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MAS archive


Photo: jpeg (meeting in progress)
This page lists our monthly meetings. For other events open to the general public, see our Events page

Dates are set well in advance but the 'content' of the meeting is only updated (from our 'meetings database') when details are entered, so 'blank' or 'TBA' may be shown when data has not yet been entered (please be assured that the meeting will take place and a talk on (some) Subject will be delivered by (some) Speaker ! )

Photo: MAS Meeting
Meetings are held at the Church Hall (aka 'The Soltau Center') of St James-the-Less, Stubbings, Maidenhead SL6 6QW, from 7.30 (for a map and directions, see the About MAS (Where we meet) page

The Main Topic is usually delivered by an invited guest speaker. We aim to provide a diverse range of subjects linked (in some way) to Astronomy - whilst the 'Second Session' is typically delivered by one of our members. If time allows, the evening concludes with a short 'What to see this month'.

Details of a typical evening (times are approximate) :-
7.30pm. The evening starts with the Chairman delivering any important Announcements and then introducing the main speaker.
7.45pm (latest). Main Topic Speaker gets up and the lights are turned off.
If you arrive after 7.45, please enter the Hall by the first door (on the right, after the entrance) and please be extra careful when finding a seat at the back of the Hall as members often setup telescopes there !
8.45-9pm +. Coffee break during which visitors often chat with members who have set-up their telescopes at the back of the hall. If the weather is good, sometimes members will nip out for a quick look at the sky.
Smoking is permitted outside the Hall, however smokers are asked to avoid any 'observers' (smoke particles always seem to get into optical equipment, no matter how well 'sealed' it may be)
9.15pm (at the latest). The 'Second Session' then runs for about 45 mins, typically ending with "What's Up !" (what to look out for in the sky this month)
10pm. We aim to clear the hall by 10pm.
Post meeting Observing. If the weather is good, the Observing Organiser then leads the way to our chosen observing site, or (if the weather looks even a slight bit 'iffy) members sneak off to the local Pub instead :-)

Next meeting :

(+)  1 Feb 2019 Ask the expert - (members panel)

(+)  1 Mar 2019 The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) - (Dr)

(+)  5 Apr 2019 Space Weather - (Dr Colin Forsyth)

(+)  3 May 2019 To be announced

(+)  7 Jun 2019 MAS 61st AGM

(+) Jul 2019 Summer break - (no meeting)

(+) Aug 2019 Summer break - (no meeting)

  Meetings Archive  

The meetings archive gives an 'overview' of the Society activities over the past 10 years (see also the Events page).

Members have access to the full 'History of MAS' (including AGM minutes going back to 1957) along with full names and photos

The MAS 'year' runs from September of one year to June of the following. The end of year AGM in June elects the Committee for the following year (there are no meetings in July and August - although often members will meet informally at the local pub - which gives the new Committee time to 'get a grip' on running the Society)

The "short cuts" (in the 'title bar', at the very top of this page) will take you to the June AGM entry for the end of that MAS year

The Maidenhead Astronomical Society meetings archive (last 10 years only)

Missed a meeting, or can't remember when a topic was last covered ? Here is the archive of past MAS meetings.
Note that this list covers only our monthly meetings and AGM's. Reports on Observing and Other Events are separate pages

If notes were taken at the meeting, the date below is underlined and shown with a '(+)' = click to see the notes (if no '(+)' is shown, no notes were taken - or, more likely, the webmaster hasn't found them and posted them up yet :-) )

(+)  4 Jan 2019 Equipment exhibition - (and EGM)

(+)  7 Dec 2018 Christmas Quiz and Social

(+)  2 Nov 2018 Short talks - (by members)

(+)  5 Oct 2018 The Future is out of this World - ( Dr Stuart Eves FRAS)

(+)  7 Sep 2018 13 Journeys through space and Time - (Postponed new date TBA)

(+) Aug 2018 Summer break - (no meeting)

(+) Jul 2018 Summer break - (no meeting)

(+)  1 Jun 2018 MAS 61st AGM - (and Photo Competition prizes)

(+)  4 May 2018 Using Video and an Aurora Encounter - (by members)

(+)  6 Apr 2018 Berkshire Astronomers - (Kenelm England FRAS)

(+) 16 Mar 2018 NEW DATE Jupiter and the Juno Mission - (Dr John Rogers)

(+)  2 Feb 2018 Talks by Members

(+)  5 Jan 2018 Telescope and Equipment workshop - (Q and A with members)

(+)  1 Dec 2017 Xmas Quiz and Social - (Quiz Master Tim H)

(+)  3 Nov 2017 Wonders of the Deep Sky - (Callum Potter)

(+)  6 Oct 2017 Observing the Sun - (by MAS members)

(+)  1 Sep 2017 Gravity Waves - (a recap by Martin Dyer)

(+)  2 Jun 2017 MAS 60th AGM - (and Photo Competition prizes)

(+)  5 May 2017 Novae - (Jim H)

(+)  7 Apr 2017 Comets - (Kenelm England)

(+)  3 Mar 2017 Pseudoastronomy - (Stephen Tonkin)

(+)  3 Feb 2017 Members short stories

(+)  6 Jan 2017 Telescope Parade - (exhibition by members)

(+)  9 Dec 2016 (note 2nd Friday) Christmas Quiz - (and members shorts)

(+)  4 Nov 2016 Observing Planetary Nebulae - (Owen Brazell)

(+)  7 Oct 2016 Astro tourism - (David Phillips)

(+)  2 Sep 2016 Rosetta Space Mission - (Andrew Morse)

(+)  3 Jun 2016 MAS 59th AGM - (and Photo competition results)

(+)  6 May 2016 Build a recording spectrometer John Paraskeva - (2nd half Spectrometer results Alun Halsey)

(+)  1 Apr 2016 The Universe in multiple wavelengths - (2nd half Gravity Waves)

(+)  4 Mar 2016 Astronomy and the Weather - (Robin Oldman)

(+)  5 Feb 2016 Sungrazing Comets - (Kenelm England FRAS)

(+)  8 Jan 2016 (note 8th as 1st is New Year) Practical Astrophotography - (and Telescope Parade)

(+) 11 Dec 2015 Xmas Quiz and members shorts - (NOTE DATE CHANGE)

(+)  6 Nov 2015 The Big Bang Theory - (Kevin Pretorius)

(+)  2 Oct 2015 Starting Astrophotography - (short talks by members)

(+)  4 Sep 2015 Basketballs and Beyond - (Jane Green)

(+)  5 Jun 2015 agm

(+)  8 May 2015 (NOTE 2nd Friday) Talks by Members

(-) 10 Apr 2015 (2nd Friday) planned meeting replaced by - (talks from members)

Friday 10 April 2015, The planned talk "Basketballs and Beyond - Wonders of the Cosmos" by Jane Green** had to be cancelled due to illness, however a number of brave members stepped forward to fill the void and claim their '15 mins of fame' with some impromptu (and not so impromptu) talks **We wish Jane a speedy recovery and hope to reschedule her talk for later in the year. Dave H stepped up and announced his talk, "A mathematical analysis of Tidal Forces" - at which point the heckling began ... David's first diagram was a 'force vector' representation of the magnitude of the Moons gravity felt by particles on the surface of the Earth. His next was a digram of the net effect, after subtracting the 'centre of the Earth' vector (highly magnified, this showed that the net force nearest the Moon was toward the Moon, but the net force on the other side of the Earth is AWAY from the Moon. This led on to the 3rd diagram, with water on the near side (and far side) forming a 'bulge' toward (and away from) the Moon ... .. and so we came to the 4th diagram, where we take into account the Earth's rotation. At this point it becomes obvious that the tides are the result of the Earth rotating 'under' the bulges whilst at the same time we see that the 'bulges' are 'offset' slightly due to fraction with the Earth (with the result that the Earth's rotation is being slowed down - i.e days are getting longer (by about 2.3 milliseconds per century - which doesn't sound like much but does add up, for example, during the Precambrian era (some 600 million years ago) our days were only 21 hours long which meant we had 424 days in a year, although by the end of the Cretaceous (Chixulub) some 65 million years ago we were already down to 371 days a year) .. and so to the 5th diagram where the effect of the tidal 'bulges' on the Moon is considered - because the bulges are offset, the gravity of the water pulls on the Moon, slowing it down, with the result that the Moon is getting further away from the Earth (at about 38mm a year !) Note - another way to look at this is to consider the Earth / Moon system (constant) angular momentum At this point, the heckling rose to a new level as Dave started to reveal the actual equations and, with what most of us thought was a lot of hand waving (especially when he multiplied 'by 1' and eliminated the 'too small to count' terms) ended up with a formula for Force (tides) = 2GMmr/d^3 (i.e. tidal forces 'drop off' at distance cubed, whilst 'normal' gravity drops off at distance squared). By substituting for the Sun (in terms of multiple Moons, Mass(Sun) = 2.7 10^7 M and distance(Sun)=390 d) we end up with the Sun's tidal force == .46 times the Moons (i.e. the Sun's effect is about half). As a result, when the Sun and Moon 'line up' we get extra high "Spring" tides, when they 'oppose' (i.e. are at 90 degrees to one another) we get extra low "Neap" tides. Whilst water can be thought of as a collection of 'point like' particles, that is not the case for more solid objects. Just as water forms two bulges, so a solid object will find itself trying to form bulges i.e. being pulled apart as the (net) forces on each side oppose one another. This bring us on to the Roche Limit. With a bit more hand waving we arrive at the (I guess obvious) conclusion that the denser the object the closer it can get to a large object (star or planet) before it will be pulled apart. This lets us set 'limits' on the density of e.g. asteroids/comets that pass close to e.g Jupiter/the Sun - and either get pulled apart or don't. At this point, some speakers would have gone straight into the equations for black holes, event horizons and 'Spaghettification' .. however Dave was able to resist this temptation and decided to stick a bit closer to home by running the equations on Saturn. Taking the density of ice, he shows that the Roche Limit is about 100km, whilst Saturn's rings are actually wider than that (at about 140km) - so why doesn't the (assumed icy) material 'clump together' and form Moons ? Well, as our Patron, Sir Patrick Moore, used to say 'We just don't know' .... Tim H stood up next with a presentation entitled "Occultations** (90 minutes)" **I'm not sure of the exact title, as my eyes (along with everyone else's) jumped to "(90 minutes)" and refused to go back ... Tim started off with an explanation of how he discovered the exact location (latitude and longitude) of his house at a time when GPS didn't exist and Google Earth was something that could only be Science Fiction. This involved lots of visits to the local Library to examine the local Ordinance Survey maps and square grid paper tracing (this was in the days when the OS enforced their Copyright by banning Libraries from using a photocopier), followed by some calibrated pacing from the grid marks determined from the OS map. Having determined his own location, he could now report on the exact position and times of 'shadow tracks' caused by objects (our Moon, the moons of Jupiter, Asteroids) passing in front of (occulting) stars. In those days such information was very useful in determining the exact size of our Moon. How, you might ask, do you make exact time measurements before things like the NPL atomic clock broadcast from Rugby (now from Anthorn, Cumbria) or Frankfurt (Germany) ? Well the trick was to start the stopwatch as soon as you saw (or rather, didn't see) the occultation and then rush indoors, pick up the telephone, dialing 123, listen to the 'pips' and 'stop the watch' at the exact time (subtracting the stopwatch time from the 'pips' then gave the exact time of start of occultation). Of course, when our Moon occulted a star, you then had to wait for up to an hour before the star reappeared on the other side. Tim managed to restrain himself and called a halt well before the planned 90 minutes, allowing us a very welcome Tea break. After Tea, we had Robin O delivering his 'What's Up' (Stellarium script = designed for v12.4), to an appreciative audience. This month Robin highlighted the constellation Coma Berenices, having a number of deep sky objects though no star brighter than magnitude 4.2. He showed the positions of the visible planets, Mercury, Venus Mars, Jupiter and Saturn and mentioned the Lyrid meteor shower due on the night of the 21st/22nd. To round off, he mentioned the retreating comet Lovejoy, moving towards Polaris. Finally, Steve B stood up to announce the 'relaunch' of the 'Members Only' section of the Club Website. Members would be required to 'register' using the email address they provided when joining the Society. Once 'Registered' access would be 'locked' to their home IP address (Members changing their ISP or email address would need to contact the webmaster to get their location 'unlocked'). Further information on Registration is provided on the Members Only section pages.
This note last modified: 6th May 2015 01:35.


(+)  6 Mar 2015 Astronomy in Namibia - (Scott Marley)

(+)  6 Feb 2015 Did the Moon sink the Titanic ? - (Dr Barry Kellett)

(+)  7 Nov 2014 Guest stars ancient and modern - (Guy Hurst)

(+)  3 Oct 2014 Measuring the Universe - (Kevin Pretorius)

(+)  5 Sep 2014 UKMON - (Richard Kacerek)

(+)  6 Jun 2014 agm

(+)  2 May 2014 Asteroids and Comets - (Jerry Workman)

(+)  7 Mar 2014 Talks by members

(+)  7 Feb 2014 History of Radio Astronomy - (Paul Hyde)

(+)  3 Jan 2014 Members telescope workshop evening

(+)  4 Oct 2013 Project Alcock

(+)  6 Sep 2013 Zooniverse - (Brooke Simmons)

(+)  7 Jun 2013 agm

(+)  3 May 2013 Members Photographic Compitition

(+)  1 Mar 2013 Exploring the Solar System by Satellite - (Dr Stuart Eves)

(+)  1 Feb 2013 Mars revisited - (Gerry Workman)

(+)  2 Nov 2012 (place holder)

(+)  5 Oct 2012 The History of Dark Nebula

(+)  7 Sep 2012 Photographing the Night Sky - (Nik Szymanek)

(+)  1 Jun 2012 agm

(+)  4 May 2012 Origins of time keeping

(+) 12 Apr 2012 The Faulkes Telescope Project

(+)  2 Mar 2012 Astronomy for new members - (various)

(+)  2 Dec 2011 Xmas social and Reprocessing old data using new Registax - (Bruce Kingsley)

(+)  3 Jun 2011 agm

(+)  6 May 2011 Occultations Ancient and Modern - (Tim Haymes)

(+)  1 Apr 2011 Active Galactic Nuclei - (Dr Nick Hewitt)

(+)  4 Mar 2011 Astro Imaging Overseas - (Damian Peach)

(+)  4 Feb 2011 Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe - (Dr Mark Sullivan)

(+)  7 Jan 2011 Social evening and Quiz - (Tim & Robin)

(+)  5 Nov 2010 Big Bangs - (Jim & Tim)

(+)  1 Oct 2010 Astronomy in Space - (David & Jim)

(+)  3 Sep 2010 The Sun Kings - (Dr Stuart Clark)

(+)  2 Jul 2010 Telescope and Camera workshop - (members)

(+)  4 Jun 2010 agm

(+)  9 Apr 2010 Meteorites - (David Bryant)

(+)  5 Mar 2010 Bits and Pieces - (Greg Smye Rumsby)

(+)  8 Jan 2010 (cancelled due to snow)

(+)  4 Dec 2009 Xmas Social and Quiz

(+)  6 Nov 2009 Planetary Nebulae - (Owen Brazel)

(+)  2 Oct 2009 A beginners guide to the night sky - (Tim H)

(+)  4 Sep 2009 Short talks - (members)

(+)  5 Jun 2009 agm

(+)  6 Jun 2008 agm

(+)  1 Jun 2007 agm

(+)  7 Jun 2006 agm

(+)  3 Jun 2005 agm

(+)  4 Jun 2004 agm