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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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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

What's Up - Week of January 21st

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18.35 UT at the start of the week and 18.44 UT at the end

  • The Moon is Full on Monday and a 'supermoon' as the press like to call it. In the early hours the Moon will pass through the Earth's shadow and a Total Eclipse will be visible. The Moon is at perigee, so will be brighter and larger than usual. Sadly the sky is likely to be cloudy. The Moon will then wane to Last Quarter at the start of next week

  • The Sun is totally blank

  • The ISS returns to make evening passes this week: Wednesday at 19.12.47 from SSW to SSW reaching 16 degrees altitude. Tuesday 18.22.03 S to SE to 19 degrees and 19.57.19 WSW to WSW to 11 degrees. Wednesday 17.31.51 SSE to ESE to 12 degrees and 19.06.04 SW to SSW to 34 degrees. Thursday 18.14.57 SW to ESE to 33 degrees and 19.50.59 W to W to 16 degrees. Friday 17.24.02 SSW to E to 23 degrees and 18.59.36 WSW to SW to 64 degrees. Saturday 18.08.16 WSW to E to 55 degrees and 19.44.40 W to W to 22 degrees and the best on Sunday at 18.53.13 W to ENE to 89 degrees

  • There are no bright evening Iridium flares


Random Blackett Image
Past Events - Public Open Evening

News - 17th January

House visit: 10 IH Shell and their Tutro came up to the Dome. Though the temperature had fallen and there was a bright waxing Moon, the sky was totally hazy and no stars could be seen. The was a nice, if faint, lunar halo

Next House visit: Tuesday 22nd January (LI)

10th January

House visit: 13 Shell pupils form MM came up to the Dome. The evening was cloudy, though a few stars appeared just as we finished

Next House visit: Thursday 17th January(IH)

3rd January

Quadrantids meteor shower: The first event of 2019 saw some 20 Friends joining CEB, JAG and GKWJ braving icy temperatures and a complex, but accurate, forecast of cloud interspersed with superb dark clear patches of an hour. The Milky Way was superb and limiting magnitude better than +5. M31 was clear by eye and M45 and M42 super in Binos and the ETX. The 10 inch located 46P Wirtanen with ease and we were able to watch as it moved significantly compared to a +11.8 star during the evening. Estimates put the speed at 3 to 4 arc minutes per hour. The comet's coma remained rather underwhelming as a fuzzy grey patch. Given the dark skies, it was disapointing that only 21 Quadrantids were seen, with none being very spectacular

13th December

Geminid meteor shower: Some 30 Friends and College employees joined CEB, JAG and GKWJ at the Dome. With falling temperatures and clearing skies and a setting waxing crescent Moon, the evening was only marred by astrolights till 10pm and light cloud. The meteor rate built slowly from 20 to 30 per hour. 43 were recorded, only a few brighter than 0. The 10 inch tracked 46P. As the night cleared the central coma was well distinguished with obvious assymetry, but the full coma was bigger than the field of view of the main eyepiece. Due to some local easy star patterns, it was possible to watch the comet move, roughly 0.25 degrees in the time of observing (a speed later calcualted as roughly 10 km/s across our line of sight). The comet was an easy target in small binoculars and the ETX. Once the astro lights had gone, the comet could be seen by eye with averted vision. A dull grey smudge about as big as the Full Moon, heading up and east through Taurus to pass between the Hyades and Pleiades

9th December

Extended Project: GKWJ and JAG were at the Dome to facilitate L6 astrophotography project work using the 8 inch and 10 inch. M33 and then Mars were targets. CEB also came up to locate 46P, which was very easy in 8x50 binoculars about 5 degrees south of Menkar in Cetus. In the 10 inch the coma was too large and diffuse to show well (some possible assymetry was seen, but no clear tail). In the binoculars it was a fuzzy patch and underwhelming

6th December

Swindon Academy visit: NMA and DGR again hosted a group of pupils from Swindon Academy in the Marlburian and at the Dome. The sky was cloudy

House visit: 12 pupils from DA Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy

Next House vist: Thursday 10th January 2019 (MM)

3rd December

Extended Project work: GKWJ and JAG supervised a sixth form pupil who was imaging M31. The 10 inch was used to locate 46P for the first time and the unintegrated naked-eye view was underwhelming, given its large coma diameter. The magnitude was estmated at +6 to 7. 12 meteors were seen, potentially early Geninids, including an exploding fireball

29th November

House visit: 10 CO Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was clearing but there was a light drizzle, so the main dome remained closed. M45 was viewed in Binos and M31 identified by eye

Next House visit: Thursday 6th December (DA)

27th November

Blackett Science lecture: The 14th Blackett lecture as delivered by Professor Giovanna Tinetti from UCL. The talk 'Brave New Worlds - planets in our galaxy' was attended by a large audience of pupils and Friends of the Marlborough Telescope

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