H.S.S. ASTRONOMY SECTION REPORT 1997 - 1998 SESSION
The Astronomy Secretary reported a quiet year compared to last year which had seen frenetic activity with the arrival of Comet Hale-Bopp. However, there were several events of interest.
The Society were invited to exhibit at an Astro. Expo. 97 at Alexandra Palace, organised by the Haringey Astronomical Society. We put on a good display, and hoped to publicise the Observatory and recruit some new members, but without much success. Unfortunately it was the weekend of Princess Diana's fatal accident, and very few people came. Thanks to those who had loaned photographs and drawings of their observations or manned the stand.
In September, Mars was but a small disc of less than 20'' of arc, but it was nevertheless interesting and some good detail was recorded. Jupiter was well seen, although rather low, and on Sept 21st there was a multiple shadow transit event on Jupiter involving satellites II, III and IV, which Doug had managed to video. On September 16th was a lunar eclipse, but mostly during cloud. Saturn was well seen throughout the session with its rings were opening. In November, Venus was brilliant, and Saturn occulted. At the beginning of January, just after sunset, the southern sky contained Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the crescent Moon, and Venus and was a splendid sight.
By early Spring 98, most of the planets had left the evening sky. Venus had returned to the pre-dawn sky and Jupiter and Mars had set and only Saturn remained for a short time after sunset. We were therefore rather short of interesting objects to show visitors for the remainder of the session. Light pollution was awful and prevents us from showing the many faint galaxies and beautiful star clusters which abound in the night sky during the early spring months.
The Society's Observatory is a valuable educational facility. The Royal Greenwich and Mill Hill Observatories and the London Planetarium are still referring enquiries from the public to us, as we remain the only observatory in London to which the public has regular access.
The secretary pointed out that maintaining the observatory takes time and effort, both freely given by our small team of Demonstrators and Assistants, whom he thanked for their continued enthusiasm.
Doug / Julia Daniels (Astronomy Secretaries)