Report by Mary Gifford
Monthly Meetings/ Speakers
The Committee's aim was to have a balance of interest for the monthly meetings, with speakers for a number of the months, interspersed with other activities for the other meeting nights.
11 June: John Thomson guided us through the setting up and use of the College's telescopes.
2 July: This meeting, which was brought forward a week because of the College's summer holiday closure, was spent looking at a variety of Astronomy software, using laptops.
August: No meeting - the College was shut.
10 September: Tony Hill, from the Stockport Binocular and Telescope Centre, gave a presentation on choosing and using Telescopes and Binoculars.
8 October: Andrew Greenwood, Macclesfield Astronomical Society’s Vice-President, spoke on "An Introduction to Astrophotography - Traditional Film to Computer Pixels". Dave Hawdale also gave a presentation on WDAS's web-site and email facility. By special arrangement, we were allowed to use Simpson's Restaurant.
12 November: Sue Metcalfe and John Thomson carried on this theme with an Astrophotography Workshop.
10 December: Duncan Steel, from Salford University, spoke about the risk to Earth from Asteroid impact in his talk entitled "Project Spaceguard - saving people from going the way of the Dinosaurs". This meeting was also held in Simpson's Restaurant, and attracted an audience of over 40 people.
14 January: An AstroQuiz was held.
11 February: The meeting split into two rooms with Nigel Marshall speaking to the GCSE students on "GCSE Astronomy - the Chief Examiner's View".
11 March: Fred Broadhurst, a local geologist, gave a talk on "The Earth as a Planet".
8 April: Dave Ogden, from Macclesfield Astronomical Society, gave a talk and presentation on Comets, including Comet Ikeya-Zhang.
Sadly, almost all prior-arranged sessions were abandoned due to poor weather and cloud cover, and only two Monday nights were clear enough to go on the roof. On clear non-meeting Monday nights during term-time, roof-top observing is possible by ringing Lionel Cox.
Outside the college premises, an observing session was held near Jackson's Boat in the Mersey Valley on 30 July. A few members joined Macclesfield Astronomical Society at Pott Shrigley on August 10 for a Perseid meteor watch. The WDAS-planned excursion to Teggs Nose for the Perseid maximum on the next night was blotted out by fog and cloud.
Members of the committee went on a reconnaissance trip to find a dark(ish!), local site, and chose an area between Kenworthy Woods and Chorlton Water Park. This has yet to get any practical use!
The annual field trip to Hardraw (a truly dark site) with the GCSE students took place on the weekend of 11 to 13 January, but there was no clear night sky except for 2 hours early Saturday evening, when the telescopes were used to good advantage. The 23 members spent a happy weekend with a choice of walks, visits to the Wensleydale Cheese factory and the Green Dragon, and amazingly, completing a thousand piece 'glow in the dark' jigsaw of the celestial sphere by staying up to 4 a.m.!
By invitation of Duncan Steel, a number of members attended a talk on 14 November at Salford University given by Paul Roche, the National Schools Astronomer, on the Faulkes 2-metre Telescopes, which will be located in Hawaii and Australia. These internet-based robotic telescopes will be made available for real-time use by UK schools, colleges and amateur societies.
Several members went as guests of Macclesfield Astronomical Society on their day trip to the National Space Centre at Leicester on 1 December.
An informal Christmas meal was held at The Woodstock on 17 December.
WDAS took part in Macclesfield Astronomical Society's "AstroDay" at Jodrell Bank on 16 March.