Members Evening – 25th October 2017

The ‘Members Evening’ was split into two parts with three presenters.

The first part was a report of their visit to the USA for the much anticipated 21st August 2017 Total Eclipse by Ken Pearson and Iain Pringle.

Supported by a PowerPoint presentation, Ken outlined the tour package which he and Iain had decided was the best way to achieve both a good viewing location along with the opportunity to see other places around the USA. Their tour started in San Francisco, moving on to Las Vegas, then a visit to the ‘Old Faithful’ geyser in Yellowstone Park, finally arriving at the viewing area near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

A large grass field, set out with all the proper facilities and free food, was the organised viewing area and what seemed a cloudy sky on arrival cleared for the eclipse event itself. Ken showed a number of pictures of the eclipse from first contact through until fourth and described some of the eclipse conditions experience, such as the darkening sky with brighter North/South vistas and the very noticeable temperature drop.

Iain followed Ken’s presentation with a verbal report of his personal experience of the trip and eclipse which he found quite memorable and emotional; a fully understandable situation. I’m sure many of us wished we had been there to share it with him.

The second presentation from our society Programme Secretary, Tony Sizer, was itself split into two parts. Tony first briefed us on the other opportunities for members to hear speakers on astronomical topics, highlighting several other societies, the Gresham College Lectures, the Royal Astronomical Society and the Society for Popular Astronomy.

The second part outlined Tony’s past visit to the Golden Triangle in India and the largest of the five Jantar Mantar monuments in Jaipur. Built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur in 1734 this equinoctial sundial is enormous and built entirely of masonry and stone. Its primary function allows the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye. The sundials ~ there are many which feature individual functions or are accurate at certain times of the year ~ are of substantial proportions; the tallest being 22 metres high. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Sadly, time ran out for us to have a full report on this fascinating and unusual astronomical location and Tony promised to return to the topic at a later date. We look forward to it Tony!

Lists of web links to the above are shown below:

Hugh Alford, FRAS.
Vice-Chair

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