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Blackett Observatory Dome
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Status CURRENT MOON
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Marlborough College
Oxford Astrophysics
Green Templeton College


NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day
Jupiter Cloud Animation from Juno

What's Up - Week of 21st May

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 00.36 BST at the start of the week, then from Tuesday, does not return till 21st July and the nights have no Astronomical darkness

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

  • Venus appears in the twilight sky from 9pm and for 2 hours dominates the Western sky till it sets at 11pm. The waxing Moon increses its separation from the planet during the week

  • The Sun is again blank and there have now been over 50% of days this year with no sunspots

  • The ISS makes good passes in the evening this week: On Monday at 22.51.32 from SW to E reaching 89 degrees. Tuesday 21.59.45 SSW to E to 26 degrees and 23.35.27 WSW to E to 78 degrees. Wednesday 22.43.17 WSW to E to 60 degrees. Thursday 21.51.14 SW to E to 43 degrees and 23.27.27 W to E to 87 degrees. Friday 22.35.12 WSW to E to 83 degrees. Saturday 23.19.26 W to E to 85 degrees and Sunday 22.27.08 to E to 85 degrees

  • There are two bright evening Iridium flares:Monday at 22.17.05 at 11 degrees altitude in NNW and Wednesday at 23.45.09 at 41 degrees altitude in WSW

More...


Random Blackett Image
A large spiral galaxy (M104) in Virgo. The thick dust lanes in the spiral disc are most obvious in this well known view. (NASA, Hubble)

News - 17th May

Solar open day: Under sunny skies but sadly increasing high cloud, the Dome opened to public, Friends and College staff. The Sun was viewed in solar goggles, the projection box and the ETX in white light and a dedicated small solar refractor and the 10 inch in H alpha. Despite a totally blank disc, reflecting the minimum in the solar cycle, there was a decent quiescent loop prominence visible in H alpha when the sky was clear enough. JAG and GWJ helped CEB welcome families, Friends and staff from 3 yrs and up

30th April

Lunar imaging: GWJ attempted a mosaic of the lunar surface at the Full Moon. Despite clear patches, the Seeing conditions were poor

21st April

GCSE Solar observing: Remove set 1 came up to the Dome under clear if hazy skies. The Sun was viewed in goggles then via projection and in the ETX, where the faint spot 2706 was seen. The H-alpha filter on the 10 inch showed no activity due to the poor clarity

19th April

GCSE Solar observing: Remove set 2 came up to the Dome in hot sunshine as part of Topic 11 and the Sun's surface. The Sun was viewed in goggles, via projection and the ETX the blank photosphere in white-light and then the 10 inch showed a couple of Chromoshere prominces in H-alpha

18th April

GCSE Solar observing: The Hundred Astronomy set came up to the Dome in their afternoon lesson under clear skies. The Sun was viewed in goggles, projection box, ETX and white-light filter and then despite no sunspots, there was activity in the form of an erruptive prominance and quiescent prominance in H-alpha through the 10 inch

28th March

Lunar imaging evening: GWJ and JAG working into the early hours put the 10 inch through its paces in a firet attempt at some detailed Lunar imaging, including the building up of a photo mosaic

26th March

Friends outing: CEB led a group of 16 Friends to Oxford to visit the new radio telescopes on the roof of the Denys Wilkinson Building. After a lecture on Radioastronomy and Oxford's projects by Professor Mike Jones, we has a tour and demonstration of the operating dish by Alex Pollak. After a pub lunch the gorup then had a tour of the Tower of the Winds (old Radcliffe Observatory) in Green Templeton College

21st March

Sun-Earth lecture: The 2018 talk 'Victorian Phoenix - the story of the Marlborough telescope' was delivered to an audience of Friends and colleagues by CEB

15th March

External visit: 17 year 12 pupils and 2 teachers from Lycee Jules Verne came up to the Dome before sunset

13th March

GCSE observing: 8 Remove pupils joined DGR and CEB for the last night of observing this term. The Spring sky was light due to high cloud and skyglow but the waning crescent Moon had not risen. Drawings of M45 and M44 were attempted and M31 was viewed in the 10 inch. Arcturus was also drawn rising in order to estimate the length of the sidereal day

9th March

RAS prize: Z.Place (CO, L6) was presented with his Winton Capital prize for winning the inaugural RAS poster competition by RAS President Professor John Zarneki at the March RAS Open meeting. This was followed by the 2018 Eddington lecture by Professor Karin Ohberg from Harvard on 'Chemistry of planet formation and planet habitability'

24th February

External visit: JAG and GKWJ hosted a select group of three adult visitors in cold and clearing conditions. The evening started with a tour across the main constellations of the night sky, which was dominated by a 67% waxing gibbous Moon. The Pleiades were viewed through binoculars. Targets in the 10 inch started with M42, followed by a long session on the Moon, both wide and in close up, a most impressive sight

  • We then moved on to Castor, Pollux and HR2764 (a double star in Canis Major known as the Winter Albireo, an interesting white-blue and orange double)

  • The session ended with views of the Pleiades and the Double Cluster h and chi Persei

    22nd February

    External visit: 13 year 8 pupils from Realschule Freising II in Germany and 4 teachers came up to the Dome before sunset as the sky cleared

    House visit: 9 pupils for TU Shell came up to the Dome as temperatures fell. The waxing 6 day old Moon was viewed in the Zeiss Binos, Polaris and major stars were pointed out and then M42 viewed in the 10 inch

    GCSE Observing: 13 Remove astronomers came up to the Dome to first drew the Moon by eye from behind the Dome and then draw the Moon using any of the available instruments. New sets of 10x50 Helios binos were in use as well as the older instruments. Pupils also viewed, and some drew M42 in 10 inch

    14th February

    External lecture: CEB delivered the 36th Astronomy for All talk 'Victorian Phoenix', the story of the Barclay Equatorial, at Green Templeton College, Oxford

    8th February

    House visit: 10 pupils from PR Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy

    Next House visit: The last visit of the year for Shell pupils will be on Thursday 22nd February (TU)

    6th February

    Art project: A sixth form pupil came up to the Dome to take copious images for his Moon themed project

    4th February

    External visit: JAG & GKWJ hosted a group of 3 adults and 2 children (ages 6 and 4). Thick cloud started to clear just in time to commence the evening with an ISS pass. Perfectly clear skies ensued for about an hour. Orion, The Plough and Polaris were identified outside. Variations in star colour were observed through the 10 inch, with Alpheratz (blue-white), Scheat (orange-red) and the double, Almach (orange and white). Next, The Double Cluster, then on to M31. Outside to see Pegasus, Andromeda, Perseus and Cassiopeia to place the objects viewed. Finally we observed Uranus in the 10 inch

    1st February

    House visit: 10 pupils and a House tutor from NC Shell came up to the Dome. The evening was cold and there were gaps in the cloud. The bright Moon appeared on occasions and by the end there was enough of a gap for most to view the Trapezium in M42

    Next House visit: Thursday 8th February (PR)

    GCSE observing: Perhaps the last chance this winter presented itself, though in the swamped light 'pollution' of the just post Full Moon. 1 hopeful Remove came up and all 4 Hundred. The sky then remained cloudy till after 10pm, at which point we were able to swing into action. Star counts were done and a drawing of both M42 and M31. For the first time images were taken via SLR through the 10 inch of M31, which showed the bright nucleus and central few minutes well. The evening finished at 11pm

    30th January

    External visit: 5 year 10 pupils and their teacher from in WLSA Fudan Academy, Shanghai came up to the Dome. The evening was cloudy

    House visit: 14 Shell pupils and a House tutor from MO came up to the Dome under cloud and drizzling skies

    Next House visit: Thursday 1st February (NC)

    25th January

    House visit: 14 Shell pupils from MM came up to the Dome. It was largely cloudy, though Sirius made an appearance

    Next House visit: Tuesday 30th January (MO)

    18th January

    House visit: 10 pupils from LI Shell came up to the Dome on the first really clear night this term. M45 was viewed in Binos and M42 the Great Orion Nebula in the 10 inch. Several sporadic meteors were seen

    Next House visit: Thursday 25th January (MM)

    GCSE Observing: All 4 Hundred, and all bar 4 of the Remove, came up to the Dome. With no Moon and initially good Seeing the conditions were ideal for Star counts in and out of the MW plane and drawings of M45 and M42. Photographs of M42 were taken on tripod and via a new adaptor using the 10 inch with suprising success and great colour contrast in the nebula. Remove drawing and star counts in Orion were attempted. Several more sporadic meteors were seen. The Seeing declined during the evening.

    11th January

    House visit: 9 pupils from IH Shell and a Tutor came up to the dome. The evening was cloudy

    Next House visit: Thursday 18th January (LI)

    8th January 2018

    Charity evening: JAG and GKWJ hosted 'An evening with the Stars' as a charity evening for 9 adults, who had won the auction prize in aid of SWIFT Medics (Wiltshire). The night was crystal clear with no Moon with a temperature of -1, feeling like -6 in the wind. Uranus was viewed in the 10 inch. M45 in Binos, M42 in the ETX and the the Perseus Double cluster in both. The 10 inch then viewed the Trapezium in M42 and then M1. The 10 inch was then used to split Castor and Alnitak (just). Finally Open clusters with Christmas tree and 15 Monocerotis, M35, M36, M37 and M38. A great start to 2018

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