Ordinary Meeting, 2002 February 23
Mr. Mobberley reported that the weather had not been kind for recent occultations. The Jovian occultation of January 26 had only been visible through gaps in the cloud, whilst that of February 23 had been at low altitude and had been clouded off for most observers. He expressed his hopes for the occultation of Saturn on March 19, which would be visible to 28% of Britain and would take place at 9pm, a more sociable hour than other recent events.
The speaker reported the discovery of a mag 12.3 hypernova by Hirose, which was mag 14.5 and prior to maximum at discovery. This pre-maximum discovery had allowed good spectral measurements. To emphasise the scale of this event, the speaker pointed out it would appear mag –18 if viewed within a few light years of the origin. The speaker also reported that V838Mon was not following the expected light-curve for a nova, although Maurice Gavin reported that his spectral observation had shown a K-type spectrum with Hα lines, indicating it was a nova.
Moving onto Jupiter, the speaker showed several beautiful images by Damian Peach, with many features of interest well-resolved. He suggested that the cliff-top location of Mr Peach's observatory, by the sea, might have enhanced his seeing. Mr. Mobberley went on to report the discovery of comet Ikeya-Zhang by two dedicated Japanese observers. Linear would not have discovered this comet as its low altitude (<20 degrees) presented a substantial challenge. Currently at mag 6, though difficult to observe due to its low altitude, the speaker suggested it could reach mag 3 at maximum on March 18. The measured arc correlated well with that for the comet of 1661, and this match was favourable for a good show.
The speaker closed by calling for observations of 7P-Pons-Winnecke, due to peak on May 14, and 2000WM-Linear. Jonathan Shanklin echoed the call for observations of 2000WM-Linear, "you never know what it's going to do!" The audience applauded Mr. Mobberley for his lively show, before the President welcomed Mr. Andrew Elliott to show an occultation video.