At the November
meeting last year, honorary membership was bestowed upon Mr. R.J. Gilbert for
his valued services to the society.
A belated obituary
to Mr. J. MacDonald (Jackie) who dies earlier this year. Jackie had been an
active member of the society for a few years and helped quite a lot with our
ventures. He will be sadly missed by us all.
Despite a poor
attendance last session's members night was a great success. Well done to all
members involved! The next members night will be on February 14th 1986, the
idea being that members should take along anything of general interest to the
society to show the membership.
St. Andrews Observatories
A visit has been
arranged to the St Andrews observatories by the society on Saturday 15th March
1986. The observatories boast an impressive array of instrument including the largest
optical telescope in the U.K. (a 38 inch reflector). A short visit to the
Mills Observatory, Dundee has also been proposed during the trip back; details
of this are still in preparation. A bus will be organised for this venture for
members wishing to attend.
HISTORY OF THE
A.D.A.S. by Steve Graham
began in 1969 when Mr. W.D. Cooper then a teacher at Robert Gordon's
College, and a few friends got together to form The Aberdeen and
District Astronomical Society. The first meeting was held at McRobert
Hall. This meeting attracted an audience of approx' 200 people, of which
a large percentage became members of the Society. A Committee was
elected and was made up a Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer, and 2 or 3
biggest problem facing the Society at this time was that there was no
permanent place to hold regular meetings and no space to house a
telescope. The Governors of Robert Gordon's College was very helpful and
offered the Society the use of the roof at the Robert Gordon's Institute
and also as small shed to house telescopes. One of the first telescopes
to be set up was the 8.1/2 inch Newtonian reflector which was kept in
the shed permanently set up for use by Society members. After a while ,
some more telescopes arrived at the scene. The first was a 4 inch
refracting telescope made by Dr. Jason who was a member at the time,
also a 2 inch refractor (owner unknown). The society was equipped and
ready to go, meanwhile other activities were beginning to flourish, it
was decided to start a telescope making group, after all, astronomers
need telescopes and since buying a ready made telescope was expensive,
what better way of acquiring a telescope at a reasonable price but to
make one yourself. Provisions were made for the construction group to
use one of the Physics labs, where; I have been told, "Every
Thursday night Cauldrons of boiling pitch boiled furiously and the sound
of grating glass was ever present". For some reason the
construction group didn't lat and was quickly abandoned, probably
because mirror making is such an arduous task and dedication is needed
to see the job through. As far as I am aware, on 2 or 3 mirrors were
actually finished. Somewhere in Robert Gordon's Institute, probably in a
basement, the evidence of a bygone era remains.
show there there a number of observing groups set up, namely Lunar,
Planets, Aurora and Meteors, there was also an Astronautics and History
Group. To date I have no record of their activities except in the
Committee record book which reports that they were doing well at that
time. Again from my records I know of a meeting held at Mills
Observatory Dundee where Patrick Moore was present (not to be confused
with our recent visit), also a visit to the University's Radio Telescope
at Hillbrae, which sadly is no longer in use but still remains.
1970-1 negotiations were going ahead to try and get a permanent
observatory built. It was finally decided to build an observatory on the
Roof of Robert Gordon's Institute (opposite end from the she) and on
it's completion a new telescope would be installed under the dome. In
1972, the society temporarily disbanded to allow work to be carried out
on the new observatory. It was decided to "shut up shop" so to
speak, because; we no longer had an observing site an alternative was
not available. We were informed however, that the observatory would be
ready and functioning within a year. As far as I am aware, I believe
there were a number of snags encountered during the construction of the
observatory and it did take longer than one year as promised. Approx' 2
years later the society was allowed back to Robert Gordon's Institute
and into the observatory which was now complete. During this time the
Society had lost about half its total membership. I don not believe that
this was a contributing factor, on the contrary, I believe it would have
happened anyway. Going back to 1969 the Americans had landed the first
man on the moon, the public became very interested and this probably
caused the large membership initially, but the public soon became bored
as manned flights to the moon became an almost every day event.
things are a lot different, the observatory is the hub of the
Astronomical Society. The dome now houses an 8 inch Schmidt Cassegrain
telescope, a very fine instrument. We still have the original telescopes
that we started off with and a few more additions to the
"family". We are no longer limited to observing sessions once
per month when nine times out of ten it was either raining or overcast.
We have regular observing sessions once per week and arrangements are
being made for sessions outside the City (field trips) along with other
activities listed in the Syllabus. I hope you have enjoyed reading the
history of the society, sorry its so short but 1969 to 1985 is really a
sport space of time and I feel that most of the important events and
facts have been mentioned here.
Lectures for this
session are as follows:-
Without a Telescope'
Solar System' (theatre C47)
Einstein and Cosmology'
Light of the Night Sky'
Annual General Meeting
Stars and Binary Systems'
Thompson and J.MacNicol
STARS by Alex Thomson
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FIRST STEPS IN
ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY by Steve Graham
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In 1981, N.A.W.
was geared to coincide with the 200th. anniversary of Sir William Herschel's
discovery of the planet Uranus. On the 13th March a campaign commenced to make
the public more aware of Astronomy. It was supported by a large circulation
daily newspaper who offered a substantial cash prize to any amateur
astronomer, who discovered a comet during that week. One comet was discovered
but it was very faint and only a large telescope in the United States could observe
it, so the cash prize was safe.
1985, N.A.W. coincides with the return of the most famous comet of them
all, 'Halley's Comet'. The week runs from the 9th, to the 16th.
November, when the comet will be starting to approach its best for the
observer in the northern hemisphere. N.A.W. also has the backing of the
"Daily Telegraph", for this year's event. It is hoped that
more public interest will be awakened to Astronomy than ever before and
the comet's return will cause many a person to gaze skyward in search of
all over the nation will be opening their doors to the public, with
exhibitions, lectures and observing sessions with a possible chance to
see the great comet with guidance from members of well established amateur
societies. We owe this sudden surge of activity to the endeavors of one
man "Edmond Halley".
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of various objects and bodies in the Solar System - not yet reproduced ]