Clifton Methodist Cubs Start Astronomer Activity Badge

Cub Astronomy BadgeSociety secretary Andy Exton FRAS visited Dalby Forest on Saturday 12th July to meet the cub scouts from Clifton Methodist in York.  The initial plan was to do some observing from Adderstone Field but a thunderstorm resulted in the group relocating back to their camp on Moorcock Meadow and do some learning in their large communal tent – a metal framed tent in the middle of a large thunderstorm that one of the leaders informed me had been struck previously on another camp!

The group learnt about the Sun, planets and moons of the Solar System, constellations and how to find the pole star Polaris for navigation purposes.

A number of hands on activities aided their learning towards their astronomer badges which requires them to build a model and a small project after the camp to complete the award.  The group were very well behaved and full of questions.

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Society Meeting for June Goes With a Bang

Prof. Sam Falle.  Image credit: Leeds University

Prof. Sam Falle. Image credit: Leeds University

The June meeting of the society saw a talk on supernovae by guest speaker Prof. Sam Falle, Professor of Fluid Dynamics at the School of Mathematics at Leeds University.

Society treasurer Mell Jeffery  FRAS writes:


Image taken by NASAs WISE telescope. SN 1572 is the red circular nebulae in the upper left. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

“Prof. Sam Falle started the evening by talking about historic supernovae and who observed and recorded them. Chinese astronomers made the first records of such events up until the Middle Ages when European records start, Tycho Brahe made the first European records (Tycho’s Supernova – SN 1572).

Observations prior to this had probably been made in Europe, but was cast aside due to religion as anything within the heavens was pure and only on Earth could things be subject to change and degrade!

He then went on to discuss the differing types (type I & II) and the differences between them, what changes occur for a star to go supernova, what happens during the event and afterwards – young, middle aged and old supernovae. References to the speed of the explosions were made in relation to ‘bombs’ of various types and their similarities!

It was a very interesting talk.”

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Start of Summer 2014

The northern solstice. Image credit:

Summer officially starts at 10:51 UT (11:51 BST) on 21st June in the northern hemisphere with the northern solstice.

The solstice occurs when the northern hemisphere of the Earth is inclined at a maximum angle (23° 26′) towards the Sun and results in the longest period of daylight.  In fact, for residents within the Arctic Circle, 24 hours of sunshine occurs and for those on the Tropic of Cancer, the Sun will be directly overhead.  After the summer solstice, the daytimes shorten and the nights become darker and longer (something astronomers look forward to).

The opposite occurs in the southern hemisphere that sees the winter solstice at this same time.  The reverse of this event occurs with the southern solstice on Dec 21st 2014 at 23:03 UT.

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Alternative Explanations Given at Society Meeting

Jeremy Dunning-Davies.  Image credit: University of Hull

Jeremy Dunning-Davies. Image credit: University of Hull

Joining us as guest speaker for the May meeting of the society at Ayton Village Hall was returning speaker Jeremy Dunning Davies, retired senior lecturer in applied mathematics at the University of Hull.

Jeremy’s talk focussed on alternative explanations in astrophysics, that are other explanations for what we are observing in the universe, other than what we are being told by physicists. Is what we are seeing when we observe an object, what we think we see or what we have been told we are seeing?

Jeremy explained that the now common terms ‘Dark Matter’, ‘Dark Energy’ (and now ‘Dark Flow’), which make theoretical physicists equations for missing mass in the universe work, could also be explained by other factors.

These included the effect of the so called ‘Electric Universe’, the electromagnetic forces present in the universe, pulling and shaping galaxy formation, without the need for Dark Matter to be present at all; or the effect of Plasma, present all over the universe and its effect on the formation of galactic and nebulous structures.

Jeremy’s talk centred on the Scientific Establishment’s method of creating explanations to fit equations (i.e. Dark Matter) rather than allowing the observations to dictate changes in accepted science, something which has occurred for centuries. Jeremy also covered the downfalls of these who have challenged established theories with observational evidence which did not fit.

Jeremy was also very clear to explain that the Electric universe and other explanations were never intended to be complete alternatives for current theories but in fact additions to them, all in order to reach the ultimate goal of science, Truth.

A very interesting talk on a subject rarely encountered in the public domain of science. We hope Jeremy will join us again soon with another talk on alternative points of view of established science.

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A Busy Time In The Forest

The society had a busy time in Dalby Forest over the first weekend of May with two separate events.  The first of these was on Friday 2nd May when society secretary Andy Exton FRAS visited the 1st Scarborough Scouts at their annual group camp.  Staying on Moorcock Meadow within the forest, the cubs, scouts and leaders after a night walk joined Andy on the familiar surroundings of Adderstone Field under some crisp, darkening skies to enjoy the delights of the night sky.  Among the objects to enjoy were a crescent Moon, Jupiter along with its Galilean satellites and Mars through telescopes and binoculars.

Members of the society were back in the forest on Sunday 4th May for the first solar observing event of the year.  The event also happened to coincide with the grand reopening of the Visitor Centre and playground area.  Despite cloudy skies, visitors to the forest later in the day were able to observe features on the Sun such as sunspots and learn more about our nearest star.  Visitors were also able to have an up-close look at the society telescopes and observatories.

The society will next be at the observatories in June for the regular solar observing event on Sunday 1st June and at the Dalby Explorer Day on Saturday 7th June.

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