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Blackett Observatory Dome
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SpaceWeather | More weather... Coordinates: 51.25.25 N and 1.44.24 W
Marlborough College
Oxford Astrophysics
Green Templeton College

Saturday 14th December - Observing the 'Winter Wreath'
Observatory from 8pm *** CANCELLED ***

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

What's Up!

Week of 9th December

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:01 UT on Monday 9th and 18:02 UT on Sunday 15th

  • Venus is bright in the evening sky at mag -4.0 and passes by Saturn (mag +0.6) through the week, with closest conjunction on Wednesday 11th when it comes to within 2 degrees. Look in the southwest at around 16:00 to 17:00 UT

  • Geminid meteor shower is active from 4th to 17th December, with its peak at 01:00 UT on Saturday 14th. Meteors appear to originate from the constellation Gemini, but are best observed by looking away from the radiant. They are caused by the Earth hitting a stream of debris left by asteroid 3200 Phaethon. Peak hourly rate can be as high as 120 meteors, but the bright Moon present this year will reduce visibility to only the brightest

  • The Moon is Full on Thursday 12th

  • The Sun is still blank and has been for the past 24 days, giving 261 spotless days so far this year

  • The ISS makes several visible passes this week:
    Monday - 16:35:41, W to ESE, max 57 degrees and 18:13:02, W to S, max 16 degrees
    Tuesday - 17:24:13, W to SSE, max 23 degrees
    Wednesday - 16:35:33, W to SE, max 33 degrees
    Thursday - 17:25:03, WSW to SSW, max 12 degrees
    Friday - 16:35:44, W to S, max 17 degrees

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Random Blackett Image
First Quarter Moon taken through 10 inch 12/04 orientation as seen by eye

News

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".

29th November

GCSE & EPQ Observing: Five GCSE pupils came to the Dome with GKWJ. Drawings of the Pleiades through binoculars were made and star trail photos were taken. An EPQ pupil captured stellar spectra. Clear conditions rapidly gave way to fog and the session was abandoned.

26th November

Blackett Science Lecture: Dr Payel Das of Oxford University delivered the 15th Blackett Lecture. Her talk on 'The Gaia Mission' was attended by a large audience of pupils, staff and Friends of the Marlborough Telescope.

21st November

House visit: 12 Shell boys from C3 and a Tutor joined GKWJ at the Dome. It was raining.

Next House visit: Tuesday 3rd December (DA)

19th November

External visit: 16 scouts and two scout leaders from the Pewsey Scout Group joined DGR and GKWJ at the Dome. It was cloudy.

18th November

BBC filming: A small team from the 'Sky at Night' descended on the Observatory to film for the January episode. Covering naked-eye techniques, CEB filmed with them and an assembled group of 5 year 6 pupils from Preshute Primary School (each accompanied by a parent), all of whom were complete novice astronomers. The event had been postponed once due to poor weather, but in the end we were treated to a super sunset and then a couple of hours of clarity, before clouds interfered. Venus then Jupiter and Saturn were seen and observing techniques discussed and stars seen appearing in order of brightness, as well as 'tours' of some well known patterns. After 3 hours the pupils departed. Filming then continued till 00.45 UT. by which time significant de-icing of vehicles had to take place. The programme will hopefully air on January 12th at 10pm on BBC4

Winter observing: A small group of Friends joined GKWJ and JAG at the Dome despite intermittent cloud. The Pleiades were viewed in binos and brighter stars identified in the cloud gaps. Several late Leonid meteors were spotted. Later on with clearer skies, M33 (Triangulum Galaxy) was viewed in the 10 inch, but M74 (The Phantom Galaxy) remained elusive.

14th November

House visit: 8 Shell pupils from C2 and a Tutor come up to join GKWJ at the Dome. It was cloudy

Next House visit: Thursday 21st November (C3)

13th November

External visit: A group of 14 Spanish exchange students and their teacher joined GKWJ at the Dome. It was raining

12th November

GCSE observing: The Remove astronomers were invited to the Dome for an extra session of Lunar observing. 9 of the 12 came up to join GKWJ at the Dome. It was cloudy at first but then cleared. The Full Moon was viewed through the 10 inch, 8 inch SCT, the 2 ETXs and Binos. Drawings of the main features were made and some photos taken. High magnification viewing of Tycho and the Apennines ended the evening

11th Novemebr

Transit of Mercury: Despite poor forecasts, the sky cleared sufficiently and the clouds moved fast enough, for the whole transit to be visible, from First Contact till just after Inferior Conjunction. All Remove and Hundred astronomers gathered at the Dome to join CEB, JAG and GKWJ. Both ETXs were used and the 8 inch Celestron and the 10 inch, all with white light filters. GKWJ set up the 8 inch with a camera and computer screen, so many could see the solar disc at once. CEB timed First Contact (probably delayed due to poor seeing) and an average time of 12.36 UT was taken. Second contact was more precise. Pupils left just before 1pm as some 30 other visitors (Staff and Friends) came up during the afternoon, the last few just as the Sun disappeared behind the south-western tree-line. All together an unexpected success. All were wowed by the tiny perfect back dot. GKWJ obtained some photos and a video sequence, though poor Seeing, cloud and the wind led to less than perfect images. We will await the next in 2032

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