West Didsbury Astronomical Society
Annual Report on the Society's Activities 2002/03
Report by Mary Gifford
Monthly Meetings/ Speakers
The Committee's aim was to have a balance of interest for the monthly meetings, with a speaker for a most of the meetings, but interspersed with practical and social activities for the other meeting nights.
10 June: Dr David (otherwise known as Nobby) Clark, a keen founder member of the society, spoke to us on "Satellites and their significance for Astronomy".
1 July: This meeting, was brought forward a week because of the College's summer holiday closure. Megan Argo of the UMIST and Manchester University Rocket Team came to talk to us about her team's recent adventures in the National Rocket Championships, which they won in both 2000 and 2001.
August: No meeting - the College was shut.
9 September: Dr Robert Walsh of the Astrophysics Department at the University of Central Lancashire gave a talk on "The Sun".
14 October: Dave Ogden, Observations Officer at Macclesfield Astronomical Society gave a high tech presentation on "Messier Objects".
11 November: Dr Phil James of the Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University spoke on "Star Formation and the Hubble Sequence of Galaxies." Phil also brought us information on the Distance Learning Course available through his University.
9 December: Ian Morison, Operations Engineer at Jodrell Bank Observatory spoke on "A New View of the Universe", and brought us up to date with the latest cosmological theory on Dark Energy By special arrangement, we were allowed to use Simpson's Restaurant to accommodate the larger number of people expected. This was also a Christmas celebration with mince pies and wine.
14 January: After the observing weekend away in Hardraw, a quieter, more social evening was held with our second AstroQuiz.
10 February: A Binocular and Telescope Workshop was held this month, and was a fairly informal evening with college and members’ telescopes and binoculars and other equipment out on show in both rooms 502 and 506. Tony Hill, from the Stockport Binocular and Telescope Centre also made a return visit to give a presentation and advice on telescopes, binoculars and associated equipment.
10 March: Dr Tim O'Brien from the University of Manchester's Department of Physics and Astronomy at Jodrell Bank Observatory gave a talk on "Exploring the Universe from Jodrell Bank", and gave us the latest information on current and future work there.
14 April: Prof Nye Evans of the Astrophysics Group at Keele University spoke on "Infra Red Astronomy".
12 May: Our second AGM was held followed by a Show and Tell session.
9 June: Prof Joachim Rose of Leeds University spoke on "Active Galactic Nuclei".
30 June (aka the July meeting): Jamie Gilmour from Dept of Earth Sciences, Manchester University spoke on the subject of "How Special is the Earth?".
The annual field trip to Hardraw (a truly dark site) with the GCSE students took place on the weekend of 10 to 12 January, and we were rewarded with dark skies.
Sadly, again almost all prior-arranged observing sessions were abandoned due to poor weather and cloud cover. A new arrangement has started since January when the monthly Committee meeting was moved to the Jackson's Boat pub, on the banks of the River Mersey (at the end of Rifle Road, near Sale Water Park). The meeting generally takes place on the 4th Monday in the month, and after committee business, the plan is to move outside to the adjacent football pitch about 9.00pm if it is clear. On Monday 24 March a selection of college equipment available for hire was demonstrated at such a session.
A very enjoyable Christmas meal was held at The Woodstock on 16 December.