Scottish Astronomers Group Spring 2001 Meeting

By Walter Scott Jnr

On Saturday 26th May, along with three other members of the Association of Falkirk Astronomers (AFA) I attended the Scottish Astronomers Group spring meeting held at the Mills Observatory in Dundee. Everyone attending congregated in the car park, as Douglas Cooper from Stirling AS had set up a telescope equipped with an H-alpha filter, much of the chat was about the images we saw through Douglas's telescope and the recent auroral activity.

The meeting kicked of with Alistair Simmons welcoming everyone and duly introducing the first talk by Bill Ward, Photographing the Galactic Plane from South of the Equator. A stunning display of pictures taken by Bill in July 2000, on a trip down under to the Siding Springs Observatory. Bill cobbled together a bracket to allow him to attach his camera to the Upsalla Schmidt telescopes dust shield. Bill used a camera equipped with a 85mm f/1.4 lens, 400 ASA slide film, and exposure time of 10 minutes. A combination of a very dark sky and exceptional tracking resulted in pictures showing up the many delights of the southern night sky.


A group of 'stargazers' including Alastair Simmons
looking at our star after the meeting
Note there are approved solar filters on the telescopes

The latest issue of SAG- Mag was handed out by new editor Jeff Lashley. Most of the articles were obtained through a variety of society websites, including, an article on last years Scottish Astro-Fest obtained from the Association of Falkirk Astronomers website. Jeff made an appeal for more articles from member societies and spoke about a new SAG website where members could submit articles. Also by using forum boards members can post messages for others to see and reply to. Hopefully this will lead to more interaction between member societies.

As we have just past solar maximum the next presentation seemed appropriate Observing the Active Sun where Brian Kelly told us all about rise and fall of the sun spot count from solar maximum to solar maximum. Brian also covered the recent sunspot formations and their connection to Coronal Mass Ejections, which led to the auroral activity we saw in the early part of April. Douglas Cooper took over showing photographs of the afore mentioned aurora and exceptionally detailed shots of the sun taken with a Nikon Coolpix digital camera. Douglas has been experimenting with his digital camera, taking many good pictures of the Moon and the planets by simply holding the camera up to the telescope eyepiece.

After refreshments the society reports came from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Stirling, Falkirk and the Friends of the Mills. All societies seemed to be doing very well especially Edinburgh, which has seen a large increase in membership over the past year.

Alistair Simmons finished of Observing the Active Sun by showing two books where he has recorded his observations of the Sun over the years. From solar flares to sunspots, everything described, meticulously drawn to a very high standard, timed and dated. A very good example to anyone who wishes to carry out solar observing on a regular basis. Alistair also went on to highlight the importance of taking notes and compiling a record of observations.

The meeting finished with a short discussion on the way ahead for S.A.G., which concluded with attending societies being asked to give this subject some consideration and report on it at the November meeting. AFA's views on this will be published at a later date on the Notice Board on this web site.

2.00 Chairman welcomes members and friends
2.05      Talk by Bill Ward. Photographing the galactic Plane from South of the Equator
2.20 Talk by Jeff Lashley (SAG Mag. editor) SAG On-line
2.30 Presentation on Observing the Sun led by Alastair Simmons, Brian Kelly and Douglas Cooper
3.00 Refreshments (SAG web-site displayed on PC)
3.20 S.A.G. Notice board and Reports from Societies
3.40 Observing reports from members
4.00 Discussion- The Way Ahead for SAG
4.25 Votes of thanks and Conclusion