WADHURST ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY

NEWSLETTER JUNE 2001

INDEX: MEETINGS, OTHER NEWS, CONTACTS

MEETINGS

LAST MONTH

The last meeting was held on the 13th June, and the speaker was our chairman Murray Barber. Murray gave an interesting and enthusiastic talk with the title “The V2 – from Peenemunde to White Sands”. Michael Harte acted as Master of Ceremonies for the evening and gave an introduction to Murray by listing some of the “publicity” that had been given locally about the talk. The talk started with some of the facts and figures to do with the V2 project, the size of the V2 is often not properly understood, in fact a V2 laid on its side would have been the length of the Drama Studio. Of the 6000 V2’s that were constructed it is estimated that 6 or 7 slave labourers died for each one, although more people were killed in making and stopping the assembly than died from the use of the V2 as a weapon. Murray then gave a brief history of rockets leading up to the early 1900’s. It was after the treaty of Versaille that Germany began to seriously consider the use of rocketry as weapons, as this was one of the few things that the treaty allowed. The main players in the early nazi rocket projects were all mentioned, including Dr Robert Goddard, General Walter Dornberger and Wernher Von Braun. The project was moved in 1937from Kummersdorf to Peenemunde on the Baltic coast, and Murray gave some of the details of the base there. Murray then talked in some detail about the V2 itself, giving great detail of the engines and how they worked. The talk continued with a video that had been made in Germany of the V2 project at Peenemunde. In 1943 the project was moved from Peenemunde to Mittelwerk in the Harz Mountains, this followed an attack by the RAF that stalled the project for 8 weeks. The details of the V2 being used as a weapon on both England and Norway were then spoken about, which some of our members had personal experience of. There was then a short interval for refreshments. During the interval there was a chance to look at some of the pieces of V2 that Murray has found locally and bought to the meeting. The interval was followed by a trip to the field at Uplands for the launch of a model V2. This was undertaken by Murray's son Philip and was a great success. The talk then continued with a look at what happened to the project at the end of the war. The Americans were first on the site, and for obvious reasons took everything that they could for their own use. The Russians also had an interest in the project, as did the British. The Americans made a great effort to get the major scientists involved in the project to go to America, although this was not difficult as the alternative was the Russians. America continued with their own experiments at the White Sands test centre and also Fort Bliss, mention was made as to how close this is to Roswell! There was another film shown of the experiments that the Americans carried using the V2. The talk finished with a look at the way the V2 project was used for Astronomy and eventually the technology was converted into the Jupiter and Saturn engines used in the American Space Project. Murray was then able to answer a number of questions that came form the membership.

Ian then gave an update on plans for the Fete to be held on July 7. He pointed out that 82% of the societies funds have come from the events that we have attended in the past. This is one of the reasons that the events we attend are important for all members, it therefore enables us to keep the membership fee to a reasonable level.

Joan was not able to attend the meeting this month, but Sean gave us a talk on the constellation Libra. In the process of preparing for the talk he had found an Internet site that gives the correct pronunciation for star names and constellations. The site can be found at Starstuff.com, if you do not have access to the Internet there are printed versions of the pronunciation sheet available from Sean.

NEXT MONTH

The next meeting is to be held on 11 July, the meeting starts at the usual time of 7.30 pm and is held in Uplands drama studio. The speaker this month is Nik Symanek, and the subject is Astronomical Imaging from La Palma. There are often examples of Nik’s work published in the astronomical press and he has a web site with images and information.

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OTHER NEWS

TREASURERS REPORT

The society funds stand at 406.36 (current) and 1015.73 (reserve). We now have 45 members and 2 student members. Would the very few members (both) who have not yet paid their membership subscriptions please note that their membership will officially cease on 31 August as per the society constitution. Any queries on the subject of membership please contact Ian on 01892 784255 or write to . The outcome of the event on 7 July is awaited with interest. If you are at all able to please come along and support your society.

FEDERATION OF ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETIES

The spring edition of the FAS Newsletter was available at the last WAS meeting, anybody who was not present and would like a copy please contact Tim for details. The headline article in the newsletter was on the end of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory; the reviews are on Redshift 4 (computer software) and Stars & Planets (Collins). There is also news from societies including Liverpool & Scarborough. The dates for the Equinox star party have been announced as 14 – 23 September, this is the annual event hosted by Loughton AS and held at Norfolk, there were a number of Wadhurst members at the event last year.

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CONTACTS

Chairman: Murray R. Barber 01892 654618 murray.barber@virgin.net

Secretary: Tim Bance 01732 832745 timbance@hotmail.com

Treasurer: Ian Reeves 01892 784255

Editor: Peter Bamblett 01732 368656 pbamblett@hotmail.com

Web site: Rob Cray rob@arcray.net

Publicity: Michael Harte 01892 783292 michael@greenman.demon.co.uk

Dir. of Obs.: Sean Tampsett 01892 667092 sean_tampsett@hotmail.com

Joan Grace 01892 783721

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