Astronomy is one scientific field in which amateurs can still make a significant contribution. WAS members are active in several aspects of this research.
Each month, prior to the Main Meeting, there is a Research Group meeting, currently beginning at 16:45. Anyone who is interested in getting involved is welcome to attend.
Occultations occur when a star is briefly hidden behind a body within the Solar System, usually a minor planet or the Moon. Observing occultations can give important information about minor planet orbits, shapes, and sizes, and about multiple star systems.
Observing occultations can be done with fairly modest equipment, and from sites that have a lot of light pollution. The more sites that observe an event, the better the results, so this is an area where amateurs can do a lot.
For more about occultations, see the RASNZ Ocultations Section website.
The WAS Occultations leader is Murray Forbes.
Many stars vary in brightness, and sometimes colour. There are two main reasons:
Naturally, there are some eclipsing binaries where one component, or both, pulsates.
There are a lot of variable stars, far more than the professionals can keep track of. In addition, some of them are too bright for professional equipment. Amateur observers are needed.
For more about variable stars,see Variable Stars South.
The WAS Variable Stars leader is Aline Homes.
There are some people interested in Radio Astronomy, which does not always need the huge telescopes shown in pictures, but ther is nothing formally arranged at present.
An Astrophotography group is currently being organised. While some Astrophotograpy is about aesthetics rather than science, there is also a strong scientific compnent. In additions, sometimes a photograph that was just intended as a pretty picture can catch something important, such as the first indication of a cataclysmic variable on the rise.