Blackett Observatory Dome
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What's Up!

Week of 27th January

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:44 UT at the start of the week and 18:53 UT at the end

  • There is an unusual conjunction of Neptune (mag +8) and Venus (mag -4) on Monday evening. Look low in the southwest sky between 17:00 and 19:30 UT to see the two planets just 4 arcminutes apart. You will need to use a pair of binoculars or a telescope to observe the conjunction. On Tuesday evening, the Crescent Moon comes within 4 degrees of the pair, making an interesting combination to look out for

  • The Moon is waxing and will be First Quarter on Sunday

  • Look to the southwest just after sunset to see Venus dominate the twilight sky at mag -4.0

  • The Sun has one Cycle 24 active region near the equator (AR 2757). A region of interest belonging to Cycle 25 is developing high in latitude around the southeast limb

  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week as follows:
    Monday: 18:14, WSW to E, max 72°
    Tuesday: 17:26, WSW to E, max 57° & 19:03, W to WNW, max 70°
    Wednesday: 18:16, W to E, max 87° & 19:52, W, max 20°
    Thursday: 17:28, WSW to E, max 85° & 19:05, W, max 73°
    Friday: 18:17, W to E, max 86° & 19:54, W, max 20°
    Saturday: 17:30, W to E, max 84° & 19:07, W to SSW, max 60°
    Sunday: 18:19, W to ESE, max 75° & 19:56, W to WSW, max 18°


Random Blackett Image
Past Events - La Palma College Trip - April 2005


27th January

External visit: 14 pupils and a teacher from Hardenhuish School, Chippenham, joined GKWJ at the Dome. Contrary to the forecast, the cloud parted to give hazy but satisfactory conditions for observing. Venus in gibbous phase was seen through the 10" followed by the crescent Moon. The group then saw the ISS pass overhead and the seemingly endless stream of Starlink third launch satellites. Finally, the Andromeda Galaxy, Almach and the Orion Nebula were viewed through the 10"

25th January

Stargazing Oxford: CEB managed the queue and welcomed over 1200 visitors to the annual stargazing open day at Oxford's astrophysics department

23rd January

House visit: 10 Shell boys and a Tutor from Preshute visited the Dome with GKWJ. It was cloudy.

Next House visit: Tuesday 4th February (MO)

22nd January

House visit: 14 Shell girls from Mill Mead visited the Dome with GKWJ. It was cloudy.

Next House visit: Thursday 23rd January (PR)

20th January

Radcliffe Society: The first meeting of the revived Radcliffe Society (the Marlborough College astronomy and astrophysics society) took place with GKWJ, JAG, CEB and eight pupils representing all year groups from Remove to Upper Sixth. The agenda was: Welcome (GKWJ), Society History (JAG and CEB), What's Up (GKWJ), then two pupils gave talks on Differential Photometry and Astrophotography at Marlborough College. The next meeting is on 11th February.

20th January

Prep School visit: 23 year 7 pupils and 3 staff from Cothill School visited the Dome. Arriving at twilight, the evening was perfectly clear, though the atmosphere damp. Venus in its Gibbous phase was seen in the ETX and the Pleiades in Binos. A couple of meteors were seen and a dozen or so satellites. Shortly after 6pm two stationary bright lights appeared in the East below Gemini, looking like a bright double star they then disapeared, remaining an unidentified sighting. The 10inch was then used to view the Great Nebula in Orion and the Trapezium of young stars

19th January

External visit: Eight members of the Basingstoke Astronomical Society visited the Dome on a wonderfully clear night. GKWJ, JAG and CEB hosted. The first observation was the stream of third launch Starlink satellites. The group lost count in the twenties. Targets in the 10" through the session were: M36, M37, M38, Almach, Uranus, M33, M31 and M42. Double star Alnitak (2" separation) was seen as a distorted 'snowman', but not fully split. An attempt to split Sirius and observe Sirius B ('The Pup' at 11" separation) proved difficult, but moments of two stars being visible were reported from a number of the observers. Finally, the Eskimo Nebula (NGC 2392) was observed, with definite improvement provided by use of the recently acquired UHC filter.

18th January

Freinds evening: CEB, JAG and GKWJ met at the Dome to observe and discuss the dimming of Betelgeuse

16th January

House visit: 10 Shell boys from Littlefield joined GKWJ at the Dome. It was cloudy.

Next House visit: Tuesday 21st January (MM)

9th January

House visit: 10 Shell girls from Ivy House and a Tutor joined GKWJ at the Dome. It was raining.

Next House Visit: Thursday 16th January (LI)

3rd January 2020

Friends evening: A gathering of Friends joined CEB, JAG and GKWJ to spot Quadrantid meteors. 7 were seen in total during the one hour window in the hazy cloud. M42 was viewed through the 10 inch and Betelgeuse was noted as being significantly dimmer than usual.

5th December

House visit: 10 Shell boys from Cotton joined GKWJ at the Dome. It was cloudy.

Next House visit: Thursday 9th January 2020 (IH)

3rd December

House visit: 14 Shell girls from Dancy and a Tutor joined GKWJ at the Dome to enjoy a beautiful clear evening. The First Quarter Moon was viewed through the 10", followed by a sky tour outside, finishing with a look at M31 through the 10".

Next House visit: Thursday 5th December (CO)

GCSE Observing: Seven GCSE pupils took advantage of the clear sky to continue their Aided Observing Tasks. One pupil took star trail photos around Polaris, two pupils took photos of Orion to measure limiting magnitude, three pupils made drawings of Messier Objects - The Pleiades (M45) through binoculars and The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) through the 10" - and one pupil took photos of M31 through the 10".

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