September 2013: BAA Weekend

Posted by Chris Lee (chrislee) on Oct 16 2013
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Over the weekend of the 6th-8th Sept BAS members welcomed the British Astronomical Association to Bristol Grammar School (The Great Hall) for one of their weekend meetings. This was a great honour for the Society and it nicely coincided with our 70th anniversary celebrations.

The theme of the weekend was The New, the Old and the Ancient and started with a talk on Friday evening by Dr John Mason on the subject of Patrick Moore - his early years. This was a splendid tribute to Sir Patrick from a personal friend. Sir Patrick was certainly gifted as a young amateur astronomer - a meticulous recorder of observations and with a passion that continued throughout his war years.

The Saturday speaker programme started with our own BAS President, Prof David Southwood, who warmed to his theme "What is the use of Space Science" (the answer was, of course, lots!) and along the way we were treated to a fascinating insight into the US Transit programme - the forerunner of our GPS/In-Car Navigatyion systems that we all take for granted. Lee Macdonald then took us on a journey back in time to hear about a local hero in our region, Sir William Herschel, who for some years was based in Bath. After an excellent buffet lunch our BAS Chairman Richard Mansfield  had the opportunity to remind visitors about our own society (both past, present and future) to be followed by Prof Mark Birkinshaw who took us to the furtherst reaches of our universe in the company of radio-cosmology. Finally a BAS "old boy done good", Dr Mark Kidger (who now works at the European Space Agency) illustrated the pragmatic skills a practising space astronomer needs to have in the world of "Space Observatories". Appropriately Mark has been working on the Herschel Space Telescope and was able to share with us the highs and the lows of this 20 year engineering marvel.

Sadly however the Bristol weather was true to form and our planned star party at Tyntesfield House National Trust was clouded out. Instead BAS offered our guests the chance to hunt down some "Astro-Gromits" on the Gromit Unleashed Trail!

On Sunday the weekend event came to a close with a splendid trip to the Herschel Museum in Bath.

Over 80 attended the weekend event which also included an exhibition of BAS imaging (photo and sketching across 70 years) as well as a small commercial display of local astronomy vendors.

Let's hope its not too long before BAA again visit BAS.

Last changed: Oct 17 2013 at 12:00 AM

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