WADHURST ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY

NEWSLETTER MAY 2001

INDEX: MEETINGS, OTHER NEWS, CONTACTS

MEMBERS SATISFACTION

Over the last two Newsletters the question of members satisfaction with the society has been raised. Firstly I would like to thank those members that have taken the time to respond, in the main the comments have been very favourable. There have been a bit of constructive criticism made and it is hoped that the committee will be able to act on these comments in the future. I would only like to add at this point that if any member has a comment to make about any aspect of the society, then please feel free to do so. The committee will be grateful to receive any further comments at any time in the future.

MEETINGS

LAST MONTH

The last meeting was held on 9 May 2001 and the speaker was Peter Mata. In a change to the advertised talk the title of the lecture was “Terrestrial Civilisations: The Alternatives”. Peter worked for 25 years in the Avionics industry and 21 years with the ESA working on various communications satellites, including the Hubble Space Telescope, Hipparcos and the Cassini/Huygens projects. The first part of the talk was a introduction to the timescale of life on Earth in relation to the Universe, with particular emphasis on the history of man on Earth. Peter then told us why we should be seeking alternatives with a list of the possible disasters that may affect life on Earth. Some of these are naturally occurring others manmade, the one that is causing most concern at the present time is an impact by a Near Earth Object. After a break for refreshments the Talk continued with a look at the solutions that mankind could seek, it appears there are only two realistic options. The first is to move off the planet, there are a number of possible alternatives available and the pros and cons of each were discussed. One of the most realistic options appears to be to send man to live on asteroids, however there are still large disadvantages. The second option is not to try and save mankind itself but to send robotic explorers who would act almost as our descendents. These may well be in the form of Robobugs of which there are some good examples available now. Peter did however point out that his lecture did carry a sting in the tail! Two odd coincidences have been noted since the meeting. Within a couple of hours of the talk dealing with the end of the world we were treated to a fairly tremendous electrical storm! Slightly less frightening perhaps, but in the issue of Astronomy Now for June that was available soon after the meeting the Focus subject was space robotics.

There were a number of general notices made at the meeting that are detailed further in the Newsletter.

Duncan gave the society an update on the situation at the Isle of Thorns. The future for public observing at the site looks very bleak as it now looks as though the purchase by the Cats Protection League will go ahead. This will particularly affect the Heavens Above group who have organised observing nights at the observatory in the past for groups such as Mencap. The Heavens Above group is now unsure as to how to proceed, they have had an offer of a site for the Telescope, but this is likely to prove exorbitantly expensive. The other option is for the group to buy a large but portable telescope that could be used for observing. Duncan was particularly interested in the views of those members who have attended meetings at the observatory in the past.

Joan gave her usual excellent talk, this month dealing with the constellations of Bootes and Coma Berenices.

WADHURST FETE

The next meeting is the last one before the summer fete at Wadhurst Primary School on Saturday 7 July. It would be a relief to the four members and two non-members volunteers to know that help and supplies are coming. The exhibition of telescopes is likely to consist of around 3 or 4 instruments. While we hope to hold a tombola the prospects for a stall to sell CD’s & videos depends entirely upon a helper coming forward before the event. It is appreciated that several members had entered into commitments long before we/they learned of the late cancellation of the Uplands event and are unable to be with us. However, can anyone spare just an hour or two in the early afternoon of 7 July to assist in any capacity. We have about a dozen tombola prizes so far, a handful more would give the stall its usual appeal to tempt the punters. If you have assembled some CD’s or Videos to offer please bring them along to the June Meeting (in case a volunteer comes forward) or contact Ian on 01892 784255.

NEXT MONTH

The next meeting is due to be held on Wednesday 13 June, the doors will open at the usual time of 7.30 pm. The talk this month is to be given by our very own Murray Barber, and the title is “The V2 – from Peenemunde to White Sands”. There has been talk that there may be a big surprise in store for members attending this meeting!

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OTHER NEWS

TREASURERS REPORT

The Financial position of the society is as follows: Current £533.01. Reserve £1015.73. We also have a commitment to meet the cost of constructing the society telescope and the balance of £190 for the mirror.

GCSE ASTRONOMY

Peter Prince is currently in the process of putting together a GCSE Astronomy course to be held at Uplands in the future. The society was originally formed when a number of students of a previous course at Uplands decided they would like to carry on meeting. If anyone is interested in taking part in this course, please contact Peter for further details.

FIRE REGULATIONS

Can all members please make sure that they sign in when attending a meeting at Uplands, there is always a form for this at the meeting. Not only is it a requirement of our hire of the Hall, but it is also useful to know the names of members attending meetings. It would be a great help if this could be done as members arrive, as this would mean that less time need be spend counting heads and trying to work out who has not signed in. Thanks again for your co-operation.

NEWSLETTER

I mentioned at the last meeting that it is still unclear whether everybody is receiving the Newsletter every month. Although if you are reading this it is obvious that you are receiving it OK! However, could I please make a plea to all those that receive the Newsletter by E-mail to send a short message in reply when they receive it. There have been instances in the past, when the newsletter appears to go missing. Although I do make the E-mail an auto reply, it appears that many members have there computers set up not to send auto replies. Thanks for your help in this matter.

There have been a couple of queries as to how the electronic version of the newsletter differs from the printed one. The main one is the hyperlinks that are put in, by clicking on any text that is underlined you will be taken to a web site (if you are online) that has some further details on the subject.  For instance the link to the main Wadhurst Astronomical Society site is linked to the text at the top of the page, and there are links to sites about space robotics in the text under last months meeting. I would also like to point out that the Newsletter is available online at the following two web sites: Wadhurst Astronomical Society and Wadhurst Village.

WEB SITES

An interesting site has been bought to my attention that deals with some of the alternative ideas (popular or otherwise!) that are current in Astronomy and Cosmology. Find out more at www.metaresearch.org. Again if anybody comes across any sites that may be of interest to members please let me know and I will put the details in the newsletter.

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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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