Astronomers of the Future Club - October 2018 Meeting Report

by Duncan Lunan - 19:05 on 30 October 2018




Astronomers of the Future Club - October 2018 Meeting Report

by Duncan Lunan



On Thursday October 25th 2018, at the Troon meeting of the Astronomers of the Future Club, the speaker was the return of local astronomer Marc Charron, who this time spoke about ‘Space Exploration: Man vs Machine.’. Marc also showed a selection of his most recent astrophotographs, including Comet Giacobini-Zinner (the first one to be visited by space probe, as it happens), the Moon, Venus, Jupiter and Mars, Perseid and Orionid meteors, the Summer Triangle, Orion and the Pleiades, and a selection of Deep Sky objects including the Dumbbell Nebula, the North American Nebula and the Double Cluster in Perseus.


Turning to the night’s topic, Marc gave a potted history of manned spaceflight, illustrated with stills and videos, from the earliest proposals and the first Soviet and US missions, through the Moon landings and on to the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station, making the point that nearly 50 years after Project Apollo, no astronauts have gone again beyond Low Earth Orbit. Automated space missions began with Sputnik 1 in 1957 and in the same timesscale they have visited every planet in the Solar System, as well as Pluto and many comets and asteroids, at far lower cost and no risk to human life.


On the plus side, human missions are versatile, make efficient use of their time, and can deal with the unexpected including the need to make repairs. Automated missions are comparatively inexpensive, can survive harsh environments (and are expendable if they don’t), and can take all the time that’s needed to reach distant objectives. On the downside, they’re inflexible, slow, not easily repairable and most of all – as Marc demonstrated with a video of a Space Shuttle launch – they can’t experience and report back on the thrill of the flight itself, which is maybe what we need and want most.


The next meeting of the Astronomers of the Future Club will be on Thursday November 29th, from 7.15 to 9 p.m. at the RSAS Barassie Works Club, 4 Shore Road, Troon, KA10 6AG. Club Treasurer Duncan Lunan will explain his detailed work for the re-erection in November of the Sighthill stone circle, the first astronomically aligned one in Britain for 3000 years, which he designed for Glasgow Parks Department in 1978-79. Duncan will be joined by Nick Fuller, a Trustee of the Club’s parent charity, to describe the recent success of the Glasgow Labyrinth Project.

For more details contact Duncan Lunan (07986 065437) or see the AOTF Club web page (http://www.actascio.org/aotfclub.asp).




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