Scarborough's Star Disk "Switch On" - 28 Jan 2006

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Scarborough's Star Disk "Switch On" - 28 Jan 2006

Post by jeff.stevens »


Jon Harper (SPA Occultation Director and President of Scarborough & Ryedale AS) has forwarded the following details for the opening of a project with which he has had a major involvement in the conception and design.

The largest illuminated "Star Disk" in the UK, and possibly in Europe (26m in diameter), will be officially switched on by the Deputy Mayor of Scarborough Cllr. Jim Preston on January 28th, at 7 PM. The disk, constructed on the site of the South Bay Pool, contains, as fibre optic terminals, the 42 brightest circumpolar stars (stars which never set) as seen from Scarborough. It also marks the positions of the sunrise points over the North Sea for various dates in the year.

The idea for this stage in the development of the South Bay Pool was instigated by "Create", an arts and cultural agency, specialising in the setting up of temporary works of art and events. Also involved, in the ongoing project is the Scarborough Urban Renaissance of Public Space Group working in conjunction with Scarborough Borough Council. Funding was provided by "Yorkshire Forward" and the Borough Council. Because of my, and the Scarborough Astronomical Society's extensive involvement in the preparatory work for this enterprise, it is rather nice that the educational "illumination" becomes operational within a month of the 30th. birthday of Scarborough & Ryedale Astronomical Society!

There will be a large public star party on that occasion, at the South Bay Pool site, attended by members of Scarborough and Ryedale Astronomical Society and Whitby and District Astronomical Society. The major attraction for members of the public will be the chance to observe Saturn, through the telescopes, with its beautiful ring system and major satellites. The planet is at opposition and is nearest to Earth on January 27th, the day before the event!
Jon Harper wrote:A member of the Urban Renaissance Group in Scarborough approached me, as President and founder of Scarborough & Ryedale A.S., for ideas of what may be a good project for the site of the former South Bay Pool. I suggested that an illuminated star map, showing the stars which are always visible from Scarborough, i.e. the circumpolar ones, would be a good idea. This would be, in my opinion, an important educational asset for the town and its visitors during the holiday season in particular, and for astronomy in general. A grant was obtained for the project from an organisation called Yorkshire Forward and Scarborough Borough Council.

My work involved firstly creating the initial star map of the 42 stars, north of Declination +45°, and the lines which make up the constellations surrounding the celestial pole. Secondly, I had to suggest the grading of these stars using 4 different sizes of fibre optic terminals in order to display as correctly as possible within this constraint, the magnitude of the stars included on the plan. From these the master plan for the positioning and siting of the fibre optic terminals was drawn up by the Borough's Architects Department

Once the centre of the disk was laid down on the site I, with a colleague from the Society, used the Sun's passage across the meridian to fix the main N-S (longitude) line, so that the construction unit could go ahead to produce the R.A. radiating lines at 2hr intervals across the disk - important in fixing the date plaques so that anyone standing on a particular date would see the sky as it would appear at midnight looking north. I then calculated the rising dates and times of the sun on the North Sea, taking into account refraction due to earth's atmosphere, which were exactly in line with the appropriate radiating RA line as seen from the centre of the disk. These dates and times are on plaques on the inner wave wall. Also indicated on the same wall are the position of the most northerly rising of the sun at the time of the Summer Solstice, and the dates when the sun rises in line with the southern end of the sea horizon where Carr Naze, a cliff at Filey, the next town along the coast SE of Scarborough. plunges into the sea.

I have been particularly pleased and honoured to be involved with the project as the switch-on, of possibly the largest illuminated star disk of its kind in Europe, is just 3 weeks before the 30th anniversary of the date I began the Scarborough Astronomical Society - on 21st February, 1976.

It would be nice to meet any SPA members who are able to attend, and if anyone would like to join in with maybe a telescope or binoculars, they'd be most welcome.