer
Arp catalogue and the Hickson compact groups, the opportunities to mingle with each other at that the office’s move out of Burlington House
which he records in drawings. meetings are limited. will cause a major reduction in operational costs.
The Merlin Medal & Gift were awarded We should review our spending further, but he
jointly to two observers, Raffaello Lena & Barry noted that as a charity with significant reserves,
Fitz-Gerald, for the collaborative work that they Commission for Dark Skies a zero-deficit policy was not being pursued.
have undertaken to promote lunar observation. A vote of thanks to Alan Lorrain, proposed by
Using spacecraft imagery and topographical I would like to conclude my review of the year Dr Paul Abel, was expressed by the membership
data sets to complement telescopic observation, by highlighting the efforts of the Commission for and Mr Lorrain received sustained applause as
their work is improving the way that amateurs Dark Skies. Working with the lighting industry, his term as President came to an end. Following
interpret their observations of the Moon. rather than against it, they have produced a new this, the AGM was closed.

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 125

BAA Ordinary Meeting, 2022 October 23
held at the Institute of Physics, 37 Caledonian Road, London N1 9BU
Dr David Arditti, President of Mars and Jupiter, including Uranus would reach oppo-
the first ever colour images sition on 2021 Nov 4, at mag-
Bill Tarver, Hazel Collett & Prof Jeremy of the latter planet from 1949 nitude 5.7. Images by Manolo
Shears, Secretaries and 1950, which he produced Rodriguez, Luigi Morrone and
in collaboration with Manos Richard Hill were shown. One

A fter the break for tea which followed the
AGM, the newly appointed President
Dr David Arditti chaired the first meeting of
Kardasis. He continued by
showing other results obtained
with this process, noting that
by Denis Buczynski showed
four moons well, as did another
by Kevin Bailey. Dr Arditti then
the 132nd session of the Association. Dr Arditti the work is still ongoing. proceeded to discuss Saturn,
noted that he is the 67th President since the BAA After thanking Dr McKim, showing images of this planet
was founded in 1890 – or, to reference the name Dr Arditti introduced Dr Paul by Milosz Leszewicz, Manolo
of the comet famously visited by the Rosetta Abel, Director of the Venus Rodriguez, Martin Lewis and
mission, ‘67P’. After asking if there were any & Mercury Section, to speak Trevor Barry.
new members present at the meeting (none were about recent observations Dr Arditti chairs his first meeting Images of Jupiter by Peter
in attendance), he announced that the acceptance of Venus. as BAA President. (Paul Skidmore) Edwards and Damian Peach,
of one paper for the Journal had been approved both from Sussex, were pre-
by Council that morning (see panel below). sented. An image in the meth-
Dr Arditti then made a few announcements, ‘Recent observations of Venus’ ane band had been obtained by Martin Lewis,
saying that the Association would continue with while the President had imaged in RGB and
the programme of Zoom webinars that were Dr Abel illustrated how the phase and the ob- infrared, combining the two to produce a
successfully introduced during the pandemic. served size of the planet changes due to its orbit composite. A possible Jovian impact flash was
The next live event was the Christmas Meeting and that of the Earth. At the time of the meeting, detected by José Pereira from Brazil on Sep 13,
on 2021 Dec 4 and, due to a temporary closure the planet was very low in the sky after sunset with another discovered by Ko Arimatsu in Japan
of the Institute of Physics for maintenance work, and about 10° high at this time, so observing in on Oct 15. The site of the latter was passed over
that meeting had been rearranged to be held at the daytime would be an advantage. Dr Abel by the Juno spacecraft a few hours later, but
the Royal Society of Medicine, London. showed images and drawings by Chris Nuttall, nothing was found. Dr Arditti continued with
The President then introduced the first speak- David Basey, Richard Hill and himself. further images from JunoCam, processed by
er: Dr Richard McKim, Director of the Mars Dichotomy (when the planet appears 50% Dr John Rogers and Gerald Eichstädt.
Section. illuminated) would theoretically be on 2021 After providing the lunar phases for the next
Oct 28, but to the visual observer this half-phase month, Dr Arditti reminded members that there
is reached earlier than the predicted date for east- would be an almost total lunar eclipse on 2021
‘New colours for old images’ ern (evening) elongations, and later for western Nov 19. For the UK, this would occur at moonset
(morning) elongations. This anomaly is known so limited observations were expected.
Dr McKim described how he had obtained as the Schröter effect. Images of the night-side Mercury was a morning object and an image
scanned plates from the Lowell Observatory can be obtained in infrared light at the crescent by Simon Kidd was shown. Another image was
archive, to make colour planetary images. In phase, as was illustrated with observations by obtained by the spacecraft BepiColombo on
doing so he referred to a paper by Dr McKim & Frank Melillo of the USA, and Martin Lewis. It Oct 1, as it passed the planet. It will do this six
Johan Warell which was previously published is possible that Venus still has active volcanoes. more times before reaching its final orbit.
in the Journal, ‘New colour images from old Infrared images of bright spots were obtained by As for comets, 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko
planetary photographs’ [123(3) (2013)]. Phil Miles and Anthony Wesley in 2017, from was well placed and had been imaged by Peter
Direct colour photography was impractical Australia – were they the first to observe active Carson and Peter Tickner. The comet C/2021
before the mid-1950s, so to construct colour im- volcanoes on the planet? A1 (Leonard) was imaged by Peter Carson. The
agery from the images then taken, it is necessary Dr Abel finished by reminding observers to comet 29P/Schwassmann–Wachmann is highly
to combine photographs taken with red, green (or send observations of Mercury to Chris Hooker, active had recently been in outburst once more;
yellow) and blue filters. who is the Section’s Mercury Coordinator. images by Richard Miles and Peter Tickner
Dr McKim continued by discussing how the After answering some questions, Dr Abel was illustrated this.
plates were inspected, with the best frames being thanked for his contribution. The Sun had been active. White-light and
then combined in Registax. Each resultant pho- H-alpha images by David Strange, with another
tograph was then processed further as required. in white light by Kwong Man, were shown.
To illustrate the results, he showed colour images Sky Notes An image of a rainbow by Janice McClean was
presented, followed by one of a double rainbow
Noting that the incoming President typically says by Dr Arditti.
Papers accepted by Council on little at their first meeting in the role, Dr David There had been volcanic activity on La Palma
Arditti broke from this convention by giving the and an Oct 17 image by Paul Leyland, who has
2021 October 23 meeting’s Sky Notes. an observatory on the island, recorded this.
One paper, proposed by Prof Jeremy Shears, He started with Variable Star Section light Further images of deep-sky objects were shown:
Papers Secretary, was accepted on 2021 Oc- curves, provided by Prof Jeremy Shears, for M31 and M35 by Denis Buczynski and IC 1805
tober 23 by the BAA Council for publication two novae: V1405 Cas and the recurrent nova by Dr Arditti. Finally, a photograph of a solar
in the Journal: RS Oph. The supernova 2021zny, discovered in eclipse, taken by Hugh Philips on 35mm HP3
2021 September, was at the time of the meeting at film in 1971 February but only just uploaded to
The opposition of Mars, 2020, by Richard McKim. 16th magnitude and a spectrum by Robin Lead- the BAA website, was shared. The meeting was
beater was shown. 175 years after its discovery, then closed until 2021 Dec 4.
Philip Jennings, Editor the planet Neptune was well shown in images by
Luigi Morrone and Christophe Pellier. Alan Dowdell, Meetings Recorder

126 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
astronomers and readers with
A shining furrow: the life of an interest in nineteenth-cen-
tury issues. Whitmell be-
Charles T. Whitmell, astronomer & lieved passionately in social
reform, being particularly
educationalist committed to the causes of
women’s suffrage and en-
lightened ideas in education,
by David Sellers Society of Wales, and in 1895 which he took every oppor-
he paid his five-shilling sub- tunity to spread in his career
Magavelda Press, 2021 | ISBN 978-095411312 scription and joined the BAA. as an inspector of schools.
Pp 182 | £27 (pbk), discounted to £18 for BAA He quickly began to contribute There is a useful ap-
members papers to the Journal (mainly on pendix listing a number of
the planets and their satellites), Whitmell’s publications,

I acquired this book after reading Bill Barton’s
notice on the BAA’s online forum (2021
Sep 2). A Shining Furrow is the biography of
occasionally exhibiting the
kind of humour we associate
with Patrick Moore. His paper
including BAA Journal pa-
pers and articles. The index
is helpful, though I have to
Charles Whitmell (1849–1919) – a man of many ‘A Martian sundial’ contained say I judged it wanting when
interests, including astronomy. He was a member calculations on the equation of time on Mars, I discovered that a reference to ‘BAA’ is not to
of the BAA in its early days and contributed a which he claimed were sent to him from the be found.
number of papers, as well as participating in a Director of the Fastigium Aryn Observatory on The book may be difficult to locate online or
solar eclipse expedition. the red planet. His conclusion was that though in shops but may be ordered from the Magavel-
What makes the book most remarkable and we may not be sure that the Martians have built da Press website ( I
engrossing to read is the sheer amount of illus- canals, we may be certain they have sundials. was most impressed with their speedy response
tration. Whitmell was a conscientious recorder In 1900, Whitmell led a BAA party to observe and with the generous discount, which is offered
and kept prolific notebooks, no less than 217 of the solar eclipse of May 28 from Navalmoral to all members.
which were donated to Leeds University Library in Spain. The expedition turned out to be both
by his sister Charlotte. The book is A4-size, with observationally and personally successful. On John Thorpe
pictures displayed on most pages. the train, on her way to the event, was a certain
The story of Whitmell’s life is told in chap- Lucy Foster. When Whitmell sent her draft
A member of the BAA since 1982, John Thorpe con-
ters which focus on particular topics. Thus copies of his eclipse report for the BAA, he tributes observations to the Variable Star Section. He
Chapter 11, ‘The astronomer’, commences at sparked a romance which led to their marriage is a computer science teacher at St Hilda’s Anglican
the time he began recording his observations two years later. School for Girls in Perth, Western Australia, where
in notebooks, in 1893. In 1894 he was one of I found the book both interesting and in- he established the astronomical society which he has
the founding members of the Astronomical formative, and I highly recommend it to both led for over thirty years.

Correspondence is welcome. Please e-mail letters to, or post to
H i & H ii: A Mr Philip Jennings, 47 York Road, Malton, York, YO17 6AX, clearly marking your letter ‘for
publication’ if you wish it to be considered for the Journal.
can cross an air gap without the electrodes in an H ii region. These electrons frequently re-
being brought together) many of the iron atoms combine with the free protons to form neutral but
are ionised, and we see the ‘second’ or ‘spark’ highly excited hydrogen atoms, and these atoms
From Prof Jeremy Tatum spectrum, which is that of the ion Fe+. Thus, then strongly emit lines of the neutral hydrogen
Fe i is the spectrum of neutral Fe, and Fe ii is spectrum – i.e., the H i spectrum.
I am no expert in variable stars, but I think I the spectrum of Fe+. Thus, your answer to the examination question
detected a small typographical mistake in the Ionised hydrogen is, of course, a proton, and ‘Describe the difference between an H i region
recent article (Poyner (2021); 131(6), p.390] on has no line spectrum. Hence there really is no and an H ii region’ should be: ‘An H ii region
the star Z Andromedae. That article referred to such thing as an H ii spectrum. shows emission lines of H I but does not show
the spectra of symbiotic variable stars, such as Emission nebulae are classified into ‘H i any lines of H ii. An H i region does not show
Z And, as including emission lines of HII – a regions’ and ‘H ii regions’, meaning regions any lines of H i.’
misprint, I think, for emission lines of H i. (The in which the hydrogen is mostly neutral, and Let us hope that this answer results in your
Roman numeral is usually printed in small cap- regions in which the hydrogen is largely ion- passing the exam!
itals, after a space.) May I take the opportunity ised (often because they closely surround a hot
here of clarifying the difference? star). This is not a happy notation. Better would Jeremy Tatum
Most elements (hydrogen is the only excep- have been ‘H regions’ and ‘H+ regions’, but the
tion!) have two or more spectra, depending on notation is far too well established even to think University of Victoria, British Columbia
the temperature and mode of excitation. Thus about changing it. []
iron, for example, has a ‘first’ spectrum, denoted Although most hydrogen in H i regions is neu-
by Fe i, and a ‘second’ spectrum, denoted by tral, generally the temperature is not high enough Many thanks to Prof Tatum for reporting the
Fe ii. The ‘first’ spectrum is typically seen in an to excite the spectrum of H i. An H ii region does misprint and for his clarification. The Editor
arc, in which most of the iron atoms are neutral. not show spectrum lines of H ii, simply because will take care to observe the distinction, although
This is also known as the ‘arc’ spectrum. In a isolated protons do not have any line spectrum. he makes no guarantee that he will pass the
much higher-energy high-voltage spark (which On the other hand, there are many free electrons exam. – Ed.

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 127
BAA Update
Letters (continued)
New members encouraging people to look up at the sky, which I
Star Count 2022 am sure most would agree is a perfectly laudable
aim. However, the argument falls down because
2021 May 26 they are trying to be all things to all people:
something that is doomed to failure.
ATKOČIŪNAS Žilvinas From Mr Brian Mills FRAS On the one hand they want the public to
BAILEY John, Bedfordshire participate on a very casual basis, but on the
CARTWRIGHT Ned, Suffolk Most astronomers, I am sure, would gladly other they are then using the questionable data
CLARK-GUTIERREZ Luca, West Sussex support any initiative that highlights the effects gathered as a basis for arguing about how bad
CURRY Sean, Jackson, USA of light pollution not only on our activities light pollution is. Anyone using the ‘findings’
DEMJPSEY Roy, West Midlands but also on human health in general and of these campaigns to argue the case for stricter
DEVONSHIRE John, Vale of Glamorgan on wildlife. lighting controls will soon find the rug pulled
DURHAM Andy, Lincolnshire For a number of years, CPRE The Coun- from under them. To use the data in an attempt
FARROW Paul, Kent tryside Charity has been organising an annual to influence the All-Party Parliamentary Group
FEATHERSTONE Robin, Wiltshire ‘Star Count’ in an attempt to quantify light (APPG) for Dark Skies would do astronomers
HARTWELL Jonathan, Southend-on-Sea pollution. Whilst this can be seen as a credit- no favours at all.
HARVEY Graham, Essex able goal, it has to be viewed in context, sadly CPRE The Countryside Charity needs to de-
HARVEY Mike, Brighton and Hove something that has been lacking in recent cide which side of the fence it is on. If it simply
HARVEY William, Tyne and Wear years. Previous campaigns have suggested wants to encourage the general public’s greater
HOLMES Gordon T., West Yorkshire carrying out the count with the Sun less than participation in enjoying the night sky, then
LOWE Greg 18° below the horizon, whilst on other occa- more power to their elbow. If, however, they
MAISEY John, Northamptonshire sions the Moon has been visible. They also want to make a meaningful contribution to the
MANOO Bobby, Greenwich promote the fallacy that you only need to allow fight against light pollution, they need to sharpen
MATULA Thomas, Texas, USA your eyes to dark adapt ‘for a few moments’ up their campaign and ensure it is scientifically
MCATEER Kirsten, Lancashire before you begin counting. This year their sustainable before they damage the good work
MONPEAT Frederic, Dublin, IRELAND early advertising suggests that you can carry that has already been done.
NELSON Stanley, Chaves, USA out the ‘Star Count’ from a bedroom window
PARMAR Jay, Derbyshire with the lights on. Brian Mills
REYNOLDS Michael, Redbridge When challenged, the response of CPRE
ROWSON Chris, Suffolk The Countryside Charity is that they are simply Tonbridge, Kent
SERVAT Jean-Marc, Haute-Savoie, FRANCE
SIQUEIRA Ariovaldo, Minas Gerais, BRAZIL WYNN Jim, Surrey BAKER Alan, Derby, Derbyshire
SKEA Dennis, Dutchess, USA YORKE Steve, Lincolnshire BARNES Andrew, Hennuyeres, Braine Le
SMITH Jim, Herefordshire Comte
STYLES Andrew, Essex BONNINGTON Alla, Billericay
TONON Aldo 2021 September 8 BRADLEY Ian, Kendal, Cumbria
TOWERS Jane, Norfolk BROCKBANK William, Zurich, SWITZER-
TSE Ronald, Gloucestershire ALAM Manzoor (Dr) LAND
WATSON Stanley, Washtenaw, USA ARMSTRONG Mark, Folkestone, Kent BUECHNER Michael
WRIGHTMAN-BIXBY Theo, Waltham Forest AUSTIN Brian, Hastings, East Sussex BURSEY Jon, Cramlington, Northumberland
BUTLER Michael, Sittingbourne, KENT
CAREY Thomas, Chester, Cheshire
CHADWICK Andrew, Kendal, Cumbria
CHAPMAN Emma, Grantham, Lincolnshire
CLANNACHAN Neil, Hale, Cheshire
CLITHEROW Alan, Bridgend, Ceres, Fife
COFFEY Richard, Bradford
COLLIS Robert, York, N. Yorkshire
CROSFILL Ian, Sulgrave, Oxfordshire
DICKENS Stephen, Redhill, Surrey
DUIN Heiko, Bremen, GERMANY
EVANS John, Cardiff
FEATHERBY Sophie, Hull, East Riding of
FEICHTER Konrad, Klagenfurt, Carinthia
FITZGERALD Terry, Bella Vista, Benton
FRANZ David, Brighouse, Calderdale
GOCZAN Callum, Huddersfield, Kirklees
GREEN Wayne, Longmont, Boulder
GUNTON Brian, Preston, Lancashire
HARRIS Ben, Wallington, Sutton
HERZOG Karl, Driftwood, Hays
HICKEY Brian, Barnet, Hertfordshire
JAMES Nigel, Scarborough, N. Yorkshire
JEFFERY Melloney, Malton, N. Yorkshire ▶

128 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
BAA Update
Notice Notice

The BAA Awards & Medals for Nominations for the
Ballot for the BAA
2022 Council & Board of
C ouncil will shortly consider nominations
for the Association’s Medals and Awards
This award shall be made in recognition of
a notable contribution to the advancement of
for 2022. If any member wishes to nominate a
fellow member for some notable contribution,
please send a suitably worded citation to the
astronomy. If two or more persons have been
jointly concerned in any particular work, a joint
award may be made, in which case each person
A n election will be held in 2022 October
for the Council of the Association and the
Board of Trustees. A ballot list will be sent to
Business Secretary no later than Sunday, 2022 shall receive a medal and gift. members with the August Journal.
May 8. All nominations must be in writing and Under the constitution approved in 2015
signed by two sponsors. Please try to confine May, the elected Council comprises the Pres-
citations to one side of an A4 sheet of paper. Steavenson Award ident, Treasurer, three Secretaries, and up to
Conditions relating to each award are given five further members of the Association. Ad-
below. Members are requested to read the This award shall be made at the discretion of ditionally, all Section Directors, Postholders,
conditions carefully and to ensure that citations the Council. It shall be awarded to a member the elected Board members and the Vice-Pres-
comply with the conditions for the relevant who has made an outstanding contribution to ident (ex officio) are automatically members
award. A list of previous recipients of the observational astronomy. of the Council.
Awards and Medals may be obtained from the The Board of Trustees comprises the Pres-
BAA Office or the website at www.britastro. ident, Vice-President, Business Secretary,
org/home/about-us/awards. Lydia Brown Medal & Gift Treasurer and five elected members, all of
whom will also be Council members. You can
This award shall be made at the discretion of stand for election to Council without being
Walter Goodacre Award the Council. The award shall be in recognition considered for the Board, but you cannot be
of meritorious service to the Association in an elected to the Board without also becoming a
The award, which is the senior award made honorary capacity over many years, on grounds member of Council.
by the Association, shall ordinarily be made that would not qualify the nominee for either If you would like to be nominated as a
at intervals of not fewer than two years, and the Walter Goodacre or Merlin Awards. If two Trustee or a member of Council, you must be a
not more than four years since the last award. or more persons have been jointly concerned paid-up member. Please ask two other paid-up
The award shall be given in recognition of in any particular work, a joint award may be members to propose and second you and then
the recipient’s contribution to the progress of made, in which case each person shall receive sign the letter or form yourself to show you
astronomy over many years, special regard a medal and gift. are willing to stand. If you wish to nominate
being had to his or her work communicated to someone else, the same conditions apply. If
the Association, this work being communicated standing as a Trustee, you must confirm that
in any form, and not necessarily in writing, Horace Dall Medal & Gift you have read and understood the responsibil-
provided that the recipient is a member of at ities of the Trustees of a Charity as set out on
least five years’ standing in the Association at The award shall be made at the discretion of the website of the Charities Commission and
the date of the Annual General Meeting in the the Council but not more than once in any that you are prepared to accept and fulfil these
year of the award. calendar year. It shall be made to a person or responsibilities to the best of your ability.
persons, whether or not members of the Asso- All nominations must be in writing and sent
ciation, who have shown marked ability in the to the BAA office to arrive by Sunday, 2022
Merlin Medal & Gift making of astronomical Instruments. If two or May 8. A suitable form (if wanted) may be
more people have been jointly concerned in a downloaded from the BAA website at:
The award shall ordinarily be made not more particular work, then each person may receive Signed and
than once in any year and not less often than a medal and gift. scanned forms or letters may be returned to
once every five years, the year being reckoned the office by e-mail [] or
to start at each Annual General Meeting. Bill Tarver, Business Secretary by post.
Bill Tarver, Business Secretary

Errata: The Editor apologises for two misprints in the February Journal’s ‘Quiz answers’ [132(1), 10–16 (2022)]. On p.11, the ‘central’ and ‘right’ captions for
the panel of Herschel Museum images are mistakenly inverted. On p.15, the credit for the 1900 May 28 solar eclipse image should have read: ‘Royal
Astronomical Society / BFI’.

▶ KALYANI Namita, London, Tower Hamlets PHILLIPS Tony, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwick- SPENCER Nic, York, North Yorkshire
KELLY Christopher, Omagh, Northern shire SPRULES Kev, Bridgnorth, Shropshire
Ireland PICCOLI Mattia TAYLOR Brian, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire
KERSHAW Joseph, Didcot, Oxfordshire PRIESTLEY Dave, Lampeter, Ceredigion VAN JAARSVELD Faith, Aldershot, Hamp-
LABBE Jean, Lévis, Quebec RAMSEY Norman, Doune, Perthshire shire
LAWRENCE Howard, New Milton, Hampshire REYNOLDS Cristina, West Linton, Scottish WATSON Patrick, Benalla, Victoria
LINES Richard, Pershore, Worcestershire Borders WELLS Christopher, Ripon, N. Yorkshire
LYLE Adam, Southend-on-Sea ROBINSON Martin, Dunham Massey, Greater WILLIAMS Simon, Gloucester, Gloucestershire
MCGREGOR Andrew, Inverness, Highland Manchester WILSON Tony, North Walsham, Norfolk
MUENTER Christian, Hamburg, GERMANY ROSEVEARE Neil, Truro, Cornwall WRIGHT Stephen Charles, Watford, Hertford-
OWEN Nigel, Machynlleth, Powys ROUSEN Andrew, Leatherhead, Surrey shire
PETTS Osian, Machynlleth, Powys SPENCER Curt, Tinley Park, Cook ZHANG Jasmine, London, Wimbledon

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 129
Observers’ Forum
Variable Star Section between magnitude 11.9 and
14.1, in a continuous irregu-
lar fashion with frequent out-

Visual burst activity and occasional
rapid variation, including
(rarely) ‘flickering’.

photometry of There was a low-state
period between 1984 January
and 1987 May, when Mark-

Markarian 421, arian 421 never got brighter
than magnitude 13.4. There
appeared to be a dichotomy

1981–2021 of its states in the X-Ray
waveband in 1984 and 1985,
based on EXOSAT and IUE
In 1992 March there was
an optical outburst, when
John Toone, Markarian 421 rose rapidly
Chart Secretary from below magnitude 13.1
to 12.6.3. Shortly afterwards,

R iding high in the sky
during northern-hemi-
sphere spring evenings is the
it became the first blazar to
be detected emitting TeV
gamma-ray radiation, by the
brightest and closest blazar, commonly known as Whipple Observatory.4 (The
Markarian 421. With a mean magnitude of 13.1, TeV unit is a teraelectron
it is half a magnitude brighter on average than volt, or one trillion elec-
the next brightest blazar in the northern sky (S5 tron volts.)
0716+71 in Camelopardalis). In 1996 May, the Whipple
Markarian 421 is in the lower part of Ursa Observatory detected a fur-
Major and is easy to locate, just north of the ther TeV gamma-ray out-
well-distinguished outline of Leo. Midway burst,5 which also aligned
between the third-magnitude stars upsilon and with an optical brightening:
nu UMa lies the sixth-magnitude star 51 Uma, this time from magnitude
which in turn is positioned only two arcminutes 13.3 to 12.7.
north-northeast of Markarian 421. While most A high state of activity Figure 1. The Variable Star Section finder chart and sequence ref. 243.01.
conveniently placed for observation in spring, was observed between 2012 During 1981–2021, the most frequently used comparison stars were D and E.
Markarian 421 can be seen from the UK most March and 2014 April, when
of the year, although the months of August and Markarian 421 never faded
September present a challenge. below magnitude 13.0. The peak activity com- References
Blazars (name derived from ‘BL Lacertae’ menced in 2012 July.6 In the middle of this high-
and ‘quasar’) are related to quasars and are state activity, the most intense X-ray emission to 1 Adamin A., ‘BL Lacertae objects – blazars’, Var-
the most optically variable examples of active date was recorded in 2013 April,7 even catching iable Stars Observer Bulletin (2014): vs-compas.
galactic nuclei (AGN). AGN systems involve the attention of the BBC.8
material falling into a supermassive black hole Being the brightest and closest blazar that 2 George I. M., Warwick R. S. & Bromage G. E.,
at the centre of a host galaxy. An accretion disc is MNRAS., 232, 793 (1988)
varies across all wavelengths from radio waves
3 IAUC, 5471 (1992)
formed around the black hole, with high-energy to high-energy gamma rays, Markarian 421 is of 4 IAUC, 5522 (1992)
jets emitting perpendicular to the disc. In a blazar, intense interest to professional researchers. With 5 Gaidos J. A., Nature, 383, 319 (1996)
the jet beams light in the direction of Earth.1 its ample and sometimes volatile activity readi- 6 BAA VSS Alert, 2975 (2012 Jul 23)
At a distance of 400 million light-years, Mark- ly detectable visually, it is worth keeping an eye 7 ATel, 4977 (2013)
arian 421 is the nearest of the quasars/blazars, on too. 8 BBC News article: (2013)
being marginally closer than Markarian 501 and
Markarian 509. Appearing as a point source of
light in small and medium-sized telescopes, it is
ideally suited to visual photometry by applying
the methodology of the Variable Star Section
and using the chart and sequence reproduced
in Figure 1.
I have undertaken systematic visual photome-
try of Markarian 421 since 1981 and the resultant
light curve is given in Figure 2. The observations
were made with a 20cm telescope augmented by
36 and 40cm telescopes on occasions when sky
conditions dictated. The bulk of the observations
were made from Manchester (up to 1992) and
Shrewsbury (since 1993), but I also secured
observations from Australia in 1986 and 1999,
which demonstrates that this object is not purely
restricted to northern-hemisphere observers. The Figure 2. The visual light curve of Markarian 421 during 1981–2021, with data points acquired on 2,140 nights.
range of variation in the period 1981–2021 was The curve was extracted from the BAA Variable Star Section database and formatted by Gary Poyner.

130 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Observers’ Forum
Deep Sky Section

NGC 6210 – A forgotten planetary nebula in Hercules
Stewart Moore
Director, 2004–2013

F or such an important myth-
ological figure, Hercules is
represented in the sky by rather a faint constel-
lation. It may be the fifth-largest in the sky, but
being composed mainly of stars in the magnitude
range 2.8 to 3.5, it is not at all prominent. Under
a dark sky it can be difficult to locate compared to
some of its companion constellations, with their
first-magnitude marker stars. To compensate,
it does lie almost overhead on late-spring and Peter Goodhew
early-summer nights, and well away from Milky
Way interference. To most deep-sky observers,
Hercules means the globular clusters M13 and
M92, but there are many other delights within
its boundaries, including numerous double stars
visible in small telescopes.
One such forgotten object is the planetary
nebula NGC 6210. It is listed in most observing
guides, including the Webb Society Deep-Sky
Observer’s Handbook, Volume 2 and Stephen
O’Meara’s Deep Sky Companions – Hidden
Treasures (where it is hidden treasure number Bob Garner Fred Stevenson Andrea Tasselli
78). However, it somehow fails to attract the
attention of many observers and there are few Many deep-sky objects, particularly nebulae, Telescopes used were twin APM LZOS 152
images in the Section’s archive. Possibly its lack have become personalised nowadays by having refractors fitted with QSI 6120 CCD cameras.
of appeal to imagers is due to many deep-sky popular names attached to them. Often based The filters were Astrodon RGB, H-alpha 5nm
photographers using wide-field telescopes, not on deep images obtained with large telescopes, and OIII 3nm. Exposures were RGB 47×60s,
particularly suitable for imaging small, arcsec- in many cases they require a certain amount of H-alpha 45×120s and OIII 43×120s.
ond-size planetaries. imagination to see the attributed figure. Not so Although none of these images could claim
Listed as a star by Lalande in 1799, its with NGC 6210, which following imag- R . Rubin/C
r tiz to show any turtle features, some struc-
nebulous nature was discovered by the great ing by the Hubble Space Telescope in /P.
H ture is visible in them. Both Andrea
observer Wilhelm von Struve in 1825 while he 1997 (right) has been rightly named Tasselli’s and Peter Goodhew’s
g to

was searching for double stars. At a distance of the Turtle Nebula – complete with images hint at how complex the

some 6,000 light-years, it lies at RA 16h 44m 29.5s a stomach full of still-to-be-di- nebula is internally. (Peter re-
. J. Lame/R . Dufou

and Dec 23° 48ʹ 00ʺ, which puts it just over four gested shellfish. marked that this planetary proved
degrees north-east of the magnitude 2.8 yellow Planetary nebulae are re- to be a real imaging challenge,
giant star beta Herculis. At magnitude 8.4, it is a nowned for the range of shapes due to its small size and high

bright object and it is surprising that its discovery they produce as the dying star dynamic range.)

was missed by earlier observers. responsible for creating the nebula Visually, this planetary is one
Determining the size of nebulous objects with goes through its death throes and stellar of the few to show colour, appearing
diffuse outer envelopes is difficult, as it depends winds, emitted at ever increasing speeds and bright blue. This is largely lost on this co-
to a large extent on both the size of telescope temperatures, catch up with and break through lour-blind writer, who observed it in 1993 in his
being used to make the measurement and the the earlier-expelled outer envelope. Despite its 8¾-inch ƒ/5.8 Newtonian, under a magnitude 5.1
steadiness of the atmosphere. NGC 6210 is small size, Bob Garner, Andrea Tasselli, Fred sky (I am slightly embarrassed to say that I have
generally listed as being around 20×15arcsec and Stevenson and, more recently, Peter Goodhew not observed it since). At ×50 it was visible as a
elongated east–west, although it often appears have all attempted to image this tiny planetary. small disc of indeterminate size, easily held with
considerably smaller than that. Such a small Their images are reproduced above. direct vision, while increasing the power to ×173
object would almost certainly have appeared star- Bob Garner used his 350mm Newtonian and it was very obvious as a well-defined grainy disc
like to Charles Messier and his comet-seeking SBIG 2000XM camera, binned 2×2, with expo- that appeared slightly flatter on the north side.
colleagues, so it is understandable why they did sures of 10×2min CLS and 8×2min H-alpha, OIII The central star (magnitude 13.7v) was not seen
not discover it, but it could well have been seen and H-beta. Andrea Tasselli used his Intes-Micro at any power and the use of an OIII filter showed
by William Herschel with his larger telescopes. M809 8-inch ƒ/10 Maksutov–Cassegrain with no extra detail.
Following Struve’s discovery, it was observed an SXV-H9 camera and a total exposure of I always find tracking down and observing
by William’s son John, who reported it as ‘very 75min, through RGB and H-alpha filters. Fred small planetaries both challenging and very
bright, 8 arcsec in diameter and of uniform light Stevenson’s mage was taken through his 14-inch satisfying. If you do too, there is another plane-
but with edges boiling and ragged’. It was also Meade LX200 with a DSI Pro III CCD camera. tary in Hercules to test you: NGC 6058, which
observed by the Rev Thomas William Webb, who Total exposure time was 82min (CLS, H-alpha, is similar in size and appearance to NGC 6210.
saw it as ‘small and like an out-of-focus star’ – a OIII and SII). In 2022 February, at the writer’s As always, if you observe any of these objects,
description most visual observers, including the request, Peter Goodhew imaged it from his re- do send your results to the Deep Sky Section or
present writer, would agree with. motely operated observatory in southern Spain. post them on the BAA website.

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 131
Sky Notes by Brian Mills

by Nick Hewitt 2022 April & May
(Written for 22:00 BST in the Above: Messier 53 (right) and NGC 5053 (left): a contrasting pair of globular clusters within the same low-power
UK on May 1.) field. Starwave 70mm and Canon 60Da. (Nick Hewitt)

L ife is full of
and for astrono-
irregular galaxies, although many are
faint. Other members include NGC
4244, a fine edge-on silver streak,
mers in spring, we have warmer but and NGC 4449, an irregular mess.
shorter nights. British Summer Time The majority of this group are in the
began at the end of March and thus 10–16Mly range.
observing sessions are starting later, The Canes II Group is further
becoming very late by the end of May. from us but is also rich in targets for
This is not a major issue for observers amateurs. The largest and best known
of the planets, as there are few on show of this group is Messier 106, an easy
in the evening this spring. Early risers target at magnitude 9.1 and lying
can see the procession of major planets between Chara and Phecda (gamma
before dawn, albeit low down and so Ursa Majoris). Other enjoyable gal-
generally unsatisfactory. axies abound at a rough distance of
As the brilliant winter stars dip into 25Mly, including the interactive pair
the west, the Milky Way sinks from NGC 4485 and NGC 4490.
view, opening a dust-free window to A third group, scattered between
the universe beyond. The April skies Canes Venatici and Coma Berenices
can be transparent, and we find the glut to the south, is usually known as the
of galaxies in the Virgo Supercluster NGC 4631 Group, after the bright
moving west, to be replaced by some distinctive Whale galaxy. Another
of the heavens’ finest globular star characterful galaxy within this group
clusters by May. The ‘Realm of the Figure 1. Messier galaxies M95 and M96, with M105 in a trio with NGC 3384 is NGC 4656 (the Hockey Stick):
Galaxies’ in the Bowl of Virgo and and NGC 3389. Imaged from Leicestershire on 2020 Mar 27 with a Canon EF a distorted barred spiral warped by
beyond are well placed for observa- 400mm ƒ/5.6 USM lens, Canon EOS 200D and Sky-Watcher EQM-35 mount. an encounter with NGC 4631. At 30
tion, the centre of our Virgo Cluster Exposure 30×180s at ƒ/5.6; ISO 1600. (Clive Nanson) million light-years from us, these are
of galaxies being a treasure trove for halfway to the Virgo Cluster’s centre.
the deep-sky enthusiast. Messiers 95 and 96 in the west of Leo, the Leo Feast on the majestic star-cities during Moon-
Markarian’s Chain is a good place to begin, Triplet of Messier 65, 66 and NGC 3628, and nu- free April and May nights.
just 10° north of the celestial equator, between merous other NGC galaxies of assorted classes. Just north of the celestial equator, in Virgo it-
Denebola (beta Leonis) and Vindemiatrix (ep- The group is quite spread out, as they are rela- self, lies the famous quasar 3C273. Its nature was
silon Virginis). The two great elliptical galaxies tively close neighbours of our Local Group, at a suggested 59 years ago by Maarten Schmidt and
Messiers 84 and 86 are easy targets, visible ‘mere’ 25–35 million light-years (Mly) distance. Bev Oke using the 200-inch reflector on Mount
in finderscopes. These giants and their spiral They lie under the lion, between Regulus to the Palomar. Of course, at 2.44 billion light-years, it
neighbours are at the centre of the Virgo Cluster west and Denebola to the east. The bluish spiral is not part of the Virgo Cluster or even the local
of over one thousand assorted galaxies, but as NGC 3389, near M105, looks to be associated supercluster. But at a magnitude of around 12.9
they are between 54 and 65 million light-years with Leo I, but this is a line-of-sight effect and (it varies), it can be seen visually with modest-ap-
in distance, large telescopes are required to tease it is twice as distant. erture telescopes. If the sight does not impress,
out detail. Other galaxy groups, also part of the As the night draws on, the two galaxy groups the statistics will.
Virgo Supercluster family, are nearer and often in Canes Venatici become more prominent. If galaxies are not to your taste, perhaps enjoy
more rewarding. Many are prominent in spring Canes I is sometimes known as the ‘Messier 94 two contrasting globular clusters at the end of the
around and below Ursa Major. Group’, due to the prominence of its brightest tresses of Coma Berenices, on the border with
The Great Bear now wheels overhead and member: a 9th magnitude SA(r)ab spiral that Boötes. Messier 53 is bright (magnitude 7.7),
is our guide to other constellations. Below the is the apex of a triangle between alpha (Cor
‘saucepan’ asterism of the Plough pattern lies Caroli) and beta (Chara) Canum Venaticorum.
Leo, with a line through Megrez to Phad/Phec- The group has an unusually large number of
da pointing to the constellation’s brightest star
Regulus, and one from Dubhe through Merak
pointing to the lion’s rump. Beneath the curve
of the bear’s tail yap the hunting dogs (Canes
Venatici), with the easy second-magnitude dou-
ble star Cor Caroli. The dogs trample the hair
of Berenices (Coma Berenices) that lies above
Virgo. Extrapolating the tail south brings us to
Arcturus in Boötes and then on to Spica, Virgo’s
brightest gem.
Figure 3. Messier 106 and NGC 4248 (top). Imaged
Within this large swathe of sky are the many on 2018 Mar 29 from Alcalalí, Spain. APM TMB 152
galaxy groups that contribute to the Virgo Figure 2. NGC 4244, one of the brighter members ƒ/8 LZOS refractor, 10 Micron GM2000 HPS mount
Supercluster. The Leo I group is well placed of the Canes I Group. 2021 May 2; Celestron 9.25 at and QSI 6120ws8 CCD camera. 12×300s each for
in April and contains some of the best galax- ƒ/10, ASI 183MM and ASIair Pro. Exposure: 20×120s. RGB, 50×300s L, 15×1200s and 10×1800s H-alpha.
ies of spring, including Messier 105, nearby (David Strange) (Peter Goodhew)

132 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Sky Notes
compact (13 arcminutes across), and lies close Figure 5. Sunspots of is still several weeks from opposition however
to fainter and slightly smaller NGC 5053: a active region 2936 on and it sits low in eastern Capricornus. Wait for
much looser affair. Both can be captured in a 2022 Jan 30, at 11:09 high summer.
low-power field (see banner image on opposite UT. (Ron Johnson) Uranus is at conjunction with the Sun on
page). Messier 53 is quite distant at 60,000 May 5. Neptune creeps into the morning sky but
light-years but fairly typical, being class V. Less is essentially unavailable. Saturn sits just north
than a degree away, NGC 5053 is at a similar of 4 Vesta (magnitude 7.3) on May 7.
distance but is class X1: very poorly concentrated Phases of the Moon
and of low metallicity. One theory is that it has 2022 April & May Comets
been torn from the Sagittarius Dwarf Spheroidal
Galaxy in the past. 19P/Borrelly is predicted to fade in the evening
To the east of the meridian, kite-shaped sky as it becomes more distant. It is just south of
New First quarter Full Last quarter
Boötes is prominent, its brilliant orange lumi- the Pleiades in mid-April.
nary Arcturus (the brightest star in the northern Apr 1 Apr 9 Apr 16 Apr 23 C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) should be visible
hemisphere) being unmissable at magnitude Apr 30 May 9 May 16 May 22 in the morning skies using large binoculars or a
–0.05. Most deep-sky objects in Boötes are faint May 30 small telescope, moving slowly in April and May
galaxies and are generally unrewarding, except in western Aquila, but accelerating southwest
for the truly dedicated. In compensation, there There is a partial solar eclipse visible from through Ophiuchus in June and July.
are several double stars to enjoy, particularly South America on Apr 30, but nothing will be C/2019 L3 (ATLAS) is in Gemini and is well
tight Izar (epsilon Boötis, or Pulcherrima). A seen from the UK. The total lunar eclipse that placed, close to Alhena (gamma Geminorum)
binary with a period of over 1,000 years, the occurs on May 16 is frustrating for UK observers, early in April.
separation is under three arcseconds (ʺ), but the because totality begins at 04:30 BST – a few Newly discovered C/2021 O3 (PanSTARRS)
orange and blue colours are gorgeous. Other minutes before the Moon sets. moves into the northern sky in early May,
doubles to chase on a Moon-compromised night Getting up early is necessary to catch a host ascending rapidly from Perseus and then clam-
include mu (a triple, with the primary 108ʺ from of planets, although other than Mercury none bering up the neck of the giraffe, Camelopardalis,
a pair at 2.3ʺ), pi (a 5th-magnitude white pair at are putting on a good show just yet. For the becoming circumpolar during the short nights of
5.6ʺ separation), and chi (an unusually coloured enthusiast, there are several close encounters of late May. It will be at some 0.6au when closest
pair being yellow and orange, 6.6ʺ apart). the planetary kind to look out for. In early April, to Earth on May 9, but how it will perform is
Northwest of Arcturus is the overlooked NGC Mars and Saturn are very close, especially on anyone’s guess.
5466. Due east of the brighter and better-known Apr 5 as they scrape the horizon west of brilliant
Messier 3, this is a 9th magnitude globular cluster Venus. Venus then has a very close encounter Meteors
of the loosest kind, being class X11. It has been with Jupiter on Apr 30, when they are just 0.2°
nicknamed the ‘Snow Globe’ (Figure 4). apart, although low in a bright sky. Jupiter itself The April Lyrids will be at their maximum on
As we approach the short lies very close to Mars at the end of May. Apr 22, with the last-quarter Moon rising well
summer nights, Coro- Mercury puts on its best evening show of the after midnight. It is not normally a rich shower
na Borealis becomes year following superior conjunction on Apr 2, but rates can occasionally soar, so it is worth
prominent, containing reaching eastern elongation on Apr 29 when 12° looking. The radiant is now in Hercules rather
its famous variable above the horizon. It flies under the Pleiades at than Lyra, but near enough to Vega (alpha Lyrae)
stars R and T Corona the end of April, but they may prove difficult in to make no difference. The Eta Aquarids peak
Borealis. Hercules in a bright spring glow. on May 6 when the Moon is a waxing crescent
the east then makes Venus reached western elongation on Mar 20 and so will not interfere, the shower’s radiant
his annual appearance, and is as brilliant as ever, despite the disc shrink- rising well after midnight. These meteors are
containing the two ing as it pulls away from Earth. However, its debris from comet 1P/Halley and are the spring
f a m o u s M e s s i e r Figure 4. Boötes’ globular low altitude during spring will make detailed equivalent of the autumnal Orionids, which
globulars Messier 13 cluster NGC 5466. 2018 observation difficult. originate from the same famous visitor.
May 4; TMB 115mm ƒ/7
and Messier 92. and Starlight Xpress Trius
Mars begins infuri-
The occultation 814; LRGB. (Nick Hewitt) atingly low as it pass-
of gamma Virginis es from Capricornus Lunar occultations
(Porrima) by the to Aquarius in early
Moon on May 13 offers an opportunity for the April, although it im- Date Time (UT) Star Mag. Ph. % Illum. Notes
non-specialist to enjoy. Porrima is a close binary, proves in altitude as it Apr 5 21:41 Upsilon Tauri 4.3 DD 20+ Grazing from
but it has recently widened (now 3.1ʺ) to be ac- moves into Pisces by Scotland
cessible to modest telescopes. Although at 01:56 the end of May. The Apr 5 22:13 Upsilon Tauri 4.3 DB 22+ Very low
BST, it will be worth seeing the star disappear disc swells from 5.2 Apr 12 22:34 46 Leonis 5.4 DD 83+ Star is semireg.
behind the dark limb of the Moon and re-emerge to 6.2 arcseconds, be- variable
less than an hour later. The binary comprises very coming a better target Apr 22 04:49 Tau Sagittarii 3.3 DB –65 Very low, bright
nearly equal components of magnitude 3.4 and for imagers. sky
3.5, with a position angle of 355°. Jupiter rises just May 4 23:16 139 Tauri 4.8 DD 15+ Very low
May 13 00:56 Gamma Virginis 2.8 DD 87+ Porrima, famous
before dawn in April binary
and remains diffi- May 13 01:46 Gamma Virginis 2.8 RB 87+
Solar system cult throughout this May 14 21:34 Lambda Virginis 4.5 DD 98+
spring. Saturn is the
The Sun is now at last showing more activity, first planet up in the Selected occultations of stars brighter than magnitude 5.5 as seen from Greenwich.
DB = star disappears at bright limb; RD = star reappears at dark limb. Please see
with several large sunspot groups being imaged morning, following the Handbook of the BAA for more details and for occultations of fainter stars.
in the winter. With the advent of longer days conjunction in early
and the Sun occupying a higher position, this February. The rings Grazing occultations
could be an excellent time for observation. The are closing somewhat,
noctilucent cloud season begins in May, so look with more southern Date Time (UT) Star Mag. Notes
out for these spectacular blue-tinged clouds in hemisphere on show Apr 5 21:50 Upsilon Tauri 4.3 Hebrides to Arbroath
the north during astronomical twilight. than for a few years. It

J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 133
Notice Board
Wednesday 2022 May 25
Meetings Joining BAA webinars BAA Special General Meeting, Ordinary
Meeting & George Alcock Memorial

Lecture, 17:30 (doors open 17:00). Institute
Webinars are hosted on Zoom and virtual at- of Physics, Caledonian Road, London N1 9BU.
tendance, either online or by phone, is free. See below for the programme and further details,
Joining instructions for each event are on the or visit
Entries for this diary should be sent to the BAA website at All
Journal Editor [] times given here are for the UK. Live streams
as soon as dates and locations are known. of webinars, and recordings of past events, are Friday 2022 June 3
Details of all astronomical meetings of re- also available on the BAA YouTube channel BAA Radio Astronomy Section Webinar,
gional or national interest are welcome. The (but please note that those viewing live on 19:30 on Zoom. ‘LOFAR: How high-resolution
Editor’s decision on inclusion or otherwise YouTube will be unable to take part in speak- radio observations can help us understand su-
of any meeting in this listing is final. permassive black holes’, by Dr Leah Morabito,
er Q&As).
UKRI Future Leaders Fellow and Assistant
Professor. To register, please contact paul@
Friday 2022 May 6 in advance.
Friday 2022 April 1 BAA Radio Astronomy Section Webinar,
BAA Radio Astronomy Section Webinar, 19:30 on Zoom. ‘Muons: Detection, cosmology,
19:30 on Zoom. ‘…On fast gamma-ray bursts’, tomography, navigation and civil engineering’, Friday–Sunday 2022 June 10–12
by Prof Carole Mundell, Professor of Extraga- by Prof Lea Thompson, Department of Physics & Pro-am comet community (hybrid) work-
lactic Astronomy at the University of Bath. She Astronomy, University of Sheffield. To register, shop. Stefanik Observatory, Prague, and online.
is an observational astrophysicist who researches please contact in advance. Held in cooperation with the Europlanet 2024
black holes and gamma-ray bursts. To register, Research Infrastructure (RI), the BAA, Planetum
please contact in advance. Prague, and the Czech cometary community
Tuesday 2022 May 24 SMPH. To attend online, apply by 2022 May 13.
BAA Historical Section webinar, 14:00 on Visit for more information.
Friday–Sunday 2022 April 8–10 Zoom and the BAA YouTube channel. ‘Asian
BAA Winchester Weekend, 19:00 Friday observations of the 18 August 1868 total solar
to 15:00 Sunday. Sparsholt College, Westley eclipse’: a talk by Prof Wayne Orchiston and Saturday 2022 June 25
Lane, Sparsholt, Hampshire, S021 2NF. The Darunee Lingling Orchiston BAA One Day Summer Meeting, 10:00–
BAA returns to Winchester for the first time since (both pictured left). The speakers 18:00. University of Nottingham, Jubilee Confer-
2019. This event must be booked in advance. say: ‘The total solar eclipse of ence Centre, Nottingham NG8 1DH. The theme
For programme details and information on how 1868 Aug 18 is regarded as a wa- of the meeting will be ‘Cosmology, Galaxies &
to book, see the back cover of this Journal, or tershed event that led to a major Exoplanets’. For programme details and further
visit breakthrough in solar physics. information, including any updates to venue
[This talk] discusses some of COVID-19 guidelines, see
the astronomers and instruments
Saturday 2022 April 23 who ventured to present-day
BAA Spring Meeting, all day. School of India, Thailand and Malaysia Friday 2022 July 1
Music, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT. … We will also describe how BAA Radio Astronomy Section Webinar,
The theme of the meeting is ‘Stellar winds & Thailand’s King Rama IV astute- 19:30 on Zoom. ‘Cosmic neutrinos – messen-
planetary atmospheres’, with talks by Prof Dan ly used the eclipse as a political gers from the cosmos arriving in Antarctica’,
Marsh, Dr Richard McKim, Prof Brad Gibson weapon to foil colonization by Prof Jim Madsen, Executive Director of the
and Dr Julian Pittard. For further details, see the aspirations by both Britain and France.’ For Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Centre
back cover of this Journal or visit further information and joining instructions, bit. (WIPAC). To register, please contact paul@
node/26236. ly/3qqAzLc. in advance.

Wednesday, 2022 May 25 Members’ private sales
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ber per issue is accepted FREE OF CHARGE,
& Special General Meeting at the discretion of the Editor. This offer is not
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134 J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022
Trustees and Council Session 2021–2022
The Board of Trustees
Variable Star: Prof Jeremy Shears, ‘Pemberton’, School Lane, Bunbury,
President: Dr David Arditti, 94 Stag Lane, Edgware, Middx. HA8 5LW. Tarporley, Cheshire CW6 9NR. Tel. 07795 223869. E-mail: bunburyob-
Tel. 02082 043999. E-mail: president
Vice-President (ex officio): Alan Lorrain Deep Sky: Callum Potter, The Cottage, Bredon’s Hardwick, Tewkes-
Treasurer: Dr Geoffrey King, 29 Norfolk Road, Turvey, Beds. MK43 bury, GL20 7EE. Tel. 01684 773256 (evenings). E-mail: deepsky @
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Secretary (Business): Bill Tarver, 3 Brook Close, Wokingham, Berks. Radio Astronomy: Paul Hearn, 92 Pitts Lane, Reading UG6 1BU. Tel.
RG41 1ND. Tel. 07831 789435. E-mail: 07967 388 578. E-mail:

Other elected members of the Board: Equipment & Techniques: Dr David Arditti, 94 Stag Lane, Edgware,
Middx. HA8 5LW. Tel. 02082 043999. E-mail:
Ann Davies, John Chuter, Janice McClean, Dr Richard McKim,
Tim Parsons Computing: Steve Harvey, 3 North Holmes Close, Horsham, W. Sussex
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The Council CV22 5PS. Tel. 07306 536546. E-mail:
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J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 132, 2, 2022 135
The British Astronomical Association
One Day Meeting
Saturday 23rd April 2022
School of Music, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT
Doors Open at 10:00 and the meeting will close at approx. 17:45

‘Stellar Winds and Planetary Atmospheres’
This meeting is being hosted by Leeds Astronomical Society. Talks including professional
research in astrophysics by experts in their field will provide an enlightening day.
We will be looking at the effects and impacts of planetary atmospheres and stellar winds.

Our Speakers for the day will be:
Prof Daniel Marsh, University of Leeds – ‘The atmospheres of rocky worlds’
Dr Richard McKim, BAA Mars Section Director – ‘Recent BAA studies of Martian dust storms’
Prof Brad Gibson, University of Hull – ‘Stellar winds: Givers and takers of life’
Dr Julian Pittard, University of Leeds – ‘Colliding stellar winds: observations and theory’

Images courtesy of NASA


For booking details and cost, please visit:

Event Organiser: Mrs Hazel Collett, E: T: 07944 751277
Mr Rod Levene, E: T: 07801 370734

Our thanks go to the Leeds Astronomical Society
who are kindly hosting this meeting

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