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The Journal of the British Astronomical Association, 2017 February

Volume 127, Number 1

In this issue we have the 2016 Presidential Address, and a fine historical paper about Eliot Merlin of Merlin Medal fame. And why not have a go at the ever-popular 'Messier Marathon'? . Log in or join the BAA today to view this journal online. A full list of contents is also available. Selected highlights from this Journal:

Refereed Papers

Staying ahead of the curve: progress in British variable star astronomy
The 2016 Presidential Address, given on 2016 Oct 26 at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1. The BAA Variable Star Section is the world’s longest established organisation for the systematic observation of variable stars, formed in 1890. Its database contains nearly 3 million measurements going back to 1840 and is an important resource for researchers. The aim of this Address is to reveal some of the lesser known tales that lie deep within the database, bringing to life stories about some of the people involved, especially in the early years, including Joseph Baxendell, Mary Adela Blagg and Arthur Stanley Williams, as well as shedding light on some of the stars observed. Finally we look to the future as the VSS builds on the legacy of its forebears, ensuring that it always stays ‘ahead of the curve’.
Jeremy Shears
AR 12536: An unusual bipolar sunspot group
Observations of a highly tilted bipolar sunspot group from 2016 April and May are presented together with confirmation of the bipolar nature of the group based on magnetograms from the Solar Dynamics Observatory.
Peter Meadows
A. A. C. Eliot Merlin: a brief biography
A. A. C. Eliot Merlin (1860−1946) was a prolific observer and writer who enjoyed a long professional career in the British Diplomatic Service. No proper account of his life has ever been given, and the recent gift of one of his notebooks to the BAA archive prompted this short account of his career and astronomical achievements. Observing under the clear skies of Volo, Thessaly in Greece he was able to make long continuous series of observations of several bright novae, and his records of Nova Persei (1901), Nova Geminorum (1912) and Nova Aquilae (1918) were particularly complete. Merlin’s generosity to the BAA is remembered through the annual award of the Merlin Medal and Gift.
Richard McKim
The brighter comets of 2009
This report describes and analyses the observations of the brighter or more interesting comets discovered or at perihelion during 2009, concentrating on those with visual observations. Magnitude parameters are given for all comets with observations. Additional information on the comets reported here and other comets discovered or at perihelion during the year may be found on the Section visual observations web pages.
Jonathan Shanklin
Observation and analysis of the new W -type W UMa eclipsing binary star VSX J053024.8+842243
Using multicolour photometry we have confirmed the binary nature of the new W-type W UMa eclipsing binary star VSX J053024.8+842243 and established its primary eclipse ephemeris. A low resolution spectrum corrected for interstellar reddening confirmed its spectral type as G2V.
David Boyd