To study and encourage popular interest in all branches of Science.

Newsletter August 2016

Dear member,

The Annual General Meeting took place on Thursday June 23rd. In his report the President said that the last session of lectures were, as expected, of the usual high standard and he reported that all of the next session lectures were already booked. He thanked the Programme Secretary for his hard work and persistence contacting prospective lecturers and juggling dates. The President also paid tribute to all Council members for their continued support and he also thanked all those members who helped at meetings by putting out chairs, making coffee and providing refreshments etc.

Enclosed with this Newsletter you will find the Programme Card for the next session. More cards are available at meetings, so do take some if you are able to put them in public places such as libraries, schools etc.

At the AGM the Secretary announced that she had received no new nominations from the membership but Council had made the nominations in the April newletter. The revised constitution requires that one ordinary member of Council should retire each year. David Brandt volunteered to stand down due to other commitments. We thank David for his help and hope that he will return to Council in the future.

Your Council elected at the AGM is as follows:

Secretary Dr. Julie Atkinson
Treasurer & Membership Secretary John Tennant
Programme Secretary Jim Brightwell
Ordinary Members (Max 5) Dr. Kevin Devine, David Markham, Martin Williams, Alexander Menegas

The first meeting of the new session is on Thursday September 15th when Professor Heinz Wolff Emeritus Professor at Brunel University and past President of HSS (from 1968-1987), makes another welcome return to the HSS with a talk entitled: A PERSONAL HISTORY OF 62 YEARS OF BIO-ENGINEERING. Heinz pretty well invented the science of bio-engineering. The discipline identifies problems encountered in life, especially those related to age and disability, and seeks solutions by the application of engineering techniques. Heinz has spent a working life in this field so his talk is bound to be of great interest, especially to those of us already facing age related problems. I look forward to seeing you at the meeting.


Proposed visit to the Horniman Museum Forest Hill.

We are proposing to arrange a Society visit to the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill south London on Sunday July 10th. The Horniman Museum is a very interesting place, typical of the ‘old style’ museums of Victorian times with many varied collections. As car parking is very difficult it is proposed to travel by public transport via tube to Oval station and from there by bus stopping right outside the museum. If you are interested in taking part, please send your contact details to David Markham: markham dot dj at gmail dot com who is coordinating this visit.


News from the Observatory

Those members who frequently visit our website: will know that Thames Water which owns the reservoir on which the Observatory is situated, are presently engaged in lengthy building and engineering works at the site. It is their intention to totally remove the grass turf from the entire site and then to fit a waterproof membrane; they will then replace the turf. In order to do this the path and railings from the gate to the observatory door will have to be removed temporarily and also the meteorological instruments and the rain gauges belonging to the Environment Agency. Work began at the end of July and it is expected to be finished by January 2017. But large scale engineering works are renowned for overrunning completion dates and when Thames Water have finished, there will still be work for us to do, restoring the electrical supply for example and reinstating the Met. instruments.

We are grateful to Thames Water for involving us in all the negotiations and being mindful of our charitable status and our position as long term residents. Thank goodness we were not required to remove the observatory building so soon after investing such a large sum on its restoration two years ago.

At present the solar telescope and its mounting have been removed for safe keeping, and we are taking the opportunity to remove and clean the Cooke object glass which is being looked after by Terry Pearce.

Of course, all this disruption means that the Astronomy Section will not be able to open the Observatory to visitors in September as it normally does, in fact the observatory will probably not return to normal operations until March 2017. This will be the longest period of forced closure since the Observatory was founded in 1910, and it has totally spoilt our record for uninterrupted daily meteorological readings from one site.

In the meantime the observatory site remains ‘out of bounds’ to everyone. To keep in touch, visit the website occasionally, as this is where we will publish news of any further developments.

International Space Station

From 26 July to 8 August we had a good series of evening passes of the ISS. Every night was cloudy apart from the 5th and 6th of August and in Edgware the ISS almost occulted Vega.

The next evening series starts in October. The high passes are:

October 3,4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,10,11,12 and 14th. December 5th then 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17th.

Timings can be found on the Heavens Above website which also shows the path in the sky. Take the timings with a pinch of salt as I found ISS two minutes late on data downloaded two months before. Forecasts closer to the date should be more accurate.

Jim Brightwell.

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Last updated   27-Jan-2018