Dundee Astronomical Society Minutes of the meeting held in Mills Observatory 30 pm 9

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Dundee Astronomical Society - Minutes of the meeting held in Mills Observatory 7.30 pm 9th October 2015

Phil Rourke was in the chair.

Phil asked members to provide feedback to Jim Barber, on the sky notes he has provided on the website.

Phil Rourke introduced the speaker –Denis Buczynski, Secretary of the Comet Section of the BAA who’s topic was “Who am I and why I am here?”.

Denis introduced himself and told us about his comet astrometry work. His main telescope is a C14 on a Paramount mounting. He also observes noctilucent clouds and aurora.

He presented a list of comets that hit the headlines in their time and public reactions to them. Interestingly, many of the comets that were trumpeted as being ‘Comet of the Century’ turned out to be undistinguished and not particularly bright when they did arrive. This is due, in part at least, to a layer of frost deposited on incoming comets, giving them a high albedo that evaporated as they approached the Sun.

Our understanding of cometary orbits is largely due to the work of Halley and Newton.

He shared some of the earliest photographs of comets and mentioned that Kreutz Sungrazers are fragments of a large comet.

He talked about George Alcock – one of the most distinguished comet hunters who worked from his home in England.

Denis told us about many comets, including the following, and showed us photographs of many of them:

Shoemaker-Levy 9, Hale-Bopp, Hyukutake, Ikea-Zhang, Holmes, McNaught, Lovejoy (Sungrazer), PanSTARRS and Rosetta’s 67P.

During the question and answer session Denis said that visual discovery was now very unlikely, as there are a number of automatic instruments that pick up approaching comets while they are still far fainter than amateur instruments can reach.

Phil thanked Denis for his inspiring talk.

After the tea break Ken Kennedy showed a series of Lunar eclipse and aurora images.

Graham Young promoted the section of the library devoted to astronomy with binoculars.

The meeting closed at 21:30hrs.

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