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Sunspots and Star spots ~ Dr Robert Smith (University of Sussex) 

Starspots are the equivalent of sunspots located on other stars. 
Spots the size of sunspots are very hard to detect on other stars because they are too small to cause detectable fluctuations in brightness. Observed starspots are in general much larger than those on the Sun: up to about 30% of the stellar surface may be covered, corresponding to starspots 100 times larger than those on the Sun.Dr Smith discuss sunspots on our Sun and goes on to discuss how spots have also been discovered on other stars. Although the properties of sunspots are covered only rather briefly Robert will include in his talk some work done by his last research student on starspots in cataclysmic binaries.


A DSLR pin hole camera ~ Bob Okines


There’s an app for just everything these days, including a plethora of photo effects that replicate traditional darkroom and camera techniques. Among these, getting the pinhole look ranks high.  However, there’s nothing quite like doing it for real, so we’re going to show you how to make a pinhole camera of your very own using your existing DSLR. Using nothing more than a spare body cap for your camera, a small square piece of aluminium drinks can, a pin or needle (about size 7), scissors, some black electrical tape, fine sandpaper and a drill, you’ll have all you need to transform your DSLR. The results won’t be perfect: the distance between the body cap and the sensor on most digital SLRs is fixed at an inconvenient distance for pinhole photography, and it can’t be easily changed.


The forthcomingh Transit of Mercury ~ Roy Bicknell


A transit of Mercury across the Sun takes place when the planet Mercury comes between the Sun and the Earth, and Mercury is seen as a small black dot moving across the face of the Sun.  Transits of Mercury with respect to Earth are much more frequent than transits of Venus, with about 13 or 14 per century, in part because Mercury is closer to the Sun and orbits it more rapidly.  Transits of Mercury occur in May or November. The last three transits occurred in 1999, 2003 and 2006; the next will occur on May 9, 2016.


Next months talk ~ Simon Allen


Simon will outline the background to next month's speaker, Carl Herganrother of the Arizona State University,  and the NASA project he has been working on.

The Local Group