Summer, Was that it?

By Neil Bone

Not the most stunning August for weather - the Perseids were pretty much a literal washout, at least here. Some results trickling in from elsewhere, but here in Sussex, I only had a couple of nights well ahead of maximum clear, with minimal rates to boot. August 12-13 provided some holes in the cloud, but never enough to allow worthwhile, serious observing: I saw about half a dozen before finally giving up in disgust around 0045 UT (work beckoning the next day, of course!). Further west (Dorset, Oxfordshire) it seems to have been better. Dave Gavine and Jamie Shepherd had some success on Aug 11-12 from Perthshire, with good rates close to the expected maximum. Oh well, there's always next year… In the meantime, we must hope for better luck come the Orionids, Leonids and Geminids - each favourable in the months ahead. I guess we're paying for the transit (but I'd swap that one for a Leonid storm - now unlikely in my lifetime! - any day).

Overall, not a great observing summer. No NLC here - too few nights with a clear northerly outlook. I have managed some deep sky entertainment down in the depths of Sagittarius (I'm now four Messiers short of the set - it's only taken me 32 years).

Deep Sky book, for which some of this would count as 'research', I guess, is now being printed somewhere in China, and should be in the shops by November according to Philips. I was working on the preliminaries, of course, a year ago when I visited AFA - how the time has flown since then. The Merlin presentation was a good day out for the family - young George was in his element with all the telescopes and pictures of planets on display! A great honour to receive such an award. Dave Gavine was in attendance, and with a Scottish President (Tom Boles), we were well-enough represented nationally!

Had our annual trip to Campbeltown three weeks ago - already becoming a distant memory! Good weather for the most part, an we even climbed the big hill at the back of the town on the new Forestry Commission path. Spectacular view there, from Arran to Islay and Jura with the town laid out at our feet. Puts the feeble South Downs - little more than rolling hillocks! -into context!