February Society News
Written by: Martin Boddy
Published : 01 March 2023
Astronomy is a very unpredictable pastime!
Yes, we do know what we could be looking at, but we have no control over the weather, and no way of predicting if the comet C/2022 would still be intact and visible or if there would be fireball or solar flares! Well February turned out to be one of those months.
Yes the comet stayed intact and was still a target when we had a couple of clear nights mid-month. A fireball made the news lighting up the English channel, plus the Sun which is very active at present fired a powerful solar flare in our direction, arriving on the 26th giving the U,K the best solar light show in decades. Usually the Auroras are mainly green with a hint of red above, but this event was very strong, the charged particles caused Oxygen to glow green and Nitrogen in the upper atmosphere to glow red, this was visible as far south as Cornwall. It is normally mainly visible in the north of Scotland.
The media was full of images showing the Aurora and following this BBC Radio Norfolk contacted us asking if we would go on the breakfast show and give suggestions for the best places to view future events, in Norfolk, which we did.
The Sunday work parties have been productive, the Mount for the Radio Telescope is bolted down, we now need to attach the dish.
The store room shed has been cleared to give more space as a new meeting room. The walls have been painted and carpet tiles are on order, We have a window to fit in the side and a new power supply is being installed. The window will give a view over the new pad that will be installed so that members can set up their own equipment and monitor it from inside the shed.
The Owl observatory now has the refractor installed ready for imaging.
Green Farm Observatory is open most Friday evenings to full members, you will be able to see if it is open on the website.
The observatory offers various options which include viewing if clear, imaging and processing, plus radio astronomy.
We are there Friday evenings at 7.30-8.00pm weather permitting.
We will indicate on the website if we intend to be there, you are welcome to pop along and if clear viewing will take place.
Please remember to bring a torch, ideally one with a red light.
Our main source of society information is via Facebook and on the Website at (nnas.org). On the website under articles we will post the monthly society news to keep you up-to-date.
February 16th was our first meeting of the year at Binham Village Hall, we had a very good turnout and the new format seemed to work well, it was just a pity that the sky wasn't clear for viewing.
The next event is on
April 20th at Binham Village Hall
Beginners section-How we measure space-Martin Boddy followed by the main Talk, 'Jupiter the King of Planets' by Gary Heard
Entry £2 for members, £4 for non-members. Children up to sixteen free.
March Night Sky Star Charts
Credit - Phil Hood Stafford U3A
Jupiter is now getting lower in the South West as night falls and sets in the West at about 8pm at the beginning of the month, and will probably be lost in the Sun’s glare at the beginning of April. Meanwhile Venus is unmistakeable in the West after sunset, and is now much brighter than Jupiter. The two planets are level and only about half a degree apart (the width of the Moon) on March 1st. Venus will then continue to climb away from Jupiter and be visible in the West after sunset for the next few months.
Mercury makes an evening appearance low in the West in March and April just after sunset. You may be able to spot it through binoculars at about 7pm on March 27th, when it will be level with Jupiter, but only a few degrees above the horizon. If you are using binoculars, make sure the Sun has set before looking anywhere in a Westerly direction. Mercury will then slowly get higher in the evening skies over the following couple of weeks into April.
Mars is still high in the South as night falls at the beginning of the month, and is still high in the South West at the end. It is an unmistakeable orange colour – do not confuse it with the fainter Aldebaran which about 10° below it.
The ISS is visible in our early morning skies for the first week of March, re-appearing in the evening sky in the second half of the month. A table of passes is attached...
ISS Visible passes - Times in GMT (BST from 26-Mar)
Magnitude - the larger the negative number is, the brighter the object and the higher in the sky.
Note that many passes won't cross the whole sky, but will slowly increase or fade in brightness. These are indicated by the starting or ending altitude being above 10°
Best wishes, and clear skies
Keith Jones BFS with thanks to Phil Hood
Solar Cycle 25 - Now well underway