Battle of Jutland 1916

Since we are commemorating the 100th anniversary of this naval battle it seems worth explaining briefly why it was significant. The British expected to have command of the seas, and with their large and impressive fleet were able to achieve this for many decades up to WWI.
The Germans had similar ambitions, and their aggressive construction of a new High Seas Fleet was just one of several causes of WWI.
Each side hoped to bring the other side’s fleet to battle and destroy it, which would certainly be possible given good tactics and luck. WWI battleships bristled with huge guns and even today would be capable of sinking anything afloat, provided that the target did not shoot a missile back. Unfortunately, by 1914 they were proving vulnerable to mines, and to torpedoes fired by smaller craft, and by that sneaky new weapon, the submarine. This concentrated the minds of the admirals on keeping their expensive battleships out of such situations.
However, at the end of May 1916, both the British and German fleets were at sea, each hoping to lure the other into a tactically difficult position and inflict a smashing blow. The result is a matter of record, but after some fighting, the largely intact German fleet retreated to harbour, leaving the British (who suffered higher losses) in possession of the North Sea for the rest of the war.
The result created much anger and despondency in a Britain accustomed to crushing Trafalgar-style naval victories. Only gradually was the real significance of the outcome understood. It fell to an American to point out that “the Germans had assaulted their jailer but were still in jail”. Winston Churchill said that the British Admiral Jellicoe was “the only man who could lose the war in an afternoon.” Jellicoe had his afternoon, and he didn’t lose.
After Jutland, the British tightened their strangling sea blockade of Germany, and were able to ship men and munitions over to France and the trenches unhindered by the German navy. If we had lost at Jutland, the outcome of WWI would have been very different.

EU Referendum

Far be it from me to influence your vote, but if you don’t register to vote by 7 June and then vote on the 23 June, you may find that anti-EU wrinklies have decided the result for you.
A whole slew of august economic bodies have warned of some decline in economic performance if we leave the EU. The Leave campaign counter this by shouting that the Remain arguments are all wrong.
The Leave campaign point to an annoying influx of EU workers taking jobs and putting a strain on public services, which would stop if we left. However, to stop the influx of EU immigrants would require a complete divorce from the EU, with the consequence being a likely economic decline, meaning fewer jobs and less government revenue, so the prospects for British workers are not likely to improve. And not providing more services was a political decision.
If we leave, we could get rid of some annoying EU regulations and control our own country. Maybe, but how is that going to benefit the young man or woman in the street? It could just give bosses a freer hand to set your wages and working conditions.

Astronomy topics

I saw the transit of Mercury on 9 May. I missed the entry as I was trying to get a clear projected image through some light cloud. By the time I swapped to another scope the small dot was already on the Sun’s disk. Later I went to the transit event at the OU where I saw the transit again. They had several telescopes set up with front-end filters to make viewing safe. They also had a specialist solar scope that showed the sun in the H-alpha wavelength, so that streaks of solar activity were visible as well as Mercury.
In a marquee they had a display of real meteorites for visitors to handle.
Before the end of the event, cloud had come over with spots of rain.

This month, Mars and Saturn can be seen low in the SE sky around midnight BST. A small telescope will show Mars as a reddish disk. The planet is at its closest approach for years, so this is your best chance to view it.

I now have the use of three telescope mountings: an AZ-4, a very solid mount that is very quick to set up for use, but has no slow-motions, a Nexstar SLT which I use for general observing sessions – the SLT is a computer controlled mount which works well for finding and tracking faint objects. The tripod is rather wobbly though.
I also have a EQ-5, another very solid mount, an equatorial with electric drive. This is good for observing planets and other easy to find objects but I have not used it much.