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  • Writer's pictureClive Inglis

BAA Comet Section Meeting Royal Museums Greenwich

The British Astronomical Association held their annual Comet Section Meeting in the lecture theatre at National Maritime Museum on Saturday 8th July. The sell-out meeting was co-hosted by the Royal Museums Greenwich and the Flamsteed Astronomy Society. After short welcoming introductions by Bobby Manoo, Chairman of Flamsteed AS and Nick James of the BAA, the attendees took a short walk up the hill to the Royal Observatory’s Planetarium where they were treated to a special Comet and Meteor themed show given by Dr Greg Brown, a Royal Observatory resident astronomer.

Nick James Starting off the meeting

Participants being led to the Planetarium by Mike Meynell and Mark Jeffery

Following the show and a walk back down to the lecture theatre, the day’s programme started with a Comet News talk given by Nick James. This was followed by an update on Mission 29P, the continued study of the activity of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Watchmann, by Dr Richard Miles. The final session before lunch was a talk by Helen Usher on the Comet Chaser outreach programme, which allows primary school children access to state-of-the-art professional telescopes to make observations of comets and asteroids and contribute to the astronomical research on these objects.

Comet News Presentation

The afternoon session started with a presentation by Jonathan Shanklin describing his work correlating visual and electronic (CCD) measurements of comet magnitude. This was followed by Thomas Lehmann who explained how his AIRTOOLS software could be used to estimate comet magnitude. The final talk before an afternoon break was given by Robin Leadbetter explaining how he uses spectroscopy to examine the chemical composition of comets.

Following the afternoon break Dr John Mason spoke on comets and comet streams and the final talk of the meeting was given by Professor Alan Fitzsimmons on the Exocomets, the study of comets orbiting nearby stars.

The participants came from all over the England, Scotland and even Wales. Many of them were visiting Greenwich for the first time and some people have last visiting over 40 years ago and remarked how much the area has changed, particularly the view from the Royal Observatory. The feedback was very encouraging and many people congratulated the team for a very well organised and enjoyable event.

The meeting was concluded at the end of the day by Nick James who in his closing remarks thanked the staff of the Royal Museums Greenwich and the volunteers from the Flamsteed for their help in organising the event. This event was first conceived in a discussion between Janice McLean of the BAA and our Chair, Bobby Manoo. Once the agreement was made with the Museum, I then teamed up with Poly Philippou and Simon Hurst to work through with the planning. Poly was fantastic in coordinating between the BAA and the staff at the Museum, Sarah Foster, Tania De Sales Marquez and Chris Smiley. We were joined on the day by Mike Meynell, Mark Jeffery, Adrian Challinor and Helen Edwards to pull it all together.

Thanks to the entire team for a successful collaboration between the BAA, The Maritime Museum and the Flamsteed Astronomy Society.

FAS and BAA organisers outside the Maritime Museum

Clive Inglis

Special Event Coordinator

Flamsteed Astronomy Society

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