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 ! )
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 Feb 2020 Ask an expert Q and A panel - (By Members)
(+) 6 Mar 2020 TBA
(+) 3 Apr 2020 TBA
(+) 1 May 2020 TBA
(+) 5 Jun 2020 MAS 62nd AGM
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 Jan 2020 Equipment Parade - (By members)
(+) 6 Dec 2019 Xmas Quiz and social - (By members)
(+) 1 Nov 2019 The Origin of the Solar System - (James Fradgley)
(+) 4 Oct 2019 Kew Observatory and the origins of modern solar physics - (Dr Lee Macdonald)
(+) 6 Sep 2019 History of Mars Exploration - (Jim House)
(+) Aug 2019 Summer break - (no meeting)
(+) Jul 2019 Summer break - (no meeting)
(+) 7 Jun 2019 MAS 61st AGM - (and Photo Competition prizes)
(+) 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)
Friday 16th March 2018 (this is the meeting postponed from 2 Mach due to bad weather)
Report by: Steve
"The Juno Mission to Jupiter" by Guest Speaker: Dr John Rogers, BAA Jupiter Section Director
We would like to thank Dr John Rogers for rescheduling his visit at short notice from the original 'snowed in' date to this postponed March meeting date.
The Juno mission is delivering some excellent scientific results and amazing photos, many of which Dr John Rogers displayed during his talk.
When initially planned, the focus for the Juno mission was the science - and this did not need a visual wavelength camera ! However, NASA then realised that the American public would not be very impressed with the Government spending over $1bn and not being able to show them some nice pictures. So a camera - Junocam - was fixed within the body of the spacecraft.
Juno is the first spacecraft to use solar panels (rather than a thermal power generator) so far from the Sun. This was made possible by improvements in solar cell efficiency, and results in a spacecraft with 3 huge 'wings' (one of which hosts the magnetometer at it's far end). Even so, it has only 500W to run everything, and this meant that the normal gyroscopic stabilisation approach had to be abandoned (which also saves weight). The craft is thus spin stabilised (at about 2 rpm).
Further, it was designed to follow a highly elliptical orbit that allowed it to 'precess' over Jupiter's poles (each orbit is known as a 'Perijove') in such a way that it can keep it's solar panels pointed toward the sun. So what was 'in the field of view' of the camera would be restricted.
Finally, the amount of data that can be transmitted is strictly limited. It would not be possible to operate the camera continuously. On each orbit the number of photo's would be limited and thus a 'shooting sequence' had to be agreed and transmitted to the craft in advance of each approach.
The (monochrome) camera fixed to the body of the spacecraft takes successive r-g-b 'slices' as the craft spins. At closest approach, the 1600 by 1200 pixel camera achieves about 15 km / pixel (which is nearly 10 times better than Hubble's best resolution of 119 km/pixel).
To assemble the final image considerable processing has to be done with the partially overlapping 'slices'. However, making pretty pictures was not a priority for NASA, so a number amateurs took the data and generated improved results [see, for example, this report. Those interested in performing their own processing can find the RAW data here along with some submitted results].
Juno entered it's 56 day orbit around the gas giant on July 4, 2016. The plan was to reduce this to a 14 day orbit and then end the mission by 'deorbiting' the craft (deliberately entering Jupiter's atmosphere) on February 20, 2018.
However problems with the main engine meant that the craft had to be left in it's current 56 day orbit, so it will continue to send photos almost indefinitely (although it is currently only funded to July 2018).
The main scientific observations have produced very good results - for example, one question was how far 'down' do the storms seen at the top of Jupiter's cloud layer extend ? Measurements of temperature gradients suggest that the storms are a very 'top layer' effect, extending no more than about 3km into the atmosphere.
It was thought that Jupiter had either a very small and dense core, or perhaps no core at all. However data from Juno has revealed that Jupiter has an enormous, "fuzzy" core that might be partially dissolved.
The discrepancy between expectations and the data suggests that there's a lot we still don't know about giant gas planets - and the more we learn about Jupiter the more we can deduce about the thousands of extra-solar Jupiter-like planets being discovered.
Visit the NASA Juno images page for the latest photos.
Second half:- IB Extended Essay - some spectroscopy results examined and explained, by MAS member Aditya Rudrapatna
As part of his IB exam, Aditya chose the rather difficult subject of obtaining and explaining the results of spectrograph examination of up to a dozen stars.
He used a Canon DSLR fitted with a 'Star Analyser 100' (100 lines/mm grating) a 1.25" screw in filter (on loan from Alun) fitted to his (8" ?) Newtonian reflector telescope.
Like most MAS members, he soon discovered that 'theory' and 'practice' are two very different things when it comes to any type of astrophotography. His first results were disappointing, consisting of many blank frames.
However, Tim came to his rescue, allowing Aditya to use his telescope. Tim has a garden observatory, which it seems, leads to Aditya gaining considerable 'street cred' amongst his peer group.
After much trial and error, Aditya was finally able to obtain good spectrographic images for 7 stars. Typical exposure times were in the range 3-15 seconds, so (at least in theory) star 'tracking' errors should have little effect.
He then processed the images to obtain the stars spectra (intensity V wavelength plot). From this he deduced 3 things :-
1) The elements present in the star (by looking up the spectra of known elements) and molecules in the gas clouds between the star and Earth.
2) The temperature of the star (which required further processing to extract the 'Planck curve' and visual matching of the curve to library of known temperature curves)
3) The Red / Blue shift of the Hydrogen emission line which (should) give the velocity of the star relative to the Earth.
Interestingly, the figures he obtained for the stars velocity in (3) were obviously incorrect, suggesting some stars were moving toward the Earth at thousands of km/sec, whilst others were moving away at similar speeds. Researching the specifications of the Star Analyser grating quickly revealed that it did not have the resolution necessary to deliver accurate values, with only the 'Red shift' (away) or 'Blue shift' (toward) being valid.
Tim delivered a very quick overview of what to look for over the coming weeks :-
Venus can be found west, at sunset, followed by Mercury and a thin crescent Moon. Jupiter is a midnight object.
All our indoor Meetings are open to the public, however non-members are asked to make a contribution of £2 toward the hall hire costs (this may be collected by Fred, our Membership Secretary, at the door on arrival, or left at the 'Tea hatch' at half time).
This note last modified: 11th Jun 2019 10:38.
(+) 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)
(+) 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 - (Roger Dymock)
(+) 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 - (Owen Brazell)
(+) 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 - (Dr Paul Roche and Sarah Roberts)
(+) 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 Brazell)
(+) 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