Asteroid 2012 DA14 – maybe

Postscript: After some further analysis, Rik has decided he is not now confident in claiming this is an image of the asteroid. What it is, we will probably never know…

Although the weather was generally poor over the Cotswolds for attempts to observe this near earth asteroid on Friday evening – Rik McRae in Gloucester managed to capture one enigmatic frame with a trailed object – perhaps this could be it!

2012 DA14 (?) 20130215 2223UT Rik McRae

Rik writes:

I set up my camera with a 50mm lens on a polar aligned tracking mount, pointed it at the predicted path given by the BAA at the prescribed time and fired of 2min exposures for an hour. On one frame through a gap in the clouds, in the right area at the right time and moving in the right direction there is a short streak, where the stars are all round. Nothing else like it shows on any of the other frames due to cloud cover, so I can’t track it frame to frame and prove it, but this is as good as I could manage this evening.

Clear sky for observing session

Jupiter and the winter constellations on 2013 January 15 – image by Callum Potter

We had a pretty good clear sky for our members’ observing session on January 15th. It had been a fine day, with barely a cloud in the sky, and then a few rolled in towards the end of the afternoon. This did not bode well, but in fact, they came to nothing, and a fine clear evening was enjoyed.

Thanks to Angela, Christine, Sally, Ian, Tom, Dave and Glyn who all came out to observe that evening.

Dates for February are still to be arranged, and will be posted on the header of this site when confirmed.

Jan/Feb 2013 Mercury available to download

The Jan/Feb 2013 issue of the Society newsletter Mercury is now available to download from the Members | Downloads area.


  • Editor’s Desk
  • Coordinator’s Report
  • Sir Patrick Moore Remembered
  • Observing Director’s Notes
  • Dates For Your Diary
  • Looking Back
  • Society Loan Equipment
  • Events schedule

Patrick Moore – 1923-2012

It was with great sadness that the Society received the news of the passing of Sir Patrick Moore.

Many members have met Patrick over the years, and he was a truly inspirational figure in the world of amateur astronomy.

For one member, John Fletcher, it is particularly sad occasion. John had become great friends with Patrick over the years, and was a regular visitor to ‘Farthings’, and became one of his personal carers in Patrick’s later years.

John Fletcher with Patrick Moore in 2005

Patrick Moore was a larger than life character, and will be sorely missed.

Clear sky for observing evening

Observing evening, but not last night!

Last night (14 November) a few of us gathered for a rather speculative observing evening at the North Glos site. Forecast was poor, there was lots of fog around on the way to the site, but on arrival was clear and dark.

Although patches of fog passed through, the sky was remarkably clear, with the milky way and M31 being easily visible to the naked eye.

Sadly the equipment dewed up all too quickly, and we packed up after taking in a few sights. Jupiter was very impressive, the Pleiades brilliant, M57, and Albireo were amongst the favourite targets.

A Note From Down Under

Our Coordinator, Peter Cadogan, is currently holidaying in Australia, and has now arrived near Cairns for the eclipse.

Peter writes:

It is all a bit iffy for Wednesday, but we are keeping our fingers crossed. There are lots of eclipse chasers here and one astronomer helped me to find my way about the Southern skies last night This is not easy at this time of the year, as the Milky Way is on the horizon and most northern constellations are a bit nondescript as well as being upside down.  But 57 Tucana was magnificent – much brighter  than m13.
This was the view on Monday morning from our beach at 6 am, so the sun is well up. But it’s raining at the moment
Sunrise in Australia – Peter Cadogan

November/December Mercury

The November/December 2012 issue of Mercury is now available to download from the Members|Downloads area.

Contents include

  • Coordinator’s Report
  • Dates For Your Diary
  • Astroimaging workshop
  • It was a nightmare!
  • North Glos Observing Evenings
  • Essentials of Image Processing
  • Looking back Millennium
  • Society Dinner announcement
  • Events schedule

November Monthly Meeting – Cyclic Model

Cosmic Background – WMAP – 2010

At our November meeting John Yates will be talking about the “Cyclic Model” of cosmology. This is an alternative cosmology to the commonly assumed “Inflationary Model”, but does provide an interesting alternative to conventional wisdom.

We will have a some telescopes along should it be clear after the break, and if any members have pictures they would like to show please bring them along.

October Monthly Meeting – Cosmic Rays

At the monthly meeting this Saturday, Dr Helen Heath, from Bristol University will be talking to us about Cosmic Rays. These are not some metaphysical health remedy, but extremely energetic particles from the depths of space, so it will certainly be a meeting not to be missed.
The forecast for Saturday evening is a bit uncertain at the moment, but telescopes will be available just in case.