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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 :

(+)  7 Jun 2019 MAS 61st AGM

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

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

(+)  6 Sep 2019 History of Mars Exploration - (Jim House)

(+)  4 Oct 2019 Kew Observatory and the origins of modern solar physics - (Lee Macdonald)

(+)  1 Nov 2019 The Origin of the Solar System - (James Fradgley)

(+)  1 Dec 2019 Xmas Quiz and social - (By members)

(+)  3 Jan 2020 Equipment Parade - (By members)

(+)  7 Feb 2020 Ask an expert Q and A panel - (By Members)

(+)  6 Mar 2020 TBA

(+)  3 Apr 2020 TBA

(+)  1 May 2020 TBA

  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 :-) )

(+)  3 May 2019 13 Journeys in Space and Time - (Colin Stuart)

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

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

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

(+)  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)

5th February 2016 - Sun Grazing Comets by Kenelm England (Reading AS) When Kenelm arrived with his presentation on a USB stick, I discovered that my laptop couldn't 'read' the new MS Office 'xml' formats, so Tim had to dig out his (rather more modern) laptop. For those who use MS Office 2000/2003 (and refuse to pay for the over-bloated Office 2007 or later), you can download the Office 2000/3 'xml support' pack from MS web site here Kenelm started with a quick overview of 'what is a comet made of ?' (essentially, material left over from the formation of the Solar System - which is why scientists are so keen to visit them and grab samples). Next he explained how a comet's 'orbit' is defined (which involves 'big omega' and 'little omega' which PowerPoint failed to display and I have no doubt so would your browser :-) = so rather than spend time trying to sort out 'ascii character codes' I refer you to wikipedia, Orbital elements) and noted that a 'sungrazer' is defined as a comet that passes within 0.01 AU of the Sun at perihelion (an AU is an archaic measure defined as the distance of the Earth from the Sun). Of course during most of our history comets were regarded as 'signs from the Gods' and 'harbingers of doom', however this at least resulted in some (reasonably accurate) contemporary written records - in fact, details of comets are still being discovered in ancient records today (Kenelm showed us an account written in cuneiform on a clay tablet in 164 BC !). The best comet data is from the 17th century onward, after Copernicus had established the 'Sun centric' model of the Solar System model (De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, 1543), Kepler had shown how to calculate orbits (in 1609/19) and, after Galileo (1609 onward) as telescopes became available for observation. The science (rather than superstition) of comets really started with C/1680 V1 (the Great Comet of 1680), the first comet to be discovered by telescope (by Gottfried Kirch on 14 November 1680). Observations of this comet (by Kirch, Flamsteed and others) were used by Isaac Newton to verify Kepler's laws and (in his Principia, 1687) led to the realisation that the two bright comets of 1680 and 1681 were one and the same (the first as it traveled inbound to the Sun and the other outbound). However it was not until Edmond Halley (1705, Synopsis of the Astronomy of Comets) used Newton's laws of motion to calculate the gravitational effects of Jupiter and Saturn on cometary orbits that led to his theory that the second comet 1682 was the same as that of 1531 and that of 1607. Halley calculated it's orbit as 76 years (since refined to 7576 years) and predicted it's return 1758 (it did, just, in 25 December 1758, although Halley did not live to see the comet return, as he died in 1742). In fact, Halley's Comet had been observed and recorded by astronomers since at least 240 BC. Clear records of the comet's appearances were made by Chinese, Babylonian, and medieval European chroniclers, but it was not recognized as reappearances of the same object at the time. Whilst not a 'sungrazer' (it's perihelion is 0.6 AU), it was the first comet to be recognised as periodic. A least one member of Maidenhead Astronomical Society observed Hally's Comet during it's 9 February 1986 appearance and some are hoping to see it's next return, 28 July 2061 ! Photo: ../Meetings/photos/Kreutz-sungrazers.gif
During the 1800's many attempts were made to 'link' comet records together, however this was made more difficult by their (apparent) ability to 'break the laws of physics' as they grazed the Sun (it was not until Einstein (1905) that it was realised that the anomalies in the measured transit timing was explained by Relativity). Even so, Heinrich Kreutz realised (1888) that what appeared to be multiple individual sungrazing comets were all just parts of an 'progenitor' comet that had been 'broken up' into progressively smaller 'chunks' on each transit from 326 AD onward

In modern times, a number of sun observing satellites (most notably Solwind (1979-85) and Solar Max (1987-88)) have 'spotted' parts of the Kreutz sungrazer. SOHO has seen some 3,000+ 'lumps' as they approached the Sun, almost all of which break up at perihelion and are never seen again, althougth no doubt still others are waiting to be found in the records. For more information on SOHO's comets, visit Sungrazer Home The orbits of the Sungrazers is now so well known that it's possible to 'predict' where they will appear at any specific time of year, so you can go look for one yourself !
This note last modified: 30th Oct 2016 18:11.


(+)  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)

(+)  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