October 1989

By EF Nicholls

Let me apologise in advance for any inaccuracies that may occur in this brief account of the formation of the Coventry Astronomical Society, as my knowledge of the earlier years of the society is rather sparse.
The Society was originally formed, late in 1939, as the "College Astronomical and Meteorological Society" mainly through the efforts of Mr JDF Williams and Mr RM Helsdon who at that time were full time members of the college staff.  At the time the intention was to organise a meteorological section which would be able to supply returns to the Air Ministry.  Mr JD Williams is now a Vice-President of the Society.   A well-known amateur of the time, the late Captain GT Smith-Clarke, encouraged the project from its first conception and observational nights were at that time held in his observatory at Gibbet Hill which was equipped with a Cooke 6" refractor.
This was, of course, a rather unfortunate time to start any society but viewing conditions in a blacked-out city must have been marvellous compared to those prevailing today.  From the outset membership of the society and lectures arranged by the society were open to the public and one of outstanding interest was that on Monday, February 19th 1940, when Mr Bertrand Peek, President of the British Astronomical Association and Director of the Jupiter Observing Section came to address the society.  His subject not unnaturally was "The Planet Jupiter."
At about this time Captain Smith-Clarke made a generous gift of his complete observatory and 6" refractor to the society and this was later removed from Gibbet Hill, and re-erected on the college roof.   Due to war time conditions the society's activities were suspended for the duration of the war in 1940, re-commencing in 1945.
Another of our present Vice-Presidents, Mr HG Miles eventually took over as Secretary and ran the society for many years.  He is now Director of the Artificial Satellite Section, reporting of Sporadic Celestial Phenomena Section, and Secretary of the Education Committee of the BAA.  He was succeeded by Mr Chafer of the college staff and I took over about 6 years ago when Mr Chafer went to Germany.
During the last few years membership has steadily increased and I am hoping that the new combined society will help to encourage this.


A verbatim report on a paper given on July 25th 1967, by JH Osborne

We gratefully acknowledge Mr JH Osborne for making this article available.

The article was obtained by Alan Hancocks for this first issue of "Stellar".

Around mid-summer 1959, a member of the Coventry Astronomical Society, Mr MJO Green, having been requested to resign from that Society for reasons unknown to the writer, decided to form a breakaway group. The CAS was attached to and closely allied to the Coventry Technical College in the Butts where a refractor was and still is available in a small observatory on the roof. Its use was restricted in the main to college opening hours and perhaps because of this and also because of its close association with the college and the infrequency of meetings the CAS was not as widely known as it might have been.
Mr Green advertised in the local press for persons to contact him, who had any interest in astronomy, in particular the building of telescopes.  In the main his advert attracted a small number of enthusiasts who were either lone workers or planning to become so and who welcomed their chance to meet others of a like mind.  It is clear, as will be seen from later events that these persons neither considered themselves as a breakaway group nor suspected Mr Green's earlier connections with the CAS.  It may be that one or two founder members were also members of the CAS and that is certainly true today, but the formation of what was in effect an Astronomical Workshop, fulfilled a need, in no way conflicting with the function of CAS, and it cannot be disputed that Mr. Green was extremely knowledgeable on the subject of astronomy, optics, and design.
There is no record of any preliminary gatherings of persons who replied to this first.advert, but is certain that some were held, probably, of an informal nature in which a name for the Society and a Chairman was decided upon, as also were the aims of the Society.  These latter are clearly inscribed on the fly leaf of the Minute Book as being -

"Construction of Astronomical Telescopes
Study of Astronomy in all its aspects"

The title given was "Coventry Astro-Telescope Society" and the Chairman was ARL (Tony) Parsons, who later proved to be a tower of strength to the society and whose tragic death in an accident in April 1965 saddened us all.
Under his chairmanship, the first recorded meeting, was held. at 50 Northumberland Road, Coventry at 8 pm on Tuesday, November 3rd, 1959. A formal agenda had been drawn up comprising:

1. Election of Officers.
2. Advertisement for Workshop.
3. Membership Fees.
4. A.O.B.

Mr Green was elected Secretary, a Treasurer and two Committee members were appointed.  Two of these are today still most active members and it is a pleasure to record that Alan Hancocks and Bill Gray have for so long, unstintingly served our Society.
It was agreed at that meeting to rent a workshop at 27 Ford Street, Coventry.   The rent (£2.10.0 per week (£2.50p)) was heavy and must have been exclusive of rates for reference is made in a later minute to a "refund of rates" when the tenancy was terminated.  On account of the rent it was decided upon a weekly subscription of 4/- (20p) and although this was high, it is interesting to note that it was carried 10 for, 1 against and from that we can deduce that including the Chairman there were 12 founder members present.  Unfortunately only the officers are named and of those, Alan Hancocks, mentioned above, is still serving on the Committee.  However, there may be others from amongst the anonymous 7 and we should be glad to learn of any member who was present at that first meeting.
The first full committee meeting was held on Friday 20th November, 1959.  It commenced at 8 pm and went on until 11 pm.  It was evidently a tremendous meeting and many of the resolutions passed have still today a most familiar ring.  Apart from decisions to purchase a stock of "discs, blackboards, Epidiascope etc., it was decided to approach the schools to form a Junior section under the tutelage of Tony Parsons, to arrange a Christmas dinner - a happy idea which has become an annual feature ever since.  It was also decided to advertise for members once again, to affiliate with the BAA and above all to approach Councillor Mann to discuss the feasibility of mounting a large telescope in the environs of Coventry.
Thus, at our very first meeting following the inaugural of the original committee our footsteps were set upon a path that today is leading us to Coombe Abbey.   How daunted would that committee have felt, I wonder, if they had realised then that eight years later we should still only be on the threshold of this goal. It says.much for their ideals and the persistence of founder members that this torch has been carried for so-long and passed on, undiminished into the hands of the present committee through the many changes and vicissitudes that have beset the Society since those days.
The Society continued to meet at the rear of 27 Ford Street, and as a result of the advertising a number of new members were enrolled, of which the writer was one.   These promises, it was found left much to be desired for apart from the expense, they lacked both heating facilities aid water supply and the nearest toilets were those in pool Meadow bus station.  However, enthusiasm was tremendous and I have many happy memories of lively debates, a growing warmth of friendship, (owing nothing to the heavy over-coats, gloves and mufflers we usually were wearing) and to the occasional altercation that arose as opinions differed.  These meetings were most enjoyable gatherings of lively minds, as indeed they still are today.  It was then, too, that the tradition commenced of continuing discussions over a nightcap pint on the way home and since it was rarely that we hurriedly burst into the local hostelry before five to ten an unofficial roster was kept as to whose turn it was to pay "this week."  Many decisions were reached on the pavement after turning out time and still are and my wife, at least, could not understand why I got home after 11 pm when closing time was 10 pm.  I fear that later years, when licensing hours were extended to 10.30 pm brought no improvement for then and now we burst in at 10.25 pm and pavement discussions continue unabated.
Despite all the foregoing the Society had been in existence, albeit a very active existence for only nine weeks when it was decided to call a first AGM of members. This was held at the Chairman's home, 186 Rotherham Road, Coventry on Sunday morning 10th January I960 at 11 am.  I remember this meeting very well.  It was heavily attended and we were packed in, sitting on chairs, arms of chairs, stools, the floor and each other. The Chairman was confirmed in office and a larger committee formed, bringing the number from 5 to 7.  It was in the capacity of Assistant Treasurer that our present Chairman, Dave Spearman, was first mentioned in the records, along with Bill Gray, Committee member and myself, who for some dubious reason was elected, Vice-Chairman.  Alan Hancocks was also on the new committee.
At this meeting, resolutions were passed that still form the foundation upon which the Society is built and ranged from the official resolution to construct an Observatory to the formation of a set of rules.  Apart from full membership, still, at 4/- per week, other classes of membership were created, catering for juniors, students, associates and honorary members with appropriate scales of subscriptions, A Mr J Hayes was elected the first honorary member and it was also proposed to offer such membership to Mr Cork, Science Master at King Henry VIII School with whom some correspondence had been held.
It was also agreed to contact the Leicester Astronomical Society, their secretary Mr Cliff Shuttlewood being known to Mr Green.  This contact lead to a number of interesting visits in both directions and Mr Shuttlewood kindly agreed to lecture to us on a number of occasions.  In February I960 a move was made to a room hired in Vine Street School and the workshop vacated on the grounds of inconvenience and expense.  Mr & Mrs Green kindly made workshop facilities available at their home in Northumberland Road and this continued for a limited period and for which convenience the society voted a nominal rent of 2/- (10p) per week.
The move to Vine Street not only enabled the subscription, to be halved to 2/- per week but provided the venue and opportunity for a most interesting programme of lectures given both by members and visiting speakers.
It was at this juncture that concern was first aroused over arrears of subscriptions despite the reduction in fees and it was becoming obvious that defaulting members were melting away.  This problem was a recurring one and led in due course, to the policy of annual subscriptions we employ today.
A librarian was appointed for the first time.
In March I960 it was decided to publish a broadsheet, Newsletter or something of a similar nature and it was myself who volunteered to produce it.   From this brief discussion, of which there is no mention in the minutes, "Cosmos" was born and has continued in monthly publication ever since.  The No. 1 of the first edition has a dateline April I960, our latest publication was No. 9 of the - eighth edition, June 1967 i.e. 87 issues have been printed.
No. 1 carried an editorial, Night Sky Chairman's Chat, news items, programme etcetera very much as it is today.  It consisted of 1 foolscap sheet, printed on both sides and introduced to an unsuspecting world that zany Female "Stella" given to asking awfully silly questions, usually punning, on matters astronomical.
Described in this first issue as Lens girl friend and quite an eyepiece, she asked whether Len's behaviour on the common the other night was the thin end of a 'Hearsall' wedge?   The punning play on the word lens and Hearsall Common for Herschell set a deplorable and shameless pattern that she has followed ever since.   For upwards of five years she appeared infallibly in every issue but for lack of inspiration her appearances these days are a little less frequent.  Nevertheless, she still puts a word in. now and again, and we hope will continue to do so for years to come.

To be continued

A Night to Remember
By Rob Moseley

Conder Brow Observatory, near Lancaster, is a working observatory co-directed by Denis Buczynski and David Greenwood.  Three domes house 21 inch and 18 inch reflectors, and a 13 inch Wright Camera.  The main work of the observatory consists of astrometric observations of comets and minor planets.  Its results are regularly published alongside those of professional establishments in the Minor Planets Circular.  A good deal of confirmation work is also carried out, either at the request of Guy Hurst (TA) or Dr Brian Marsden (Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams).  My regular visits to the observatory are concerned with photographic measures of double star and planetary observations.
The evening of August 14th 1989 appeared distinctly unpromising for any active observation.  A ferocious wind, driving in off the Irish Sea, spat a relentless torrent of rain.  Heavy cloud had veiled the summit of Clougha Pike, lying to our East across the valley of the Conder, well before sunset.  Denis and I had resigned ourselves to an evening measuring and reducing existing photographs.  With no real improvement by the early hours of the 15th, plans to photograph Comet Brorsen-Metcalf and observe Jupiter were more or less abandoned.  Denis went to bed, leaving me to finish off some work on the measuring machine.
But how wonderfully unpredictable our weather is!

After a while I become conscious of silence outside.  The rush of buffeted trees and singing wires is suddenly no more.  I glance through the window and see the gibbous Moon sinking low in the South West.  01.20 UT.  Still plenty of time before dawnlight will become obtrusive.
I throw on a coat and walk out to the domes.  Looking East great piled masses of moonlit cloud are rolling away over Clougha Pike.  Abruptly Jupiter shines out, already climbing in the North East.  I stand and watch this spectacle for some time.  Then, deciding to wait another hour before opening up the dome of the 21 inch telescope, I turn and start back to the house.  Above it, in the North West sky, hang the draperies of an aurora.
Such is the beauty and sheer unexpectedness of this sight that I am transfixed with delight when I see it.  After a few seconds I break free of the spell and set off at a run along the path back to the house.
A pounding on a bedroom door, a head stuck round, and the one word "Aurora!" is enough to fetch Denis tumbling out of bed immediately.  Standing on the silent country road to the North of the observatory I watch the ashen streamers form, melt and re-form, the display stretching round now from North West to North East, catching Jupiter in its mesh.  Denis curses back and forth with camera and tripod, torn between wanting to simply watch and to record the event.  The whole house is roused now.  An excited knot of people in nightclothes, temporarily oblivious to cold, stand in the midst of a waking dream.
And then, gliding silently across the green sky, a bright Perseid meteor, leaving a smokey train.  Then another. . . and another.  We all feel that this show is being laid on just for us,
The aurora continues. The ray bundles form from an arc low in the North, generally intensifying with a period of about ten minutes, but also pulsating and shifting as we watch.  At 02.00 UT a remarkable rectangular curtain of rays ascends to approximately 50° due North.  To me the forms are an ashen white, although subtle greens and reds are briefly present.  The sky background to the North is a pronounced deep green, which will persist up until dawn.  After 02.00 UT the aurora gradually fades, but quiet glows also last for the rest of the night.
Denis and I now open up the dome of the 21 inch telescope.  After a few minutes there is Comet Brorsen-Metcalf glowing in the field of the 6 inch guide telescope.  I see a well condensed coma with no tail structure visible, although Denis's photographs have already shown a steadily growing gas tail on previous nights. "A spring onion comet", he says.  Further exposures are made at the prime focus of the 21 inch with a driven comet camera - squeezed in after moonset and before dawn-light.
My friend now bids me a weary goodnight, intent on bed for the second time.  Developing the film, which would normally be done immediately in the darkroom next to the domes, must on this occasion wait until tomorrow.
The dawn glow is stronger now, but Jupiter still shines like a lamp, at a good altitude in the East.  In this position the eyepiece mount on the 21 inch is impossibly placed over the top of the tube - besides which the comet camera is still attached.  Removing it will mean a good deal of fiddly re-focussing when it is next used.  However, the guide for this instrument is on excellent 6 inch F/I9 refractor, so this does not concern me.  At 03.05 UT Jupiter is seated in the centre of my field of view, and I am comfortably seated on the adjustable observing chair.  I have a good hour ahead.
The Soutern Equatorial Belt has almost vanished - a fact that Denis and I confirmed with this very telescope on July I8th, the observation appearing in an IAU Circular. Now it is time to follow up that early view.  Time goes past quickly.  In good moments I can still faintly see the Red Spot Hollow. No definite reappearance of the Red Spot itself yet.  If the fading runs to precedent the Spot itself should become visible during: this apparition.  A few transit timings and a disc drawing are made - but the seeing is not too steady.
By 03.55 UT the lonely call of a lapwing is floating into the dome.  The Sun will rise very soon.  I close down, return to the house and linger over a cup of coffee, reluctant to call this night over.  Sitting in the garden I watch the solar disc peep over the shoulder of Clougha Pike.

Astronomy at University
By Mike Frost

Those of you unfortunate enough to endure my recent talk on (Damp Squibs, Australia and Dwarf Novae) may recall being told that I have a degree in astronomy.  It occurred to me a while ago that younger members of the society might be interested in following in my footsteps and pursuing their interest in astronomy to university.  With them in mind and any potential mature students, I've cobbled together a few lines of possible courses, along with some words of wisdom on how to get the best out of astronomy at university.  You will I hope forgive my out of date reminiscences.

Table 1 is a list of all the U.K. universities offer undergraduate degrees in astronomy, astrophysics and related subjects, obtained from the sixth-forms bible for university admission, the UCCA book, (UCCA — University Central Council for Admissions).
Astronautics Southampton is I guess astronomy for navigational purposes, and planetology (Lancaster) is to do with planetary formation — volcanoes on Io, Martian dust storms, Jupiter's red spot and so on.  If Andy Johnson was still a member of the society he might be able to enlighten us further, as he studied at Lancaster.
You will notice that virtually all the astrophysics courses are connected with physics degrees, and virtually all the astronomy courses with mathematics.  This is partly because astronomy, at a technical level, is essentially a branch of theoretical physics — observational astronomy comes under experimental physics, relativity and cosmology are very mathematical in nature.  But it also has a lot to do with the way the university courses are structured, maybe some day someone (one of the Royal Observatories) will put together a pure astronomy degree with the emphasis on astronomical observing skills.
Anyway, you'll see that with most astronomy/astrophysics courses being maths/physics based the conventional approach to applying is to do maths and physics A-levels, usually with further maths or another science as the third A-level.  I did double maths and physics, but then my first degree was in Mathematics at Emmanuel College in Cambridge.  I had little flexibility in my first year, veered towards pure maths in my second year, and back towards applied maths and physics in my third year. this is a common story amongst graduates, as you come to understand a subject better and better your interests change.  Most of the courses in Table 1 will begin with a foundation year in mathematics or physics, after which you are better able to decide whether or not astrophysics or astronomy is really to your taste.
You will notice that Cambridge university does not appear in Table 1, as no specific course in astronomy is taught.  Just about the only astronomically based material I studied was in relativity, finding out about black holes, gravitational lensing and so on.  Physics at Cambridge is part of the Natural Sciences tripos.where the first year is a very wide base of three separate sciences, so astrophysics only appears as an option in the third year, (one of my friends, for his third year project in physics built himself a primitive radio telescope using whatever he could scrounge from the physics labs.)  The university astronomical society in Cambridge, however is very well organised, with a weekly speaker meeting, coffee-morning every Sunday, a yearly magazine (Pulsar) and excellent observing facilities at the Institute of Astronomy headed by the 10 inch Northumberland refractor with which Airy narrowly missed discovering Neptune some 140 years ago.  In term time the telescope is in nightly. use (and most days too, for solar observations) and in the autumn (Michaelmas) term there is often a queue of new undergraduates learning how to use the telescope.  My first year at Cambridge was perhaps the closest I ever came to being a serious observer.  The speaker meetings are usually worth attending.  The speaker comes from the large pool of available professional and academics, which means that although the quality of speaking is variable, the subject matter is usually bang up to date.
Where all this waffle is leading to, is to point out that you have a large choice of universities at which to study astronomy, even the ones not in Table 1 will have astronomical options somewhere in their maths and physics courses - so the important thing is to pick an institution where you would like to study — city or rural campus, appropriate level of entrance qualifications, personal recommendation.  When you go for an interview, try and find someone from the astronomy society to find out whats cooking there.
So, what about my degree in astronomy, I was hoping to stay on and do some more physics based maths at Cambridge (the certificate of Advanced Study in Table 3), but I realised, correctly that I wasn't going to qualify for a high enough degree (taking up marathon running as a hobby didn't help).  So I obtained a very useful little booklet from the Royal Astronomical Society (R.A.S.) entitled 'Postgraduate Opportunities in Astronomy and Geophysics' which links all the past graduate degrees available in the U.K.  (It is, or was available free of charge from the Royal Astronomical Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1V ONL)
I can do no better than to quote (without permission, so don't tell anyone) from the forward.
Astronomy may appear to be an esoteric subject, demanding special prior training, but this is not the case.  Astronomy is a subject which requires a wide range of special skills.  People with first degrees in astronomy, chemistry, engineering (particularly electronics), geology, mathematics, physics and statistics can find a place in astronomical research.
So what does Post Graduate study entail.  Mainly it is research — doing new astronomy.  Doctors of Philosophy (PHDs) spend three or more years doing original work under the tutorship of a supervisor who helps pick the topic of study and directs the research to avoid duplicating existing work or encountering impenetrable problems.
The first year of research — things then become very specialised, as a very small area of astronomy is analysed in great depth to try and gleam something new.
Table 2 contains a reasonably thorough list of universities offering doctorates, as compiled from the R.A.S. booklet.
I've missed out most of the geophysics and atmospheric physics options from the list.  You will see that Cambridge offers several opportunities to acquire a Ph.D in astronomy — principally at the Institute of Astronomy, but one shouldn't forget the Department of Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics, where Stephen Hawkings does his stuff, or the radio astronomy they do from the Department of Physics — like discovering pulsars.
However, a Ph.D was not for me. I was not at all keen on a further three years of study particularly with such a degree of specialisation.  What I wanted was a overview of astronomy — a year off so to speak to study the subject before I joined the real world and got a job, (in fact, a year off to find a job).
One and two years post graduate degrees are Master degrees (Master of Science — MSc.).  Most universities in the R.A.S. booklet offer MSc;s, but mainly as a safety net to award people who haven't done well enough to gain a Ph.D.  There are, however a few universities who offer M.Sc or other post graduates courses, and (inevitably) these appear in Table 3.
Ruling out the part time courses and the Cambridge 'high fliers' certificate, left me with 4 courses.  UCL in London, the radio astronomy at Manchester and the Edinburgh course were all observational based, which left one theoretical course, at Sussex University, on the downs outside Brighton.  So this was my astronomy degree.  A one year M.Sc, consisting two thirds lectures and one third project.
The lectures covered most of the major fields of astronomy with the exception of planetary astronomy (stellar physics, galactic structures, relativity, cosmology, with quasars, pulsars and novae as some of the optional topics), lectured by some fairly well known astronomers (Roger Tayler, John Barrow, Robert Smith and others).  There were Severn people on the course - six with physics degrees and me.  We started with a remedial physics course to reach the basic physics needed having moved from maths to astronomy touching on physics in between qualifies me ideally to tell the club joke, those who haven't heard it before can find it in Appendix A.
The M.Sc. course was run in conjunction with the Royal Greenwich Observatory (RGO) at Herstmonceux castle (1 hr. by train from Brighton) and it was this that gave the course it's flavour.  Astronomers from Herstmonceux were among our lecturers, and for me the high light of the whole M.Sc. was a two week residential course at Herstmonceux (staying in the castle) where I learnt the rudiments of observational astronomy (it was here that I made my dwarf novae observations which I talked about in January).
Additionally, every week or so I commuted to the RGO to work on my project, under the supervision of Dr. Jasper Wall who was then head of astronomy at the RGO and is now head of observing at the La Palma observatory in the Canary Islands.  This was 'The Centre of the Galaxy' on which I gave a short talk a few years ago.  Basically this consisted in finding and digesting everything anyone had ever written (about 100 astronomical papers) about the centre of the Milky Way — and then analysing some CCD (charge coupled device -a very photosensitive cell) images of the galactic centre using some fairly high powered computing software.  I had some 30 separate observations to process - the first one took about a fortnight, the last few half an hour apiece and when I produced the Hertsprung Russell diagram for these observations some unexpected and bizarre phenomena occurred, which I was eventually able to explain in terms of dust obscuring the light from the Milky Way.  This, at last, was original research, and I harboured hopes for a while after my M.Sc of producing a paper for the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society - but alas if this ever happened I'm not aware of it.
I hope you gain from the above some idea of the tun I had of studying astronomy.  First of all — studying at university, a wealth of opportunities and experiences which really shouldn't be missed.  Secondly the chance to really get to grips with astronomy, and to begin to understand some of the complex science that goes on in the skies.  And third the brief opportunity I had of sampling research astronomy and contributing my tiny addition to the sum of human knowledge.  But if this was so good, why am I not still studying astronomy, these days I program computers to run steel mills.  The reason, partly the desire not to be sucked into an obscure corner of astronomy research.
But mainly it was the realisation that astronomy as a career is almost impossible.  After a doctorate the options narrow considerably and the competition grows ever more fierce.  The next step is postdoctoral appointments, 2-3 year contracts with no guarantee of a permanent post at the end.
Indeed the most sensible course is to seek further astronomical work abroad, because the current state of astronomy in Britain is dire. Astronomy, not being of direct commercial relevance, is suffering severe cut backs in fundings.  The most noticeable effects of these is the closing of the RGO at Herstmonceux and the transfer of it's operations north to the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge, where it will join an already crowded site.  After the initial hostility to the move, I gather the astronomical community now regards the Cambridge move as the best available, and an opportunity to set up a course of excellence to rival the best the U.S.A or else where can offer.
However, I confess I feel a great personal sadness about the RGO leaving Herstmonceux. not only did Herstmonceux castle just beat Emmanuel College as my all time favourite place to study, but I felt, it was the RGO connection that gave the Sussex University astronomy course it's zest and flavour.  I don't even know if the M.Sc. course at Sussex is still going, though I hope so.

I trust that the down beat tone of the last paragraph hasn't put you off as astronomy is still there for you to study—if you get the chance go for it.

Table 1 — Undergraduate Courses in Astronomy Astrophysics and Related Subjects

Birmingham                                 Physics with Astrophysics

Cardiff                                         Astrophysics

Edinburgh                                   Astrophysics

Glasgow                                      Physics and Astrophysics, Astronomy and Maths

Kent                                            Physics with Astrophysics

Lancaster                                    Planetology

Leeds                                          Physics with Astrophysics

Leicester                                     Physics and Astrophysics

London (Royal Holloway                Physics with Astrophysics

London (Kings College)                 Mathematical Physics with Astrophysics

London (Queen Mary College)       Astronomy and Physics, Astrophysics

London (University College)          Astronomy, Astronomy and Physics, Astrophysics

Manchester                                 Physics with Astrophysics

Newcastle                                   Astronomy and Astrophysics

St. Andrews                                Astronomy and Astrophysics

Sheffield                                     Maths, Physics and Astronomy

Southampton                              Astrophysics

Sussex                                        Physics with Astrophysics

Table 2 — University & Polytechnics offering Doctorates in Astronomy or related Subjects

Aberdeen                                      Natural Philosophy (Physics)

Belfast                                          Applied Maths & Theoretical Physics, Pure and Applied Physics

Birmingham                                   Physics, Space Research

Cambridge                                    Applied Maths & Theoretical Physics, Astronomy, Physics

Durham                                         Physics

Edinburgh                                     Astronomy

Glasgow                                        Astronomy

Hatfield Poly                                  Astronomy and Earth Science

Keele                                            Physics

Lancaster                                      Environmental Science

Leeds                                            Applied Maths

Leicester                                       Astronomy, Physics

Liverpool                                      Applied Maths & Theoretical Physics

London (Imperial College)              Atmospheric Physics, Physics

London (Queen Mary College)         Maths, Physics

London (University College)            Physics and Astronomy

Manchester                                   Astronomy, Radio Astronomy

U.M.I.S.T.                                    Pure and Applied Physics

Newcastle                                     Theoretical Physics, Planetary Physics

Nottingham                                  Physics

Oxford                                         Astrophysics, Theoretical Physics

Lancashire Poly. Preston                 Physics and Astronomy

St. Andrews                                 Applied Maths, Astronomy and Astrophysics

Sheffield                                      Physics

Southampton                               Physics

Sussex                                         Astronomy

Wales (U.C. Cardiff)                       Applied Maths and Astronomy

York                                             Physics

Table 3 — Universities & Polytechnics offering M.Sc. and other postgraduate courses in Astronomy and related subjects

Cambridge                                   Certificate of Advanced Study in Maths (1 year full time)

Edinburgh                                   Astronomy (1 year full time)
                                                  Diploma in Astronomical Technology (9 months)

Hatfield Poly                                Astronomy and Astronautics (3 years part time)

London (University College)           Remote sensing (1 year full time)

London (Queen Mary College)        Diploma in Astrophysics (1 year part time)
                                                 Astrophysics (2 years part time)

Manchester                                 Radio Astronomy (1 year full time)

Sussex                                       Astronomy (1 year full time)

Tables 2 and 3 are three + years out of date

Appendix A   The Club Joke

An astronomer, a physicist and a mathematician were on a train travelling to Scotland. As they crossed the border, the astronomer looked out of the window and noticed a black sheep standing in the middle of the meadow.
"Oh look!" the astronomer exclaimed "Scottish sheep are black!"
The physicist looked at him patronisingly "No, no " he said, "Some Scottish sheep are black".
The mathematician sighed, took a deep breath, rolled his eyes and declaimed "In Scotland there exists a field, in which there exists a sheep, at least one side of which is black."

Subjects of Astronomical Interest

Michael van Langren (1600—75) often called Langrenus, a member of a prominent Flemish cartographic and globe making family, composed and published the first true lunar map in 1645 which contains 325 named features, with the larger craters designated to members of European royalty and nobility along with a few saints, scientists and philosophers and a haphazard distribution of quite a few obscurer individuals.
It's interesting to reflect that on Langren's map he named the crater we today call Archytas — Aristarchus whilst our Aristarchus crater, Langrenus labelled Balthasaris Hispa Pri, that is Balthasar Prince of Spain.  The prince's father King Philip IV of Spain helped in paying for the publication of the map and whose name appears on our Copernicus crater.
Within two years of Langren's map being published Johann Hevelius (1611—87) published his Selenographia a far superior work in scope and quality to Langren's and became the standard work on lunar matters for about 150 years.  Hevelius nomenclature of the lunar features contained classical terrestrial names from fanciful analogies with maps from the old world — thus we find Mons Porphyrites attached to our Aristarchus.
But the basic scheme of lunar nomenclature we use today we owe to Giovanni Battista Riccioli (1598—1671) a Jesuit professor of philosophy astronomy and theology in Bologna when he published his Almagestum Novum in 1651, a compilation of the history and the current state of astronomy of the time.
The book contained a map of the moon drawn up by Riccioli's junior collaborator Francesco Maria Grimaldi (1618—63) the map partly confirmed, partly corrected and augmented the maps of Langren's, Hevelius and others along with his own numerous lunar observations.
The nomenclature of Riccioli's map was based on the names of persons, although not scattered indiscriminately as on Langren's chart.  He used over 60 of Langren's names but only three of these Pythagaous, Endymion and Langrenus were not moved to new locations.
In Riccioli's system he placed the most ancient astronomers near the top north of the map with the modern astronomers of the time occupying the lower portion, in addition he placed in close juxtaposition people with similar philosophies or studies or from the same epoch, with the more famous individuals assigned to the more prominent craters. Thus not far from Plato we find his friend Archytas, Timaeus and Theaetetus.
Near Langrenus are his regional contemporaries Vendelinus, Petavius, Snellius and Furnerius.
Regiomontanus with his tutor Purbach and pupil Walter are found close by near the central meridian.


Date . . . . . 1989 / 1/ 18
Time . . . . . 22h 20m to 22h 40m UT
Conditions . Unsteady  Ant. IV to III
Instrument . 6" F/10 Reflector  x240
Co-long . . . 49.66 to 50.35
Observer . . V. Cooper

This crater named in honour of the German selenographer J.N. Krieger 1865-1902 who made a special study of this region.
Krieger a relatively inconspicuous crater of around 13.5 miles in diameter whose walls are low not exceeding 2,000 ft. and broken on the western side as the shadow isn't complete, notice the middle shadow cast to the west of Krieger as it's split in two due perhaps to a rinkle ridge running through this area.

The Straight Wall

LOCATION  . . . 22° S  8° W
DATE . . . . . . .  1989 / 5 / 13
TIME . . . . . . .  20.15 U.T. to 20.35 U.T.
MOON . . . . . .  13 days old
COLONG . . . .  56 deg    
OBSERVER  . .  I Clarke, Warwickshire.
CONDITIONS .  Good, clear sky, seeing Ant. II TO III 
INSTRUMENT .  114 mm Catadioptic reflector  x250

I remember seeing a painting in an old book on astronomy of the 'WALL' when I was a lad, it showed a mountain range of lagged rock rising out of a flat plane and disappearing into the distance.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Because in reality the 'wall' is a long gentle slope.  The Straight Wall is at 22° S 8° W, it is the longest fault on the Moon.  It runs for around 120 km, but is only about 200 meters high, if you can call a 1 in 10 slope high!  The half lit crater half way down the shadow side is Birt (18 km), the largest right hand one is Thebit (70 km).  The Wall lies nearly in the centre of an old un-named flooded crater and it was possible caused after the lava cooled with one layer buckling as it cooled over lapping the other.  I've tried before to see this feature but failed as the lighting must be just right. The observation was cut short by a large bank of clouds covering the sky.
Immediately to the south of the Straight Wall lies a small mountainous area called the Stag Horn Mountains which has has been depicted in Ivor's observation, and to the immediate west of the Straight Wall lies the crater Birt, which at the time of the observation is just catching the rising suns rays on it's outer eastern walls along with it's smaller companion A, adjoining Birt, on it's SE wall. Birt also has been known to display at times the curious phenomena of two radial dusky bands running up the west wall.
A short distance to the west of Birt, but not shown in the observation due to dense shadow, lies a fine cleft.  Elger states — a fine telescopic object and under some conditions, the wider portion of it resembles a railway cutting traversing rising ground.

So when the moon is again around the half phase take a look at the Straight Wall, Birt and environments and see what you make of this area.
Ed. V.C.

Solar Observations

By Vaughan Cooper

Date 15th. June 1989
Time 11h. 25m. U.T.
Instrument 6 ½in. Cooke Refractor
Conditions Slight haze
Observer Bill Turner

P  -9.82°
Bo +1.04
Lo 150.6

INSTRUMENT  6in Reflector x60
DATE  18 June 1989
UT  9.00
CONDITIONS  Little unsteady, no granulations visible

The observations of solar activity during June, when again the sun displayed a fine naked eye sunspot.
Although the spot was a little smaller than the sunspot of March which was responsible for the aurora of 13th/14th. March, the penumbra around the umbra was very complex and could only be suggested in the drawings.
However, I do feel the drawings do show a change in the structure of the umbra and penumbra during the time interval of 22 hours between the two observations.

Observer Vaughan Cooper