editorial comment by Kenneth Burnett, not reproduced here ]
REPORT FOR SESSION 1971-1972
The Society has had a very
successful year, and interest has been maintained. Unfortunately, in
some aspects, due to circumstances beyond our control, and by these I
refer mainly to the weather we have not been as active in some fields as
we anticipated. The membership figures remain satisfactory, some members
have dropped out of the Society because they have moved to other parts
of the country, some members gave forgotten to renew their subscriptions,
but we have also gained some new members. At the moment, membership
consists of 72 Associate Members and 28 Full Members. Attendance at all
main meetings have been very satisfactory, the average size of the
audience being well over 50.
Our observing activities
have been severely curtailed by the bad weather on Thursday evening, and
also due to some difficulties with the telescopes. Both telescopes now,
however, are in full working order, and the 8.1/2" reflector has
been modified by the addition of a second slow-motion drive. The
temporary observatory promised last year has now been completed and is
operational. we had some initial problems due to rain getting in,
causing some rusting of the telescopes, but this has now been rectified
and an electric heater has been fitted. Plans for the erection of a
permanent observatory are under consideration, and there is some
possibility that construction of this, which will be a brick built
building with a proper dome, will commence before the end of this year.
The Society had a very
attractive stall at the Leisure for Pleasure Exhibition held in the
Music Hall on Saturday, 27th November. The Committee is very grateful to
all the members who provided exhibits and manned the stand. We had a
large number of enquires about the Society, and all our handout
literature disappeared very quickly. As a result of this Exhibition we
gained several new members.
Several members of the
Society attended a meeting of the Scottish Astronomical Societies held
in the Mills Observatory, Dundee, on Saturday, 25th September. We had a
very interesting day, and were able to exchange ideas with members of
Members of the Society
are reminded that informal meetings of the Groups take place on Thursday
evenings, and all members of the Society are welcome. The
telescope construction group is active, and several members
appear every Thursday evening for grinding and testing mirrors. We have,
however, lost track of several members who bought mirror kits, and would
be interested to learn how they are progressing. The observing group,
unfortunately, has not been able to be very active because of the
reasons mentioned above. The astronautics group has become very
active, and has had several interesting meetings, and a number of projects
are under active consideration. The aurora group has also been
active and has held several meetings. The photographic group has
not been able to operate, again for the reasons of weather. The meteor
group as yet has not met. The history group, although of a small
membership, has been active. A monograph entitled "Notes of the
History of Astronomy in Aberdeen and the North-East" has been
produced by Mr. David Gavine, and copies will soon be available to
members of the Society. An investigation into Stone Circles, which are
pre-historical observatories, has been started, and it is hoped this
will grow into a major project involving not only the history group, but
also the photographic and observing groups. This is an activity which we
hope to develop fully in the summer when the weather makes excursions to
the many sites in this part of the world become more attractive.
The Library has
increased considerably in size since the last Annual General Meeting.
This is partly due to purchase of books and periodicals, and partly due
to gifts from members. We are particularly grateful to Major Douglas for
the gift of a large numbers of books and journals. A large number of
members have made use of the Library and other members are reminded that
the Library is open for the borrowing of books every Thursday evening.
Because of his services
to the Society, the Committee have elected Mr. Keith Fraser an Honorary
Member of the Society.
A highlight of the
Year's activities was the publication in October of "Orion" -
the first issue of the Society's Journal. The Committee is very grateful
to the editor, Mr. Burnett, and the several other members, whose
contribution made it possible to produce this volume. We are also
grateful to Mrs. Carol Smith for doing the typing of all the stencils
and for helping in the making up of the 150 copies which were produced.
We hope to publish "Orion" three of four times a year, but
members are reminded that this will only be possible if we receive
contributions suitable for publication
The Society wish to
record its thanks to the Governors of Robert Gordon's Institute of
Technology for their continued support in providing the facilities for meetings
and practical work. We also wish to acknowledge with gratitude a grant
of £50 from the Aberdeenshire Educational Trust, and a grant of £20
from the City of Aberdeen. We also thank Major Douglass for his
article by Paul Haley of Essex, who heard of the A.D.A.S. magazine
through the editor of the Junior Astronomical Societies journal
'Hermes'. This was the first part of a two-part article, with second
part due to appear in the next issue. Not reproduced here]
INTERESTING THEORY REVIVED
article by N.T. Nicoll.. Not reproduced here ]
TELESCOPES - A SHORT REVIEW
article by R.Baldwin. Not reproduced here ]
by W.D. Cooper
is well endowed with standing stones - some single, some in groups and
circles - left by men who lived nearly four thousand years ago. T
has for long been assumed that these stones, especially the circles, were associated
with some religious practices favoured by these primitive peoples.
work of Sir Norman Lockyer at Stonehenge and other British sites, it has
been recognised during this century that some of the circles might also
have an astronomical significance. A very detailed survey for a large
number of sites were carried out by Alexander Thom and the results were
published in 1967 in his book "Megalithic Sites in Britain". His
research has also been featured in television documentary programmes.
Professor of Engineering at Oxford University, Alexander Thom has recorded
very careful measurements from many sites. When they are analysed it is
found that in very many circles it is possible to trace lines pointing to
certain parts of the sky where it can be ascertained from astronomical
studies certain first magnitude stars would have risen or set between 2000
B.C. and 1600 B.C. Some lines indicate the rising or setting of the sun or
of the moon at different times in the year. At many sites there is to be
found evidence of a north-south line and in a significant number of cases
one of the stones in the ring is standing at the north point. It is
necessary to read Professor Thom's book to see how the evidence builds up
into a fairly convincing case.
that this interest in the stars which we see reflected in the stone
circles was because the stars might have served as indicators of the
passing of time during the long nights of winter. Sirius could be seen
setting at around 2 a.m. Altair would rise at about 4 a.m. Cepella
set at 5.30 a.m. and Pollux at 7 a.m. Finally dawn would break between 7
and 8 a.m. This sequence would alter by four minutes each day but this
would serve only to bring other stars into the timekeeping observations of
those early inhabitants of our country.
indicate that those people were really quite advanced mathematicians as
well as astronomers. These observations would be related not only to
measurement of time during the long winter night but also to the passing
of the seasons in the calendar year. Some of the implications of this
study go far beyond the interests of an astronomical society.
What is of
interest to our Society in the Aberdeen District is that we live very near
many fine examples of these stone circles., Some of our members believe
that we should carry out our own surveys of as many of these circles as possible
to see if we can confirm the results found by Professor Thom. In doing so
we shall be forming a kind of link with astronomers of nearly four
thousand years ago who left behind these simple stone observatories which
still stand at a time when we are planning to establish observatories in
space. Astronomical studies in the part of the world might have a
much longer history than most of us previously though credible.
Professor Thom has since published another book which develops further
some the ideas mentioned in the earlier volume. This one is entitled
"Megalithic Lunar Observatories", published by Oxford in 1971.
or Evidence for Back Holes
article by Robert W. Ashton about Black Holes (or Collapsars). Not reproduced here ]
THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF A 'BATHTUB'
article by Kenneth Burnett about the Soviet space probe which landed on
the Moon in 1970. Not reproduced here ]
the Soviet Space Bluff ...
N.A.S.A. - going to pot ?
articles by unknown contributor. Not reproduced here ]
THE TELESCOPE CONSTRUCTION GROUP
Work in the
group commenced last year with great enthusiasm Cauldrons of boiling pitch
bubbled and smoked every Thursday evening as the mirror makers tackled the
odd but fascinating task of forming a slight depression in the surface of
a glass disk to the accuracy of a few millionths of an inch.
being constructed ranged from 6" to 9" diameter and one member
will soon be starting one of 12" diameter.
interesting type of mirror being constructed by one of our members, Mr.
Dalgarno, is a Maksutov of 77mm diameter.
This is an
exceedingly difficult design to be attempted by an amateur, but the work
is progressing satisfactorily. We are all looking forward to the
completion of this instrument.
however, declined somewhat recently as people have found evening classes,
examinations and other activities eating into their spare time. I'm sure
that it has become obvious to the participants that a wee bit of work now
and then will never produce a completed mirror. To make a mirror, as
schedule of work has to be drawn up, and each phase planned out with a
definite period of time allocated to each phase.
half the members who purchased mirror kits took them home to work on. Some
have brought them in for testing, but the progress of the other home
workers is unknown.
on the progress of our members on their telescope mirrors would be of
great interest to the telescope group. In addition the exchange of useful
hints and the airing of problems would be of value to all concerned. So
look in at the Society's rooms any Thursday evening to gibe others the
benefit of your experience.
CAN BE BOUGHT THROUGH THE SOCIETY WITH A SPECIAL LOW PRICE, DETAILS FROM
has been presented with the following books by two of its members, Mr.
Grassie and Mr. Douglas :
10 books. Not reproduced here]
are now available for borrowing by members. The Society is most grateful
for the generosity of Mr. Grassie and Mr. Douglas.