Astronomy Week 2003
2003 August 23rd -
Professor Sir Arnold Wolfendale (14th
Professor Sir Martin Rees (15th
Professor John Brown (Astronomer Royal
NASA seeks public suggestions for Mars photographs
Mars is getting closer! Read the latest National Astronomy
More Mars facts can be
obtained through the
Royal Astronomical Society's recent press
Astronomy Week committee has planned another Week, to be held during
2003. The years astronomical events, include:
events, the Mars encounter will attract the most attention, and that
will be the focus of the Week. The date of closest approach will undoubtedly be a great spectacle. The
planet will be fairly high in the sky and even a small telescope
will show its disc and maybe a few markings. Amazingly, on the 27th
August 2003 Mars will
be particularly close to Earth, at a mere 56 million km (35 million
miles). This is the closest it has ever been seen since the
dawn of history, and certainly since the invention of the telescope.
It has not been as close in the past 60,000
- 2003 will be an important year for the UK and the
exploration of Mars. Mars Express and Beagle2 launched successfully in
June, will be arriving at Mars in December 2003. On the 27th
August, Mars itself will approach Earth to within 56 million
- There was an annular eclipse of the Sun visible from the
north of Scotland (at dawn) on 31 May 2003 – partial
- There are two total lunar eclipses visible in the UK in
2003. The first only visible at Moonset was on 16 May 2003 and the
second looks better on November 9 2003.
- There was a transit of Mercury in
- It’s the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Society for Popular
The timing of the Week is set to reflect
the closest approach, when public interest will be at its highest.
Mars will rise about 9.00 pm BST and will be high enough to observe
reasonably well by about 10.30, at about 11° altitude. This may not
be the ideal time to observe it, as it will mean a late night for
many people, and it will be higher in the sky later in the year, but
this is the time most people will want to see it and the media
attention will be at its peak.
committee considered other weeks, and making the Week itself begin
on the Wednesday, but the overwhelming interest in observing Mars
swung the balance. The enormous media excitement surrounding the
2001 close approach confirmed this view. We will be learning from
that event to try to make sure that accurate information about the
visibility of Mars is distributed.
Although Mars is the only planet readily visible during the
week, it is a new Moon period so deep-sky observing will be
The aim of the Week is to raise the
profile of astronomy and space within the UK. It gives the
opportunity for astronomy and space organisations throughout the
country to combine in providing special events and observing
sessions, using the publicity provided by the NAW organisation. An
A4 double-sided POSTER is available for display and
provides useful information
To coincide with the
beginning of National Astronomy Week, there will be an All Night
Star Party, live TV extravaganza from the Open University and the
BBC. This will be broadcast on BBC 2 on the 23rd August at 11.20pm
from Jodrell Bank Radio Observatory and La Palma in the Canary
Islands. Some of Britain's largest telescopes will be handed over to
viewers who can see for themselves the full splendour and violence
to be found in the Universe - live and as it happens. Amateur
astronomers will also be challenged to find a hitherto unknown
asteroid while the programme is on the air. Further details about
the programme and its themes will be available from the
All Night Star Party Website,
which will be live from mid-August.
Do you want to see
darker skies? The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) produce
publications concerning light pollution. Visit the
CPRE Website to see their Night
Blight campaign and request copies of their publications.
The August 2003 issue of the
Royal Astronomical Society's,
Astronomy & Geophysics journal is a "Mars Special" and includes
articles on the martian atmosphere, its interior and geology as well
as a review of the exploration of Mars by space missions. Single
copies of this issue are available
and free of charge while stocks last.
SPECIAL 20% DISCOUNT ON ASTRONOMY AND SPACE SCIENCE BOOKS FROM
of the world's leading publishers of Astronomy and Space Science
books, is proud to support National Astronomy Week by offering a
special 20% on all astronomy titles DURING THE WEEK ONLY.
How to make your selection:
Visit Springer's Website
to browse the full range of books available or to search for titles
in your area of interest.
How to order:
To order your selected books send an Email during National
Astronomy Week to
email@example.com quoting the reference 'NAW17'.
Postage: £3.00 for the first book and £1.00 per book thereafter.
Our National Astronomy Week
Recommendation ...... An Ideal Introduction for
Those Thinking of Taking Up Astronomy
Astronomy with a Budget Telescope
by Patrick Moore and John Watson
Sir Patrick Moore, CBE, FRS has long been the scourge of those
people selling low-cost astronomical telescopes via mail-order
catalogues and non-specialist stores. Ten years ago the quality was
appalling and disappointment would have been almost guaranteed - but
times have changed.
The first part of the book provides reports on some available models
along with detailed and essential hints and tips about what to look
for when buying. The second part describes how best to use the
telescope, which celestial objects to observe (with full-page star
charts to help find them), what you can expect to see, and how to
take and even computer enhance astronomical photographs.
2002. 132 p. 100 illus., 98 in colour. Softcover
Recommended Retail Price: £12.95
Special National Astronomy Week Price: £10.36 + p&p
else is there?
For some more amazing
facts about Mars you can visit
Website (not an NAW site).
Or why not have a
look at some planetary images from the
Hubble Space Telescope (not an NAW site). NASA makes these
pictures freely available for download from their Website and it is
likely that a new photograph of Mars will be released within the
next few weeks.
Robin Scagell of
Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA)
has produced an
excellent series of postcards for sale that would make a good
souvenir of the week as well as an astronomy keepsake.
for further details.
If you are
interested in buying a T-shirt to mark the occasion,
click here to see the designs
produced by Skymania (this is not an NAW Site).
committee for the Week consists of:
Pam Spence (Chairman)
– Federation of Astronomical
Observatory Science Centre Herstmonceux
Tel: 01323 831972
John Becklake – Observatory
Science Centre, Herstmonceux:
Robin Gorman (Vice Chairman)
– Hampshire Astronomical
Group and Founder of National Astronomy Week
Teresa Grafton – London Planetarium and Association for Astronomy
– British Astronomical Association
– Open University
– Royal Astronomical Society
– Beagle 2
Bob Rubin (Treasurer)
Robin Scagell (Publicity Officer)
– Society for Popular