Blackett Observatory Dome
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Marlborough College
Oxford Astrophysics
Green Templeton College

100 Perseid meteors seen in 135 minutes

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day
NGC 2442: Galaxy in Volans

What's Up - Week of 14th August

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 22.54 BST at the start of the week and 22.34 BST at the end

  • The Moon will be Last Quarter on Tuesday and will then wane to New at the start of next week, when it will align exactly with the Sun causing a Total Eclipse, viible across 14 states of the USA

  • Perseid meteors will continue to be seen throughout the week

  • The Sun is blank again

  • The ISS makes no visible evening passes this week

  • There are 3 bright evening Iridium flares this week: Tuesday 22.27.23 at 12 degrees altitude in W. Wednesday at 21.45.09 at 19 degrees in N and Friday at 23.54.39 at 28 degrees in WSW


Random Blackett Image
A bright meteor (shooting star) originating from the 'Radiant' in Leo captured during the Leonid storm of 2001. Here a tiny (mm) dust particle left by Comet Temple-Tuttle vapourises at around 80km altitude. In the background is Orion's belt (top) and the Orion Nebula (M42). (Brown)

News - 12th August

Perseid meteor shower: A perfect night until the waning gibbous Moon caused too much light pollution. A group of Friends gather at the Dome and recoreded exactly 100 Perseids in just over 2 hours. 6 Fireballs were seen and also the Iridium flare forecast at 23.33

Youngest Friend visit: The youngest member of the Friends of the Telescope (4 yrs old) and his father visited the Dome in the afternoon. In breaks in the cloud we were able to observe the Sun with solar goggles and then in the ETX with a white light filter. The fading large sunspot 2670 was clearly visible

2nd August

Summer School week 4: Despite rain and cloud a group of 20 guests aged 9 yrs and up came up to the Dome with CEB. Even with the poor conditions the evening lasted 1.5 hours

26th July

Summer School week 3: A group of seven Summer School students attended the Observatory Tour, hosted by GKWJ and JB. Unfortunately conditions were poor, with total cloud cover and an increasing wind. The visitors were shown the Cooke 10 inch. The gathering then enjoyed an illustrated cosmic journey from the Sun to M109, using photographs taken by GKWJ from his back garden observatory, Marlborough. Baby Campo also made an appearance

25th July

Summer School course: GKWJ and JAG accompanied a group of five to the Dome; three more students from the Back Garden Astronomy course along with two of their family members. The evening started with a look at Jupiter through the 10 inch, two small refractors and a 5 inch Celestron NexStar. Unsurprisingly the 10 inch offered the finest views. All four Galilean moons were on display. The ISS made a pass at 22:13 to 22:19 rising to 36 at mag -2.7. The next target in all telescopes was Saturn. Seeing was obviously poorer than the previous night with bands of cloud passing by, though the rings of Saturn were perfectly defined and a suggestion of the Cassini Division was noted. A tour of the constellations was enjoyed, finishing with especial interest in the Mizar / Alcor double star system. M13 in Hercules was then observed with the 5 inch, where it presented as an obvious concentrated swarm of stars in the eyepiece. The evening finished with an overhead pass of the ISS, at 23:49 to 23:56 at 89 and mag -3.1, having completed its full orbit in around an hour and a half, travelling at about 5 miles per second. The clearest skies were as the party departed

24th July

Summer School course: A group of five students from the Back Garden Astronomy course visited the Dome accompanied by GKWJ and JAG. Various small telescopes and binoculars were set up outside through which Jupiter and Saturn were observed. The two planets were also viewed in the 10 inch, where all four Galilean moons of Jupiter were seen and two moons of Saturn, Rhea and Titan, were unconfidently identified. The Cassini Division was quite clear to the trained eye. The sky was significantly clearer than it has been for the past few weeks and the New Moon gave great darkness. An ISS pass was enjoyed at 23:05 to 23:12, reaching mag -3.2 at 52 in the South. The students were given a tour around the main asterisms while the Milky Way became clearer as the night darkened. To finish, M31, The Andromeda Galaxy, was located with the binoculars, though it took some skill to discern the fuzzy patch as it was still low in the East

19th July

Summer School week 2: 14 visitors from Summer School joined CEB, DGR, GJ at the Dome. Sadly the sky was cloudy

12th July

Summer School week 1: Some 35 adults and children from Summer School joined CEB, DGR, JAG and GJ at the Dome. The sky was laregly cloudy but occasional bright stars (Arcturus and Vega) were glimpsed

4th to 6th July

National Astronomy Meeting: The 2017 NAM took place in Hull. CEB presented a poster on the new British Astronomy and Astrophyics Olympiad initiative

21st June

Solstice observing: Despite some high cloud and very warm air, the eclectic group, including Norwood Hall and admin staff, Common Room and associated families, local Friends of the Telescope, that gathered with CEB and JAG had plenty to see. The northernmost sunset point was noticed and, as the twilight darkened, Jupiter was identified and then viewed in Binos and the ETX with 2 moons visible. Arcturus and Vega were next out and then Spica. Though low to the horizon, as Saturn appeared in the light sky, the 10 inch was used to view the rings and then moons, first Titan then Rhea. As the sky darkened a little towards midnight the telescope was turned to the great globular cluster in Hercules, M13 and lastly the Ring planetary nebula, M57

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