Tuesday 19 January 2016

Astrognome Weather Frost Fair on river Thames

Frost Fair on the river Thames

On January 19th 1684 the diarist John Evelyn visited the Frost Fair  being held on the river Thames. This was at the time referred to as the ‘Little ice Age’ because it was so cold. The Thames was frozen to a depth of several feet.

There was a series of frost fairs held on the Thames. The first was in 1608, the last in 1814. However the frost fair of 1684 was the most splendid of all the fairs that were held on the Thames.

In late January 1684 even King Charles II spent a night on the Thames. On the frozen river, Oxen were roasted all sorts of goods were sold plus there were even horse races on the frozen river.

This particular frost fair continued until early February.  

Sunday 17 January 2016

Astrognome Astronomy Simple Basic Astronomy

Here are some basic astronomy shows, there will be more too follow.

Astrognome Scrapbook Mars 272 BC

Mars and Beta Lyrae

On January 17th 272 BC there was a very close approach of the planet Mars to the star Beta Lyrae. this was observed from Babylon and was recorded by Ptolemy.

Saturday 16 January 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook David Lunt and the Coronado Telescope

David Lunt and the Coronado Telescope

David Lunt founder and main optical designer of the Coronado Technology Group in Arizona died on January 16th 2005. He was 62 years old.

 Coronado burst on the scene in the late 1990s with a new line of affordable hydrogen alpha solar filters.

Lunt was born in Denbigh, Wales, the son of an opera singer he would go on to become a brilliant optical designer. He moved to the USA and went to Harvard University but never finished his formal education as he had to support his family. 

Friday 15 January 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Lunar Eclipse 800 AD

Lunar Eclipse 800 AD

On the evening of January 15th 800 AD a partial eclipse of the Moon was seen over Europe and Asia, with maximum eclipse occurring at 21.29 hours.

Later that year according to the Anglo Saxon chronicle king Beorhtric of Wessex died and ealdorman Worr of Wiltshire was killed in battle. 

Thursday 14 January 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Ernst Hartwigg found first Supernova

Ernst Hartwig

On January 14th 1851 the astronomer Ernst Hartwig was born in born in Frankfurt, Germany.

 On August 20th 1885 he discovered what he thought was a nova in the Andromeda Nebula (at this time astronomers thought that the nebula was inside our galaxy not realising that it was much further away and was a galaxy in its own right). The star was given the designation S Andromeda. Today we know that this was the first example of a supernova rather than a nova.

He observed the transit of Venus in 1882 from Argentina, in 1874 he became assistant at the Strassbourg observatory in France and director of the Bamberg Observatory in 1887. He died in 1923.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Astrognome Weather Frost 1205 AD

Frost 1205 AD
On this day in 1205 a frost formed on the ground that lasted until the 22nd March, farmers were unable to plough the fields and planet their seeds. Due to this frost the price of wheat that summer was very high.

 It is thought that this great and fatal frost gives rise to the medieval belief that the 13th January, St Hilda`s Day, is the coldest of the year.

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Daylight Comet 1910

The Great Daylight Comet of 1910

It's unclear who discovered this interloper, though the first to spot it might have been diamond miners in South Africa returning to the surface before dawn on January 12th.

By the 17th January it was possible to see the comet in the daytime sky. At its brightest the comet was much brighter than the planet Venus. Although discovered in the southern hemisphere people in the northern hemisphere would have wonderful views of the comet later in the month.

Strange to report this great comet appeared just a few months before Halley`s comet and many people believed that it was Halley that they were watching!   

Friday 8 January 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Comet Gregory

Comet Gregory

Reverend Edward Gregory from Langar, Nottingham, England discovered comet 1793 Gregory-Méchain (C/1793 A1, 1792 II) in the evening of January 8, 1793, when observing Venus and measuring its distance from Iota Aquarii; he traced this comet until January 12. 

The comet was independently found by Pierre Méchain on January 10; the comet was observed by a number of astronomers until February 14 of that year.

Thursday 7 January 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Aten asteroid


Minor planet 2062 1976 AA is called Aten after the Egyptian sun god. It was discovered on January 7th 1976 by Eleanor F Helin at Palomar.

Aten was the first of a group of Near Earth Orbiting (NEO) satellites these are asteroids that can pass close to the Earth. Around 600 of the Aten group are known. The Aten asteroids can be anywhere from 100 meters to 1000 meters across.

Other groups of NEOs are known as the Apollos and Amors named after the first asteroids of those groups to be identified.

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook Caspar Peucer

Caspar Peucer

Caspar Peucer was born on January 6th 1525 in Germany; from 1540 he studied mathematics, astronomy, and medicine at the University of Wittenberg. 

In 1551 he wrote that a book that gave the Copernican revision of the Ptolemaic estimates of the size of the Sun, Earth and Moon. He believed that the Earth is fixed in the centre of the universe, while at the same time giving an account t of the Copernican theory.

Tuesday 5 January 2016

Astrognome Weather - Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson, born in 1903 in Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire before the first flight of an aeroplane was a pioneering English aviator; she was the first female pilot to fly alone from Britain to Australia. She flew in the Second World War as a part of the Air Transport Auxiliary and died during a ferry flight.

On January 5th 1941 a frosty and foggy day she took off from Blackpool airport to ferry an Airspeed Oxford, a twin engine training aircraft to take it to an airbase near Oxford.

She never made it. What happened next is unsure; the wreckage of her aircraft was found in the river Thames about 4 ½ hours after take. It is not clear if she got lost in bad weather and crashed or that she was shot down by friendly fire. Her body was never found.

This mystery remains today.

Monday 4 January 2016

Astrognome Scrapbook James Ussher

James Ussher

On January 4th 1581 James Ussher was born in Dublin.

 As Archbishop of Armagh he published the date of 22nd October 4004 BC as the beginning of time. He came up with this date sometime between 1650-1654. He died at Reigate in England on 21st March 1656.

Sunday 3 January 2016

Astrognome Astronomy Quadrantid Meteor Shower

Quadrantid Meteor Shower

The first major meteor shower of the year, The Quadrantids appear to come from the now defunct constellation of Quadrans the Quadrant. This is an area between Bootes, Draco and Hercules.

The Quadrantids peak on the night of January 3rd/4th. This shower can be quite unpredictable. Normally about 120 meteors per hour can be seen,  sometimes the rates can fall to half this number while there have been occasions when 600 meteors per hour can be seen for short periods of time.

The best time to try to observe the Quadrantids is predicted to be between 10.00pm on the night of the 3rd January until about 3.00 am on the morning of January 4th.

Saturday 2 January 2016

Astrognome Astronomy Earth at Perihelion today


You may not believe it but the Earth is at its closet point to the Sun in its orbit this year. This will occur at 10.49 pm GMT tonight.

This position is known as Perihelion.

Astrognome Scrapbook Luna 1 Launched

Luna 1

On January 2nd 1959 the Russian Luna 1 space craft was launched it would become the first mission to reach our nearest neighbour in space the Moon.

Luna 1 was designed to crash into the surface of the Moon, it was hoped that it would send back details regarding the Moon right until its impact. Due to a problem at mission control Luna 1 missed the Moon by about 3,700 miles. Although that part of the mission failed scientific information was still gathered by this pioneering probe.