Viewing event for the Transit of Mercury – 11th November 2019

On Monday 11th November there is a Transit of Mercury.  This begins at about 12.35 pm and is still in progress at Sunset.

Neil Havard is planning to observe this from the playing fields off Sappercombe Lane and would welcome any members and their friends who would like to come along to view the event – weather permitting. Sappercombe Lane is a narrow lane (just before Beeches Rd) off Little Herberts Rd that runs up from the church in Charlton Kings.  There is parking at the end of this short lane.  More telescopes would be welcomed of course, but ensure the correct filter is in place.

From the Editor of Mercury

Editorial to appear in this month’s edition of Mercury, the newsletter of the Cotswold Astronomical Society.

It has become apparent that the number of people reading Mercury is not as high as  expected. The number of people who have registered on the website so far, which is required in order to view or download Mercury, is only about one third of the membership, so it really begs the question, are the majority of members really that interested? If you are reading this you are one of the minority who obviously are interested, so the committee will be promoting the availability of Mercury to everyone else. The use of email to reach members also doesn’t appear to be fully effective either. Statistics from the mailing system show that at best 80% of the emails are opened, the minimum being about 58%.

A lot of time and effort goes into creating Mercury, both from the people who contribute articles and then editing and publishing. It would therefore be more appreciated if the majority of members actually read it.

I have plans to help promote Mercury, to be implemented over the coming months. However, if you have any ideas you would like to share on what would make other members more interested in making the effort to read it, please let me know.


From Herschel to Hawkwind

A talk at CAS by Pete Williamson.

On the club meeting night of the 12th October Pete gave his very interesting talk about the connections between astronomy and music. A prolific speaker at astronomy clubs the length and breadth of the country, Pete also runs SolarSphere, an astronomical and music festival, the next event being on the 14th to 17th August 2020 –

Museum of The Moon talk by Peter Cadogan

Celebrating 50 years since the first Moon landings

WHEN:  Thurs 17th October 2019 7pm—8.30pm

WHERE: Gloucester Cathedral Nave

SPEAKER • Dr Peter Cadogan

Dr Peter Cadogan, lunar scientist and author of The Moon – Our Sister Planet, developing computer software for counting craters in images returned from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite. The talk will not be too technical!


£15—Friends Of Gloucester Cathedral members £17.50—Non Members
Ticket price includes a ‘glass of fizz’

Lecture followed by drinks in the Cathedral Nave




11a College Green, Gloucester (Tues/Thurs 0930-1230) 01452 522419 (voicemail)
On the door


Thurs 3rd October


Membership access

As all members should now know, the website has been reconfigured to make accessing all membership restricted areas simpler, with one password. To read Mercury and access the forums it will now be necessary to create an account. Your access request will be checked against the list of paid-up members and then confirmed. Please allow between 24 and 48 hours for this to be done as it is a manual process. However, it can usually be done within a few hours.

Mercury editorial. Volume 37 Issue 2

This year, on the 20th July 2019, it is the 50th anniversary of the first step on the moon, by Neil Armstrong.  This special edition of Mercury, with a printed copy made available to all CAS members who attend the next meeting, is devoted entirely to recognising and celebrating this amazing feat.

 We are on the cusp of the next steps in space exploration – it may be 50 years since the first landing, but many more achievements have been made since. Several lunar missions followed, unfortunately curtailed more by political expediency than lack of scientific will or progress, then many more space missions made possible by the Space Shuttle. This has benefited astronomy enormously, the shuttle being used to launch the Hubble telescope. The USA plans to return to the moon in 2024, with other countries such as China already landing probes and un-manned explorers this year.

 While there has been a lot of discussion about why we have not followed up on space travel by building a permanent moon base, which has fueled speculation and conspiracy theories galore, it is encouraging now to hear about governments and private organisations making plans for a permanent manned moon base within the next few years, rather than decades.

I therefore thought it fitting that we should dedicate this edition of Mercury to the moon landing and look forward with much hope to successfully reaching the other worlds of our solar system and eventually, other solar systems. Travelling to planets within our immediate vicinity takes long enough, 9 months one-way to Mars for example. The method of travel to other star systems is currently way beyond our technical capability, requiring either a method of near light-speed travel or some means of avoiding conventional light-speed limitations. How or when this can be achieved is still a huge speculation and could be yet hundreds or thousands of years in the future, if at all.

The articles that follow are a very small sample of some of the wealth of information publicly available about every aspect of the Apollo missions. Some links have been provided but a quick web search will find enough information to keep you reading for some considerable time.

Here’s to the next 50 years of space exploration – it should be an interesting time.


Apollo 11 Anniversary Event

Advertised on behalf of the Newbury Astronomy Society at Stockcross Village Hall

50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing 1969

Stockcross Village Hall July 19th/20th 2019

Friday July 19th: 7.30PM Movie 
“The Dish” Comedy based on true events around the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. Suitable for Adults & Children.

Doors open 6.30pm for Pop-Inn Pub, drinks & snacks available. Ticket £2 at door.

Saturday July 20th: 12-3PM Talk & Displays
Free Talk 1PM “A History of the Moon” Steve Harris, Newbury Astronomy Society. Hot Dogs & drinks available. Moon displays and memorabilia.

Poster competition for children.
Saturday July 20th: 7PM-Midnight Moon Dance

With special guests  The MiGZ. £12 per ticket includes food & band.

Space themed Fancy dress (optional). Music from 1960s to current day.

Tickets on sale Stockcross Post Office – not available on door.

This is a community event, and we are planning to have telescopes available for viewings on both the 19th & 20th July.


Amateur Spectroscopy: Cracking starlight’s hidden code – by Hugh Allen

This is the title of the talk coming up at the next society meeting on the 8th June 2019.

Analysis of starlight by spectroscopy is inspirational and is a fundamental pillar of professional astronomy. But take a look inside popular astronomy magazines and you will not find much mention of amateur spectroscopy. The language of spectroscopy can seem obscure, the physics a bit daunting and for many the technique is poorly understood. The light from stars is however like the cover of a book. Carefully spreading the starlight into a spectrum is like opening the book’s pages. A new world is revealed where there is beauty, science and detective work in equal measure, and it is all readily accessible to the amateur astronomer. The talk will demystify amateur spectroscopy and show how it offers a unique way to observe the Universe.

The atomic structure of hydrogen is revealed in the light from the bright, A-class star Alioth in The Plough. Taken using an 8″ Meade LX90 telescope, Atik 314L+ mono camera, Alpy 600 spectroscope with a 23µ slit, RSpec software.