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Blackett Observatory Dome
Welcome to the Marlborough College Blackett Observatory, home to the largest refracting telescope in Wiltshire. Learn more...
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SpaceWeather | More weather... Coordinates: 51.25.25 N and 1.44.24 W
Marlborough College
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'Cosmic Adventure'- a short film by Gavin James. View on https://youtu.be/0DVpxl5pOmw

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

What's Up - Week of May 20th

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 00.25 BST at the start of the week. From Wednesday, Nautical twilight does not end till 21st July, as the Sun is never far enough below the Northern horizon

  • The Moon is waning and will be Last Quarter on Sunday. The Moon and Jupiter will be in close Conjunction on 20th. Jupiter is approaching Opposition on 10th June

  • The Sun is basically blank again as 2741 disappears over the Western limb

  • The ISS makes good late passes: Monday at 22.46.35 from SSW to E reaching 30 degrees altitude. Tuesday at 22.31.39 from WSW to E to 68 degrees. Wednesday 22.40.50 SW to E to 51 degrees. Thursday 23.26.17 from W to E to 89 degrees and Saturday 23.20.54 from W to E to 84 degrees


Random Blackett Image
The storm clouds and Great Red Spot, a 2000mph hurricane, larger than the Earth which survives as 'order' among the chaotic flow of Jupiter's belts of rotating gas. (NASA, Hubble)

News - 16th May

Solar Open Day: A small group of Friends and staff joined GKWJ and JAG at the Dome. Sadly, after several cloudless days, the cloud closed in. Nevertheless, the Sun was viewed in the gaps using the ETX, Solar goggles, Solar Scope and the 10 inch, with a white light filter. Spot 2741 was well resolved with 3 distinct umbra

25th April

Royal Society awards day: CEB attended the annual day of awards at the Royal Society, where past and future national Olympiad teams for Physics and Astronomy received prizes

16th April

BAAO selection camp: CEB attended the British Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad selection camp and delivered a morning of observational training to the 12 pupils attending. Following the camp, a team of 5 and a reserve were selected to represent the UK at the 13th Intenational Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics in Hungary in August

26-27th March

Messier Marathon: For the first time, by pupil demand, the College attempted the Messier Marathon. Attempting to see as many of possible of French astronomer Charles Messier's Catalogue, of 'Nebulae and Star Clusters' from 18th Century, in one night by eye. Luckily the choice of night proved correct and after a lovely clear day, we were rewarded with a clear 7.5 hours of observing till cloud closed in at 2.30am. 15 pupils from Remove to Upper Sixth joined CEB, GKWJ, JAG, DGR, JEL and ER and observed till 11pm. One group then stayed on till 2am and the other 'camped' in the Marlburian, ready to observe again at 3am (this didnt happen due to cloud sadly). Some 30 objects were seen by 11pm and another 35 by 2am. From 2am till 2.30am the last 3 were seen, making a pleasing total of 68 out of the 110 possible. Some were certainly harder than others and many were 'yet another' grey smudge. A few however were really brilliant and inspired all there. The furthest object seen was 82 million light years away. The following Messier Objects were seen : M 1, 3, 5, 13, 29, 31, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 53, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 76, 78, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 108, 109, 110. The 10 inch Barclay refractor was in full use, hopping from one object to the next, even with 'reversals' into the opposite hemisphere. The 8 inch Smith reflector was, however, sthe star of the evening, for the brighter objects, and was able to see several objects within an equivalent number of minutes. Stand-out targets were M13 the great globular in Hercules, the Sombrero galaxy, the Cigar galaxy and the Owl nebula (especially with an OIII filter) to name a few. I suspect this will become an annual challenge

21st March

Eratosthenes' experiment: A group of Hundred and Remove astronomers joned CEB and DGR in Court to hopefully reinact Eratosthenes' 205BC experiment to measure the Earth's circumference. Sadly a shadow of the noon Sun was needed. The sky was of course cloudy

Sun-Earth lecture: CEB delivered the 2019 talk 'Reaching young stars' to a select audience of Friends

12th March

House visit: 12 pupils from TU Shell came up to the Dome for the last House visit this academic year. Initially it was clear and the waining Moon was viewed in binos and M42 in the 10 inch. Despite the Moon, M31 could just be seen by eye

Next House visit: September 2019

GCSE Observing: 2 Hundred pupils and 3 Remove pupils camwe up to the Dome and a couple of drawings and star counts were done. Sadly the cloud quickly closed in

More news...