26th JulySummer 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 JulySummer 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 36º 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 89º 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 JulySummer 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 52º 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
15th JuneExternal visit: 13 year 7 pupils (all boys) and 2 members of staff came up to the Dome for some Solar viewing. The clear sky allowed the Sun to be seen first with Solar goggles then in the Solarscope and the in the ETX with a white-light filter and then in the 10" with a white-light filter. Not only could the mature spot 2662 be seen with umbra and penumbra but a new active group 2663 was evident near the centre of the disc
13th JuneExternal visit: 16 year 7 pupils (all girls) and their teacher from Swindon Academy grammar stream came up to the Dome for Solar observing. The Sun was viewed in solar goggles then the Solarscope and then ETX with white light filter. Finally in the 10 inch with the white light filter which showed the new Sunspot 2662 on the Eastern limb. The Master and his wife also made a suprise visit
26th MayJupiter photography: JAG and Gavin James spent several hours attempting images of Jupiter
23rd MayInternational visit: 6 pupils and their teacher from Bishop Coton School in Shimla, Northern India came up to the Dome in the afternoon. The Sun was viewed in goggles and then in the SolarScope and ETX
12th MayExternal talk: JAG and Gavin James gave a talk in Alderney, at the Alderney Museum, on 'Back Garden Astronomy. There was a good audince of 34 locals attending. The talk was given to encourage the Island's Campaign for Dark Sky srtatus, recently gained by neighbouring Sark
Royal Astronomical Society AGM: At the meeting in the Geological Society lecture theatre CEB was elected Vice President(A) for a two year term. Professor Ian Crawford was elected Vice President(G)
27th AprilRoyal Society Presentations and Awards: CEB joined Sandor Kruk and other members of the BAAO committee for the Reception and Presentations at the Royal Society to the medal winning team from the 10th International Olympiad in India last December. The newly selected team of 5 and a reserve were also present as they start preparing for the 2017 IOAA in Phuket, Thailand in November. Professor Chris Lintott was there to give the prizes of certificates, books and binoculars and then delivered a talk to a large audience on the possibility of Alien life
7th AprilRAS Open meeting: CEB delivered the last of 4 talks at the April open meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society in the Geologicl Society's lecture room on Piccadilly. The talk, presented to a diverse audience of distiguished professonal astronomers, was titled The British Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad - from inception to International success
6th AprilBAAO Selection Camp: CEB joined the other UK Team Leader Sandor Kruk and other Tutors in Oxford on the 3rd day of the British Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad selection Camp. 11 year 12 pupils had performed suficiently well in the BAAO papers to attend 4 days of lectures, tests and observing held in the Astrophysics Department in Oxford. CEB delivered a talk on Telescopes and Optics which followed an inspirational address by Professor Bob Williams who was visiting from STSci (ex-President of IAU and the inspiration behind the Hubble Deep Field image) After supper in Jesus, the group gathered on the 6th floor to observe by eye and then with binoculars and telescopes. Bright stars were identified and the Moon and Jupiter viewed in detail. A good ISS pass was also seen. The team of 5 and a reserve will be decided before the end of the week and they will then recieve further training before representing the UK at the 11th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrrophysics in Phuket, Thailand in November
3rd to 5th AprilFriends trip to EGO: 17 Friends of the Telescope joined CEB for a 3 day trip to Pisa. The focus of the visit was a morning and lunch at the European Gravitational Observatory (EGO) and the Virgo Interferometer facility. We were given a superb talk and tour and are now well briefed and excited about the next Gravitational Wave discovery. We felt very lucky to have seen the Observatory at this early phase of Advanced Virgo
1st AprilExternal visit: JAG and Gavin James hosted members of JAG's family. In gaps between the clouds Mars and Jupiter were seen by eye and the brighter stars as they appeared. The Moon was viewed in Binos and ETXand the M42 in the 10 inch followed by Eskimo Nebula
21st March15th Sun-Earth lecture: The annual Vernal Equinox lecture was given by CEB. Titled 'Dreamtime in Neolithic Britain', the talk was given in Science Lecture Room 3 and attended by some 40 pupils and Friends of The telescope
20th MarchExternal visit: A small group of businessmen from Sarsen Technology and Roke Manor came up to the Dome in a clear 2 hour slot. M45 was viwed in Binos and then, for the first time this year, Jupiter in ETX, though at very low altitude. The 10 inch tracked the Orion nebula
9th MarchHouse visit: 10 pupils form PR Shell came up to the Dome for the last House visit of the academic year. The sky was cloudy though a faint lunar halo was seen on arival. A couple of breaks in the cloud gave glimpses of Orion and Sirius
Next House visit: September 2017
4th MarchCharity Evening: The Observatory was the venue for a winning auction bid from the Sheriffs' Ball in London last autumn, which raised money for Type 1 Diabetes. 14 visitors came to the Dome in apparently poor weather and only the Moon could be glimpsed at the start. As the evening went on the sky cleared so that the Moon and Pleiades could be viewed in Binos and the Orion nebula seen first in the ETX and then in the 10 inch. The 10 inch was also used to view the waxing Moon at low and then high magnification
2nd MarchHouse visit: 10 Shell pupils from C2 and a House Tutor came up to the Dome. The clouds conveniently parted and allowed M45 (Pleiades) to be viewed in Binos and the crescent Venus in ETX. The 10 inch tracked the Eskimo Nebula
Next House visit: Thursday 9th March (PR)
GCSE Observing: One Hunded pupil came up to use the 8 inch Smith to take images of Lunar features at this early phase
23rd FebruaryHouse visit: 10 Shell pupils from EL came up to the Dome. The temperature had fallen and the skies cleared. M45 was viewed in Binos and then Venus as a Crescent in the ETX. The 10 inch tracked the Eskimo Planetary Nebula
Next House visit: Thursday 2nd March (C2)
GCSE Observing: In a last ditch attempt to complete Controlled Assessment obsevations including star counts, Messier drawing and photography. Cygnus had set, so Cassiopeia had to suffice for the in-plane counts and M45 and Eskimo PN were drawn
15th FebruaryOxford Lecture: CEB gave the 34th Astronomy for All lecture in the annual series of public lectures at Green Templeton College, Oxford. 40 visitors from the University, local Astronomical Societies and students attended the talk titled 'Dreamtime in Neolithic Britain' - The importance of hengescapes in safeguarding knowledge
9th FebruaryHouse visit: 12 pupils from C3 Shell and a tutor came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: Thursday 23rd February (EL)
2nd FebruaryExternal visit: 21 Scouts from 2nd Marlborough pack and 5 adults came up to the Dome. The group included years 3 to 6 and even an 18 month old baby, perhaps the youngest visitor to the Dome for a very long time. Sadly the sky was cloudy
House visit: 13 pupils from MO Shell and their HM came up to the Dome. Sadly the sky was cloudy
Next House visit: Thursday 9th February (C3)
1st FebruaryChina exchange visit: 6 pupils from China (Hohhot No.2 School in Inner Mongolia and Fudan WLSA Academy in Shanghai) came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy sadly
28th January'Stargazing Live' open day Oxford: CEB again was on queue entertainment duty as around 1000 visitors attended the open day for the Astrophysics sub-Department in Oxford. Amazingly the skies were clear and both the PWT and Amateur Astronomical Society telescopes were in action
26th JanuaryHouse visit: 8 pupils from CO coame up to the Dome. Though only 1 degree it felt much colder in the breeze. The sky was misty up to 40 degrees then clearish. Mars and Venus were located and then M45 in Binos and M42 in ETX. M31 was also located
Next House visit: Thursday 2nd February (MO)
GCSE Observing: 1 Hundred pupil and 3 Remove came up to continue Controlled Assessment. Star counts were done in ETX and Orion and Cassiopeia drawn. The ten inch tracked the Eskimo nebula, which showed a little detail in the nebuloscity
21st JanuaryOpen evening: Sadly, after a run of clear nights, the clouds closed in and the evening was cancelled. However, 14 visitors including Friends and College community and 3 young, came up to see the telescope
19th JanuaryHouse visit: 9 Shell pupils from lI came up o the Dome. The night was very clear, though not great seeing. Mars and superbright Venus were identified and M31 seen with averted vision. M45 were viewed in Binos and M42 in ETX. The 10 inch tracked the Eskimo planetray nebula. Thus the pupils were introduced to both extremes of stellar evolution
Next House visit: Thursday 26th January (CO)
12th JanuaryHouse visit: 14 Shell pupils from MM came up to the Dome. There was a light covering of snow on the ground but the sleet had stopped. Only the Full Moon and Venus could be seen through the cloud, though Orion was seen in the bright moonlight at the end. The sky was otherwise cloudy. A fine lunar halo was seen
Next House visit: Thursday 19th January (LI)
9th to 18th December10th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA):Sandor Kruk (PhD student in Oxford Astrophsics Department and Merton College) and CEB led the UK team of 5 students (4 boys and 1 girl) in Bhubaneswar, India. All 5 team members gained awards; 1 Gold (10th overall out of 240 competitors), 1 Silver, 1 Bronze and 2 Honourable Mentions. This ranked the UK 6th out of the 42 countries competing, behind Russia, Iran, India ,China and USA. The effort required in the three 5 hour exams is considerable and we are delighted with the result
6th DecemberSt John's class: CEB taught a second class at St John's Academy with 20 pupils from years 7, 8 and 9
House visit: 11 C1 Shell pupils came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
1st DecemberExternal visit: NMA hosted another group (yr 5) from the Swindon Academy primary school. The sky was clear with a very young crescent Moon
House visit: 12 TU Shell pupils came up to the Dome. The sky was clear and Andromeda M31 and the Milky Way was viewed by eye and notable asterisms identified. The Binos viewed M45 and the ETX Mars. The Dome had unfrozen and thus the 10 inch was used to look at Aldeberan a K Giant (given the Shell are covering HR diagram)
Mext House visit: Tuesday 6th December (C1)
GCSE Observing: 1 Hundred astronomer grabbed another opportunity for star counts. The clouds moved in by 9.30pm
External visit: Though not as cold or clear as last night, the sky was clear and seeing I/II. A large group of 21 Savernake Explorers, 16 students from yrs 10 to 13 (mainly from St John's) and 5 adults, came up to the Dome. M45 Pleiades was viewed in Binos and setting Mars in ETX. Sadly the extreme cold had frozen the Dome, so the 10 inch could only view a random star
GCSE observing: 3 Hundreds pupils came up to the Dome to carry out onstellation photography, Messier Drawing (M45 in binos and M42 in ETX) and star counts
29th NovemberBlackett Science Lecture: The 2016 lecture was given by C. Barclay 'Tungunska's legacy - The threat of asteroid impact' and was attended by local Friends, pupils and visitors
28th NovemberExternal visit: 19 pupils from yr 7 of Swindon Academy's Grammar stream came up to the Dome. The sky was clear with no Moon
GCSE observing: Possibly the best evening so far with a New Moon, so dark and clear Milky Way. Seeing for once was II as the temperature fell. 4 Hundreds pupils came up to the Dome to carry out star counts parallel and perpendicular to the Galactic plane. The Binos showed M45 well and the 10 inch initially viewed M29 Open cluster, then M1 (Crab SNR) and finally for the first time this winter, M42 which, the low, showed good detail and a well resolved Trapezium
24th NovemberExternal visit: 16 year 6 pupils from Swindon Academy were hosted at the Dome and Marlburian by DGR and NMA. M31 was visible between clouds
House visit: For the very first time 12 DA Shell pupils and a tutor came up to the Dome. The sky was largely cloudy, though M45 was viewd in Binos just before departure
Next House visit: Thursday 30th November (TU)
GCSE Observing: 3 Hundreds and 4 Remove pupils came up to the Dome and were looked after by CEB and DGR respectively. Whilst Remove drew Constellations the Hundred drew Messier Objects (M45 (Pleiades) in Binos and M57 (Ring) and M27 (Dumbell) in 10 inch. The ETX was used for star counts
23rd NovemberExternal visit: 27 visitors from the St John's Academy community crammed into the Dome, including one teacher, 7 parents and 19 pupils from years 6 to 12. Sadly the sky was cloudy
18th NovemberExternal visit: 7 sixth form girls from St John's Academy came up to the Dome and were hosted by JAG
17th NovemberHouse visit: 11 Shell pupils and a House Tutor from NC came up to the Dome. Luckily the rain kept off, but the sky was cloudy with just the waning gibbous Moon being visible and Vega and Polaris in cloud gaps. No Leonids were seen
Next House visit: Thursday 24th November (DA)
External visit: 26 year 5 from the Woodpecker class at Swindon Academy Primary School came up to the Dome and were hosted by NMA and DGR. In spite of clouid and rain, half the group found some clear sky and managed to see some stars and Mars. As well as using the Observatory, the second group worked at the Malburian Social Centre, where a scale Solar System was displayed with a 3m disc for the Sun and 3cm picture of the Earth
16th NovemberExternal visit: 24 Cubs (girls and boys from years 4,5 and 6) from Aldbourne and 10 adults including leaders and parents attended the dome in 2 sessions. The rain had stopped but the sky was completely cloudy, though the waning gibbous Moon was just visible at the end through cloud
10th NovemberGCSE observing: 3 Hundred and 3 Remove pupils came up to the Dome. The sky was clear between cloud banks. The 8 inch initally viewed M13 and was then used to photograph the 81% waxing gibbous Moon. M45 Pleiades were drawn in Binos and M57 the Ring nebula was drawn in the 10 inch. The ETX was used for Stellar Density counts
8th NovemberHouse visit: 8 Shell pupils from IH came up to the Dome. It was wet and cloudy
Next House visit: Thursday 17th (NC)
External visit: 26 year 5 children aged 9 and 10 years old and 4 teachers from the Swindon Academy visited the Observatory in two groups with NMA in charge to learn about the dome, the telescopes, observing the night sky and meteorites. Due to the poor weather, they also took part in activities in the main Pavillion
7th NovemberPublic open evening: Some 25 visitors came up to the Dome, many for the first time. The evening was clear, though moisture scattered the moonlight. Mars was viewed in the Smith and ETX. The first Quarter Moon was viewd in Binos and the ETX. The 10 inch split gamma Delphinus and then delta Cephei. M42 was viewed in ETX when it rose and the Binos were used on M45. M13 was also viewed in the Smith 8 inch. 2 meteors were seen, possibly a bright Northern Taurid and an Andromedid
5th NovemberFriends Q&A: A small group of Friends braved the first real winter evening, with falling temperature and the best skies this term, to attend a Q&A session on 'Citizen Science'. Current Zooniverse projects (inclugding Galaxy Zoo, Planet Hunters, Radio Meteors, Finding Comets, Disc Finders and Gravity Wave searcher) were introduced. Given the clear skies, the Binos were used for M45, M31 was easily viewed by eye and the 10 inch was used to split 3 Optical Doubles. First theta Serpens and lovely balanced pair of white stars with a 22 arc sec seperation. Next Albireo (beta Cygni), the famous bright double, seperated by 34 arc sec and clearly coloured (Blue and Yellow) and last gamma Delphinus, an aesthetically pleasing yellow and green Double with a 10 arc second seperation
1st NovemberHouse visit: 11 pupils from SU Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: Tuesday 8th November (IH)
24th OctoberMaintenance: The new Drive system returned from AWR Engineering repaired after the August electrical storm damage. CEB wired it up and then re-calibrated the drive speeds on both axes
22nd OctoberOrionids: a very small group gathered, with clear skies near the zenith and a good Milky Way, to catch some Orionid meteors. None were seen. Neither were any satellites and we suspected that the high misty cloud may have obliterated all but the brightest lower altitude meteors. One bright sporadic was seen and two possible Northern Taurids
10th OctoberGCSE Observing: One Hundred pupil ran up to get the chance of photographing the 8 day old Moon for his Lunar features project. Initially cloudy, the sky cleared. Seeing was poor but the Moon bright and well placed for observing in the 8 inch Smith
6th OctoberHouse vist: 9 pupils from BH Shell came up to the Dome, including the grandson of Basil Blackett, after whom the Observatory is named. The sky was largely cloudy but the Moon was viewed in Binos and the ETX
Next House visit: Tuesday 1st November (SU)
GCSE Observing: 1 pupil who is embarking on lunar feature photography cam up to catch the waxing Crescent Moon. The Moon was low by 8.30pm and the heavy 8 inch Smith had to be moved to the top corner of the parking space. Trial exposures were done and despite some tree branches interfering some decent first images obtained 5th October Drive Engineer visit: Following the lightning storms in August, a visit was needed to attempt to locate the cause of malfunction. After a couple of hours of rewiring and testing, it seems likley that the main processor chip needs replacing. It is hoped to get the 10 inch operational after half-term
4th OctoberGCSE Observing: 4 Hundred and all 10 Remove pupils came up to the Dome, joning CEB and DGR. In light wind and no moon some work was carried out and an introduction for some to the Dome. The binos focused on M31 Andromeda and M45 Pleiades at the end of the evening). The ETX was used for Star Counts (having viewed M82 for the first time before the pupils came up). The Binos were also used to locate and draw M13 in Hercules
30th SeptemberDr Payel Das visit: Dr Das from Oxford University Theoretical Physics Dept came to attend physics lessons in the morning, have lunch with a number of Astronomy pupils and attend Period 6 with all the Remove and Hundred Astronomers. After supper with invited Physicists, She then gave the lecture 'Galactic Archaeology' in L3 in the evening to Astronomers and 6th Form Physicists
29th SeptemberHouse visit: The first Shell House visit of the year took place. The sky was largley clear and the temperatures were falling. The 10 inch was out of action following the August storms and so M31 Andromeda was viewed in the Binos, having been located by eye
Next House visit: Thursday 6th October (BH)
GCSE Observing: The first evening for observing saw 4 of the Hundred coming up to the Dome for a familiarisation session. M31 was viewed by eye and in binos and the Smith 8 inch was brought out to view Altair and to practice some star photography
23rd SeptemberFriends drinks party: The 12th annual Friends drinks party took place at the Dome with long standing and new Friends having a chance to catch up and look ahead to the winter
23rd AugustBAAO Training Camp: A second night of observing for the team. The sky was largely clear at 9.30pm. Past paper observing questions were tackled. Telescopes were used to locate Messier objects and positions and motions in the sky were estimated. The Dome closed at 2pm as tiredness set in. The team then headed next day to Oxford for 3 days of theoretical training
22nd AugustBAAO Training Camp: CEB and Sandor Kruk (Oxford Astrophysics) led the first day of the 5 day summer training Camp for the 5 students selected for the UK Team (competionmg in the 10th International Olympiad in Astronomy and Astrophysics in India in December). The Observatory swung into action at 10pm as the sky cleared. All instrumemnts were in use. Targets vairied from Double stars to Open Clusters, Globular Clusters, Mars and Saturn as they set and the waning Gibbous Moon. Drawings were completed of the Moon, Tycho and the Ptolemaeus triplet of craters, Mizar and Alcor and M31. The 10" initially tracked Uranus then M57 (Ring) Planetary nebula. M13 the Great Globular in Hercules was drawn and then the Open Cluster (Phi Cassiopeia). Separations and distances and magnitudes were estimated. The Dome closed at 2.30am in bright moonlight
12th AugustPerseids: A larger group of Frinds gathered with JAG at the dome but the weather prevented all but a couple of sightings
11th AugustPerseids: JAG gathered a small group of Friends at the Dome for an early Perseid watch and was rewarded by 78 Perseids (couple of fireballs) and 5 Sporadics
29th JuneNational Astronomy Meeting: CEB was invited to speak at the Education and Outreach lunch in Nottingham at NAM 2016. The talk was on the new GCSE 2017 Astronomy Specification
18th JuneSolstice observing: A small group of Friends gathered in the summer twilight to watch 3 planets appear. Despite the nearly Full Moon, Mars shone brightly in the South and Jupiter in the West. Saturn was rather close to the Moon and dimmer. Red Antares twinkled in the thick lower atmosphere with blue Spice in the South West. The Moon was observed in the ETX and then Jupiter. The 10 inch tracked Saturn as as the sky darkened first Titan then Tethys then Dione appeared. A good Summer Sky tour was also possible.
9th MayTransit of Mercury: The first of the pair of Transits this decade took place amid very poor weather forecasts. Just on the off chance of a glimpse, CEB and JAG went to open the Dome at noon and were joined by a small groupd of Friends and visitors. Extraordinarily around 12.05 BST the sky largely cleared by high cloud. The 10inch had sufficient light gathering to give a cler view of the photosphere. Seeing made the limb wobbly, but using a radio controlled clock the moment of First contact was seen about 10 seconds late. As the planet moved onto the disc there was a clear 'dragging' on the black of space behind it (like a pool with an outflow) giving an indisputable 'black drop effect' which lasted a while and was drawn by eye at 11.15.28 UT. Second contact was observed with a narrow arc of light between the planet and the limb at 11.15.31 UT (fractionally before the time predicted). The perfect black dot moved on across the disc and more Friends joined joined to see it between clouds. By 1pm the clouds and then rain ended the observations
5th AprilBAAO training camp: CEB spent a day in Oxford on day 2 of the 4 day British Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad training and UK team selection camp (12 yr12 and yr13 pupils being narrowed down to a team of 5 and a reserve for the 2016 International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics in India in December). CEB ran a planetraium session, gave a lecture on Telescopes and Optics followed by some questions and then in the evening oversaw an observing session on level 6 of the Denys Wilkinson Building. 2 ETX 105 Meades were available as well as a small Newtonian and a huge 12 inch Meade (brough by Alan Pickwick). The sky was largely clear and, though the view was restricted by the buildings, Jupiter and its moons were viewed (with Europa and Io in conjuction and visibly seperating over the 2 hours of observing) and Mizar and Alcor (with Mizar A and B resolved) and then h and k Persei, the Double Open Cluster. Individual stars were also identified and pointer patterns discussed
24th MarchSun-Earth Lecture: The 14th lecture focussed on the Vernal Equinox and tackling subjects within the basic field of Sun-Earth connections 'Transits an Occultations - the importance of shadows' was delivered to an audience of some 40 Friends and visitors by CEB
19th MarchFriends outing: A group of 20 Friends headed to Oxford for visits in the Astrophysics sub-department. A talk on the E-ELT and Oxford contribution to major instruments by Dr Fraser Clarke and tours of the Instrumentation labs. After lunch the group were met by Proffessor Jeff Burley in Green Templeton College for tours of the Tower of the Winds and the old Radcliffe Observatoy
13th MarchHouse visit: The last Shell House visit of the academic year took place with 7 pupils from PR coming up to the Dome. The temperature was falling and the sky very clear. There were also no Astro lights so the conditions were perhaps the best so far since January. The 4 day old Moon was viewed in the ETX and M45 in the Binos. Jupiter shone brightly in the ESE and was viewqed very well in the 10 inch with Europa and Ganymede very close and several storm bands on he planet seen
12th MarchSpring Sky: A small group of Friends and visitors, including a family from Oxford and a yr 6 and yr 8 pupil, came up to the Dome. Depsite mist and hazy cloud the 3 day old Moon was viewed in the James ETX and the Pleiades in Binos. The ETX was used for M42 the Orion Nebula earlier. A tour of the sky was given including the Zoiac constellations. The 10 inch tracked Jupiter and its 4 moons. 2 main bands and 2 subsidiary bands were visible on the main planet
8th MarchHouse visit: 9 pupils from C1 Shell came up to the Dome. It was cloudy
Last House visit of the academic year: Sunday 13th March (PR)
6th MarchHouse visit: 7 pupils from CO Shell came up to the Dome. One or two stars were visible in cloud gaps; only Sirius identifiable
Next House visit: Tuesday 8th March (C1)
28th FebruaryHouse visit: An even better clear night greeted 14 MM Shell. The Pleiades ere viewed in Binos and Jupiter and 4 moons in ETX. The 10 inch showed good detail of M42, the Orion Nebula and the Trapezium
Next House visit: Sunday 6th March (CO)
23rd FebruaryHouse visit: At last a clear night and LI Shell drew the lucky card. 8 pupils came up to the Dome. The sky was bright with the waning just off Full Moon beutifully in conjunction with Jupiter less than 2 degrees away. The Binos were used to view the pleiades and the ETX Jupiter and 3 moons (Io in Occcultation) The 10 inch tracked M42 (Orion nebula) and gave a super viw of the Trapezium and good detail in the nebula itslef. The bottom right star inthe Trapezium could just be resolved into two
Next House visit: Sunday 28th February (MM)
GCSE Observing: The last chance for Coursework to be completed by Hundreds. With CEB, NMA and DGR at the Dome, 6 pupils came up to complete stellar density and Messier drawings and photographs. All the instruments were used, Binos, 2 ETXs and the Smith Newtonian. Several Remove also came up to fisnish Constellation drawings , using Orion and Cassiopeia. Io was seen to appear from occultation and the Spring marker, Arcturus, rose in the East. A close call, we have never had to wait to so near March to complete observations
10th FebruaryGCSE Obsertving: At last a clear night and an emergency observing session with 5 out of the 6 Hundred pupils joining NMA at the Dome to complete drawings
7th FebruaryHouse visit: 14 Shell pupils form EL came up to the Dome in rain and high winds, having been out climbing during the day. One of the most miserable evenings but lots of good questions
Next House visit: Tuesday 23rd February (LI)
31st JanuaryHouse visit: 10 pupils from TU Shell came up to the Dome in high winds but at least no rain
Next House visit: Sunday 7th February (EL)
21st JanuaryExternal visit: Some 26 Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery visited for a double evening combining a visit to 'In the Marlborough Night Garden' with Gavin James and then a trip to the Observatory. Sadly the sky had clouded and only the Moon occasionally got through the cloud. Before the groups came up the sky was clear and Comet Catalina had been located in the 10 inch and a drawing made showing it close to a 9th magnitude star in Draco, several degress away from its position on Tuesday
19th JanuaryComet spotting: A clear night at last and the chance to see Catalina. The 10 inch found it straight away with coordinates input. Finding it in the binos was harder and needed the old technique of finder charts, A small group of Friends and staff gathered in advance of the GCSE observing session. The 9-10 day old waxing Gibbous Moon really washed out the sky and the Comet was not much more than a faint blur. Some assymetry was visible suggesting tails. Seen against a couple of faint stars the motion was perceptable over 3 hours and was estimated to be 1-2 arc minutes. It was good to be visited by a couple of past GCSE astronomers too
GCSE Observing: 10 Remove astronomers came up, some not in very warm clothes as temperatures dropped to -5 degrees. Constellaon drawings were completed. Sadly the Moon was very close to Orion, Only one Hundred astronomer appeared and managed 3 Messier drawings though again the mMoon rendered M42 and M45 less than perfect
17th JanuaryHouse visit: 11 Shell pupils from BH came up to the Dome. It was cloudy
Next house visit: Sunday 31st January (TU)
16th JanuaryStargazing Event: CEB assisted at Oxford Astrophysics Department's annual Jnauary Stargazing event. Some 1300 visitors were entertained in the Department from 2pm till 10pm
14th JanuaryGCSE Observing: NMA and DGR were at the observatory and a number of Remove came up to continue Constellation drawing. Sadly Hundred pupils had mocks the next day
Astrophotography exhibition: Some 60 Friends and visit0rs attended the private viewing of Gavin James' 'In the Marlborough Night Garden'. A stunning array of 17 images taken with modest equipment from his garden in central Marlborough
10th JanuaryHouse visit: 12 Shell pupils from B1 came up to the Dome. The sky was clear until 30 mins before they arived and then clouded over
Next House visit: Sunday 17th January (BH)
7th JanuaryGCSE Observing: DGR gathered a group of 5 Remove astronomers in a short cold clear break to continue Constellation drawing
3rd JanuaryQuadrantids: A small number of optimistic Friend gathered for 40 minutes of clear sky in between clouds. One meteor was seen!
6th DecemberHouse visit: 11 pupils from SU Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit Sunday 10th January 2016 (BH)
29th NovemberHouse visit: 10 Shell pupils from IH came up to the Dome in wet and windy weather
Next House visit: Sunday 6th December (SU)
24th NovemberBlackett Science Lecture: Professor Donald Kurtz, University of Central Lancashire and Vice-President Royal Astronomical Sociaty delivered the 11th annual lecture 'Planets and Pulsations - A new Keplerian revolution'
15th NovemberHouse visit: 12 Shell pupils from C3 came up to the Dome. It was cloudy
Next House visit: Sunday 29th November (IH)
8th NovemberHouse visit: 12 Shell pupils from MO came up to the Dome under cloudy skies and light rain. As they left the sky was clearing
Next House visit: Sunday 15th November (C3)
4th NovemberExternal visit: 12 Spanish sixth form students and their teacher from Colegio Peleteiro in Santiago de Compostela were accopanied to the Dome by AHDT. The sky was cloudy
31st OctoberDouble Star obsrving: A small number of Friends gathered on a classic Halloween evening (misty and laterly moonlit) and unusually clear. The Pleiades (this night is the Feast of the Pleiades and perhaps the origin of the Feast of the Dead) were viewed in Binos. The calibrated 10 inch was then turned to a number of Double Star targets, all selected to be high in the sky away from the mist and to test both the observing power of the telescope and observers. First Epsilon Lyrae: A widely spaced Double of almost identically bright, white stars, easily split in binos. The telescope however weas just able to split each of these into close binaries. Beta Cyni (Albireo) was next: A beutiful easy Double, 2 magnitues difference and coloured. The brightest a bright gold (described as Topaz) and the dimmer a slight blue (sapphire!). Omicron (31) Cygni: The is a triple system (squashed triangle) in a very rich star field. The brighter stars are well separated. Each has a slight colour (officially red, white and blue). Gamma Delphinus: A beutiful close bright pair. A magnitude difference and showing a gold and ?green clour. We then pushed the telescope to nearly vertical to view Delta Cephei (the original Cepheid variable) A fine double of nearly 2 magnitudes difference and showing orange and blue. We estimated that the variable was towards the dimmer end of its cycle. Several Taurid meteors were seen in the telescope
22nd OctoberExternal visit: 8 children (mainly yr 10 and 11) and 10 adults from Albourne Youth Council came to the Dome. A lunar aureole was seen and the waxing gibbous Moon was viewed in Binos. Otherwise the sky was cloudy
18th OctoberGTC visit: 16 Staff, Fellows and family from Green Templeton College Oxford (the previous pre-1935 home of the 10 inch) came up to the Dome. The evening was cloudy
11th OctoberHouse visit: 11 pupils from NC Shell came up to the Dome with 2 Tutors. The evening was cloudy
Next House visit 8th November (MO)
9th OctoberGCSE Observing: 8 Remove astronomers joined DGR at the Dome and though hazy near the horizon, managed drawings of Casssiopeia and Cygnus. The Pleiades (M45) were viewed in Binos
7th OctoberFriends Q&A: A small group of Friends attanded the Dome for a Q&A on Dwarf Planets, particularly the status of Pluto and definitions of planets. As a bonus we were able to observe Vesta in the 10 inch and then Uranus; neither of which showed the colour we had seen at the week-end4th OctoberHouse visit: The first House Shell visit of the academic year saw 10 pupils from C2 and their HM's wife and children visit the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: Sunday 11th October (NC)
3rd OctoberOuter Planets: A small group of Friends gathered (possibly reduced in number by the England rugby match) on a clear evening for the first observing event of the new Diary. The ETX split Mizar A and B and then M13 and the Binos M31, which was easily seen by eye. The 10 inch was calibratedand then tracked Neptune, which showed a lovely pale blue colour and just discernable disc. Vesta was the next target and bright in comparision with a discernable warm brown/orange colour. The last target was Unranus showing a much bigger disc and a clear green-blue (or blue-green) hue
1st OctoberGCSE Observing: The first clear evenming of the academic year saw DGR and NMA at the Dome with 2 H and 18 R astronomers who had an introduction to the Dome, asterisms and constellations and the ETX was used to view some Messier objects
28th SeptemberTotal lunar eclipse: CEB decided to go to the Dome between 3am and 4am to watch the Total lunar eclipse (having seen the last in April in Australia) It was most impressive by eye, though the Binos showed it well against the background stars. In fact the most impressive sight was when it first rose early evening and appeared huge a pink against the horizon
25th SeptemberFriend drinks: The 11th annual Friends drinks took place at the Dome under initially clear skies. A good number of Friends both old and new gathered in advance of the new Diary year
14th August'Family' visit: 4 descendents of Joseph Gurney Barclay visited the Dome. A Gt-Grandaughter and, from the States, a Gt-Gt-Grandaughter and 2 Gt-Gt-Gt Grandaughters
13th AugustPerseids meteor shower: A good group of Friends and past pupils gathered up at the Dome, joining JAG and CEB as the light faded. Setting Saturn was viewed in the ETX. Almost to order, at just before 10pm, we were treated to a super-bright -6 fireball, lighting up the sky like a flare and this was follwed shortly by another in the SW which left a long train in the sky which persisted for 20 seconds or so. In the first 20 minutes there were 6 fireballs giving green, pink, blue and yellow meteors. The display quietend down after that and encroaching high cloud probably stopped many meteor from bing seen. After 11.30pm the sky cleared again. In all 54 meteors were recorded
24th July to 4th August9th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics: CEB and Sandor Kruk (Oxford Astrophysics) led a team of 3 year 13 students (from schools around the UK) in the first UK entry to this Olympiad, which took place in Magelang, Central Java in Indonesia. Over 200 students competed, from 41 countries. The competition consited of 3 tough rounds; Observation, Theory and Data Analysis. The opening ceremony was at Borobudur temple and the closing ceremony at Prambanan. Excitingly, the team won 2 silver medals, coming 22nd and 30th overall. The UK was thus 9th in the medal table. The top three countries were Iran, India and Indonesia. The UK Team managed to come second to India in the Team competition
22nd JulySummer School visit: 21 visitors came up to the Dome on a clear evening. Stars were identified as they appeared in the dimming twilight. The Moon was viewed in Binos and then Saturn in ETX. The 10 inch then tracked Saturn which was well viewed with 4 to 5 moons depending on eyesight
15th JulyExternal lecture: CEB delivered the talk 'The oldest GOTO telescope in the World' to some 25 residents, the Warden, Steward and a Trustee of the Duchess of Somerset's Alms House in Froxfield
Summer School visit: 14 visitors from Week 1, including a family from near Bilbao and from Hong Kong, joined JAG and CEB at the Dome. The sky was largely cloudy, however gaps appeared and enabled the Summer Triangle, Arcturus, Antares and Spica to be seen along with the Saucepan and Polaris and Cassiopeia. Sevral satellites were spotted. The ETX was used to view Mizar and Alcor and split the binary Mizar A and B
28th JuneIOAA Training Camp: CEB and Sandor Kruk from Oxford Astrophysics spent the day in Oxford with the 3 pupils who are to compete at the IOAA in Indonesia at the end of the month (The first time a British Team has entered). The Pupils practiced questions and, using solar goggles and the ETX, were able to view the Sun, though there was only one pair of sunspots. In the warm evening, on Merton playing fields using the ETX, many objects were viewed and coordinates and angular seperations practiced, until the sky clouded over at midnight; including Venus' crescent phase, Jupiter and 3 moons, the Gibbous Moon and its main ray craters. Mizar and Alcor among other Doubles were split and also Mizar A and B seen
18th JuneExternal visit: 15 Pupils from Marlborough Malaysia and two teachers came up to the Dome with 2 ex-pupils from Waterford Kamhlabe United World College in Swaziland. A faint CZA was visible when we first reached the Dome (2nd in a week!) The Sun was then viewed in solar goggles and the with ETX and white light filter. The sky was too cloudy sadly for the H alpha filter
16th JuneExternal visit: A large group of local group of Ladies Who Latte came up to the Dome late afternoon. Though no Latte was provided they were greeted at 6.30pm by a clear sky and for the first time that I have seen, 3 solar atmospheric phenomena. Either side of the Sun were clear Parhelia (sundogs)or rainbow clouds, 11 degrees from the Sun at 9 and 3 o'clock. Joining them was a faint Parhelic circle of diameter 22 degrees. Most beutiful however was a clear Cicumzenithal arc (CZA)an inverted rainbow arc directly above the Sun. These all lasted for 15 minutes or so. The Sun was then viewed in solar goggles, Solarscope and then the ETX, which showed clearly the group 2367. The 10 inch was then used with the H alpha filter to view spot 2365 and its Plage. Very faint prominences were seen, however the sky had already become hazy
15th JuneExternal visit: 2 yr 12 pupils from Pate's Grammar School in Cheltenham visited the Dome at the start of a work experience week, where they are to assist in the putting together an exhibiton of astronomical images which will hopefully run early in 2016. The sky had rather clouded over but in bright breaks the Sun was viewed in solar goggles, the ETX (which clearly showed the large sunspot group 2367 with umbra and penumbra and then the 10 inch and H-alpha filter which showed some clear prominences and granulation
External lecture: CEB gave the lectue 'The oldest GOTO telescope in the World' to a large gathering of Chipping Norton Amateur Astronomy Group
13th MaySolar open day: 15 Friends and College staff gathered on a clear sunny afternoon. The Sun was veiwed in the Solarviewer which clearly showed the enormous sunspot group 2339 and 2345. The ETX showed excellent detail of the umbra and penumbra of the larger spots and clear striation in the penumbra. The main pair of spots were seen also to split into further pairs. Some 7 other spot groups were visible. The 10 inch viewed the Sun in H alpha and was focused on the lower limb where an enormous quiescent Hedge Prominence was seeen in the process of lifting of the surface. A great deal of detail was evident and the shape change perceptively over the 2 hours of observing
24th AprilNASA lesson: The top Remove Physics sets had a lesson with Dr Abell and were able to ask plenty of questions
23rd AprilNASA visit: Dr Paul Abell, lead scientist for small planetary bodies at Johnson Space Centre, Houston, came to the College for an outreach visit. He talked to Physicits and Astronomers about detecting, monitoring and intercepting asteroids and then gave an open talk on Asteroid Impact Threat and the Chelyabinsk Event in 2013
4th AprilTotal Lunar Eclipse: CEB and a family group in Gembrook, Victoria observed the eclipse until Totality (only 5 minutes or so) as the Moon became a dull red colour. It was the first time that the pair of eclipses 2 weeks apart had been seen by CEB
Good Friday 3rd AprilOutreach lecture: CEB gave the lecture 'The oldest GOTO telescope in the World' to a large and diverse audience at Mt Burnett observatory near Gembrook to the East of Melbourne. The talk was followed by Observing using the 18 inch Newtonian Relefctor (ex Monash University). Several new objects were seen, including the Omega Centaurus Globular and the Jewel Box Open cluster
1st AprilArchaeoastronomy meeting: CEB met the Nura Gili Indigenous Astronomy Group at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. This was followed by an exciting visit to rare petroglyphs north of Sydney in the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park
26th MarchSun-Earth lecture: The Rev. Dr Janneke Blokland gave the 12th annual lecture in the Ellis Theatre, 'Particles in the Spotlight', which was well attended by Friends and visitors
20th MarchPartial Solar Eclipse: Astronomers past and present and Friends started gathering at 8am under cloudy skies. A glimpse of sunlight but nothing for First Contact. Then around 8.45am the Sun appeared and could be located in the 10 inch (with solar filter!). The ETX and filter was in use and all watchers had solar goggles. NMA created an amazing projection box and in this and the 10 inch the large sunspot was visible as well as the rugged edge of the Moon itself (mountains and valleys). Cheers went up as the skies cleared. Collinders were put to use and multiple images projected as planned. At 9am the pupils and CEB departed to join the whole College community on the XV Ruby pitch. 100s watched as the eclipse drew to a maximum, leaving a smiley face, aerial photographs were taken. The observatory continued to operate till Last contact at 10.38.59 UT. An experience to remember!
5th MarchExternal vist: 20 pupils and 2 staff from the French exchange school near Versailles came up to the Dome. The afternoon sky was cloudy. All were briefed on the forthcoming eclipse and went away with solar goggles
26th FebruaryHouse visit: The last Shell visit took place with 9 pupils from IH coming up to the Dome. This was one of the best evening s this year and as well as a tour of major asterisms, the Moon was viewed in ETX and Pleiades in Binos. The ten inch tracked Jupiter ad gave a good image of the planet and 3 moons, 2 of which closed perceptively during the evening
Next House visit: September 2015
24th FebruaryHouse visit: 11 Shell pupils from C1 came up to the Dome. The sky was initially clear and enabled major asterisms to be pointed out. Jupiter was viewed in the 10 inch with 4 moons and clear equatorial bands. The sky then clouded over
Next House visit: Thursday 26th February (IH)
17th FebruaryExtra GCSE Observing: In a frantic last ditch attempt to finish Coursework observations, 2 Hundreds girls came up to complete star counts. This was done amid patches of cloud. Mars and Venus were clear in the West and Jupiter bright in the South East. A good ISS pass was viewed before they came up and a bright meteor seen in UMi
12th FebruaryHouse visit: 9 pupils (reduced by illness) from EL Shell came up to the Dome. There were some clear patches on arrival and Polaris, Jupitr and Orion were located. The clouds however closed in before any of the instruments could be used
Next House visit: Tuesday 24th February (C1)
3rd FebruaryGCSE Observing: 3 Hundreds and 1 Remove pupil came up to the Dome to complete coursework. The sky was bright with the Full Moon (and Jupiter only 5 degrees away) star counts and a constelation drawing were done
External visit: 10 students and a an accompanying adult from 4 Schools in China came up to the Dome in the cold and remnants of the morning snow
22nd JanuaryHouse visit: 12 Shell pupils from TU came up as temperatures dropped. The sky was clear though there was high cloud/mist. Pleiades were viewed in Binos and Jupiter and 3 moons seen in ETX and then in the 10 inch where some good detial on the planet's surface was seen
GCSE Observing: The Hundreds all came up to continue their star count coursework. The Seeing was better and there was no Moon but the light fog was a problem and soon started to render dimmer stars invisible. Comet Lovejoy was found in Aries but has noticeably faded
Next House visit: Thursday 12th February (EL)
19th JanuaryExtra GCSE observing: Period 6 was cancelled and an opportunity seized to get the Hundred astronomers to the Dome. Though Astronomical twilinght had not ended it was possible for each to get a pair of stellar density drawings done using the ETX and Carl Zeiss binos. At the end of the hour Comet Lovejoy was found in the Binos and for the first time its long Eastwards Ion tail was seen pointing towards the Pleiades
15th JanuaryHouse visit: 12 Shell pupils from BH came up to the Dome in a very chilly (with wind chill) 1 degree clear night. The Seeing was very poor and the sky bright with skyglow. Nevertheless Comet Lovejoy was easily found just below M45 (Pleiades) and viewed in Binos and M42 tracked in the 10 inch
Next House visit: Thursday 22nd January (TU)
GCSE observing: With a clear sky, Hundred astronomers were summoned to catch up much needed coursework drawing. On arrival at the Dome it had clouded over. One Remove drawing of Orion was done as the stars faded behind cloud
13th JanuaryHouse visit: 12 Shell pupils from LI came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: Thursday 15th January (BH)
10th JanuaryComet Lovejoy: Given an unusal clear night (though a moisture laden sky) the Dome opened in an attempt to find Comet Lovejoy which had just passed Perigee and was around 0.79 AU distant and peaking in magnitude at around +4 (though this is integrated across a large (0.3 degree) spread out Coma. Initially it was hard to find. As the sky darkened it was picked up by sweeping to the right of Orion and below Aldeberan with wide field Binos. It was then discernable by eye (with averted vision) Coordinates for the 10 inch proved useless due to the rapid motion and the Comet had to be acquired by eye. The 10 inch gave a very fuzzy image, though showed a brighted nucleus. The traking was not able to prevent the Comet going out of view and we were able to calculate a motion of some 0.1 degrees per hour by watching the background stars. The best view was gained using the new 8 inch (Smith) Newtonian which was both clear and bright and showed the slight greeninsh tinge. Altogether 15 or so gathered, including Staff and Friends and 3 L6 pupils also were attempting digital photography of the winter constellations rising over the Dome
8th JanuaryHouse visit: The first visit of 2015 took place with 12 Shell pupils from B1 coming up to the Dome. The sky, though clear in the late afternoon, had largely clouded over, though there were glimpses of the Pleiades cluster and then Orion at the end
Next House visit: Tuesday 13th (LI)
13th DecemberGeminid meteor watching: With temperatures falling to -4 and before the waning Gibbous Moon rose, groups of Staff, Friends, external visitors and families gathered from 8pm till 11.15pm under largely clear skies. Over 50 people took part and rates of Geminids climbed from 20 an hour to 30 then over 50. At the end there was a minute in which 8 were seen. In total over 159 were recorded and well over 160 seen. The meteors were fairly uniform with most at magnitude +1 but a few bright and unusual meteors were seen. The Binos allowed a good view of M42 (Pleiades) and the 10 inch tracked first M45 (Orion Nebula) and then Jupiter seen for the first time in the evening this autumn. Intially only 3 moons were visible but soon all four, unusually Io was the furthest out apparently. M31 was found by eye and Constellations identified
5th DecemberGCSE Observing: Period 6 was cancelled at the last minute as the sky cleared for the first time in months. 9 Remove and 3 Hundreds astronomers came up to the Dome with NMA and CEB. The Remove started their first mock List A Controlled Assessment drawings of Constellations and the 3 Hundreds started their List B observations doing star counts in (Sadr - gamma Cyg) and out (Megrez - delta UMa and Phad - gamma UMa)of the Galactic plane, using ETX, Zeiss binos and 10x50 Celestrons
4th DecemberHouse visit: 9 pupils from CO Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: Thursday 8th January
27th NovemberHouse visit: 10 pupils from PR Shell came up to the Dome. the sky was cloudy
Next house visit: Thursday 4th December (CO)
25th NovemberHouse visit: 11 pupils from C2 Shell came up to the Dome on a miserable wet night
Next House visit: Thursday 27th November (PR)
20th NovemberHouse visit: 11 Shell pupils and a House Tutor from C3 came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: Tuesday 25th November (C2)
11th NovemberHouse visit: 13 Shell pupils from MO came up to the Dome in heavy rain. Luckily the walk back was drier. The Dome could not be opened
Next House visit: Thursday 20th (C3)
6th NovemberHouse visit: 15 MM Shell and their U6 Head of Shell came up to the Dome in light drizzle. The sky was totally cloudy and orange with skyglow
Next House visit: Tuesday 11th November (MO)
21st OctoberOrionids: A very small group of Friends and 2 of the Security team braved falling temperatures and were rewarded by superb clearing skies. Probabaly the best this year. The Milky Way was prominent and M31 visible at its true extent of 3 degrees on the sky. M45 Pleiades were viewed in the Binos. The 10 inch viewed Mizar A and B with discernable different colours. Around 10 Orionids were seen altogether during the evening and a couple of bright sporadics
7th OctoberShell House visit: 12 pupils from NC came up to the Dome in falling temperatures and good clear, but very bright skies. The 99% Full Moon made all but the brightest objects invisible. The Moon and its Mare were viewed in Binos and ETX, with Tycho being particualrly prominent. The 10 inch was used to beutiofully resolve Mizar A and B the Binary system of 14 inch separation (some 400 AU). Most were able to see the different colours of Blue and Gold. A good meteor in UMa was also seen
GCSE Onbserving: Due to the timing and Full Moon only one Remove pupil came up to the Dome to join NMA and CEB. He was rewarded by the occurence (on time) of a very bright iridium flare. The Moon was again viewed and Mizar A and B in the 10 inch
Next House visit: Thursday 6th November (MM)
6th OctoberFriends Qand A: A select group of Friends gathered for a themed evening on the Rosetta mission. The aim was to be fully briefed in advance of the planned landing of Philae on 12th November
2nd OctoberShell House visit: The first visit of the academic year saw 12 pupils from SU Shell came up to the Dome. The Moon was viewed in Binos and the 10 inch, which also followed M13, but very little more than a blur was seen
GCSE Observing: 3 Remove astronomers came up despite slight mist and scattered cloud. The First Quarter Moon was viewed in Binos and the ETX and M13 (Globular in Hercules) in the 10 inch though no detail could be made out. The 10 inch then slewed to Neptune and then Uranus. Both planets showed a steady light but little colour could be seen
30th SeptemberGCSE observing: NMA took charge of the Dome and 5 Remove astronomers were able to see 'first light' through the new 8 inch Smith, which as expected showed M31 (Andromeda) very well
26th SeptemberFriends drinks: A very enjoyable 10th anniversary drinks was held at the Dome (for the first time in many years) The warm evening allowed a good group of both new and founding Friends to chat outside and then head in as the evening cooled. Two particular items were celebrated: a) The successful production of a crop of space-tomatoes, which have been dispersed among the Friends groups and interested College staff. We look forward to some of the seeds producing the next generation and b) This summer we passed the 250th GCSE astronomy pupil in the 17 years it has run at the College. With stats of over 50% A* grades, over 90% A*/A and 100% pass rate. For those that lingered Neptune was viewed, though the evening was not dark enough to allow real colour to be claimed
22nd SeptemberFriends Outer planets: As the Equinox approached a group of both new and retuning Friends gathered at the dome in the twilight. Autumn asterisms were identified and M31 viewed in Binos. Several satellites (including an Iridium flare at -3 magnitude) were seen and a couple of bright meteors. The ETX then viewed M31 and then M13 in Hercules. As the sky darkened, the 10 inch located Neptune and its steady light was readily identified. Colour estimates varied from grey-blue to lilac. Uranus was the final target and its disc showed colours estimated from turquoise to green-blue to grey-yellow. A successful start to the Friends events diary
18th SeptemberExternal Lecture: CEB gave the lecture 'Archaeoastronomy -The dawn of Science' to Andover Astronomical Society
16th SeptemberExternal visit: The observatory received an unexpected and very welcome donation from Mrs Vera Smith, who travelled from Kent with her husband to donate a fine brand new 8 inch Newtonian telescope. This motorised wide aperture instrument will be a super addition to the 'arsenal'
GCSE Observing: The first observing night of the year was held, with clearish skies (though high cloud) and poor seeing and a high level of skyglow in the South. Asterisms were identified by eye. Binos were used to view Mizar and Alcor and then Andromeda galaxy M31. The ETX viewed and split Mizar A and B. The 10 inch tracked the Great globular in Hercules, though the twilight meant the object was not very clear. 6 Remove astronomers attended
6th SeptemberShell Form visit: 12 pupils from CAC's Shell Form came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
11th AugustPerseids meteor shower: A small group of Friends came up on a chillier night and clouds cleared to attempt to spot some Persieds. The Full super-Moon made all but the brightest and northern sky meteors visible. In an hour and a half 7 Perseids, a couple at magnitude -2 were seen and two bright sporadics. The 10 inch viewed the edge of the 98 percent Moon showing good detail in limb craters
29th JulySummer School week 3: Some 30 guests joined CEB and JAG at the Dome. The sky was sadly cloudy, though annoyingly t cleared once all had left at 11.30pm
24th JulySummer School week 2: Some 35 guests joined CEB and JAG at the Dome on perhaps the warmest night in memory, even at 11.30pm. Scattered cloud interupted viewing but Mars was seen in the 10 inch with the ice-cap making one hemisphere brighter and the Saturn was viewed with Titan and one other moon fairly easily seen. The viewing was not ideal given the twilight and the warmth and hence poor Seeing. Several satellites were seen and the Milky Way was faintly visible
21st JuneSolstice observing: A small group of Friends and College staff gathered late on a superbly clear and warm evening. Though some whispy cloud closed in, the string of targets in the South afforded some firsts for those assembled. Mars was very bright and clearly showed it gibbous phase with 15 percent or so missing and clearly not spherical. A hint of dark features could also be believed in the top hemisphere. Saturn was very clear and showed some banding. The Cassini Division was clear and with Titan bright on one, side as the sky darkened, 4 more moons became visible. Rhea and Dione near the planet and harder to see Tethys and much further away from the planet Iapetus onthe opposire side to Titan. Vesta was viewed and, though only 1 second of arc, could be resolved as a disc. Ceres, though larger in actual diameter as the closest Dwarf Planets, is further and nearly 3 times dimmer and was barely resolved, though its image was steady and not starlike
15th MaySolar open day: A small group including an OM and family and some staff and family and Friends of the telescope attended the Dome and in, sunny pathces, were able to view the Sun through solar goggles, the solar scope (which showed 8 sunspot groups) and then in H-alpha using the 10 inch which showed a number of large quiescent prominences. The disc itself showed fine detail and large disturbed regions (light coloured plages) around spot 2060
6th MayPrep School evening: CEB held a Q and A evening 'To infinity and Beyond' for 60 scholarship form pupils at Windlesham House School in West Sussex
3rd AprilSun-Earth Day lecture: CEB gave the 12th S-E day lecture 'Close Encounters-Misunderstanding Comets' to a small audience of Friends and visitors
20th MarchTomatoSphere at Marlborough College: Following the launch (planting) of our 30 space tomato seeds, the first germination (two leaves) were recorded today. At the end of term a number of pairs of seeds (0ne control) will be placed with 'guardians' for the holidays. Read the story at http://www.marlboroughcollege.org/news/view-all/article/date/2014/03/canadian-space-agency-tomatosphere-project/
External visit: 17 L6 pupils and 2 teachers from Ecole Jules Verne (just south of Paris) came up to the Dome as part of their French Exchange visit. Sadly the evening was cloudy and wet
8th MarchNational Astronomy Week event: The evening was clear and mild. The NAW event was advertised widely on internet and radio and combined with the planned Friends 'Spring Sky' event brought visitors from a wide geographical area. Some 70 came up to the dome of all ages, some very little. Bright stars were identified. With RDMs help 2 ETX 105s were in operation, looking at Jupiter, the First Quarter Moon and Orion nebula. Binos looked at the Pleiades. The 10 inch initially viewed the Moon with a filter and showed super detail, especially near Cassini and Mt Piton being illuminated on the dark side of the Terminator. After Culmination, Jupiter was followed in the western sky and showed increasinglty more bands during the evening. Orange Io closed with the planet as we observed and went into Occultation at 10pm. Mars was seen to rise at 9.30pm and was viewed for the first time this year in the ETX
6th MarchHouse visit: The last House visit of the academic year took place with 12 Shell pupils from SU coming up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy and lit by the skyglow of the sports pitches and Rugby Club training lights
Next House visit will be in September
5th MarchNatioanl Astronomy Week event: CEB gave the last 2014 Astronomy for All lecture 'Close encounters- misunderstanding comets' to some 40 academics and visitors at Green Templeton College, Oxford
4th MarchGCSE Observing: RDM ran a final observation session for a group of Hundreds prior to the start of the Controlled Assessment Analysis
1st MarchExternal visit: 32 pupils accompanied by 3 teachers from St Francis School (years 5 to 7) came up to the Dome in two groups. The first, as the Sun set, watched first Jupiter then the stars come out in order of brightness. Despite the twilight, Jupiter was viewed well in the 10 inch and 4 moons and 4 cloud bands easily seen. The second group had a darker sky and saw a couple of satellites. Jupiter now showed 6 bands and orange Io was seen to close with Jupiter ready to pass behind the planet. The Pleiades were viewed in the Binos. By 8pm the sky had clouded over
Solar observing: The 10 inch viewed the Sun for the first time in a while and the plethora of sunspots was seen, including the active groups which have given rise to the recent flares
27th FebruaryHouse visit: 12 pupils from MM came up to the Dome. The sky was patchy and seeing poor but gaps in the clouds allowed viewing of Pleiades through Binos and the Jupiter was well seen with several cloud bands in the 10 inch. A satellite and bright meteor were also seen. Sadly the sky had clouded by 9pm and no Aurorae were visible
Next house visit: Thursday 6th March (SU)
13th FebruaryHouse visit: 11 pupils from C3 Shell accompanied by a House Tutor came up to the Dome. The temperature was falling and during the visit the sky briefly cleared. Though very bright, due to the Full Moon, they were able to observe Jupiter and its 4 moons in the ETX and M45 Pleiades in Binos. The 10 inch tracked M82 and SN2014J and though both galaxy and SN were very dim they could be made out reasonably well
Emergency GCSE Observing: 2 Hundreds pupils successfully finished List B observations before the cloud closed in again. One drawing SN2014J and the other doing stellar density counts
Next House visit: Thursday 27th (MM)
10th FebruaryEmergency GCSE observing: 17 Hundreds pupils came up to attempt to complete List B observations. The 10 inch tracked M82 and the supernova (which had visibly dimmed since last Sunday). Other targets were M45, M42. The Moon made condidtions rather bright and there was more moisture in the air. The sky was clear from 6.30pm but had clouded by 8.15pm
9th FebruaryEmergency GCSE observing: 16 Hundreds pupils seized the opportunity of a 90 minute break in the clouds with good clarity to finish coursework drawings. The Binos were used for M42 and the ETX for M45 and starcounts. Several pupils brought up their own cameras for Constellation photography. The waxing Gibbous Moon made the sky rather light and encroaching clouds increased the sense of urgency. A couple of bright meteors were seen including one in the 10 inch. The 10 inch tracked M82 and SN2014J, which was noticealby dimmer than 7 days ago. It still made a good target for the Messier drawers. By 7.45pm the sky was completely overcast
7th FebruaryExternal visit: 6 pupils and their accompanying teacher from 2 schools in the Peoples' Republic of China (Beijing No. 8 High School and WLSA: The High School attached to Fudan University) came up to the Dome on an unusually clear afternoon. The Sun was first viewed in solar goggles and then in the 10 inch with the white light filter. The huge sunspot group 1967 was easily seen
6th FebruaryHouse visit: 10 pupils from PR Shell came up to the Dome in the rain
Next House visit: Thursday 13th February (C3)
4th FebruaryHouse visit: 10 Shell pupils (IH) came up to the Dome in high winds and rain
Next House visit: Thursday 6th February (PR)
3rd FebruaryOpen evening: The weather forecast was right and by 7.30pm the clouds had closed in. Sadly the supernova and M82 were visible as the Dome was opened, but by the time a couple of College staff and children and a small group of new Friends had gathered it was totally cloudy and spitting with rain
2nd FebruarySN 2014J viewing: First NJB then a group of Friends came up to the Dome, given the very clear evening. M45 was viewed in Binos and Jupiter in ETX. The main focus however was to view the new supernova SN2014J in the 10 inch. M82 was clear and the supernova easy to identify. Its magnitude was estimated to be just brighter than +11
23rd JanuaryHouse visit: 7 pupils form LI Shell came up to the Dome. Sadly it was cloudy. An attempt was also made earlier in the evening to view the 2 day old supernova in M82 but the clouds closed in just too soon
Next house visit Tuesday February 4th (IH)
15th JanuaryHouse visit: 8 pupils from CO Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy, though frustratingly cleared in patches as they left
Next House visit: Thursday 23rd January (LI)
14th JanuaryHouse visit: The second visit by new L6th pupils, this time from CO, LI and PR took place and 21 pupils came up to the Dome. Sadly the sky was cloudy and indeed the night was miserable and damp but a profitable hour was spent learning about the Observatory
3rd JanuaryQuadrantids: For once the weather prediction was accurate and a 2.5 hour window in the awful weather gave clear skies, though with poor Seeing and at times 30% cloud with lightning lighting up the northern and southern horizons. 35 Quadrantids were seen by a group of 12 visitors; Friends and College families, including 5 children, from 6 yrs up. The setting crescent Moon was first viewed in Binos then Pleiades (M45). The ETX was used to view M42 Orion Nebula and then Jupiter and its 4 moons, with Io very orange and close to the main planet. The Milky Way and the northern cross (Cygnus) was unusually clear and Andromeda M31 easily seen by eye
28th DecemberExternal visit: A small group gathered to make the most of a clear and cold evening. With temperatures dropping below zero and no Moon or astrolights, the sky was very dark, though humidity made for non-perfect Seeing. Jupiter was viewed well in the 10 inch and low and high maginification. M31 was spotted easily by eye. The ETX was used for M42 then to split Mizar A and B. The Binos viewed M45. The 10 inch then split Castor easily in two but the third brightest of the multiple system was not visible. 5 meteors were seen at least 2 late Geminids
21st DecemberWinter Solstice: Despite high wind and cloud, a one hour window gave clear skies. Jupiter was tracked in the 10 inch and gave superb detail. Though the seeing was not perfect, 7 bands were clearly seen on the surface at x172 magnification. Different colour filters were also tried. The Pleiades were viewed in the Binos and M42, the Orion Nebula in the ETX
5th DecemberHouse visit: In the last visit of the term 11 pupils from C2 Shell came up to the Dome. Although there were clouds over 40% of the sky, the high wind meant there were clear patches. The Pleiades were viewed in the Binos and Jupiter and its 4 moons seen in the 10 inch
Next House visit: Tuesday 14th January (New L6 from CO/LI/PR
GCSE Observing: With patches coming and going the sky was remarkably still and gave access to some good observations by 7 pupils (Remove and Hundred) who came up to the Dome. M45 was drawn in Binos and some star counts were done. Constellation drawings of UMa, Cassiopeia and Orion were also done and all saw Jupiter well in the 10 inch
28th NovemberHouse visit: 10 pupils form C1 Shell came up to the Dome. Sadly the sky was cloudy
Next House visit: Thursday 5th December (C2)
21st NovemberHouse visit: 12 pupils from MO Shell came up to the Dome. The sky initially cloudy cleared, though the high moisture content made for a good deal of scattered moonlight as the Moon rose. M45, the Pleiades, were viewed in the Binos and the waning Moon in the ETX. The 10 inch viewed Jupiter and its 4 moons; IO visibly orange closest to the planet. The equatorial bands were clear
Next House visit: Thursday 28th November (C1)
19th NovemberGCSE Observing: A large number of remove and Hundred came up to the Dome. The cold tem,peratures had frozen out th moisture making for a good evening despite the near Full waning Moon. RDM , NMA and SDGR manned the observatory. The 10 inch tracked Jupiter and later when risen high enough M42
16th NovemberExternal visit: 20 Marlborough 2nd Beavers aged 6 to 8 and 1 cub accompanied by 8 adults came up to the Dome. Sadly the evening was cloudy. Some excellent questions and knowledge however were displayed by a comparatively young group
12th NovemberGCSE Observing: One of the busiest observing evenings in 10 years took place with 4 members of staff CEB, RDM, NMA and DGR supervising some 40 Hundred and Remove pupils. 2 other CR visitors also came up to see the dome in action. Many coursework observations took place. The Remove sat north of the dome and focused on constellation drawing, whilst the Hundred completed Messier drawings of Pleiades and M57. The ETX and Binos were used for star counts centered on Uma and Cygnus and Cassiopeia. Some circumpolar star trail images were also obtained. Several meteors were seen. By the end of the evening Jupiter was high enough for a first view this autumn in the 10 inch which showed two equatorial bands on the planet and all 4 Gallilean moons strung out to one side in order. The poor Seeing of the evening was clear as the planet was very hazy
New L6th House visit: Groups of some 18 new L6 pupils from SU and IH came up to the Dome. The evening was clear but high humidity and the 8 day old Moon made for a decent rather than perfect evening. The Moon was viewed in the ETX and M45 Pleiades in the Zeiss Binos. M57 Ring Nebula was then viewed well as a grey-green slighty wavy ring in the 10 inch
Next House visit: Thursday 21st (MO)
5th NovemberHouse visit: 11 Shell pupils from TU came up to the Dome. The night was cloudy with sporadic fireworks
Next House visit: Tuesday 12th November (New L6 from IH and SU)
31st OctoberHouse visit: 13 Shell pupils from EL came up to the Dome. The night was cloudy
Next House visit: Tuesday 5th November (TU)
15th OctoberObserving comet ISON: An attempt was made to catch a first glimpse of Comet ISON in the pre-dawn sky in Conjunction with Regulus and Mars. CEB opened the Dome at 4.30am after a night of clear sky, but by then the clouds had closed in
GCSE Observing: The first fully clear night for the Hundreds saw 9 pupils completing coursework. The 11 day old waxing gibbous Moon made the sky very bright and the level of humidity caused problems for all the small instruments. The evening opened with a superb pass of the ISS, directly overhead, though quickly disappearing into Earth's shadow. The solar panels were visible in the WW2 binos. Targets for the evening were Polaris for star trail photography, Cassiopeia and Uma for stellar density measurements and the 10 inch tracked M57 (Ring Nebula) which, despite the moonlight, showed good detail
12th OctoberExternal visit: 2nd Marlborough Cubs came up to the Dome in a group of 4 Adults and 22 cubs aged 8 to 10.5 yrs. Sadly the evening was cloudy and raining by the time the left
8th OctoberHouse visit: 9 pupils from BH Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: Thursday 31st October (EL)
7th OctoberFriends Q&A: A small group of Friends gathered for a Q&A session discussing SETI and the newly launched UK SETI centre and the set up of SETA (Search for Extra Terrestrial Artefacts) Clouds prevented any observing
3rd OctoberHouse visit: 12 pupils form NC Shell came up to the Dome. The evening was warm and largely clear at first. Autumn asterisms were identified by eye and then M13 the Great Globular in Hercules observed in the 10 inch. Several metoers and satellites were seen
Next House visit: Tuesday 8th October (BH)
GCSE Observing: 2 Hundred pupils started their List B Star Trails project; setting up cameras and tripods. The sky was rather cloudy with poor Seeing and much skyglow. The zenith and Milky Way were beutifully clear however. A bright flaring satelluites was seen in C assiopeia
26th SeptemberHouse visit: The first House visit of the academic year took place with 12 Shell pupils form B1 coming up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy, though clearing later but not in time for the GCSE Group
Next House visit: Thursday 3rd October (NC)
20th SeptemberFriends 9th annual drinks: Some 35 Friends gathered for the annual drinks and eats. A display of the 224 past MC GCSE Astronomers (86% A*-A), the Johnson Medal and the Space Tomatoes project was viewed
19th SeptemberGCSE observing evening: The first GCSE evening of the academic year (Remove only) got off to an excellent start with a lovely clear, relatively warm, if moonlit, evening. Both Remove groups came up to the Dome and CEB with DGR and NMA introduced them to working at the Dome. All had a brief tour of the autumn sky and observed the Full Harvest Moon in Binos and ETX. The 10 inch followed M13 (Great Globular in Hercules) which showed well despite the light sky. All pupils then practised drawing Uma
9th SeptemberObserving outer planets: The new observing year for the Friends group started well after cloud cleared and by 10pm left a superb clear sky. No astro lights interferred as the Sun set and the Summer Traingle and autumn marker Arcturus appeared. The 10 inch went straight to Neptune which appeared in the centre of the main eyepiece next to a very similar magnitude orange star. Neptune appeared bright and showed a slight light blue hue. The 10 inch was then pointed at Pluto, but the sky was too light. Uranus was the viewed low in the East and showed its slightly larger disc clearly along with a distinct blue-green colour. M31 and M13 were viewed by eye and M13 having been found in the ETX, many satellites were seen and 6 or so sporadic meteors
17th JulySummer School visit: Another large group of Summer Schools guests, with a family from Vienna and a guest from Hong Kong came up tot he Dome. The Moon was viewed in ETX and Binos and the stars spotted as they appeared from the twilight. 3 meteors were seen. Saturn was tracked in the 10 inch but only Titan was visible. The heat in the Dome and outside rendered the seeing poor
16th JulySummer School visit: A large number of Summer School guests from UK and overseas, young and old came up to the Dome. Inside the Dome was a sultry 28 degrees. Venus was spotted as the Sun set and stars as they cam out in order of brightness, Vega then Arcturus then Altair and Deneb. The ETX viewed the First Quarter Moon as did the Zeiss Binos. A satellite was seen and then when Saturn appeared the 10 inch viewed the planet and first Titan and then a second moon. The heat rendered the view less than perfect but a fine sight for the first time
19th JuneExternal visit: CEB welcomed a group of PA's to 7 College Council members to the Dome, accompanied by 2 College staff. The visit was brief but, with a moderately clear sunny sky, the 10 inch was used to view the Sun in H-alpha. Several sunspots and prominences were visible.
13th JuneExternal visit: J G Barclay's great-great grandson visited the Dome. The 10 inch was tracking the Sun in H alpha but sadly the sky was cloudy
5th JuneExternal visit: A BBC programme director visited the Dome to investigate the possibility of it being used later in the summer for a location. The sky was clear and we were able to view several large prominences in H-alpha using the 10 inch
17th MayOutreach lecture: CEB gave the talk 'Living in the atmosphere of the Sun' to a group from Swindon Stargazers in the Lawn Community Centre
15th MayPublic solar viewing: The unpredictable cloud and rain meant that this event was effectively cancelled. However a brief gap in clouds allowed a couple of Friends to come up to the Dome. The 10 inch tracked the Sun and through the white-light filter the Photosphere was seen to be peppred with a large number and variety of mature spots and active regions, the largest spanning well over 10 Earth diameters
1st MayRemove GCSE Astronomy Solar observing: CEB accompanied by RDM and DGR brought up the whole Remove year group in their lesson to view the Sun. The sky was cloudless and the Sun peppered with sunspots. The Sun was viewed in solar goggles, solarscopes, the ETX and the 10 inch which was set up with the H-alpha filter. One of the spot groups was large enough to be made out in the goggles. In H-alpha two huge loop prominences were clearly visible
22nd AprilBrain Tumour Trust charity evening: 5 visitors came to the Dome having bid for an evening at the observatory in aid of the Brain Tumour Trust
22nd AprilBrain Tumour Trust charity evening: 5 visitors came to the Dome having bid for an evening at the observatory in aid of the Brain Tumour Trust
25th MarchFriends outing to JET and MAST: A successful morning visit took place with JAG leading a bus load of 17 Friends to the new Fusion facility near Culham
21st MarchSun-Earth Day lecture: The 11th annual Lecture was given by Ian Ridpath entitled 'The year of the Aurora' and attended by an apprecisative audience of Friends and visitors
13th MarchMarlborough Malaysia visit: 27 pupils from Malaysia on exchage visit came up to the Dome in 2 groups, 12 girls then 15 boys, each group accompanied by an Old Marlburian. The temperature was falling and a 2 day old Moon showed its slender crescent in a fine sunset. Though we tried to locate the naked-eye comet PanSTARRSs it was too close to the horizon, though a couple of younger eyes thought they saw it. A couple of meteors were seen and the Moon viewed in binos and then the Pleiades. M31 the Andromeda galaxy was found by eye. The ETX was used for the Moon and then Jupiter and 3 of the 4 Galillean moons. The 10 inch tracked Jupiter and 4 or 5 storm bands could be made out on the disc
5th MarchSchool Lecture: CEB delivered the lecture 'No telescope required to a mixed audience of year 11 to 13 pupils at Alleyn's School
4th MarchLecture: CEB delivered the 24th Green Templeton College Astronomy for All lecture 'Martian Origins' in the Oxford Astrophysics departemnt. A good audience of some 60 visitors attended
28th FebruaryHouse visit: On the last visit this winter, 11 Shell pupils from C3 came up to the Dome. Though high cloud was drifting across the sky, Polaris was identified by eye and then the 10 inch used to view Jupiter looking 'criket ball-like' with its equatorial zones as the seams. The 4 Galilean moons were nicely grouped to one side of the planet
Next House visit in September
21st FebruaryHouse visit: 11 Shell pupils from TU came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House vist: 28th February (C3)
15th FebruaryAsteroid spotting: A group of some 25 Friends and visitors gathered on an initisally clear evening to try to spot Asteroid 2012 DA14. The clouds however rapidly closed in but not before the earlier arrivials had a chance to see M42 the Orion Nebula in the ETX and M45 Pleiades in Binos. The 10 inch tracked Jupiter throughout the evening and the positions of the 3 inner Gallilean moons were seen to change perceptively as Europa prepared to transit
7th FebruaryExternal visit: The second group of 13 year 4 pupils from Preshute Primary School came up to the Dome. Sadly the sky was cloudy, though Jupiter was just visible
6th FebruaryGCSE Observing: A group of desperate GCSE Hundred astronomers joined RDM for an extraordinary Wednesday session at the Dome, as a last chance for clear data gathering presented itself before the analysis of Coursework begins after half-term. The ETX and Binos were used to get drawings of M42 and M45 and star counts were also completed as well as a circumpolar trail photograph
5th FebruaryExternal visit: 12 pupils from year 4 at Preshute Primary School accompanied by their Head Mistress and 2 members of staff came up tot eh Dome. Sadly the sky was cloudy
House visit: 11 Shell pupils from C1 and the Director of Co-Curriculum came up to the Dome and were lucky enough to have a clear patch of sky between fast moving clouds. A tour of some bight stars was followed by glimpses of Jupiter and its 4 moons in the ETX and then M45, the Pleiades, in the Binos
Next House vist: 21st February (TU)
4th FebruaryFriends evening: The high winds meant clear patches came and went quickly. The sky was 95% cloudy and the temperatures felt low due to wind chill. 2 current Friends and another visitor and daughter (in year 6) came up to chance their luck. The pole star was found from the Pointers, Cassiopeia identified and then M45 viewed in Binos. The ETX viewed Jupiter and its moons. It was too cloudy for the 10inch
29th JanuaryHouse visit: 12 pupils from C2 Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next house visit: Tuesday 5th February (C1)
24th JanuaryHouse visit: 14 Shell from MO and a House Tutor came up to the dome on foot (snow still making the track unsuitable). The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: Tuesday 29th January (C2)
17th JanuaryHouse visit: 14 Shell from EL were joined by 2 Shell from NC and came up to the dome as light snow started falling. Though very scenic, this was not conducive for astronomy
Next House visit: Thursday 24th January (MO)
15th JanuaryHouse visit: 11 pupils from SU Shell accompanied by a House Tutor and his family atended the Dome on a cold and excellent night. The 4 day old waxing crescent Moon was viewed in Binos and M42 the Great nebula in orion in the ETX. The 10 inch tracked Jupiter, which at a high elevation/altitude, showed superb detail and colour, browns and greys in the storm bands
Next House visit: Thursday 17th (EL)
GCSE Observing: A small number of Hundred and larger cohort of Remove came up in cold (-3) clear conditions to complete Controlled Analysis observations. Cygnus and Casseopeia were drawn. the ETX viewed M42 and M31 and the Binos M45. The 10 inch gave a super view of M42 and was then turned to the Eskimo Nebila in Gemini. Andromeda (M31) was found by eye easily
14th JanuaryMarlborough Stargazing - Friends bring your own Binos evening:The first Friends gathering of 2013 took place and the sky was clear! (at least for 90 minutes) In between clouds and light rain then snow fluries a small group of Friends gathered. The sky was very still and excellent Seeing. Several different pairs of binoculars were tested out on Jupiter and M42 in Orion. The ETX viewed the 3-day Moon, which a lovely sunlit peak on the Northern rim. Jupiter and 4 moons was then viewed in the ETX and also the 10 inch. The view in the main telescope was superb with between 4 to 6 of the bands being visible with noticeable different colours. Europa 'closed' with the planet as the evening progressed, preparing to make a transit (unfortunatley not till 10pm) M42 was then viewed in the ETX and then in the 10 inch, first at 80x and then 140x. The Trapezium was exellent and the nebulocity really 3D. 2 bright meteors were seen and all were happy that at last some observing had taken place
12th JanuaryStargazing Oxford: As part of the BBC Stargazing Live events CEB took part in an outreach day in Oxford running the mobile planetarium, which provided 3 shows an hour for 7 hours via a team of presenters. CEB also gave a flash talk on 'No telescope required - naked eye astronomy' and the final event of the day a head to head debate on Alien life exisitng in our galaxy. Some 1100 visitors of all ages attended the event run by Oxford Astrophysics Department
10th JanuaryHouse visit: The first visit of 2013 saw 9 Shell pupils from PR come up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: Tuesday 15th January (SU)
6th DecemberHouse visit: 13 members of MM Shell came up to the Dome for the last House visit of the term. Unfortunately it was cloudy
Next House visit: Thursday 10th January (PR)
4th DecemberGCSE Observing: The first moonless clear nightof the term with falling temperatures brought another hoard to the Dome to join CEB, RDM and DGR. Unfortunately the seeing was poor and some cloud and high moisture made for less than perfect conditions. However, 50 pupils came up to draw constellations and Messier objects, do star counts and just look through the 10 inch. The ETX viewed M42 and then did star counts. The Zeiss Binos were used for M45. The 10 inch first viewed Jupiter then the brightest asteroid Vesta and then, making a very interesting comparison, the larger but dimmer Ceres, ex-asteroid and now the closest minor planet; visibly yellowish and just disc-like. The Eskimo nebula NGC 2392 was then drawn but was poor given the poor seeing, though the nebula surrounding the white dwarf was visible with averted vision. 2 meteors were seen in Uma
29th NovemberHouse visit: 11 pupils from NC Shell came up to the Dome in Full moonlight and falling temperatures. The Summer triangle, Plough and Casseiopeia were identified and the Jupiter viewed through first the ETX then the 10 inch. The equatorial storm bands were very clear and the 4 moons with Io noticeably orange
House visit 2: 11 pupils form B1 Shell came up to the Dome as the temperature fell to 4 degrees and repeated the earlier observations
GCSE Observing evening: The largest GCSE observing evening in the years the GCSE has been running here. 55 pupils from Hundred (dong List B) and Remove doing a Constellation drawing practice List A. Projects ranged from drawing Cygnus and Orion and Casseiopeia to circumpolar star trails, stellar density counts in and out of the Galactic plane with the ETX and Messier object drawings. The Pleiades were drawn in Binos and M42 in the 10 inch, which earlier viewed Jupiter. RDM, CEB and DGR who ran the evening were joined also by two other staff members. Somehow all got one if not two or even three drawings done despite the very bright waning Gibbous Moon (only one day off Full) and temperatures reaching -1 by 10pm
22nd NovemberHouse visit: 8 Shell pupils from LI came up to the Dome in driving wind and rain
Next House visit: 29th November (NC Studies then B1 in prep)
17th NovemberLeonids meteor shower: An inauspicious evening with a copious clouds and a few clear patches and temperature of 8 degrees turned by 9pm into the best clear night this autumn, with temperatures falling to 1 degree. 4 optimistic Friends and a colleague from the College came up to the dome. The 10 inch tracked Jupiter and 4 moons. Orange Io was then seen to go into occultation behind the planet. M45 Pleiades, h and chi Persei and M31 Andromeda galaxy were identified by eye along with Fomalhaut. Phone aps also enabled the location of Neptune and Uranus to be found. Castor was split into 2 in the 10 inch after the asteroid Vesta had been seen as a yellowish disc in the 10 inch. In a period of 30 minutes 8 Leonid meteors were seen. 2 in Ursa Minor were bright at -2 magnitude
15th NovemberHouse visit: 11 Shell pupils from BH came up to the newly redecorated and re-roofed Dome. The sky was unfortunately cloudy
Next House visit: 22nd November (LI). NC had to be postponed due to the works be incomplete
26th OctoberFriends Double Stars: Despite a cold, clear forecast the clouds remained. Briefly showing a lunar aureole. 3 new Friends came up hopeful to the Dome and picked their way among stored instruments
22nd October onDome painting and internal repairs. External flat roof work: College work started on the Dome to repair damp and water damage and peeling paintwork
8th OctoberFriends Q&A: A small group of Friends gathered in the Dome for a Q&A session on Mars and its exploration, both past and future 4th October Shell House visit: 10 pupils from IH came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: 1st November (NC)
28th SeptemberSixth Form lecture: CEB gave the lecture 'Archaeoastronomy - the Dawn of Science' to 175 6th Form pupils at Berkhamsted School
27th SeptemberShell House visit: 10 pupils from CO Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was clear though still in twilight. Stars appeared as the sky darkened and Arcturus and Vega identified. Later the Summer Triangle and The Saucepan were seen and Polaris found and Mizar and Alcor viewed by eye. The 94% waxing gibbous Moon made for a very bright sky and was viewed in Binos and ETX. The 10 inch tracked M13 (the Great Globular in Hercules) but this was invisible given the bright sky. An Iridium flare satellite was also seen
Next House visit: 4th October (IH)
GCSE (Remove) Observing: The first GCSE evening of the season saw 35 Remove pupils at the Dome as the cloud cover roled in. All were inrtroduced to the observing details needed and many were able to make a drawing of the 2 degree diameter Lunar Aureole
21st SeptemberFriends annual drinks: Some 35 Friends of the Telescope agathered as usual near the Autumn Equinox to celebrate the 8th anniversary of the group and the milestone of the 200th successful College GCSE Astronomy candidate
8th SeptemberShropshire Cambridge Society annual Lecture: CEB delivered the lecture 'Archaeoastronomy - the dawn of Science' to some 70 Oxbridge alumni and Darwin Society pupils at Shrewsbury School
12th AugustPerseid viewing: The sky was basically cloudy. One Friend turned up hopefully. A super ISS pass was seen at magnitude -3.4, before the sky disappeared
25th JulySummer School week 1: 32 guests (!) met at the Porters Lodge and made their way at sunset to the Dome. This huge group consisted of all ages and a spread of nationalities. The near First Quarter Moon was viewed in Binos and the ETX and then stars identified as they appeared. The 10 inch viewed Saturn and all had a couple of chances to view the planet and Titan. Rhea was barely discernable. The Milky Way was clear by 11pm and M31 again located. Mizar A and B were seen by the last guest in the ETX
24th JulySummer School week 1: 9 Summer School guests came up to the Dome as the Sun set on a perfect warm, still, clear evening. The 4 day old Moon was excellent in the Binos and then ETX. Arturus then the Summer Triangle appeared and then Saturn. In the 10 inch Saturn showed its rings but no gaps or surface detail, the twilight was bright and indeed the Dome at 28 degrees caused its own seeing. However Titan and Rhea were visible. As the sky darken and attempt was made to see the Chinese Space Station Tiangong, but again the twilight and trees did not allow this. A polar satellite was however seen. The Milky Way was visible by 11pm and M31 (Andromeda) located as a very faint blur
25th JuneSolar observing: A damp Dome was opened to air and the ETX used to view a rather blank Sun (just one sunspot group visible). The 10inch was used with the H-alpha filter to view some small prominences and some good detail of granulation and disturbance near the sunspot group
Past astronomer visit: It was good to welcome back one of the original GCSE class of 1998 to see the restored telescope and refurbished Dome. Sadly the sky had largely clouded over
French exchange visit: 19 pupils and 2 staff from the French Exchange came up to the Dome for a talk and tour. Sadly the sky remained totally cloudy
9th JuneTeachers' workshop: CEB gave the talk 'Venus' legacy' and ran practical workshops for a group of some 15 teachers in conjunction with APPEAL-3 hosted by John Adams Institute, Oxford Physics and CERN
6th JuneVenus transit: 14 absurdly optimistic Friends and visitors came up to the Dome for sunrise. Cloud covered the sky, but just before 5.30am the Sun popped out in a small gap in cloud, which coincided with a break in the tree-line and 5 of those present were able to see the 'black dot' nearing 3rd contact through the ETX. The NASA website was projected in the Dome for all to watch the transit live from Hawaii. After the transit the 10inch viewed the impressive array of sunspots will cloud closed the session at 6.30am
3rd JuneVenus Tranit 2012 outreach activity: CEB ran an activity for families at Green Templeton College Oxford 'GTC does longitude' with participants 7yrs and up
28th MayVenus Transit 2012 outreach lecture: CEB gave to lecture 'Just a black dot?' in the Martin Wood lecture theatre at the Clarendon laboratory, Oxford University to an audience of some 160 visitors (aged 10 up)
11th AprilExternal lecture: CEB gave the talk 'Archaeoastronomy - the dawn of Science' to some 35 members of Cranbrook and District Science and Astronomy Society
26th MarchFriends outing: 17 Friends joined CEB for an excellent visit to LOFAR, the new Radio telescope at Chilbolton. The Tour and talk was arrnged through Oxford Astrophysics and we were looked after by 2 Post Grads from the Department
23rd MarchOutreach lecture: CEB gave the talk 'Archaeoastronomy - the dawn of science' to some 60 members of Bristol Astronomical Society
22nd MarchSun-Earth day lecture: CEB gave the 10th Sun-Earth Day lecture 'Finding other Earths - the success of exoplanets searches' to some 35 Friends and visitors in the Ellis Theatre
20th MarchSpring Sky observing: As the Sun set due west, Venus then Jupiter appeared in the only gap in cloud. The 10 inch viewed Venus for the first time in a while and showed its half-illuminated phase as it approaches Greatest Eastern Elongation (GEE). The clouds quickly closed in and the evening was abandonned
15th MarchLecture: CEB delivered the talk 'The oldest GOTO telescope in the World' to a group of some 30 members of Andover Astronomical Society
1st MarchHouse visit: The last House visit of the academic year took place as 10 pupils form B1 Shell came up to the Dome. Though there was a good deal of moisture and the temprature was mild, the sky was clear and enabled Jupiter and 3 moons to be seen in the ETX and the First Quarter Moon in the binos, with good shadows on the Terminator. The 10 inch turned for the first time to Mars as it approaches Opposition. At 90x and 170x it showed the Northern ice-cap clearly and some darker markings were visible in the central disc
GCSE Observing: 4 Hundreds astronomers came up as the cloud closed in. Just a couple of gaps allowed 2 stellar density measurements and some poor drawings of M42 to take place
House visit: 9 pupils from LI Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: Thursday 1st March (B1)
Outreach lecture: CEB gave the talk 'Archaeoastronomy - the dawn of Science' to some 25 members of Swindon Stargazers astronomical society
Astronomy for All lecture: CEB gave the first of the 2012 series 'Finding other Earths' to a diverse audience at Green Templeton College Oxford
GCSE Observing: Despite the bright light of the Full Snow Moon and slight high haze (giving poor seeing) 3 Remove and 11 Hundred pupils came up to the Dome to do final Controlled Assessemnt observations. The extremely low temperature (-4 outside the Dome) meant that drawings were done quickly and efficiently. Binos were used for M45 and Stellar Density counts and the ETX for M42. The 10 inch, for a change, tracked Jupiter and 4 moons. Mars was bright and viewed in the ETX.
School visit: 11 year 11 pupils (all doing GCSE Astronomy) and 2 staff from Wootton Bassett and a Primary School teacher came up to the Dome. Unfortunately the evening was milder and completely foggy
GCSE Observing evening: Despite the Waxing Gibbous Moon, there were no Astro pitch lights and the extreme dry cold made for an excellent observing night. In below-zero temperatures outside the Dome and zero within, 41 pupils engaged in franetic activity. Binos were used for stellar density counts and Lunar feature drawings. M44 Beehive and M45 Pleiades and H and Chi Persei represented the Open Clusters. M42 was viewed and drawn in the 10 inch, though having crosssed the Meridian, the telescope had to be reversed for the latter part of the evening. Remove set up chairs behind the Dome and completed Constellation drawings
House visit: 11 pupils from SU Shell ran up to the Dome to keep warm. They were able to have a tour of the bright objects in the sky, identifying Venus and Jupiter and then viewed M44 cluster in Binos and Jupiter with its 4 moons in order strung out in a line to the side. The 10 inch gave a super view of the Orion nebula
Next House visit: Thursday 23rd February (LI)
School visit: 7 yr13 Physics pupils and 2 staff from Wootton Bassett School came to the Dome. High cloud increased during the visit as the temperature fell to 1 degree in the Dome. Jupiter was viewed in the ETX and showed Ganymede only, though Callisto emerged from behind the disc during the evening. Io and Europe were in Occultation. M45 was viewded in the Binos. The 10 inch tracked M42 and then moved to first split Castor and then view the centre of M44 Praesepe cluster
House visit: 11 pupils from C1 Shell came up to the Dome. Arriving in rain the sky then cleared to reveal the setting crescent Moon and Venus. Jupiter and 4 moons was viewed in the ETX and M45 Pleiades in Binos. The 10 inch showed a good view of the Trapezium in M42
Next House visit: Thursday 2nd February (SU)
GCSE Observing: A couple of Remove pupils and a handful of Hundred came up to the Dome as the skies cleared to complete coursework. Binos were used for M45 drawing and Algol observations. The ETX viewed M31 though the moisture levels were a problem. The 10 inch allowed good drawing of M42, though as it had crossded the Meridian time was limited. M44 the Beehive cluster was then drawn. Binos were also used for star counts parallel to and perpendicular to the MW plane. Several meteors were seen including a lovely -3 fireball passing straight through the Square of Pegasus
House visit: Unusually for a Monday, 10 pupils from C2 Shell came up to the Dome. The night was clear though the cloud to the North prevented any possible sightings of the Aurora seen elsewhere in England. The ETX looked at Jupiter and the Binos at M45. The 10 which tracked M42 Orion nebula
Next House visit: Thursday 26th January (C1)
House visit: 8 pupils from PR Shell came up to the Dome. Arriving in rain, the sky cleared enough during the hour to see Pleiades through Binos, Jupiter and 3 moons in the ETX. Cloud and rain then descended again before the 10 inch could be used
Next House visit: Monday 23rd January (C2)
House visit: 12 Shell from MM came up to the Dome. Some stars were visible though the humidity was high and skyglow rendered limiting magnitude only around 1.5 and seeing was IV+, nevertheless, M45 Pleiades were viewed in Binos. The 10 inch briefly viewed Castor and split it into 2 only
Next House visit: Thursday 19th January (PR)
Stargazing Live event: The planned 'Bring your own Binos' evening for once hit perfect weather. The temperature had dropped, but de-icer stopped the problems of Dome freezing found last Saturday. The sky was clear, if affected by the astro lights in the South. A group of some 25 Friends and visitors, including staff from the College and several who had not been into the Dome, including several young. A reporter from BBC Wiltshire joined in from the start and as well as recording Dome sounds was able to interview many present. The ETX, 4 inch, and 4 sets of Binos on tripods were in action. Targets included Jupiter and its moons, Pleiades, M31 Andromeda, M44 Beehive Cluster and M42 Orion nebula. The 10 inch gave superb views of M42 with great detail of the gas cloud bright green-grey and the Trapezium then turned to the Eskimo Nebula. Though the seeing was not perfect, the white dwarf and the shell of expanding gas could readily be seen in this planetray nebula. Lastly the 10 inch turned to Castor and split the star into 3, possibly 4 components of the multiple system. Though many visitors had gone the last few were treated to the first sighting this winter of Mars rising bright red in the East. A very successful evening for all
GCSE Observing: A special visit was made to the Dome for a piece of GCSE Conrolled Assessment. The sky was clear for just long enough to catch Europa in transit (very hard to discern) and Ganymede emrging from Occultation in both ETX and 10 inch. The temperature had fallen quickly in the afternoon and the Dome had to be chipped free using a hammer and de-icer
House visit: 14 Shell from MO came up to the Dome. Though high cloud increased skyglow, there was plenty to see. Pleiades in Binos, Jupiter and 4 moons in ETX and M42 in the 10 inch
Next House visit: Tuesday 17th January (MM)
GCSE Observing: With Hundred doing mock revision it was a good evening for Remove to continue Constellation drawing. 12 pupils came up and many drawings were made, particularly of Orion and Casseopeia. 2 bright meteors were seen and the waning Gibbous Moon has a fine aureole as it rose at 9pm
Quadrantid meteor shower: A small group of Friends and College staff gathered at the Dome on a cold clear but moonlit evening. The waxing gibbous Moon was viewed in Binos and Jupiter and its 4 moons in the ETX. The 10 inch gave a super view of the Orion Nebula M42. In the 90 minutes before clouds came in from the NW 5 metors were seen, one a sporadic. Not a great shower, but were were some 8 hours before the predicted peak. One however was a -5 magnitude bright green fireball io the NW which broke up as it descended, this made the evening
Geminid meteor shower: A small group of Friends and 3 visitors came up to the Dome. Prior to moonrise at 20.50 UT, the sky was largely clear and from 19.30 UT to 21.00 UT some 50 Geminid meteors were seen. Many slow and bright (to -3) and some with a blueish tinge. Jupiter and 4 moons was also viewed in the ETX, M45 in Binos and the 10 inch gave the best clear view of M42 in Orion this winter
House visit: 11 pupils from TU came up to the Dome. Jupiter and the waxing Gibbous Moon were visible though the rest of the sky was obscured by high cloud. The Moon was viewed in Binos and the ETX, showing Tycho's rays well. Later in the evening the first 30 degree diameter lunar halo of the winter was seen
Next House visit: Thursday 12th Januray (MO)
House visit: 11 pupils from New Court Shell accompanied by RDM came up to the Dome on a cloudy and wet evening
Next House visit: Thursday 8th December (TU)
7th Blackett science lecture: On a predicatbly clear night, Professor Mike Edmunds gave a wonderfully cross-curricula lecture 'The Antikythera Mechanism' to an audience of some 120 pupils and Friends of the Telescope
House visit: 14 members of EL Shell came up to the Dome. Bar a brief glimpse of Jupiter, the sky was cloudy
Next House visit: Thursday 1st December (NC)
GCSE Observing: Despite high moisture levels and fog to South (illuminated by Astro lights) 24 pupils from both Hundred and Remove joined CEB and JAG at the Dome. Many Controlled Assessmemt obsevations were completed. Constellations were drawn from the darker area behind the Observatory with Cygnus well positioned in West and Cassiopeia directly overhead. The ETX was used for Stellar Density measurements. Binos were used for Algol magnitude and drawing Pleiades. The 10 inch intially watched as Io appeared from occultation by Jupiter springing from 23rd magnitude to 5th magnitude at 21.29UT and then brightening slowly as it exited the planet's shadow. For those remaining at the Dome the Great Nebula in Orion M42 waa then viewed in detail for the first time this year
House visit: C2 Shell visit was postponed given the late return from rugby matches
Next House visit Thursday 24th November (EL)
Leonids meteor shower and GCSE Observing: Large numbers of Remove and Hundred astronomers came up to the Dome, seizing the opportunity iof a rare clear night. Dozens of observations were made. Clouds started to clear and by 22.00 UT the sky was clear. Binos were used for M45 Pleiades and star density counts and Algol magnitude assement. The ETX viewed M31 Andromeda and was used for stellar density counts. The 10 inch tracked Jupiter which showed super storm band detail and its 4 nicely aligned moons. The central 0.5 degrees of M31 was also viewed but its high altitude and due south position made this unfavourable. 7 Friends joined in a growing number of meteor watchers and in total 21 were seen in 1.5 hours. None very bright but enough to keep watchers happy. A large group of NC Shell also came up earlier in the evening
Friends Q and A: A small group of Friends gathered under cloudy skies for an evening discussing 'Exoplanets'
House visit: 9 pupils from CO Shell came up to the Dome accompanied by the Second Master. Sadly the sky was cloudy
GCSE Observing: After an inauspicious start with poor seeing, high cloud cover and orange skyglow, as the temperature fell to 8 degrees and below, the sky cleared and gave a good evening for Controlled Assessment observations. The ETX was used for stellar densities and Jupiter and 4 moons. Binos focussed on Algol in a continuing series of light curve estimations. Others viewed M31 and M45. The 10 inch was first moved to M92 (for the first time I can remember) a prety Globular Cluster in Hercules often overlooked due to its proximity to M13. We then viewed M57 the Ring Planetary Nebula and then M13 the Great Globular itself
External visit: 11 cubs from Great Bedwyn pack (years 4 to 6) came up to the Dome with 3 leaders. Though the evening had been clear in patches, the clouds rolled in and prevented any observing
House visit: 11 pupils from BH Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was initially clear and the Moon was viewed in Binos and Jupiter and 3 moons just rising in the ETX
GCSE Observing: 3 Hundreds and 6 Remove pupils came up the Dome, but the sky was already mainly cloudy and little could be done
Next House visit: Thursday 3rd November (CO)
External visit: 11 cubs from Great Bedwyn pack (years 4 to 6) came up to the Dome with 3 leaders. Though the evening had been clear, the clouds rolled in and prevented any observing
House visit: The best night perhaps this year. A cloudless, moonless evening at a balmy 20 degrees saw the first Shell House visit of the year. 11 pupils from C3 came up to the Dome for a tour of the sky. They were able to view the brightest stars appear and then saw M13 the Great Globular in the 10 inch. Several meteors and satellites were also seen and bright yellow Jupiter rose quickly in the East as they left
Next House visit: 6th October (BH)
GCSE Observing: 40 pupils from Remove and Hundred siezed the opportunity to complete Controlled Assessment observations. Unlike Tuesday, the moisture levels were low and thus the 'seeing' much better. The Milky Way was clear and the lack of fogging on the outside instruments made an ideal night for stellar density measurments. All binos and telescopes were in use. M31 was drawn in binos and Jupiter and 3 moons viewed. The 10 inch allowed superb views of M13 and then switched to M57, the Ring Nebula in Lyra. Some colour could be seen in the ring and the white dwarf was visible in the centre. When all Messier drawings were complete, the 10 inch turned to Jupiter to view the Io transit. 6 bands were visible on the planets and Io though without shadow, due to the approaching opposition was clearly seen against the Southern main band
GCSE Observing: A cloudless, moonless, 17 degree warm night saw a milestone at the Dome as 42 pupils came up join CEB and NMA to Observe with 23 doing Controlled Assessment observations. The busiest night ever! Floodlight and high humidity made for poor skies to South but there was plenty of scope for drawings. The ETX was used for Stellar Density fields both in and perpendicular to the Milky Way plane. The Carl Zeiss Binos focussed on M31. Other Binos were used for Stellar Density. The 4 inch Meade viewed Jupiter, though the ETX gave a much better view at the end of the night. The 10 inch tracked M13 which became clearer as the night wore on. Several meteors were seen and an Iridium flare
Friends 7th Anniversary: 45 Friends, including many founding Friends attended the annual drinks party in the Marlburian
Remove GCSE observing: The first night iof the year was clear! with 32 pupils coming up to the Dome at the start of the Astronomy GCSE Course. With JAG and RDM, CEB gave them tours of major asterisms. Jupiter and 3 moons was viewed in the ETX and also Mizar A and B. The Binos were used on various targets. Andromeda M31 and the Milky Way were clear. Several satellites and meteors were seen. The 10 inch was calibrated and used first to view M101 (barely visible) and the supernova and then much more spectacularly M13 the Great Globular in Hercules
Form Lecture: CEB delivered the lecture 'Archaeoastronomy our 7000 year heritage' to the Shell year group and Form teachers
Maintenance session: The electricity was restored to the Dome and the telescope and electronics checked and found to be in working order
Observing evening: A small group of visitors gathered on a clear, warm and bright moonlit night, as the Dome was a opened after the summer light evenings to find there was no electricity. The 10 inch could not therefore be used. Binos and the ETX were used to attempt to see M101 and supernova 2011fe without success. However, Jupiter and 3 moons, M31 and the nearly full moon were well viewed in the ETX
27th July,p> Summer School week 3: 25 visitors came up to the dome on the best evening this year. The temperature was falling but still warm. The seeing was excellent and cloud absent until midnight. Bright stars were watched as they appeared, Arcturus, Vega, Deneb and Altair then Antares in the South. Several meteors including a fireball (with exploding head) were seen mainly heading E to W in Ursa Major. Some possibly early Perseids. Several satellites were seen. The ten inch was calibrated and viewed M13 (the Great Globular in Hercules) which became more and more beutiful as the twilight ended. Many of the stars both in the main cluster and outer regions could be resolved
Summer School week 2: Cloud and earlier rain put off many who had signed down for the visit. 12 who braved the cool evening were however rewarded with clearing skies. The Summer Triangle appeared as the Sun set and Arcturus was viewed in Binos and the ETX and the 10 inch. Sadly Saturn was too low for the bank of cloud. Antares and Scorpio were viewed above the tree tops. For those still at the Dome after 23.30 BST the rising Waning Gibbous Moon was a beutiful orange and its Eastern Mare well viewed with the Appennines near the Terminator seen well in the ETX
Summer School week 1: 25 visitors came up to the Dome in the twilight. Bar a couple of sightings of bright stars Vega and Arcturus, the clouds prevented further viewing
School visit: For the first time a group of 8 pupils (who had commenced the GCSE) from John Bentley School in Calne, came to the Dome with 3 staff for a talk and tour. Solar observing was planned, but clouds meant that only a very brief glimpse of the Sun through solar goggles was possible right at the end of the visit.
School lecture: CEB gave the talk 'Stars, planets and wormholes' to 100 pupils in year 10 at St Helen's and St Katherine's girls' school in Abingdon
Public Solar viewing: Though the afternoon event was cancelled due to cloud, 4 visitors turned up and were rewarded by a 45 minute break in clouds. The Sun was viewed in solar goggles, the solarscope and ETX where 3 spots were clearly visible. Tje 10 inch was used with the H alpha filter, but the cloud cover was too great to allow any more than a fuzzy view of the limb
Shell Physics solar observing: 18 pupils from Shell set 6 came up to the Dome and were able to opbserve the photosphere through solar goggles, in the Solarscope and the ETX. The chromosphere was viewed in the 10 inch in H-alpha and a large erruptive prominence was visible
GCSE Astronomy Solar Observing: 20 Remove astronomers and NMA came up to the Dome to observe the Sun through solar goggles, in the solarscope, through the ETX in white light and in H-alpha through the 10 inch. Two sunspot groups were clearly visible and in H-alpha a large prominence was seen, though high cloud meant the details were somewhat obscured
Friends Solar afternoon: Some 25 Friends of the Telescope from age 8yrs up visited the Dome under a perfectly clear sky (between light cloud. The 2 sunspot groups were easily seen in the ETX. The 10 inch was set up with the H-alpha filter and was able to see excellent detail of a huge Hedge Prominence lifting off the limb. Over the period of observation, the magnetic loops' shape changed noticeably
Secondary School visit: For the first time since the Dome has been refubished, a small group of 6 pupils (years 7 to 9) from St John's Community College came up to the Dome with the group organiser, a teacher and a technician. Earlier in the afternoon, despite high cloud, the Sun had been viewed in the ETX in white light and the sunspots groups in the Solar viewre. The 10 inch was used with the H alpha filter to observe 2 eruptive prominences on the eastern limb. The cloud unfortunatley thickened and by the time of the visit no Solar observaing was possible
Sun-Earth day lecture: The talk 'Ancient Astronomies - The importance of the prehistoric sky' was delivered by CEB, appropriately on the Vernal Equinox itself, to an audience of 40 Friends and visitors in the Ellis Theatre at Marlborough College
House visit: The last Shell House visit of the academic year took place as 12 pupils from C3 came up to the Dome. Though the sky had clear patches before they came, it clouded over
Next House visit: September
News - 15th March
Tour of Spring Sky: The clouds had closed in by 7pm, 2 Friends however came to visit the Dome for the first time and a CR member also called in
House visit: C3 Shell House visit was postponed till Thursday 17th
GCSE Observing: 2 Remove pupils and 2 Hundreds pupils came up to the Dome and observed M45 Pleiades and M44 Beehive in Binoculars and for the first evening sighting this year Saturn, Titan and one inner moon in the 10 inch. The rings are more favourable as expected and a shadow could be seen on the main planet
House visit: 12 pupils form BH Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit (last of the academic year): Thursday 16th February (C3)
Emergency GCSE observing: 6 Hundreds pupils joined RDM at the Dome in an effort to rescue their GCSE Coursework
GCSE Observing: 7 Hundreds came up to finish coursework. The Full Moon and high moisture levels made for a very bright sky. The Binos were used for M45 and the 15x70 for M42 and the Sword. Star fields were done in the ETX and also details of M42. For the first time in a long time, the 10 inch tracked M81 (Bode's Nebula) a fine face-on spiral just NE of the Pointers in the Plough. Given the high light levels, once fully dark adapted, the central nucleus and outer spiral region were apparent, at least in peripheral vision
Emergency GCSE observing: 15 Hundred astronomers joined RDM and CEB at the Dome for an hour's break in the weather fronts to catch clear patches hoping to complete List B coursework. All 5 binos were in action and the ETX, looking at M45 and M42 and star fields in Orion, Cassiopeia and Ursa Major. The 10 inch tracked M44 Praesaepe or the Beehive open cluster. The cloud closed in before completion leaving more drawings to be done
House visit: 12 Shell pupils from EL came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: Thursday 3rd March (BH)
MC Family event: With RDM, CEB hosted 80 visitors of whom 42 were children aged 2 to 14 yrs at the Dome in 3 groups from 5.30pm till 9.15pm. The Dome lecture room capacity was pushed to 31, with children on laps. Though the day had been cloudy, some breaks allowed each group to see something. All 5 sets of Binos were in use to view the 11% Moon and then Jupiter and Pleiades. The ETX was also used on Jupiter. Some of the middle group did manage to see M42 the Great Nebula in Orion through the 10 inch.
House visit: 10 Shell pupils from CO came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: Thursday 10th February (EL)
GCSE observing: Despite thick fog in Town, the Dome had a clear sky above 15 degrees altitude. 12 Hundred pupils and 1 Remove came up to do some frantic coursework drawings. Binoculars were used for M45 and Orion's sword with M42. The ETX was used for star density fields. M31 was attempted in Binos but the scattered light was really too much. The 10 inch observed M42 and the Trapezium in good detail until Orion was passed the Meridien. Though not a coursework target, the 10 inch then moved to the Eskimo Planetary Nebula in Gemini
House visit: 11 pupils from B1 Shell came upto the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: 3rd February (CO)
20th JanuaryHouse visit: 11 pupils from C2 Shell came up to the Dome under clear skies. By the time we observed, the sky was largely cloudy and only Jupiter and 3 moons were visible in the ETX
Next House visit: 27th January (B1)
Academy visit: The first astronomy visit by pupils from Swindon Academy took place on a clear moonlit night. As temperatues fell, 15 pupils and 3 staff from the Academy came up to the Dome to join CEB and then also NMA. The 99% Moon dominated the sky, but cloudless skies allowed M45 Pleiades to be viewed in Binos and the Moon in low power Binos. The ETX was used for Jupiter which had 2 moons easily visible. The 10 inch tracked M42 (Orion Nebula) and the Trapezium in the midst of grey-green nebulosity was a easy target
GCSE observing: 6 Remove and 1 Hundred pupil came up to complete unaided coureswork, with drawings of Orion, Uma and Cassiopeia. A stellar density comparison was also made in the ETX beteen a 1 degree field in Cassiopeia and similar in Uma. 2 adults from the College art department came up at the end of the evening
House visit: The first visit of the Term saw 11 Shell pupils from NC come up to the Dome. It was cloudy and wet
Next House visit: 20th January (C2)
4th January 2011
Partial Solar eclipse: Having chipped the Dome free of ice, 5 Friends joined CEB as the Sun rose into a cloudy sky. Using Solar goggles and the ETX and 10 inch with solar filters, a minute or so of observation was possible at 0830 UT. The top part of the crescent rose above the cloud and in the 10 inch, the rough edge of the Moon was apparent13th December Geminid watch: 11 Remove and 1 Hundreds pupils joined CEB at the Dome. 34 Geminids were seen in 1 hour before the fog closed in. The First Quarter Moon and the Astro light pollution restricted viewing
GCSE Observing: 13 Remove and 1 Hundreds pupil joined NMA and RDM at the Dome is 'warmer' temperatures. Coursework drawings were done and the ETX used to view M31 and M42. Several Geminids were seen
Remove GCSE Astronomy lesson: For the first time, the whole yeargroup of 38 pupils came up to the Dome with NMA and RDM in fiercely low temperatures. The Dome showed -4 degrees and with windchill, drawings were hard to complete. Tripods of the Binos stuck to the ground and the Dome was frozen. Neverthelass many pieces of Constellation drawing were completed by eye. A bright fireball (early Geminid) made for a fine sight. The sky was not perfect Seeing but the lack of Moon or astropitch light pollution made for the best Milky Way viewing of the term
GCSE evening: In preparation for GCSE observing the 10 inch was tetsed and the moisture problem in the lenses has been resolved. At -1 in the Dome, Castor was spilt in two, but further splitting was not possible due to high cloud. The Eskimo nebula was barely visible. The Binos viewed a very clear M45 early in the evening and the ETX Jupiter with unusually Callisto nearest to the planet and Io and Europa in conjunction and visibly separating over 20 minutes. By 8.30pm the sky had largely clouded over. Luckily a gap occurred around 9pm which allowed 6 Hundreds pupils to come up and complete some coursework between clouds and severe skyglow. M45 was drawn in Binos and M42 in 10 inch. A stellar density field was also drawn centered on zeta Tau
Solar Observing: The large spot 1131 (type Hhx) was seen clearly with its penumbra
2nd DecemberHouse visit: the last House visit of the term took place will 14 Shell pupils from MO coming up to the Dome. No minibus access was possible due to ice and snow and the temperatures were well below freezing. Despite a light fog and high sky glow, it was possible to view M45 Pleiades in Binos and Jupiter and 4 moons (Io just on the planets limb) with the ETX
Next house visit in January
2010 Blackett Science Lecture: A large audience fo some 140 gathered to hear Professor Mike Lockwood FRS give the talk 'The lowest solar minimum for a century: what does it mean for future space weather and for Earth's climate?'
External visit: 17 cubs from 4th newbury pack, accompanied by leaders and also 2 leaders from 3rd newbury pack came to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
House visit: 11 Shell pupils from TU came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy but clearing in patches. The sky cleared but too late for GCSE observing
Next House visit: Thursday 2nd December (MO)
External visit: 18 cubs from yrs 1 to 5 from the 2nd Marlborough pack came up to the Dome accompanied by leaders and parents. The evening was clear at first though very damp and the cloud soon covered the sky. Te waning 95% Moon was viewed in the new Helios 10x50 Binos. Pleiades M42 were viewed well in the Zeiss Binos ands Jupiter and 4 moons in the ETX.
Leonid watch and GCSE observing: A patch in cloud allowed 4 Friends and 18 pupils to join CEB and RDM at the Dome for some decent 2 hours of viewing. 4 Hundreds completed pieces of List B coursework, drawing M45 in Binos and doing star density counts in fields centered on Deneb and Dubhe in ETX. Jupiter and 4 moons and then Uranus were viewed in Binos and ETX. The waxing Moon was viewed in Binos. 14 Remove pupils did List A drawings of constellations including Cassiopeia, Ursa Major, Cygnus, Perseus and Lyra. 2 Leonids were seen
Open evening: A small group of visitors gathered to observe Jupiter and the First Quarter Moon in the ETX and Binos and then Mizar A and B. 6 meteors were seen, including 2 early Leonids. The moisture level was very high and encroaching fog made for poor viewing
House visit: 15 Shell pupils fom MM came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: 25th November (TU)
Friends Q&A: 9 Friends attended the Dome for a discussion of the setting up of a Distance Scale. Before the session the sky was clear and Jupiter was viewd in ETX and new 17x50 Binos. The 10 inch moved to Eta Cassiopeia and showed the binary pair superbly (The brighter is a yellow dwarf (G class) similar to the Sun and the two are seperated by 71 AU). The bright orange of the dimmer orange (K class) dwarf companion was clear
House visit: 11 Shell pupils from PR came up to the Dome and luckily clouds parted to give good views of Jupiter in Binos and ETX and then an excellent view in good seeing of the planet and 4 moons in the 10 inch
Next House visit: 11th November (MM)
Private visit: A group of 4 including 2 young chidren visited th Dome. 3 pieces of GCSE coursework (constellation drawings) were also completed) The sky was largely cloudy by mid evening though the waning Full Moon was visible in Binos and ETX and Jupiter and 4 moons in the 10 inch
Public open evening: 20 visitors aged 5 yrs up visited the Dome, many for the first time. The sky was largely cloudy but the bright Hunter's Moon shone through the gaps as did Jupiter. The Moon and its bright ray craters was viewed in Binos and Jupiter and 4 moons in the ETX and 10 inch. The seeing was very good and at x140 several storm bands were seen on the planet's disc
External visit: 23 cubs aged 7 to 10 yrs from 1st Aldbourne Scout pack accompanied by 5 pack leaders and 3 parents came to the Dome as the temperatures fell and skies cleared after heavy rain. The binos were used to view the waxing Gibbous Moon and the ETX Jupiter and 3 moons. The 10 inch tracked Jupiter and, though the seeing was poor and the image too bubbly to see the storm bands, Io was visibly orange as it emerged from behind the planet
GCSE Observing night: Sadly only a small number of pupils came up to the Dome (perhaps put off by the rain earlier) 5 Remove pupils continued Constellation coursework drawing and one Hundred pupil drew a Stellar Density field centerd on an M-type giant perpendicular to the Milky Way. With NMA and an IB student we were able to view 3 Messier Objects in the opposite sky to the Moon; first M13 (the Great Globular in Hercules) which was well resolved and then M57 the Ring Nebula, which again showed good detail for such a bright night and then M27 the Dumbell Nebula, which was barely discernable. Attempts to locate 103P Hartely 2, which should have been lined up with 'the kids' of Capella failed
House visit: 11 Shell pupils form C1 came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit 4th November (PR)
GCSE Observing: The first clear GCSE night saw a maelstrom of coursework activity at the Dome, supervised by CEB and NMA. 29 members of the new Remove came up to draw Constellations and 4 members of the Hundred to attempt List B observations in the instruments. The Moon had set and only the Astros and high cloud to the south spoilt a night of good (II) seeing. The 10 inch tracked Jupiter and 4 moons. The ETX was used for M31 the Andromeda galaxy and earlier 103P Comet Hartley 2. The Binos viewed M45 Pleiades. The 4 inch Cooke split Mizar A and B. Even at 11 degrees, some of the pupils were too cold to stay long, others settled in chairs and drew up to 3 Constellations. 6 meteors were seen, two brighter than Jupiter
Friends Q&A: 8 Friends met for a non-weather dependent Q&A session on 'Astrology friend or foe', of course this meant the sky was clear. Advantage was taken of the fine evening and first Jupiter with 3 moons visible and with its single main storm band, then Uranus (whose colour was rather pale in the skyglow to the south) were viewed. With coordinates off the internet Comet Hartley 2 was located and centred in the 10 inch. The nucleus was clearly brighter but the Coma was very pale grey and only obvious to keen sight with averted vision. Apparantly at magnitude 4.9, this is integrated brightness so you would be pushd to see it unaided, but the brightening bods well for closest approach. The comet was then found about 1 degree to the south-west of eta Persei and was perhaps clearer in the wider field
House visit: 11 Shell pupils from SU walked up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: 14th October (C1)
Friends 6th Anniversary: 50 Friends and partners gathered at the Marlburian for the annual drinks but on this occsassion to also celebrate the 150th anniversary of the building in 1860 of the Barclay Equatorial. It was particualrly good to welcome both the great-grandson and great-great grandson of Joseph Barclay, the original owner. Peter Hingley the Royal Astronomical Society Librarian also attended
House visit: The first Shell House visit of the year saw 10 pupils from LI at the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: 7th October (SU)
Prep School lecture: CEB gave the lecture 'Stars, planets and wormholes' to some 50 yr 8 pupils, parents and staff at the Hall School
Lecture: CEB gave the lecture 'Astronomy at the Radcliffe Observatory' in Green-Templeton College Oxford to some 50 Alumni as part of the University's Alumni week-end
External visit: 12 members of Abingdon Astronomical Society came to the Dome. High cloud made for poor detail, but the Moon and Jupiter and its moons were viewed in the Binos and ETX. Jupiter was then viewed in the 10 inch and bright orange Io was seen at first contact as it then proceeded to transit across the disc. The single main cloud band of Jupiter was clear but cloud closed in before the shadow was visible. Uranus was then seen as a clear disc and showed its light blue-green colour in clearer patches of sky. Neptune was viewed last but its dark blue was only visible very briefly
Perseid observing: 21 visitors aged 10 and up (including a couple from the Netherlands) joined CEB, JAG and RDM at the Dome. At first with 80% cloud cover, which prevented Venus or any of the bright stars from being seen, there seemed little hope. But just after 10pm the sky cleared to give a superb, in fact ideal observing panarama. Rates rose from one every few minutes to 3 or 4 a minute around 11pm. In total 155 Persieds were seen in 2 hours and 11 sporadics. Certainly with no Moon or interference from the Astro pitch lights, this proved the most prolific shower observed for many years
Meteor observing: CEB joined JAG and 3 friends for 2 hours of observing. 15 meteors were seen (13 Perseids, several of -1). The 10 inch observed Eta Cassiopeia and the ETX Jupiter
Meteor observing: JAG and NMA saw 5 early Perseids (one of -5). Also 5 satellites and observed Jupiter in the ETX
Summer School week 3: 13 residents joined JAG and CEB at the Dome. Apart from glimpses of Arcturus and Vega the sky remained cloudy
Summer School week 3: 15 residents joined JAG and CEB at the Dome on a clear summer night. Low cloud in the West prevented all but Venus among the planets on show. Stars were identified as they appeared and then the ETX was used to split Mizar A and B. The 10 inch viewed Eta Cassiopeia a lovely close binary system just oiver 19 light years away. The brighter star is a yellow dwarf similar to the Sun and its companion a much cooler orang dwarf. Several satellites and 3 early Perseids were seen, the brightest perhaps mag. -1
Summer School week 2: 2 Tutors and 10 residents camde up to the Dome. Sadly the cloud prevented all but a few stars (Arcturus and the Summer Triangle) from being seen
Summer School week 2: 18 residents joinded CEB and JAG at the Dome on a sultry evening. The Thunder Moon rose Full and yellow among the clouds and showed a nice straw coloured Aureole. Otherwise clouds prevented viewing, though Arcturus and the 3 main stars of the Summer Triangle did find gaps
Summer School week 1: 20 residents joined CEB and JAG at the Dome on a perfect still summer evening. Some cloud affected observing but many objects were seen. Bright stars were identified as they appeared including red Antares in Scorpio (though rather lost in the Moon's glare) Arcturus and Spica, Vega and the Summer Triangle and later Capella in the North. The ETX viewed the waxing Gibbous Moon and the Binos the non-spherical Venus. Sadly Saturn and Mars had set before the twilight allowed them to appear. The 10 inch was used as it got dark to view a very close Double (HIP81319) in Hercules. A polar satellite and a lovely orange sporadic meteor, perhaps mag. -4 in Cassiopeia, made the evening
Summer School week 1: 18 residents of Summer School came up to the Dome for a talk and tour. Sadly the sky was overcast
Summer Sky: 20 Friends of all ages gathered on a perfect midsummer night. As the Sun set Venus' phase was viewed in the ETX and the Moon in the 10 inch. The Alpine Valley and Mont Blanc were particularly clear with the mountain cast a 100km long clear shadow. As the sky darkened stars and Constellations were identified and with Saturn, Mars and Venus the arc of the ecliptic (plane of the Solar System) was obvious. The curved handle of the 'saucepan' led down to orange Arturus and then blue Spica in Virgo. Antares and Scorpio was bright red and twinkling in the South. Several satellites were seen as they disappeared in to the Earth's shadow. The 10 inch then viewed Saturn and Titan with clear rings and a shadow and one band on the surface. Titan was visible clearly from the start and Dione and Rhea appeared later. Mars showed no detail in the 10 inch. Lastly we viewed yellow Vesta as a obvious disk. Attempts to view comet McNaught were thwarted by cloud and twilight to North. No Notilucent Clouds appeared and we packed up after midnight as temperatures fell
GCSE revision: A mamouth 4.5 hour revision session took place all afternoon with 18 of the 20 pupils and JAG, prior to the exam on 18th
External visit: A family from Oxfordshire came down on a sunny Summer evening. As the Sun went down the Moon was viewed in Binos and ETX and then the 10 inch showing superb detail on the Terminator and detail in the steep wall of Copernicus. Before it was visible by eye, Saturn was viewed in the 10 inch and the ring shadow and surface bands were clear. Titan and then another moon appeared as the sky darkened. Venus was first out by eye then was viewed in its gibbous phase. The 10 inch then viewed Mars, which showed a slighly brighter edge where the ice cap should be
Solar Observing: 19 pupils from Shell set 6 and their teacher came up to the Dome. Sadly, bar fleeting glimpses, the Sun stayed behind cloud
Public Solar viewing: After a cloudy midday the sky slowly cleared and eventually gave excellent views of the Sun. The Photosphere was viewed in solar goggles, solarscope via projection and via a white light filter on the ETX. The 10 inch and h-alpha filter showed a series of prominences on the NW limb with quite good detail and unusual shapesM
Solar Observing: 18 pupils and their teacher from Shell set 3 came up to the Dome. Sadly it was overcast. A demonstration of the solar instruments was given and a talk on 'The Sun -our star'
Friends Solar viewing: Despite some high cloud, 12 Friends came to the Dome to view the blank photosphere in goggles and then the ETX. The H alpha filter was used on the 10 inch and showed superb detail in a large quiescent prominence on the Eastern limb. The magnetic field line patterns changed over the hour of observation
Solar Observing: 20 pupils and their teacher from Shell set 1 came up to the Dome and as yesterday, viewed the Sun through all the available filters. In the 10 inch, the prominence seen yesterday had lifted off the surface as a 'hedge' prominence
Shell observatory visit: 10 pupils form PR Shell came up to the Dome (the last visit of the year, postponed from March) as the Sun set. The Moon was viewed in the ETX and Venus in Binos. Mars and Saturn were identified by eye and then Saturn seen in the 10 inch. The rings still basically edge on allowed easy identification of 4 moons
Solar Observing: 12 pupils and their teacher from Shell (yr 9) set 9 came up to the Dome. In a clear blue sky the Sun was viewed through goggles, then projected and then in the white light filtered ETX. No spots were visible, though limb darkening was very evident in the telescope. The 10 inch with H alpha filter showed one clear large prominence on the NE limb, which changed perceptably in shape over 2 hours
Diamond Light Source (DLS) visit: A group of 18 Friends, including 4 pupils (yrs 9 to 11), visited the UK's new synchrotron facility at Rutherford laboratory and were given an excellent talk, tour and lunch
Sun-Earth lecture: The 8th annual NASA sponsored lecture 'Impact Earth - The threat of asteroid collision' was given to an audience of Friends and visitors in the Ellis Theatre
External School visit: 9 pupils from Year 8 and their teacher from Wootton Bassett School came up to the Dome. The high cloud and skyglow prevented extensive observing but Mars was viewed in the ETX and then (showing some shading and hint of the ice-cap) in the 10 inch
House visit: The last Shell visit of the term took place in a lucky short clear spell as the temperature fell. 10 pupils from LI cme up to the Dome and assisted by JAG we had naked-eye tours of the Spring Sky, Arcturus and Saturn rising in the East. the Pleiades were viewed in Binos and Mizar A and B in the ETX. The 10 inch tracked Mars and though the disc was rather even in colour, the ice cap showed up as a brighter dot
Next House visit: Thursday April 22nd (PR)
External visit: 21 cubs aged 8 to 10yrs from Marlborough 2nd Scouts and 5 adults came up to the Dome on the clearest evening since the New Year. After a tour of the sky by eye, identifying Mars, Sirius, Polaris, Aldeberan, Pleiades etc, we looked at Pleiades in the Binos and the Orion nebula, showing super nebula shapes in the ETX. The 10inch looked at Mars at x172 and though very bright, some surface detail could be seen and the ice cap was seen by many
GCSE observing: The last coursework drawings were done of Pleiades in binos and Mizar A and B in ETX and Mars in 10inch. Once these were complete we were joined by 2 of the security staff and the 10inch turned to the asteroid Vesta; at magnitude nearly +6, not visible by eye, but easily located in the centre of the sickle of Leo. In the 40mm eyepiece is was clearly not twinkling and showed a hint of yellow/orange. Saturn was also viewed with its rings now slightly tilted for the first time this year with Titan to the West. Artcturus, the Spring marker, was also seen rising in the East for the first time
House visit: 11 pupils from SU Shell walked up to the Dome. It was cloudy, wet and thoroughly unpleasant
Next House visit: Thursday 11th March (LI)
External visit: 18 cubs (yrs 3 to 5) from 1st Ramsbury pack visited the dome with 6 adults. Sadly the sky was cloudy
House visit: 11 Shell pupils from C1 came up to the Dome. Sadly it was cloudy
Next House visit: Thursday 26th February (SU)
French Exchange visit: 15 students from Lysee Jaques Monod and 3 teachers visited the Dome in the afternoon. The Sun was visible in solar goggles and behind cloud in the 10 inch. In the clear gaps the new Cycle 24 sunspot group 1043 was seen
Public lecture: CEB gave the lecture 'Impact Earth - The threat of asteroid collisions' at Green Templeton College in Oxford to a full house of visitors and academics as part of the annual lecture series 'Astronomy for All'
House visit: For the first time this year minibus access was possible and allowed 10 pupils (depleted by illness) from MM Shell to attend the Dome. The sky was clouded over, but the Dome was free from ice
Next House visit: Thursday 4th February (C1)
House visit: 10 Shell pupils from TU again came up on foot through the snow. The temperature was above freezing and the Dome had un-iced but not only was no sky visible but the Dome itself was hard enough to locate in thick fog
Next House visit: Thursday 21st (MM)
House visit: The first House visit of 2010 saw 13 pupils from MO Shell (and JAG) come up to the Dome on foot through compacted snow. Low cloud gave a bright orange glow to the sky and the Dome itself was firmly iced up with several inches around the rim
Next House visit: Thursday 14th January (TU)
Quadrantid viewing: The Dome was opened at sunset having been chipped free of ice. A group of 16 Friends of all ages gathered in falling temperatures to spot meteors. As feet froze and temepratures dropped below -4, even without windchill, 29 Quadrantids were seen, mainly to the SW as the radiant was very low in N. Only 4 were seen before 18.00UT and only 4 after 19.00UT giving a well defined vieiwing time. Most were of magnitude +2 to -1 at brightest. Viweing ended after 3 hours as the Moon rose following Mars in the NE
Geminid watching: A large group of some 30 visitors came up to the Dome to view Geminids. Sadly the only clear patch occurred from 19.30 till 20.15 UT, during which some 8 Geminids and 2 sporadics were seen. After that the cloud closed in. 2 more Geminids were seen, one behind quite thick cloud. The watch ended at 22.30UT and all departed to listen to the 'Spaceweather radio' radar 'pings' instead
House visit: 12 Shell pupils fom NC came up to the Dome. The sky was largely clear but the high moisture content made for poor seeing. The Pleiades were viewed in the Binos and Betelgeuse in the ETX. The 10 inch split Castor into 2 of its main components. 4 early Geminids were seen in the evening, the brigtest 0 magnitude
Next House visit: Tuesday 12th January 2010(MO)
GCSE Observing evening: Despite the largely clear sky, only 2 Remove came up to draw constellations. Castor was also seen in the 10 inch and then M42 the Orion nebula. Mars was seen for the first time this winter as a clear red disc in the ETX
Junior School visit: 12 pupils from years 3 and 4 from St Peter's Junior School and 2 pupils from Preshute Primary came up to the Dome with 4 parents and a teacher on a foul night for a talk and tour. Sadly no telescope viewing was possible
Prep School visit: 12 year 8 pupils and their teacher from Cheam School came up to the Dome. Sadly there was too much cloud to observe all but Jupiter, Gemini and the Summer triangle by eye
News - 3rd December
Night of the great fireball!. House visit: 12 pupils from C2 Shell came up to the Dome on the coldest night of the term with temperatures in the Dome at 2 degrees. The 96% waning gibbous Moon made for a light sky but it was otherwise clear. After dark adaption, the group were having a tour of the sky when all were able to witness a superb fireball passing from Pisces into Aquarius in SSW at around 30 degrees altitude. Estimates varied up to -10 magnitude and the head appeared to be perhaps 0.2 degrees across, bright white and green with a tail which broke up into some 8 or so bright orange pieces. In total it lasted some 4 seconds and spanned 30 degrees on the sky. 3 other meteors of around 0 to +1 magnitude were seen in the ensuing 15 minutes all in the same genral direction, perhaps associated. It is not impossible to trace them back to Gemini, though they would make very early Geminids. The Pleiades were viewed in Binos and the Moon in the ETX. Jupiter and 3 moons (Callisto in transit) was viewed at low altitude until it disappeared in cloud
Next house vsit: Thursday December 10th (NC)
GCSE Observing evening: Some 8 pupils Remove and Hundred joined RDM and CEB at the Dome. 3 more meteors were seen again in the SW travelling away from the Moon and Gemini. Remove drew constellations and Hundred drew M45 in Binos and Tycho in the ETX and attempted M57(Ring nebuial in Lyra) in the 10 inch, though it proved too dim in moonlight
5th Blackett science lecture: Some 120 Friends and pupils and College staff gathered to hear Dr Roberto Trotta of Imperial College, London give an excellent lecture on 'The anthropic principle and the origin of the Universe'
GCSE observing evening: 6 Hundred and 3 Remove joined CEB and RDM at the Dome. The sky was covering over with high cloud during the evening but a nice Lunar halo and aureole was drawn and also Cassiopeia and Orion. The Pleiades were also drawn in the Binos and the 10inch viewed first Jupiter and then the waxig gibbous Moon. Copernicus was well illuminated and also particularly Bullialdus which showed its clear central peaks
Primary School visit: 24 visitors, both parents and children (from years 3 to 7) from Bedwyn School came up to the Dome for a tour and talk. Sadly the sky was cloudy
Prep School visit: 5 scholars and a teacher from Cothill School visited the Dome for a tour and solar viewing. The Sun's blank disc was viewed in white light in the ETX and then in H alpha in the 10 inch. Sadly the low altitude and encroaching cloud meant that neither the small cycle 24 sunspots nor any chromosphere activity was seen
Leonid watch: Some 20 pupils (some coming up for the first time) joined JAG at the Dome to watch for the predicted Leonid peak. Cloud hampered observing. No peak was witnessed but 7 Leonids were seen. Constellation coursework drawing also took place
Early Leonid watch: 6 Friends and some 9 Remove astronomers came up to the dowm to look out for early Leonids and do some constellation drawing respectvely. No Leonids were seen and the high cloud made observing hard
12th NovemberHouse visit: 11 pupils from B1 Shell visited the Dome. The sky was totally cloudy
Next House visit: Thursday 3rd December (C2)
6th NovemberQ and A evening: 12 Friends attended a Q and A evening with the theme Human Space Exploration. The sky was cloudy throughout but cleared at the end allowing a view of Jupiter and 4 moons in the ETX
House visit: 10 Shell form CO came up to the Dome sadly it was cloudy bar a brief view of the Moon at the end
Next House visit:Thursday 12th November (B1)
Primary School visit: 15 (years 3 to 5) from St Peters primary school attanded the Dome with teachers and a couple of parents. The temperature dropped to the coldest this autumn and the sky was beutifully clear exactly for the duration of the visit. The just off Full Moon meant the sky was very bright and made the likelyhood of any meteors remote; however one very bright 'Earth-grazing' Taurid was seen at the start of the visit. The Moon was viewed in Binos and then Jupiter and 4 moons in the ETX. The 10 inch was then used to see Jupiter in detail until cloud started to close in. Several Polar orbit satellites ere seen
IYA Moonwatch evening: A group of Friends gathered at the Dome as a gap in clouds allowed 2.5 hours of good observing. The Milky Way was particularly clear. The ETX was used to view Jupiter and its moons, the waxing crescent Moon (showing the Ptolemy string of craters very well) then for the first time M13 (Great Globular in Hercules) and h and chi Persei double Open cluster. The Binos veiwed the Moon and then Pleiades. The 10 inch was used to watch Jupiter at 95x and 173x magnification and 5 or 6 bands were visible. Io's movement was just perceptable. The group watched for the appearance of Europa from behind the planet to no avail but at 21.05 UT the moon 'materialised' some distance from the planet having emerged from the shadow, evidence in itself of a moon shining by reflected light
External visit: 22 members of Aldbourne Ladies Group visited first the FETTU exhibition in the Mount House and then the Dome. The sky was cloudy, but a full tour of both facitilies occupied the evening
FETTU exhibition launch: A group of Friends and some members of the College Common Room attended the private launch of the local From Earth to the Universe image exhibition in the Mount House gallery
Friends Q and A: 16 Friends attended the Q and A session on 'Cycle 24'. Jupiter and 4 moons was viewed at the end in the ETX
House visit: 12 Shell pupils from EL came up to the Dome. The sky was totally cloudy and brighly lit by skyglow from the Astros and the Town
Next House visit: Thursday 5th November (CO)
GCSE Observing: A small group of Hundred and Remove pupils joined JAG and RDK at the Dome. Glimpses of Jupiter were had between the clouds using the ETX and the 10 inch
House visit: 12 pupils form BH Shell came up to the Dome. The night was clear and Moonless initially. Jupiter and 4 moons were viewed in the ETX and 10 inch. Ganymede passing Io to head for a transit exactly a week after the last and Europa appearing from behnd the planet
Next house visit: Thursday 15th October (EL)
GCSE Observing session: 8 Hundreds pupils and 4 Remove came up to continue coursework with drawings of Jupiter and its moons and the Algol field. Algol noticeably brighter. The centre of M31 was viewed in the 10 inch and the Eta Cassiopeia. The coloured Double at 9.6 arc second separation was easily split and the red colour of the dimmer companion clear
Friends anniversary drinks: The 5th anniversary drinks of the founding of the Friends of the Marlborough Telescope group took place in the Marlburian and was attended by some 50 Friends and families. A review of IYA was given and we looked forward to another year of events
House visit: The first Shell House visit of the year took place with 11 pupils from C3 visiting the Dome. The sky was clear, if bright from the waxing Gibbous Moon and, after dark adaption, they had tours of the Autumn sky and viewed the Moon with Binos and ETX and the Jupiter and 3 moons in the 10 inch
Next House visit: Thursday 8th October (BH)
GCSE observing evening: The second evening in the week proved clear and though some high cloud and bright Moon gave non-perfect conditions it was ideal for the small number of Hundred pupils to continue coursework. Drawing Jupiter and 3 obvious moons in the 10 inch and witnessing an unusal shadow transit (the dark black tiny shadow being more visible than the moon) of Ganymede from start to the half-way point. The transit commenced at 18.35 UT and we saw it dead centre on Jupiter's disc just after 20.00 UT. The Perseus field and Algol were drawn for comparison and the Pleiades at the end of the evening. We also viewed Uranus at x 95 and x 172 and argued over the hint of green-blue colour
GCSE Observing: The first observing night of the academic year was clear and though the waxing Gibbous Moon scattered a good deal of light, the seeing was good and detail visible of high quality. Some 14 pupils came up to the Dome and whilst JAG took the new Remove on guided sky tours, the ETX was used to complete Mizar A and B coursework. The Binos looked at the Moon and later at the rising Pleiades. The 10 inch initially centered on Neptune which had its disc just resolved and showed a hint of blue. Then Jupiter was viewed with first 3 moons till Europa disappeared at 18.45UT to be replaced by Io appearing later. Several storm bands were visible on the disc. At the end of the evening Uranus was located and its much larger disc easily resolved. The pale green/blue colour being easy to see. Several meteors were seen during the evening and one Iridium flare. A good start to the observational course
Autumnal Equinox Lecture: CEB gave the lecture 'Archaeoastronomy and Avebury' to an audience fo some 26 visitors in the National Trust Study Centre at Avebury. The lecture was followed by a tour of the Circle. With the only light pollution from the Red Lion pub, the stars were magical as viewed from the Cove. Autumn asterisms were viewed and bright Jupiter in the South. The Milky Way and the dust lanes near Deneb in Cygnus were particularly impressive
ISS pass: A small group gathered to watch a superb 88 degrees altitude, 5.5 minute E to W ISS pass. The station was very bright in the twilight sky at 4 minutes to 8pm. Narowly missing both Vega and Deneb as is traversed the Summer Triangle. Even by eye the elongated shape was visible and the segments and solar panels easy in good binos
Outer Planet observing evening: A dozen Friends gathered despite high cloud and varying cloud cover. The night was however still and good seeing and Jupiter was excellent in the ETX showing 2 Equatorial bands and 4 moons aligned , with innermost IO slighlty red in colour. The ETX then viewed Mizar and Alcor and easily split Mizar A and B, showing a good contrast in clour. Cloud prevented any further planet viewing but Autumn asterismas, a late Perseid meteor and an excellent almost directly overhead ISS pass made up for this
Heritage Open Day (Oxford): Some 300 members of the public visited Green Templeton College and the Old Radcliffe Observatory. CEB lectured throughout the afternoon on 'Astronomy and the Observatory'
External visit: 25 members of the 12th Swindon Air Scouts (astronomy badge) aged 10 to 14 and including adults and leaders visited the Dome. The evening was clear, though with increasing high cloud. Summer asterisms were seen as the Sun set and then Jupiter and 2 moons were viewed in the ETX and Binos. The 10 inch was used to observe M13, the Great globular cluster in Hercules. Given the light levels, the cluster detail was only just visble. A good high ISS pass was seen as the group departed
Perseid meteor shower: A small group gathered to view several bright 'Earthgrazers' in the late evening, whilst the Moon was low in the sky. The waning gibbous Moon and some early high cloud meant only really bright meteors were seen. The rate was around 5 to 10 per hour. Jupiter was viewed in the ETX and the 10 inch, its low altitude and the warm night did not allow more than basic detail to be seen
30th July to 5th August
Cunard Lectures: CEB travelled as Royal Astronomical Society Lecturer on the Queen Mary 2 from New York to Southampton. Lectures 'Archaeoastronomy', 'De-mystifying the night sky' and 'Living in the Atmosphere of the Sun' were given to audiences of 200+ passengers. Though the 2 arranged observing nights were cloudy, a 3rd night enabled a small group to gather on Deck 13 to view between clouds. The shapes of the Mare on the nearly Full Moon were seen by eye along with a Lunar aureole and several of the prominent Summer asterisms. Jupiter was viewed through binos
Summer School lecture: CEB gave the lecture 'The Dutch trunke - 400 years from Galileo to Kepler' to an audience of some 180 in the Ellis theatre
School lecture: CEB gave the talk 'Stars, planets and wormholes' to some 80 pupils in years 5 to 8 at Lambrook Haileybury School
School lecture: CEB gave the talk 'Stars, planets and wormholes' to a gathering of year 7 and 8 pupils at Ashfold School
Shell Solar Observing: 19 pupils in the Shell came up to the Dome for a double lesson of solar observing. The Solar goggles, ETX and Solarscope projection box showed unsuprisingly a blank disc. The 10 inch with its H alpha filter showed some prominence activity at the NW limb
Astronomy Teachers Conference: A free one-day conference was run at St John's School, Marlborough, organised jointly with Marlborough College, St Mary's Calne and John Bentley's Calne. Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell opened the day talking about the 'Pluto kerfuffle' and then CEB gave a talk on Astronomy in Schools covering mainly the new GCSE Astronomy Specification and the Extended project for astronomy in the sixth form. Workshops included Galaxy Zoo and Starlearner and a representative of Edexcel was on hand
Solstice Sky Tour: Some 12 Friends gathered at the dome late in the twilight evening to watch the Summer stars appear. Antares red and low in the South and bright orange Arturus high in SW. The far northerly setting point of the Sun was also noted. The Summer triangle appeared one at a time, but Northerly asterims of Cassiopeia and Plough were barely visible in the bright sky. No Notilucent clouds appeared
School lecture: CEB gave the talk 'Stars, planets and wormholes' to some 180 pupils in the top 3 years at Cothill House School
Good Schools Guide GCSE Awards 2009: Marlborough College has won an award from The Good Schools Guide 'for the best results at GCSE achieved by girls taking Astronomy at an English School'
Solar observing: A small group gathered under a clear sky and at 25 degrees centigrade in the Dome to view the Solar disc in white light and the new sunspot group 1019. Two Earth sized umbra were seen, one with penumbra and a dozen or so smaller spots in the NW quadrant at high latitude. Another small pore was visible high in the central disc. The magnetic polarity identifies the group as new Cycle 24
External visit: 2 new Friends visited the Dome for the first time and were luckly to get a glimpse of the totally blank Solar disc in white light, definitely no sign of the latest small cycle 24 spot
Engineering visit: The RA drive belt was replaced following some stretching earlier in the year
External visit: 2 Old Marlburians visited the Dome. Both had been involved in Radcliffe Society in 1940s and 70s respectively
Public solar viewing: Despite cloud and light drizzle a small number of visitors, including 2 senior members of Newbury Astronomical Society attended the Dome
GCSE Revision: A five hour session took place at the Dome with CEB and RDK and the majority of the yeargroup in advance of Friday's exam
Lunar Observation: The setting Full Flower Moon was observed sunrise and was an incredible deep pink colour
Shell Physics: 14 members of Shell set 8 and teacher came up to the Dome to observe the Sun in H alpha. Cloud prevented all but brief glances through Solar viewing goggles
Friends Solar viewing: A small group of Friends came up tot he Dome to view the Sun in H alpha. Though the sky was hazy, the Sun was viewed totally balnk in white light in the ETX, but showed a good tent shaped prominence in the 10 inch, which changed noticeably over an hour
External visit: 16 members of Chipping Norton Amateur Astronomical Society were lucky enough to visit the Dome on a clear evening with good seeing. From sunset till 10.45pm the Binos, ETX and 10inch were used to view Mercury, close to greatest elongation; the crescent Moon, at up to 240x magnification and then Saturn. Though edge on, there was some shadow visible in the rings and 6 moons were seen
30th March to 6th April
La Palma Expedition: 2 Lower Sixth and 2 Hundreds pupils from Marlborough College and a Lower Sixth girl from St Mary's Calne, accompanied by CEB and a St Mary's teacher, spent a week on La Palma. The Group were hosted by the Isaac Newton Group at the Jacobus Kapteyn (JKT) dome, where they took part in the UK Moonwatch week (organised in UK by the Society for Popular Astronomy) using the 6 inch finder to view the First Quarter Moon, Saturn, M42 (Orion Nebula) and M93 an Open Cluster in Canis Major. A pupil and CEB then took part in the IYA cornerstone project 100 hours of observing webcast from observatories around the World and had a 2 minute slot form the William Herschel telescope (WHT). The group then joined an Iranian researcher and colleague from Liverpool John Moores at the Isaac Newton Telescope (INT), observing the infall region of the Coma galaxy cluster. The second night was spent at the INT with a Spanish researcher from the IAC looking at Fossil galaxy groups. Tours of MAGIC, Liverpool Telescope and GranTeCan were also part of the stay at 2400+m
23rd to 24th March
13 Friends of the Telescope accompanied CEB to CERN, privately visiting 2 of the main detectors, LHCb and ATLAS in the LHC ring
Public Lecture (IYA event): The 6th Sun-Earth Day lecture ' Galileo - first light on the universe 400 years on' was given by CEB to some 30 Friends and visitors
Sixth Form lecture: CEB delivered the lecture 'The spectrum of telescopes - the future of observing' to some 60 6th formers in the Martin wood Lecture theatre at the Clarendon Building in oxofrd as part of a sixth form study day 'Astrophysics and Einstein'
Spring Sky Tours (Friends observing evening): At last a clear evening for a Friends event saw 24 Friends gather at the Dome. Watching the stars appear after sunset being guided around the 'Winter Wreath' and waiting for Arcturus to rise in the East as the Spring marker. A good high ISS pass was seen by all. The Binos viewed the Pleiades and the ETX crescent Venus, until it set, then Saturn, Orion nebula and Mizar A and B. the 10 inch tracked Saturn and 2 moons were easily visible with young eyes making out a 3rd. The high moisture caused intrusive skyglow by 9pm
External visit: 19 members of Ogbourne St Andrew History Group came up to the Dome. The evening was clear, though some high moisture meant a degree of skyglow, enough to prevent a good view of the Milky Way. The visit started with a good 39 degree altitude ISS pass (The Shuttle having docked). A tour of the sky followed and then M45 (Pleiades) was viewed in the Binos and M42 Orion nebula) in the ETX. The 10 inch was used yo view Saturn with its edge on rings, showing a couple of bands on the main disc and 5 moons all off to the same W side
House visit: The last yr 9 (Shell) House visit of the academic year took place with 12 pupils from C3 visiting the Dome. The sky was cloudy. Next House visit will be in the Autumn term
GCSE Observing: 10 Remove pupils and 2 Hundreds came up for 3.5 hours of clear, if rather moonlit observing. The Binos were usd for M45 Pleiades and ETX for Mizar A and B, M42 (Orion nebula) and then Saturn. The 10 inch followed Lulin, now in Cancer just South of M44 (Beehive) now much dimmer at roughly 6.9t, magnitude and further away at 0.55 AU. The Comet could be seen to move some 6' in an hour when referred to a nearby 10.9 magnitude star in Cancer. The 10 inch then turned to Saturn, which showed a little marking on the disc. Titan was very obvious to the East and Dione, Tethys and Rhea grouped in a close triangle to the West. Over 25 pieces of coursework were completed
School visit: 9 year 9 pupils and 2 staff from Wootton Basset School visited the Dome. Sadly the sky was cloudy
Extra GCSE Observing evening: Given the lack of clear nights an 'emergency' observing evening saw one of the most intense sessions since the Dome was re-opened. 11 GCSE Hundreds pupils came up to the Dome and in 4 hours of hectic drawing completed over 30 pieces of coursework. Binos were used to draw M45 (Pleiades) and M44 Beehive as well as to view Comet Lulin early in the evening. The ETX viewed M42 (Orion Nebula) and Mizar a and B and at the start of the evening Saturn with its edge on rings making it look (as Gallileo dew) like 3 stars in a row. the 10 inch was used to view Comet Lulin and over 2 hours, the movement was over half the field of view, some 15'; this was drawn against a background field of 7th to 11th magnitude stars in Leo. The 10 inch finally viewed Saturn and Titan, the other moons being hidden in the glare of the rings
Prep School lecture: CEB gave the lecture 'Stars, planets and wormholes' to around 100 pupils from years 6,7 and 8 and several parents and staff in Elstree school
House visit: 12 Shell pupils from BH came up to the Dome. Venus was seen briefly in cloud at the start of the evening
Next House visit: Thursday 12th March (C3)
Comet viewing: Despite high cloud and skyglow the 10 inch was turned to Saturn in the late evening for the first time this year. It was amazing to see the rings edge-on making Saturn look like a circle with a bar through it. 3 moons were easily visible in the plane of the rings. Though only at 10 degrees altitude, comet Lulin (at magnitude 6) was easy to find close to a couple of 7th and 8th magnitude stars in Virgo. Though no detail was visible, what was increadible was to see how fast it moved. Estimated movement was 2' in 15 minutes ie 8' an hour or just over 3 degrees a day
Public lecture: CEB gave the lecture 'Galileo - first light on the Universe 400 years on' at Green Templeton College in Oxford to a mixed audience of visitors and academics as part of the annual lecture series 'Astronomy for All'
House visit: 13 pupils from EL Shell and 2 from MM came up to the Dome in snow and slush. The near Full Moon rose behind clouds and trhough Orion and the Pleiades were visible briefly, the cloud closed in
Next House visit: Thursday 26th February(BH)
House visit: 10 pupils from CO Shell and a Tutor came up to the Dome. For the first time the Dome was cut off by road and all had to walk through up to 6 inches of snow. The sky was totally cloudy and orange
Next House visit: Tuesday 10th February (EL)
House visit: 11 pupils from B1 Shell came up to the Dome. Though bright Venus and the crescent Moon could be seen initially through cloud, it soon clouded over completely
Next House visit: Thursday 5th (CO)
Friends evening: 9 Friends including 3 young came to the Dome for the 'bring your own binos/telescope' evening. Initially the sky was largely clear and enabled Venus and its phase to be viewed in various binos and the ETX. The 10 inch viewed M42 well until high cloud closed in. Earlier in the evning a couple were lucky enough to see the zenith pass of the ISS
IAU Symposium: CEB took part in Symposium 260 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, 'The role of Astronomy in Culture and Society'. Contributing a talk 'Avebury - the Dawn of culture'
School visit: 13 GCSE Astronomy yr10 pupils and 3 staff from Wootton Bassett School attended the Dome for a tour and introduction to observational astronomy. Sadly the sky was cloudy.
Shell Chapel: CEB gave a talk to the combined Shell on possible Astronomical/Astrological interpretations of the Star of Bethlehem
Launch of International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009): The official launch took place in Paris with lectures from eminent Astronmomers. CEB answered questions on IYA on local BBC Radio Wiltshire
Shell House visit: 11 pupils form C2 Shell attended the Dome. The sky was cloudy
Next House visit: Thursday 29th (B1)
GCSE Observing: A clear sunset and western horizon gave the first view this year of Mercury at a low 4 degrees altitude in the twilight in Binos. Dim and pink compared to Venus, 100 times brighter. By 20.00 UT high cloud had started to close in. Nevertheless, 3 Remove astronomers came up to the Dome. Drawings were made of M45 (Pleiades) in Binos, Mizar A and B in ETX and M42, Orion Nebula in the 10 inch. As the waning Gibbous Moon rose, the scattered light combined with high moisture levels curtailed the evening
ASE Conference: CEB spoke in Reading on behalf of Edexcel 'Reaching the stars' introducing GCSE Astronomy 2009+ and Astronomy Extended Project at KS5
House visit: 12 pupils from NC came up to the Dome. Though clear earlier, a damp cold fog closed in and only the Moon could be viewed in Binos and the ETX. There was too much moisture for the 10 inch.
Next House visit: Thursday 15th (C2)
Observing evening: A small group of 6 Friends met at the Dome as temperatures plumetted to -6 degrees (with the risk of the Dome freezing). The Moon was viewed in the ETX and M45 Pleiades well in Binos. The ETX also showed 3 of the Trapezium in M42. The 10 inch showed superb detail in M42, extensive gas clouds at low magnification and at x240 split a couple of the Trapezium stars. The 10 inch then split Castor into 2 easily and possibly 3. Despite the low temperatures there was a good deal of moisture and skyglow from the Town and with the Moonlight we were unable to see the Eskimo nebula or indeed any late Quadrantids (bar one possible unusual red meteor to the South at the end of the evening)
28th DecemberPrivate visit: 2 visitors from Australia visited the Dome. Sadly though the early evening had given a superb susnset and beutiful Venus with a very slender crescent Moon, by 8pm the sky had clouded over
Observing evening: After a superb sunset and viewing Venus at around 60% phase in Binos, 3 Friends and a current GCSE pupil made the most of a very cold winter sky. Though 2 degrees in the Dome, with windchill, the outside temperature was -5 degrees or below. The Binos were used to view M45 (Pleiades) and the ETX to view (for the first time) M1, the Crab nebula (dim though clearly visible) and then M42 the Orion nebula. The 10 inch once calibrated was used at high magnification to view and split Castor. The main Binary elements some 2.9 arcsecs apart were easy and showed some hint of colour (blue and gold). The Eskimo planetary nebula was then viewed and finally M42. There was sadly growing moisture and hence more sky glow, nevertheless, the nebula showed superb detail and the Trapezium was split into several pairs of stars
House visit: 12 pupils from MO Shell came up to the Dome. The crescent Moon was out but soon clouded over. All were able to get a brief glance at M45 (Pleiades) in Binos
Next House visit: January 8th (NC)
Planet observing: Between breaks in the cloud the crescent Moon and Jupiter were imaged as the Sun set. Venus was already hidden behind the Moon. The Moon was viewed first in Binos and then in the 10 inch with the lit limb being observed for the re-appearence of Venus. At 17.14.45 UT Venus appeared, sadly the clouds closed in and prevented a picture being taken
External visit: 19 Cubs and 4 adults from 1st Ramsbury Cub pack attended the Dome. 2 Oxford Astrophysics Graduates assisted , but sadly the sky was overcast
Planet observing: Jupiter and Venus were imaged some 4 degees apart, bright and dominating the early evening night sky in SW, even through severe skygow and encroaching fog
House visit: 10 pupils from TU Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was too cloudy to observe
Next House visit: Thursday 4th December (MO)
4th Blackett Science lecture: 150 pupils and Friends attended the lecture 'Discovering planets around other stars - will we find another Earth?' by Don Pollacco of Queens Uni Belfast in the Ellis theatre
Observing sesssion: Prior to the lecture Dr Pollacco and CEb used the 10 inch to view a couple a beutiful mixed colour Doubles. Eta Andromedae, Gamma Cassiopeia and then Globular M15
Public lecture: CEB gave an Archeoastronomy lecture at Avebury for the National Trust season 'Avebury in starlight' attended by some 40 visitors
House visit: 12 pupils from MM Shell came up to the Dome. Sadly the sky was clouded over, though it did allow a brief glimpse of Vega and Deneb
Next House visit: Thursday 27th November (TU)
Private visit: 10 visitors spanning a wide age range came up to the Dome for an evening bid for on behlaf of 'Wiltshire Blind'. Sadly the sky was cloudy but a Tour and Lecture took the place of observing
External visit: 16 Scouts from the Hungerford pack and 5 adults attended the Dome. Sadly the sky was totally fogged out
GCSE Observing evening: After a totally clear, cold promising start, cloud closed in from South. The near Full Moon washed out all but the brightest stars and as the sky clouded we were treated to a lovley Lunar Aureole. One bright meteor was seen and several pieces of coursework attempted. the 10 inch looked at the bright ray cratrs and their ejecta. The illumination was perfect for seeing detail around the Schroeter valley and both Aristarchus and Heroditus were super. The ETX viewed Mizar A and B and the Binos were used to draw M45 the Pleiades
Friends Q and A session: 10 Friends attended the question and answer session on the 'dark side' of the Universe. Venus was superb after sunset and the 10 inch viewed the First Quarter Moon in the early evening but the sky then clouded up. By 9.30pm however the sky cleared and the ETX was used to view M31. Unfortunately M31 was too near the Zenith for the 10 inch to locate accurately. M1 (Crab supernova remnant) was then attempted but the moonlight and slight haze prevented observation. Orion was viewed for the first time in the evening sky
House visit: 11 Shell pupils from PR came up to the Dome. Sadly the sky was totally overcast and orange
Next House visit: November 20th (MM)
Shell class visit: 19 pupils from Shell set 3 came up to the Dome and were able to view the Sun through solar goggles and then in the 10 inch. The disc was completely blank, though granulation was visible
Solar Observing: The white light filter was used to view the Solar Disc in the afternoon, to calibrate the telescope and to check for portes. Granulation was evident but the disc was blank
GCSE Observing: 4 Remove and 2 Hundred pupils came up to the Dome on the best night this winter. With near perfect seeing, the Milky Way was well structured. Jupiter was watched until it set with Europa in transit, though sadly not visible. The ETX was used to view M31 Andromeda galaxy and then M13 in Hercules for the first time, though invdivdual stars could not be resolved. The Bino looked at M45, the Pleiades. The 10 inch was then turned on M13 and subsequently on M57 the Ring Nebula in Lyra with a barely discernable central star. Some 15 pieces of coursework were completed. One late Orionid was seen, very quick, crossing the Square of Pegasus
Private visit: 7 members of Marlborough Brandt Group came up to the Dome for an extended evening. Sadly the cloudy sky prevented all but the Summer Triangle being seen
House visit: 11 pupils from C1 Shell came up to the Dome. Sadly high cloud prevented good viewing but the Summer Traingle was seen by eye then Jupiter and 4 moons in the 10 inch showing some surface detail and lastly the waning Gibbous Moon in the Binos. A nice Lunar aureole was present
Next House visit: November 6th (PR)
Lower Sixth visit: 3 New Lower Sixth pupils from SU came up to the Dome for a tour. Sadly the sky was cloud
Next Lower Sixth visit: Tuesday 2nd December
RAS Lecture: CEB lectured (Kielder - A new platform for dark sky outreach) to some 80 Fellows of the Royal Astronomical Society
House visit: 11 Shell pupils from SU came up to the Dome. The increasing high cloud made for poor viewing, and a small Lunar aureole. Jupiter and 4 moons was however seen in the ETX and 10 inch with Io closing in and then passing behind the main planet. The waxing Gibbous moon was viewed in Binos
Next House visit: 16th Ocotber (C1)
Scouts visit: 14 Scouts from Hungerford and 4 adults came up to the Dome as the clouds cleared after a foul afternoon. The Moon and Jupiter were observed in Binos and then Jupiter and 4 moons in the ETX. The First Quarter Moon was viewed in the 10 inch concentrating on the Alpine Valley area. A tour of the sky was also possible
GCSE Observing: Some 3 Remove and 6 Hundred astronomers came up on the first really good night this term. 12 or so coursework drawings were completed. The ETX looked at Mizar A and B, the Binos viewed the newly risen Pleiades and the 10 inch the Moon's terminator. Good detail was possible around the Lunar Alps, despite the Moon's low altitude
Friends Q and A evening: 13 Friends gathered for a Q and A evening on Near Earth Objects. As well as considering the threat posed to the Earth, the skies were clear and the temperature falling so the best observing of the Autumn so far resulted. Jupiter and its moons were viewed in the Binos and ETX and in the 10 inch. Though at low altitude, good detail was seen on the planets surface. The Milky Way was clear and M31 was viewed by eye. A good ISS pass was a bonus. Following the evening theme the 10 inch was turned to asteroid Juno. Though low in the sky and at magnitude 10.34 a dim object, it was dicernable to keener eyes below a trapezium of magnitude 10 stars. This was a first for the 10 inch. M13 was then viewed well before cloud closd in. A good bright meteor was also seen heading NE through Cassiopeia
House visit: The first House visit of the academic year saw 9 Shell pupils from LI come up to the Dome. Between gaps in the cloud we viewed Jupiter in Binos and in ETX with 3 moons visible. The 10 inch was then used to view Vega. One satellite was seen passing Vega
GCSE Observing: As the temperature dropped a brief clear spell allowed a tour of the sky and views of Jupiter in the Binos and ETX and then the 10inch was used to view M13 (Great Globular in Hercules)
Next House visit: 9th October SU
Friends 4th anniversary drinks: Some 60 Friends attended a drinks party in the Marlburian to celebrate 4 years of the Friends group
Observatory visit: 15 'students' from the local University of the 3rd Age (U3A) came up to the Dome and were lucky with a clear evening. Jupiter and its moons were viewed in Binos, ETX and then the 10 inch at low magnification. Io was noticeably orange and only the large telescope could resolve it from Europa in their orbits. Good cloud detail was seen on the Planet despite the low altitude
Observing evening: At last a clear evening gave an opportunity to view Jupiter. Though in the South in the evening it is not at high altitude, so viewed through thick atmosphere. Excellent surface features with 4 to 6 individual bands were seen briefly and the 4 moons all lined up to one side. Sadly cloud moving in from the West interupted observations
Oxford University Alumni week-end: CEB lectured at Green College on the 160 years of Astronomy at the Radcliffe Observatory
JENAM 2008: Funded by the RAS and Marlborough College, CEB participated in the Joint European National Astronomy Meeting in Vienna as part of Symposium 2 - Communicating Astronomy and preparation for International Year of Astronomy 2009. Presenting a talk on 'Outreach with large telescopes and a new era in UK school astronomy'
Observatory visit: A group of 17 from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust including past Churchill Fellows and their partners attended the Dome for a Tour and talk on the restoration of the 10 inch. Sadly the weather did not allow any observing
Perseids meteor shower: Though the early evening cleared, later clouds prevented meteor viewing. A small group were able to observe the waxing Moon in the 10 inch and Jupiter with its moons (all on one side) in the ETX
Society for the History of Astronmy annual picnic: Some 30 members of the SHA (including 3 council members) visited the College for a picnic lunch at the Ellis theatre and then a tour of the Dome and telescope. The clouds parted just in time for the Sun to be viewed (blank) in the white light filter. There followed a short lecture on the refurbishment of the Barclay telescope
Partial Solar eclipse: Some 45 from the Friends and Summer School came up to the Dome to witness the eclipse. The sky cleared for first contact at 8.31.42 UT and between clouds all phases of the eclipse were seen to maximum at 10.20am. The Moons edge was seen through Solar viewers, by projection in the ETX and in the 10 inch at x80 and x140. The surface features and mountain groups were easily seen in profile against the Sun's disc. The last contact was seen at 10.01.51 UT
Summer School lecture: The Bradleian theatre was full for the lecture 'Tunguska's legacy 100 years on'
Summer School visit: Another 20 guests came up to the Dome and despite some high cloud which didnt help the skyglow we were able to do plenty of observing. Jupiter and main moons were viewed in Binos and ETX and the 10 inch again focussed on M13. Several more Delta Auarids were seen as well as a good number of bright sporadics. The ISS again made a good pass and it was good to glimpse Antares very low in the south-west. The Milky Way was prominent, especailly in Sagittarius
Summer School visit: 20 guests from Summer School came up to the Dome. The evening commenced with watching the stars appear as the Sun set and then viewing am excellent pass of the ISS. Jupiter and the Gallilean moons were viewed in the binos and the ETX (which also showed the two main equatorial bands and the Great Red Spot. The 10 inch was aimed at M13 (Great globular cluster) in Hercules, which was supoerb at low magnification. 2 Delta Aquarid meteors were seen and many satellites
Summer School visits: Some 16 Summer School attendees came up to the Dome for a guided tour. Sadly the weather prevented any viewing save of the thunder storm on the eastern horizon
Probus Lecture: Some 40 members of Marlborough Probus listened to a lecture 'The great Marlborough Observatory' in the Marlborough Golf Club
Shell class visit: 20 pupils from Shell set 1y came up to the Dome and were able to view the Sun between cloud
Shell class visit: 16 pupils from Shell set 3x came up to the Dome to view the Sun and were lucky to see some H alpha prominences
Astronomy GCSE revision: A further 7 pupils attended the Dome for 3 hours of reviewing the Specification
Astronomy GCSE revsion: 12 pupils and RDK came up to the Dome for a concentrated 3.5 hours of revision prior to Monday's exam
Dome closure: Due to the work being carried out on the next door field and the potential for dust and dirt, the Observatory is closed to visits until further notice
Private visit: 2 Friends and a couple of visitors came up to the Dome for a quick tour
External visit: A brief tour was given to a member of the Physics Staff from Wells Cathedral school
Tutee visit: 4 U6th tutees from MM visited the Dome as the first stars appeared
Public open afternoon: Several small groups including Friends came up to the Dome. The sky, though cloudy in patches, allowed some amazing views of the Sun, first by eye and in the ETX using white light filters where no activity (spots) were evident. However, through the 10 inch using ther H-alpha filter 2 enormous prominance groups were seen at the E limb. One eruptive and straight the other like a huge sickle or 'plume of smoke' trailing down some 15 degrees of the Eastern limb; this was viewed at x95 and x173
Astronomy talk: 10 members of Shalborne lunch club were given an astronomy talk on the origins of the Blackett observatory
Mercury observing: The Planet Mercury was easily visible in the NW twilight near to a youind crescent Moon from 9.45pm
Solar observing: 14 pupils from Shell set 3x came up to the Dome and viewed the blank Sun through Solar viewers and then the ETX. The 10 inch was then used with the H alpha filter to see two large loop prominences on the North East limb
Friends Solar observing: A small group of 5 Friends came up to th Dome on an unexpectedly clear sunny afternoon. The Sun was viewed in the ETX and the small pair of spots 992 from the old cycle 23 were just visible. The leading spot being more prominent. The 10 inch was used with the H alpha filter and at magnifications of x72 to x172 showed some very fine prominences on the NW limb . One very last minute piece of GCSE coursework was also completed
Observatory visit: 4 visitors from Kent (including 2 children 5 and 9yrs) came to the Dome on an excellent clear evening. The Moon was bright at 88% but major stars were identified and the Moon viewed through Binos. Saturn though close to the Moon gave an excellent image in the 10 inch with 5 moons visible at x95 and x170. The Moon's Terminator was also viewed in the 10 inch and an excellent resolution of detail in Gassendi's central peak obtained
Observatory visit: 8 members of Basingstoke Astronomical Society visited the Dome. Sadly the evening clouded up. The waxing Moon was seen through Binos and briefly through the 10 inch. The ETX has now been fitted with a Telrad finder which should be a considerable improvement on the Meade 'red dot'
Engineering visit: Norman Walker fitted the second long awaited zero-backlash gear box to the RA drive and the 10 inch refurbishment is now complete
Observation: The very bright ISS was viewed on an excellent pass, followed by 2 minutes later, the ATV Jules Verne ESA module which is due to dock in April
Special Interest Weekend: CEB gave the lecture 'Archaeoastronomy - The Dawn of Science' to some 80 guests at Christ Church, Oxford. Other lectures were by Roger Davies, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Bob Lambourne, Chris Lintott, Katherine Blundell and Michael Rowan-Robinson. An observing session aided by 3 amateur astronomers from Abingdon Astronomical Society was held in the evening in Tom Quad, where Saturn, Mars and the Pleiades were viewed in small telescopes and guided tours of some of the brighter stars given by eye
Public Lecture: The 6th Sun-Earth day lecture 'Space Weather around the World' was attended by some 35 Friends and visitors in the Ellis Theatre
House visit: 9 Shell pupils from LI came up to the Dome completing the Shell House visits for the year with 4 out of 14 coinciding with clear skies. The cloud prevented any observing
Astronomical Society Lecture: Some 30 members of Abingdon Astronomical Society attended a talk 'The World's oldest GoTo telescope'
Sixth Form Girls visit: 10 Sixth Form girls from SU came up to the Dome accompanied by HM's wife and daughter. The weather was filthy and so sadly none of the instruments could be used
House visit: 10 pupils from SU came up to the Dome. Just a few stars were seen though clouds and a couple saw the Pleiades (just) through the Binos
Next House visit: 13th March (LI)
GCSE Observing evening: 3 Hundred and 1 Remove Astronomers managed to complete 10 pieces of coursework in just over an hour before the sky clouded from the west. M45 in Binos, Mizar A and B in ETX and Saturn with 4 moons in the 10 inch
Lunar Eclipse: As predicted, the clouds closed in at 2.15am, having allowed tempting glimpses of the Moon 1/3 obscured by the penumbra. 1 very dedicatd Friend attended the dome but by 3.15am it was obvious that no Total Eclipse would be seen
House visit: 10 pupils from C1 Shell and 3 from PR attended the Dome. The sky was totally cloudy
Next House visit: 28th February (SU)
13th FebruaryObserving evening: A light fog had settled in by 8.30pm which gave scattered light pollution over a large percentage of the sky. The 10 inch was however able to view Saturn clearly, though only 4 of the moons were visble and faint
GCSE Observing evening: 2 Remove and 1 Hundred astronomers came up to the Dome, completing 8 pieces of coursework. More moisture in the air meant for higher light levels added to by the 5 day old Moon. The ETX was used to view Mizar A and B and the Binos to view the Moon and then M45 (Pleiades). The 10 inch viewed Saturn and gave excellent views of 6 of the moons, including Rhea, though Dione was very hard being very close to the Planet itself
GCSE Observing evening: The clear weather continued though with poor seeing faint haze adding to the light scattering. 10 GCSE pupils came up to complete coursework and over 25 individual drawings were made. The Binos were used for the crescent Moon, M45 (Pleiades), M44 (Beehive). The ETX for Mizar A and B, M42 Orion nebula. The 10 inch looked first at M42 and then at Saturn, again 5 moons were clearly visible. A bright fireball ? was seen at 20.59 in East breaking up into 3 fragments
Observing evening: The best evening so far this year, with no Moon, still air and no sports lights allowed 2 Friends to get superb views through a variety of instruments. M44 (Beehive cluster) in Cancer was viewed in Binos. The ETX viewed Mizar and B and M42 the Orion nebula. The Trapezium and Mizar A and B were even better viewed in a TAL 6 inch Matsukov reflector brought up to be put through its paces. The 10 inch first viewed M42 and gave superb detail of the Trapezium, spliting 2 of the 4 main stars and nebulocity, especially through a new OIII filter. The the 10 inch turned to Saturn giving unparalled clear and still views through a new Meade wide-angle 40mm (x95) eyepiece. the Planet showed clear bands and 5 moons were easily visible, Titan, Iapetus, Dione, Tethys and Enceladus
House visit: 7 Shell PR pupils attended the Dome. The sky was totally cloudy
Next House visit: 14th February (C1)
Extra GCSE Observing evening: The sky cleared unexpectedly and 2 GCSE astronomers were able to get a couple of drawings done before the expected cloud closed in. Mizar A and B were viewed through the ETX and then Saturn and Titan through the 10 inch
French Exchange visit: 14 students from Lysee Jaques Monod and 2 teachers visited the Dome. Sadly the weather prevented any instruments being used
Secondary School visit: 8 year 13 Physics pupils from Wooten Basset School and 4 teachers were lucky enough to catch a clear and cold evening. M31 was located by eye and a faint Milky Way in Cassiopeia. M45 was viewed in Binos and Mizar A and B seperated nicely and showing colour in ETX. The 10 inch was used to view Mars at x173 and then better (in terms of surface detail) at x90. From Mars at 60 degrees altitude we slewed to Saturn at 15 degrees in the East. This was the first sighting of Saturn in 2008 and the difference to 2007 was marked. The Rings are now much more edge on and appear more as a thick band across the planet's disc. The Cassini division was just discernable at one location around the Disc. Titan was very bright and 2 further orange Moons were seen on the other side of the Planet
House visit: 12 Shell pupils from MO came up to the Dome, sadly though stars were visible at beginning and the end (enough to identify Mars and Saturn by eye) a violent storm in the middle meant no instruments could be used
Next House visit: 7th February (PR)
Prep School lecture: The lecture 'The Sun our Star' was given to some 70 members of Godstowe School years 5 and 6 followed by' Living in the atmosphere of the Sun' to 70 members of years 7 and 8
Prep School lecture: Some 60 pupils from the Sixth Form Society at The Hall School and several members of staff attended the lecture 'Living in the atmosphere of the Sun'
Observing evening: RDK opened the observatory on the first clear Thursday for weeks to some 16 GCSE Astronomers. Coursework drawings of M45 (Pleiades) and the waning Gibbous Moon were completed
18th JanuaryExternal visit: 13 children from 2nd Marlborough Scouts and 2 adults attended the Dome for a tour and talk. The weather was mild, wet and windy, so no instruments could be used
House visit: 13 pupils from MM came up to the Dome in high winds and fast moving cloud. Sadly only a couple were able to glimpse the Moon through the Binos. Breaks in the cloud did give naked-eye glimpses of Mars, Sirius, Orion and Polaris
Next House visit: 31st January (MO)
Prep School visit: 19 pupils aged 11 and 12 and 2 teachers from Abingdon School attended the Dome on a rare clear break in the otherwise wet and windy weather. The First Quarter Moon was observed in the ETX and the Pleiades in the Binos. The best known asterisms were shown and then the 10inch was used to view Mars at 80x but also at 240x where clear dark green marbelling was seen against the butterscotch disc
House observatory visit: 13 members of NC Shell came up to the Dome. Sadly the sky was cloudy
Next House visit: 17th January (MM)
Private observing visit: A small group came up to the Dome to view M31. The waxing Gibbous Moon was first viewed in the 10 inch and then the core of M31. M31 was also located by eye, though the Moon made this difficult. The high altitude made observing with the Binos impossible
Geminid meteor shower: Some 14 Friends and College staff came up to the Dome for the predicted clear evening. Some slight high cloud cleared and for 3 hours gave good observing till cloud ended the evening at 11.30pm. Before the meteors started the Binos viewed M45 Pleiades and the ETX M42 the Orion nebula. The 10 inch tracked Mars throughout the evening. At higher magnification it was too bright without filtering. Surface details showed up best in a red filter. Tours of the winter skies were given and the Milky Way and nearby Comet Holmes were very clear. Geminids started to be recorded around 9pm and at best reached several a minute. Overall some 120 were seen over 3 hours. Many were bright at -1 or less and a couple at -4 were seen. Most were white or creamy but a good number showed shades of green
Extended project observing: The Sun was observed in the ETX with broadband filter (being too low for the 10 inch) and the large new sunspot group 978 drawn
GCSE Observing evening: A couple of Hundred astronomers and 2 Friends came up to the Dome for an extra observing seesison on the best night of the Winter so far. The exploding Comet Holmes was visble again given the clarity of the sky, obviously huge above and right of Mirfak. M45 the Pleiades were viewed in Binos and then for the first time M35 the faint open Cluster in Gemini. The ETX was used first to view M42 the Great Nebula in Orion and all 4 of the Trapezium could be picked out. The ETX was then used to view Mizar and And B binary system. The 10 inch was turned to Mars and the planet was viewed at magnifications of x90, x173 and then x238. Some good dark green detail was seen on the surface. M42 was then viewed at each magnification, though the evening did not allow more than one of the Trapezium stars to be split. To end, the 10 inch was turned to M1 the Crab supernova remnant which had not been seen for some time. Though faint its characteristic S shape could be seen. During the evening several meteors were spotted including a couple of early Geminids
House visit: 9 pupils from TU Shell came up to the Dome in high winds and driving light rain for the last House visit this term.
Next House visit: 10th January (NC)
'School visit': 14 children from 2nd Marlborough Scouts and 3 leaders came up to the Dome in driving rain and wind for a talk and tour of the Dome.
House visit: 9 pupils from C2 came up to the Dome on a rare clear evening. Comet Holmes, though dim was viewed in Binos and looked like a fuzzy grey golf ball at over 2 times the diameter of the Sun. It was visble by eye with averted vision. The 10 inch was used to view Mars at low magnifiaction and though low in the sky, some detail (Syrtis Major) could be seen dark green on the bright orange disc. 3 brightmeteors were also seen
Next House visit: 6th December (TU)
GCSE Observing evening: Sadly by 8.45pm the clouds had closed in,some 12 pupils came up to the Dome but appart from glimpses of Mars, little could be done
Blackett Science Lecture: The 2007 lecture ' A Universe of galaxies' was given by Professor Roger Davies, Chair of Physics at Oxford University and Philip Wetton Professor of Astrophysics. An audience of some 140 attended with large numbers of pupils studying Astronomy and Physics and also many Friends of the telescope
22nd NovemberHouse visit: 10 pupils from B1 Shell visited the Dome. Sadly the sky was cloudy though a very large 30 degree wide Lunar Halo was visible at the start of the evening
Next House visit: November 29th (C2)
Public open evening: Despite total cloud and then light rain, the Dome was filled to capacity in 3 one hour sessions. Some 55 visitors attended talks and tours. Places booked up fast at the Town Libary and some 35 people had to be turned away before the event.
Outreach lecture: Some 30 people attended a meeting of the Farmers' club in Oare Village Hall for a lecture on 'Observing the Wiltshire night sky'
Extended Project AS observing: A sunny afternoon allowd a lower sixth pupil to make H-alpha observations using the 10 inch. Some high cloud and the low altitude of the Sun made resolution less than perfect, but a good hedge prominence was seen beginning to lift off the North Western limb. Though disturbed in places, as expected there were no Sunspots on the visible disc
Extended Project AS observing: At last a cold clear night allowed a lower sixth pupil to view the eclipsing Binary star Algol (beta Persei) by eye and in the 10 inch and magnitude estimates made at a point 3 hours before minimum
House visit: 10 CO Shell pupils were able to observe comet Holmes in binos, by eye and in the 10 inch
Next House visit: 22nd November (B1)
GCSE observing evening: 8 pupils from Remove and Hundred were able to complete coursework drawings of comet Holmesby eye, in Binos, ETX and in the 10 inch. A couple of late Taurids were seen including a fireball which must have been incredibly bright as it was seen behind the ever encroaching cloud
Friends Q and A evening: 14 Friends attended the evening with the theme 'Life elsewhere' considering the possibilities for life in the Solar System and SETI. Some gaps in the cloud allowed early arrivals to see the comet in the Binos
GCSE Observing evening: A clear patch for one hour allowed 3Hundreds and 1 Remove GCSE pupils to do coursework drawings of comet Holmes by eye, in the Binos, ETX and in the 10inch
Taurid meteor shower: For about an hour the clouds held off. Long enough for a couple of visitors to observe the ever expanding comet Holmes and to catch 2 Taurids
Comet Holmes observing: 16 Remove astronomy pupils observed 17/P Holmes by eye from the Water Meadows. The Dome opened at 7.30pm and Holmes was observed in Binos and in the 10 inch. By 8pm the fog had set in and the Dome closed
House visit: 14 Shell pupils from EL came up to the Dome as the clear sky was fogging over. Luckily they were able to view Comet 17/P Holmes in the Binos and then in the 10 inch, the coma again showed some internal structure
Next House visit: 8th November (CO)
Comet watch: A couple of members of staff joined CEB at the Dome to observe 17P/Holmes for the first time in the 10 inch. As expected it was spectacular showing a spherical outer coma of some 15 degrees and plenty of internal structure. A tiny bright point off centre and an inner brighter coma. The overall magnitude was estimated at 2.7
External Lecture: Some 45 scholars from Windlesham School in Sussex attended a Question and Answer evening 'To infinity and Beyond'
Observing evening (Sussex): The new exploding comet 17/P Holmes was easily identified by eye and drawn in the apparent triangle in Perseus. In Binos the disc was symmetrical and showed a slight golden colour
Observing evening: Another attempt to view Comet LONEOS proved unsuccessful due to low cloud in the West
Observatory visit: A private visit was unfortunatley hampered by cloud
Orionids evening: After an abortive attempt to see comet 2007 F1 LONEOS before it set, due to cloud, 8 Friends gathered till late to watch out for Orionids. The Moon was rather bright until midnight and the moisture in the air led to scattered light. Altogether 7 Orionids were seen and an equal number of sporadics. Meanwhile the Moon was viewed in the ETX. M45 was seen and drawn in Binos, then Mars was seen in both Binos and ETX. The 10 inch was used to look first at M57 (Ring nebula) and then for the first time this year at Mars rising bright in the East. At 173x magnification some dark markings were already clear
House visit: 11 pupils from BH Shell came up to the Dome. It was too cloudy to observe
Next House Shell visit: 1st November (EL)
GCSE Observing evening: Having started clear, high cloud meant the evening was called off early. However, 3 Remove astronomres who had come were rewarded as the sky cleared. M31 was viewed by eye and then M13, Mizar A and B were viewed in the ETX. M45 (Pleiades) rising in the East in the Binos. The 10 inch was used to view first M13 (Globular in Hercules) then M57 (Ring nebula) in Lyra and lastly, for the first time M56 (Globular in Lyra). A couple of sporadic meteors were also seen
Shell House visit: The first Shell visit of the year got underway with 11 pupils from C3 picking a clear night (some high cloud gathering later). M31 was viewed in the Binos and by eye and then M13 in the 10 inch. Tours of the common asterisms were also given
Next house visit: 11th October (BH)
GCSE Observing evening: 4 Hundreds and 6 Remove astronomers joined CEB and RDK to view M31 and M45 in Binos, Mizar A and B in the ETX and M13 in the 10 inch. Several pieces of coursework were completed. 6 sporadic meteors were seen and many satellites
Friends Q and A evening: 6 Friends gathered for an evening centered on a discussion of galactic evolution. The sky was clear enough at the end to view M31 (Andromeda) by eye and in Binos, also M13 the Globular in Hercules. The 10 inch gave a good view of the central bulge of M31 with the orientation of the disc but little structure being visible
Private evening: 11 visitors, 4 adults and 7 children (6 to 13 yrs) attended the Dome. Despite early gaps in the clouds, only a few got to see Mizar A and B through the 10 inch as clouds closed in
Friends 3rd Anniversary drinks: Some 60 Friends attended the drinks party in the Marlburian to celebrate 3 years of the organisation. We were honoured to be joined by the Director (Honorary Friend) of the Southern Africa Large Telescope (SALT), currently the largest operational optical telescope in the world
Prep School Lecture: CEB lectured to some 140 pupils from years 6,7 and 8 at Windlesham House School on 'Living in the atmosphere of the Sun'
Observing evening: The ETX was set up to view the First Quarter Moon and the Binos viewed Jupiter and 3 Moons. The 10 inch was calibrated and briefly turned to Uranus, however cloud quickly came in and rendered further observation impossible
Lecture: CEB lectured to the entire Shell year group (some 165 pupils) and their Form teachers as part of the new Form programme. The lecture was on 'Archaeoastronomy - our 7000 year heritage'
GCSE Observing evening: 5 Hundreds and 4 Remove pupils came up to the Dome and despite a light sky saw Jupiter and 4 moons in Binos and ETX and then Neptune and Uranus in the 10 inch. M2 the globular cluster in Aquarius was also seen well. We attempted M30 the globular in Capricorn but it was at too low an altitude
Lecture: CEB gave a short lecture on Sir Edmond Halley to the whole Upper 6th year group as part of thre Enlightenment seminar
Observing evening: 10 Friends gathered to observe the outer planets on the first clear night of the new programme. As the sky darkened, Jupiter was seen in Binos and then the ETX with 4 moons initially before Europa disappeared behind the main planet. The 10 inch was then calibrated on Markab in Pegasus after the Summer break and then found Neptune easily. The planet was bright and showed a hint of blue with the disc being just resolved. Uranus was the next target with a much easier disc and good green-blue hint at low magnification. M31 and M13 were also viewed in Binos and several bright meteors seen
Teacher visit: After the Summer closure, the Dome opened with an afternoon visit by 6 Physics staff from Wellington College, hosted by 4 Marlborough College staff
Perseid observing evening: A small group gathered at 9.30pm to view Jupiter and its moons in the ETX (Io moving perceptively into occultation) and the ISS making another super pass with the T-shape and noticeable elongation in the direction of motion being vible to the naked eye. The 10 inch was again following M13 and gave superb resolution as the sky darkened. A band of cloud prevented any meteors being seen till 22.40. Over the next 2 hours 106 meteors were seen (including 12 sporadics). Most around 0 to +1 in magnitude but with an increasing number of -1 and -2 some greeny or creamy in colour. At 23.44 2 meteors travelled an identical track one chasing the other. At 23.48 a -4 with exploding head and 23.53 2 on parallel tracks. Observation ceased at 00.40 with our rate of 60 per hour indicating a ZHR of nearer 80 and an expectation of around 100 per hour in the early morning.
Observing evening: A group of 19 visitors gathered to spot early Perseids. 11 were seen in one hour, several very bright and many showing a green colour. The ISS (with Endeavour attached) was viewed in the Binos and Jupiter and its moons in the ETX. The 10 inch was used for a spectacular view of the Great Globular Cluster (M13) in Hercules
Summer School course: The clouds cleared just enough during the afternoon for brief glimpses of the eastern limb, where spot 966 was emerging and causing slight activity in the Chromosphere
Archaeoastronomy: The course had a tour of Avebury in light rain
Solar Weather: The course attended the Dome but the weather did not allow observation, rather a discussion of the possible causes of Global Warming
Summer School Lecture: 100 visitors attended the lecture 'Life and the Multiverse' given by Dr Roberto Trotta from Oxford University
Lughnasadh: 15 of the Archaeoastronomy course walked from Avebury to Silbury Hill to watch the start of the ceremony
Solar viewing: Too much cloud was present to allow use of the H alpha filter
Evening visit: 15 visitors came up to the Dome as the sky cleared. Several early Perseid meteors were seen and a tour of the Sunmer Sky given. Jupiter and its 4 main moons were viewed in Binos and the ETX. M31 was also ssen in the Binos. The sky was too cloudy for the 10 inch
Summer School course: 8 members of the Solar Weather course viewed the Sun in H alpha (given the lack of sunspots) and were treated to a rapidly changing erruptive prominence of some 80000km height and also some smaller quiescent prominences, one lifting off the surface. The changes seen over the short timescale indicate explosive speeds of up to 1000km/s
Evening visit: 8 visitors came up to the Dome after sunset to view the Summer Triangle, Antares and the rising 1 day waning Moon. Jupiter was viewed in Binos and the ETX and the 10 inch showing up to 4 cloud bands and a closing gap as Europa prepared to transit. The Milky Way was just visible and M31's core was viewed in Binos and the ETX
Summer School courses: 15 members of course 170, Archaeoastronomy, had a tour of the Dome in the morning and the 8 members of 171, Solar Weather, spent a couple of hours viewing the Sun in eclipse shades, projection box , ETX and the 10 inch with broadband filter trying to see the tiny groups of spots on an otherwise blank disc. 4 people managed to see spot 966!
Evening visits: 20 visitors attened the Dome to watch the stars appear follwong sunset. The Full (Thunder) Moon was seen large and orange on the horizon and then viewed in the Binos. Jupiter and its 4 Galillean Moons was seen well in the ETX and then at x80 and x160 in the 10 inch. The low altitude and moonlight meant that only a couple of bands were visible on the disc. The coure of M31 (Andromeda) galaxy was viewed in the Binos. In addition a tour of the Summer triangle, Antares, Arcturus and the Summer sky was made
Dome visit: A lecturer in Cognitive Science from Birmingham University had a brief tour of the Dome
GCSE revision: 15 GCSE pupils attended the Dome for 6 hours of revision prior to the exam on 12th
GCSE revision and Solar observing: 12 GCSE pupils gathered at the Dome for 4 hours of revision. The Sun was also viewed in the ETX showing the still large spot group 960
Solar observing: The ETX was used with 40mm and 12mm (Halpha sensitized) eyepieces to view the active and growing large group of spots near sunspot 960
Observing evening: A dozen Friends gathered to attempt a sighting of Mercury. Sadly the haze and cloud on the North Western horizon prevented this, but Venus was viewed in the ETX and 10 inch, clearly showing its near 50% phase. As the sky darkened, more cloud closed in from the East but the ISS pass was visible in small clear patches. The 10 inch was then aimed at 4 Vesta (the brightest asteroid and second most massive, discovered in 1807 by Olbers) and luckily the cloud parted enough for those remaining to see clearly the disc of the asteroid at its close distance of 1.1 AU
Solar observing: 2 visitors from London were able to view the nealy blank Sun in the ETX and then using the 10 inch and H alpha filter the prominences associated with a newly emerging active area on the eastern limb
Observing evening: The slender New Moon was found at 9.15pm and about half an hour later Mercury appeared within a few degrees to the South
Public Open afternoon: The weather was not conducive to viewing the Sun. Nevertheless a handfull of local people attended the Dome for a presentation of recent images and data on the Sun
Solar observing: 2 students from Imperial College in London visited the Dome to view sunspot 953 in ETX and at 80x and 160x in the 10 inch, The penumbral filament detail was superb as were the complex patterns of the umbra within the main spot
Prep School lecture: 80 pupils from years 7 and 8 and a number of staff and parents attended the lecture 'The Sun - our star' at Thomas's prep School in Battersea
2nd MayPublic Lecture: Some 30 visitors attended the lecture 'Living in the atmosphere of the Sun' given at Green College, Oxford
Solar observing: 2 members of the College science staff from the early 80's who had taken groups at the observatory and a friend attended the Dome. Though the sky was beginning to cloud, the Sun was viewed in the projection box with the huge spot clearly visible. Good detail was seen in the ETX and, in the 10 inch it was clear that the umbra had split and the large penumbra encompassed the group showed clear penumbral filaments at x160
Solar observing: 2 prep school pupils came to view the new large spot 953 in the 10 inch. At 80x the detailed shape of the single umbra was very good
Question and Answer evening: 14 Friends attended the Dome for an evening of discussion focussing on stellar evolution. The waxing Moon was also viewed in the 10 inch in the twighlight before the cloud closed in and good detail was visble on the walls of Copernicus
Archaeoastronomy Lecture: Some 20 members of Andover astronomical Society attended the lecture at their Village Hall just outside Andover on a clear night with the crescent Moon beutifully situated a few degrees from bright Venus
27th March to 3rd April
La Palma Expedition: 3 Hundreds pupils accompanied by CEB, JAG and RDK from Marlborough and a teacher from St Mary's Calne spent a week on La Palma. The group joined researchers from the Netherlands and Warwick Universiry on the 4.2m William Herschel and the 2.5m Isaac Newton telescopes for 20 hours of observing, working on close Binary systems and progenitors of Type 1a supernovae
Spring Sky Tour: A small group of Friends gathered on the evening of the Vernal Equinox to view a beutiful twighlight sight of the 3 day old Moon showing clear Earthshine and a very bright Venus within 5 degrees. M45 the Pleiades was viewed in Binos and M44 Beehive and h and chi Perseii. The ETX was used to see the nearly Full phase of Venus. The 10 inch showed Saturn very well at low magnification with Titan and Iapetus close together and Rhea, Tethys and Dione visible near to the Planet. M44 was also viewed and then the Binary Mizar A and B. A couple of bright meteors were see, including a fireball in Virgo at the end of the evening.
2007 Sun-Earth day Lecture: Some 30 Friends and visitors attended the 5th S-E day lecture 'Living in the atmosphere of the Sun' in the Ellis theatre
Lycee visit: 6 sixth form pupils from Lycee Jaques Monod, Orleans, came up to the Dome in the afternoon. The Sun was viewed in Solar specs, a projection box and the ETX with broadband filter. No details were seen, the disc being devoid of sunspots. The 10 inch was then used with the H alpha filter and some fine prominences were seen on the Eastern limb
Observing evening: Though initially clear allowing some viewing of Coma Berenices galaxy clusters, mist swiftly built up curtailing observations
House observatory visit: The last Shell House group (C3) of the year came up to the Dome, unfortunately the sky was completely cloudy
Next House visit: October 2007
Shell Physics visits: 20 pupils from Shell set 3 came up to the Dome to view the Sun, through solar specs, projection box and filtered 10inch as part of the Ast b course. The Sun was devoid of any spots but did show some granulation to keen eyes
Total Lunar Eclipse: Some 30 visitors including 3 Remove astronomers watched this spectacularly well situated eclipse. A perfect evening saw timing of the penumbral and umbral phases and a subtle gradiation of constanly changing colour to butterscotch orange at mid eclipse with a blue grey band at the top lunar edge. Certainly one of the best of its kind for a long while.
Observing evening: An unexpected clear evening gave 7 Remove GCSE Astronomers and 2 U6th visitors a chance to get going with coursework. Saturn and 4 moons was good in the 10 inch, though only 2 degrees from the nearly Full Moon. The closing gap between the two was apparent over the evening as Saturn neared Occultation. M42 was drawn in the ETX and M45 in Binos
Occultation of Saturn: From here the grazing conjunction was watched in detail and rather than 'rolling' along the edge of the Moon, Saturn appeared to 'bounce' off the edge !. Contact with the outer edge of the rings was made at 02.47.40 UT. The Cassini Division was touched at 02.49.47 UT at closest approach. At no time did the Planet's disc itself touch the edge of the Moon. Appreciable separation was seen at 02.50.20 UT and the outer ring edge had again detatched by 02.51.30 UT.
House observing evening: 9 pupils from BH and 1 from B1 came up to the Dome. Sadly, though Saturn had been clear in the early evening, only the 6 day old Moon could be viewed between the clouds in the Binos
Next House visit: 8th March (C3)
Observing evening: 2 visitors from London braved the clouds and were rewarded with glimpses of Orion's 'belt' (Alnitak, Almilam and Mintaka)and M45 (Pleiades) in Binos and then Saturn and Titan in the 10 inch. Castor was also resolved into one of its binary components in the 10 inch.
Observing evening: Despite a fine sunset and bright Venus, by 20.30 UT high cloud and poor seeing rendered Saturn and its moons in too romantic a haze for serious observing
House observing evening: 10 Shell pupils and the HM from B1 attended the Dome and through gaps in the cloud viewed M45 Pleiades and M42 Orion Nebula through Binos and Saturn at low magnification in the 10 inch. Even so Titan and 3 inner moons were easily visible
Next House visit: Thursday 22nd February (BH)
Observing session: 1 Remove astronomer was able to complete a piece of course work by observing Saturn and 6 moons in tiny patches between the clouds
GCSE observing evening: High cloud and mist combined with the Astro lights made for a less than perfect sky, however as the temperature dropped a group of 10 Hundreds astronomers managed to complete 1 or 2 observations. Saturn in the 10 inch at x173 showed 6 moons to good eyes including Iapetus out beyond Titan. M42 was viewed in the ETX and M45 in Binos. Mizar A and B were also a target in the ETX. The evening finished with the bright orange waning gibbous Moon rising in the East
Observing evening: The Dome was opened for a couple of Friends and despite the considerable moonlight, the evening was superb. M31 and M44 were viewed in the Binos and the Moon in the ETX. The 10 inch was then turned to Saturn which was viewed at increasing magnification until several surface bands and 5 moons were visible at x475 magnification. M42 was viewed at x238 and then x475 and showed the Trapezium and surrounding clouds in incredible detail with several more faint stars in the Trapezium itself. The Eskimo planetary nebula in Gemini was then viewed at x475 and x633 and showed superb detail of the two layers within the bubble of the explosion.
House observing evening: 13 Shell pupils from EL attended the Dome and sadly cloud prevented all but brief glimpses of the nearly full Snow Moon in Binos
Next House visit: 8th February (B1)
Art project visit: A former artist-in-residence at the College visited to film projections of the Gibbous Moon. Though clear at first the cloud rolled in a though the Moon was visible the light levels were greatly reduced
House observatory visit: 11 Shell from NC and 3 from MO were able to catch another clear evening, though with increasing high cloud. The First Quarter Moon was viewed in the ETX, M45 (Pleiades) in Binos and M42 and the Trapezium in the 10 inch
Next House visit: February 1st (EL)
GCSE Observing evening: 4 Remove pupils spent 2 hours doing coursework drawings. M42 and Trapezium, was well resolved in the ETX and Saturn super at higer magnification in the 10 inch. 5 Moons were visible. The high cloud gave both a lunar aureole and lunar halo and the evening finished with a -4 fireball meteor through Orion
GCSE observing evening: A superb clear, still, cold evening allowed 6 Hundreds pupils to continue coursework. The 4 day old Moon then M45 and M44 (Beehive) were viewed in Binos. Mizar A and B and M42 in ETX and Saturn in the 10 inch. Saturn was superb and 5 moons visible. Titan bright and far out and Rhea on the opposite side. The best view of the evening was a beutiful triangle of 3 of the Moons on the Titan side with Tethys and Dione close together and Enceladus (the hardest at mag. 11.5) almost lost in the planets glare
House observing evening: 11 Shell pupils from C1 came up to the Dome in very high winds. No chance of observing
Next House visit: 25th January (NC)
GCSE observing evening: 4 Hundreds pupils came up to the Dome but the cloud had closed in by the time they had arrived. M42 was viewed well in the 10 inch for 15 minutes in a brief clear patch earlier in the evening.
Shell Chapel Lecture: CEB gave a short talk 'The Star of Bethlehem' outlining some of the possible astronomical evidence for a real event
House observing evening: 9 Shell pupils from CO visited the Dome and though the sky was orange with light pollution due to high cloud, it was possible to have an asterism tour and for all to see the Pleiades through the Binos
Next House visit: January 18th (C1)
Comet observation: After so much cloudy weather, at last a clear sunset provided the opportunity for 4 of the Physics Department to observe the critical 30 minutes of twighlight when comet 2006 P1 McNaught was beutifully bright and clear just above the southwestern horizon, before setting at 5.30pm, its tail several degrees long. Picture in images to follow.
Tour of the Winter Sky: Following in a long line of cloudy nights, the sky was totally overcast and it was lightly raining. Nevertheless one Friend did turn up to discuss Summer School courses on offer next July
House observing evening: The last Shell House visit of the term took place in high winds and almost total cloud, though the Moon was hazily visible. 11 pupils from TU attended
Next House visit: January 11th 2007 (CO)
2006 Blackett Science Lecture: An audience of some 120 including pupils (both scientists and musicians), Friends of the telescope and guests from Oxford attended the lecture 'Superstrings'. The double act of complex particle physics and music was centered around Einstein, his ideas and life and was delivered by Professor Brian Foster OBE (Head of Particle Physics at Oxford University) and Jack Liebeck, international violinist, playing a 1785 Guadagnini
Primary School evening: 12 pupils and 11 adults from Ogbourne St George Primary School attended the Dome. Sadly the weather prevented any of the instruments being used
College lecture: Some 150 pupils attended the lecture 'Archaeoastronomy - our 7000 year heritage' in the Ellis Theatre
House observing evening: 11 Shell pupils from PR attended the Dome. Sadly the sky was totally cloudy
Next House visit: December 7th (TU)
GCSE observing evening: As the sky became ever clearer 4 pupils (3 R and 1 H) came up to the Dome and 8 pieces of coursework were completed. M45 was viewed in the Binos and the First Quarter Moon and then M42 in the ETX. The 10 inch was used to see first M57 in Lyra (Ring nebula) and then for the first time in a while the ghostly image of M27 in Vulpecula (Dumbell nebula)
Prep School visit: 12 pupils from Cheam School and 3 adults attended the Dome. The sky was largely cloudy but a tour of asterisms was possible and the nearly First Quarter Moon and the Pleiades were viewed in Binos
Public Open evening: A beutifully clear evening saw some 42 visitors at the Dome in 2 one hour sessions (though this extended somewhat due to the activity possible) including familes and several children aged 7yrs +. A tour was given of the Winter sky and then M45 (the Pleiades) was viewed in Binos, Mizar A and B (by the early group) in the ETX and then M57 (the Ring nebula) by both groups in the 10 inch.
Next Public event: March 18th 2007 - NASA Sun-Earth lecture: 'Living in the atmosphere of the Sun', 6.00pm Ellis Theatre, Marlborough College
House observing evening: 11 Shell pupils from MO and JAG came up to the Dome and though the early evening was clear, sadly the cloud closed in, though a short tour of Asterisms was possible>
Next House visit: November 30th (PR)
School visit: A Sixth form pupil (doing GCSE Astronomy) and her teacher from St Mary's School, Calne visited the Dome. Mizar A and B were viewed in the ETX and M45, the Pleiades in the Binos. M13, the Great gl;obular cluster in Hercules was spectacular in the 10 inch. The sky was very clear and allowed good naked eye viewing of the Milky Way and M31
GCSE observing evening: As the temperature fell JAG and 4 pupils came up to the Dome to continue coursework drawings. M13, M45, Mizar A and B were all drawn and then M57 (the Ring nebula in Lyra) which showed some detail in its expanding gas bubble. It was good to compare 2 very different objects M13 at over 33,000 light years and M57 at 2300 light years distance at only about 1 ly in diameter. The Trapezium in M42 was also seen well in the ETX at the end of the evening
External Lecture: CEB gave the lecture 'Wonders in the sky - an observational list for all' to some 25 members (children and adults) of Malmesbury Community Centre Science group at Malmesbury School
Leonids meteor shower: Despite dreadful weather earlier in the day and poor forecasts, the sky cleared around 9pm and a large group gathered JAG, RDK, DGR, 2 U6, 7 R and 3 H with 2 Friends to spot any early meteors. By the time the clouds closed in again at 11pm we had seen 6 Leonids and 18sporadics including two -4 fireballs, though these largely came from near Taurus (but late for Taurids)Some could have been Andromedids
GCSE Observing evening: After a very unpromising start, at 21.00 the clouds cleared to give a superbly still sky, the best of the year and 13 Astronomers came up to the Dome (13 R and 1 H). The Milky Way was a dominent arc across the sky and M31 was clear to the unaided eye. M13 was viewed well in the 10 inch until it became too low. M45 was drawn in the Binos and M42 seen well with the Trapezium (3 only easily visible) in the ETX. 7 meteors were seen, mainly slow yellowish Taurids, with 2 crossing (1 a sporadic) within 1 degree. One bright (-5) fireball was seen in the early evening covering some 20 degrees of the sky. By 22.15 Orion was fully visible amrking the start of the Winter sky evening observing
Stellar death observing eveing: Brief holes in the thick cloud were not enough to bring any of the instruments into operation. One determined Friend nevertheless visited for a tour of the Dome
House observing evening: 14 pupils from MM Shell visited the Dome accompanied by the Head of Science and visiting Inspector (informal) from Bryanston. Sadly, though the evening was clear to begin with, high cloud closed in. Neverthless, a tour of asterisms was possible and M45 (The Pleiades) were seen in Binos and the waning Moon in the ETX. The 10 inch was tracking the Globular Cluster M13 which was little more than a fuzzy grey patch by 8pm
Next House visit: November 23rd (MO)
GCSE Observing evening: Though the cloud meant that no coursework could take place, 8 Remove astronomers and RDK were rewarded by a Lunar Aureole, a bright 3 second sporadic fireball of -4th magnitude and an unusual green late Taurid (-1 mag). Some other less well known constellations were also identified
Observatory visit: 5 members of CADSAS (Cranbrook and District Science and Astronomy Society (Kent) and 2 teachers from Cranbrook Schoool visited the Dome to see the restored 10 inch and discuss the Blackett outreach programme. Sadly though M13 was good in the 10 inch early in the evening, by the time the group arrived cloud and mist meant that apart from a Lunar aureole, fireworks were the only observation targets
Taurid Meteor shower: Despite a nearly Full Moon and high cloud and moisture, 20 GCSE Astronomers from both year groups came up to the Dome. 4 Taurids and one sporadic were seen, a couple brighter than -2 magnitude. The ETX was used to view the Terminator as was the 10 inch, both with filters. At the end of the evening the 10 inch was used to resolve Castor into 3 of its multiple star system
House Observing evening: 12 pupils from C2 came up to the Dome on the clearest night this winter with temperatures in the Dome dropping to 4 degrees. The Moon was only 2 days off full so the sky was bright, nevertheless a tour of asterisms and viewing M31 and M45 in Binos and the ETX was possible. The 10 inch was used to view the Moon's Terminator and the area near Gassendi crater.
Next House visit: November 9th (MM)
GCSE observing evening: The clear evening brought some 30 GCSE astronomers up to the dome from 8.30pm till 10pm. Hundreds focussed on coursework drawings of M45 in Binos and Mizar A and B in the ETX and crater detail on the Terminator in the 10 inch. The Remove had tours of asterisms and viewed the Milky Way and Orion rising. Some attempts were made at digital photography. A couple of Taurid meteors were also seen.
Orionids evening: Despite cloud rapidly thickening a small group gathered at the Dome mid evening. One meteor was seen but not an Orionid. The Dome was finally closed at 10pm
R.A.S. Lecture: CEB lectured ('The Barclay Equatorial - Education with a Victorian telescope') to some 120 Astronomers and Fellows of the Royal Astronomical Society at their first Open Meeting of the new academic year
House observing evening: 11 pupils from SU were lucky enough to have the first clear Thursday. After dark adaption we viewed Mizar and Alcor in Binos and then Mizar A and B clearly resolved in ther ETX. The Plough, Cassiopeia, M31 and the Summer Triangle and Milky Way were all clear. Sadly cloud prevented seeing comet Swan. Several satellites and meteors were also seen.
Next House visit: 2nd November (C2)
Remove observing evening: As cloud cover increased one pupil was able to get a great view of M13 (the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules) in the 10 inch and draw it as coursework
Prep School Lecture: CEB gave the lecture 'The Sun - our star' to some 200 pupils and staff at Summer Fields School in Oxford
Primary School visit: Some 30 year 6 pupils, parents and the Head Master from Ramsbury Primary School visited the Dome for two successive 1 hour tours and lectures. Sadly the evening was totally cloudy.
House observing evening: The year's House Shell group visits got underway with 9 pupils from LI visiting the Dome. The sky was totally cloudy, though the Moon was glimpsed as we left
Next House visit: October 12th (SU)
Friends anniversary drinks: Some 45 Friends attended the Dome for drinks and eats on the 2nd anniversary of the launch of the group. Heavy rain in the afternoon had at least ceased, but the evening remained cloudy and chilly, luckily all managed to pack inside
GCSE Observing evening: The 10 inch was calibrated on Vega, following the installation last week of 2 new drive belts. M57 (Ring Nebula) was viewed very faint at 9th nagnitude. Sadly clouds closed in before pupil viewing began
GCSE Observing evening: Despite a poor weather forecast, CEB and JAG opened the Dome and 7 Hundreds pupils attended to start or continue coursework drawings. The Binos were used to view M13 in Hercules and its surrounding field, the summer triangle and M31 were seen by eye and the 10 inch was used to view the Mizar A and B binary system. Several satellites were seen including a medium bright iridium flare and several meteors (2 on the same track through the Mizar, Alcor, Ludwig's star triangle were seen in the 10 inch at magnitude 6 to 7 ? Eta Draconids)
Observing the Outer Planets: Despite a fine sunset the clouds quickly covered the sky and rain has started by nine
Observing afternoon: A sunny clear sky allowed a view of disappearing spot 904 through the white light filter
Public Lectures: CEB gave 4 lectures at Green College (Radcliffe Observatory)during the afternoon on the Astronomy carried out at ther Radcliffe Observatory, as part of the Heritage Open Day. Some 280 members of the public and Oxford academics attended the lectures.
Prep School lecture: 150 pupils in years 6,7 and 8 from Farleigh School attended a lecture 'The Sun - our star' given by CEB in the Theatre at Farleigh.
Observing evening: The ETX was used to view the now waxing Harvest Moon and the fine details of the ray craters. The Binos were used to locate various Messier Objects including M13 (the great Globular Cluster in Hercules)
Observing evening: The rising Harvest Moon was viewed and photographed as the umbra of the Earth's shadow left the surface, sadly the Moon was too low in the sky to view with the 10 inch. The largest Moon of 2006 (at perigee) was then admired as it lit the sky all night
Observing evening: After a long summer break the Dome was open briefly to view M13 the great Globular Cluster in Hercules. Sadly howevercloud closed in after a setting Gibbous Moon had been viewed in The ETX. 5 dedicated Friends turned up on the off-chance but there was then nothing visible
Summer School courses: The 6 on the afternoon course were able again to view spot 901 with leader and very faint remains of the follower and a few tiny spots. The leader's umbra split with a light-bridge over a period of an hour or so
Summer School Lecture: Some 80 Summer School guests and Friends of the Telescope packed into the Bradleian theatre for the lecture 'Wonders in the sky - an observational list for all'
Summer School courses: In the afternoon the 6 adults on the course were able to check up on the progress of spot 901 which had started to fade and only the 'leader' was visble in the ETX with some 8 tiny spots where the 'follower' had been were visible in the 10 inch
Observing evening: With approaching thunder storms and total cloud cover, only two visitors came up for a tour of the Dome
Summer School courses: 12 on the morning course were able to get even clearer views of the prominences on the Eastern limb in the morning and the 6 in the afternoon viewed spot group 901 in the 10 inch in great detail. The Follower had developed a light bridge.
Observing evening: 16 visitors from Summer School came up to the Dome and despite increasing cloud, which stopped observations at 11.15pm the group were able to get good views of Jupiter and its 4 moons in the ETX and 10 inch and then viewed Alcor and Mizar and split Mizar in to A and B in the 10 inch.
Summer School courses: 12 adults on the 'To Infinity and Beyond' morning course and 6 on the 'Solar Weather afternoon course were able to view the small group of sunspots 901 in the ETX and then in the 10 inch where a good hedge prominence was visible on the Eastern limb
Observing evening: A group of 30 Summer School visitors came up to the Dome for the sunset and to view the Summer Triangle. Jupiter was also seen in Binos and the ETX. In the 10 inch Jupiter's disc was clear with several bands visible. Io was seen going into occultation. Several satellites and an Iridium flare were seen
Observing evening: 2 young visitors attended the Dome to watch a fine sunset and then observe Jupiter and its moons in Binos. As the light dimmed the 3 stars of the Summer Triangle appeared neatly in order.
Prize Day: The Observatory was open from 10.30 am till 5 pm with a display of GCSE Astronomy Coursework. 50 visitors came up during the day and those who came earlier before the clouds closed in were also treated to a spectacular view of some huge Solar prominences
Observing morning: Another group of Shell pupils joined RDK and JAG at the telescope to view spot 898. The spot showed a split on one side of the umbra. Two large prominences were visible on the Eastern limb
Observing morning: A group of 7 College pupils and 2 staff visited the Dome before school to view the Sun in the clear cool morning sky. The ETX gave good detail of the 'new' large (Neptune sized) sunspot no. 898 but the 10 inch showed superb detail and resolution of the sunspot and its surrounding area in H-alpha, with many loop prominences being visible both against the surface as dark filaments and in profile on the limb.
Summer Sky Tour: A small group of Friends gathered on a perfect, clear, warm summer evening. So close to the Solstice, twightlight lingered till 23.00 BST and the line up of Mercury, Saturn and Mars in the West was not visible. At 22.59 BST a superb bright pass of the ISS was seen crossing through the Summer Traingle, almost at the Zenith and amazingly visible down to 3 or 4 degrees altitude in the East before disappearing. Jupiter was seen well in the ETX with Io in occultation until it emerged on time at 23.29 BST. The 10 inch viewed M57 the Ring Nebula in Lyra. By 00.30 the sky was dark enough to see the Milky Way and may bright satellites including one with an unusual unperiodic flash.
Observatory visit: 3 teachers from St Mary's School Calne attended the Dome to discus visits and the GCSE Astronomy coursework
Observing afternoon: A clear sky with very light high cloud enabled the H alpha filter to be used to view a fine prominence associated with the disappearing spot 892. The rest of the disc being blank. The 40000km prominence developed as the small group of 4 Upper 6th and 2 teachers watched.
Maintenance visit: A new Drive belt has returned the Telescope to full operation. We were also able to check the polar aligment and confirm very little drift in Declination, which bodes well for imaging at a later date
GCSE Revision: 8 GCSE Astronomers attended the Dome over 5 hours (at 30 degrees celsius!) for some last minute revision. Sunspots 892 and 893 were viewed briefly in the ETX
Observing morning: 20 Shell pupils and their teacher came up to view the Sun in the Solarscope, ETX and 10 inch (using H alha filter) Spots 892 and 893 were more prominent than yesterday and there were more pronouced prominences on the SE limb
Observatory visit: Three 12 year olds visited the Dome to view the Sun. The prominences had grown in number and magnitude and were spectacular on the SE limb
Observing afternoon: 19 Shell pupils and their teacher, followed by an number of GCSE astronomers who were attending for last minute revision, were able to view the Solar disc in Eclipse shades and then projected in a Solarscope which revealed a central sunspot (892). In the ETX the spot was well resolved into a large spot and many smaller spots and pores with obvious umbra and penumbra. The 10 inch with H-alpha filter allowed surface detail to be seen and a loop prominence very evident on the south-Eastern limb
Maintenance visit and Solar observing: The Dome had been closed over the week, but a full morning observing and testing the telescope with the Solar filter produced superb views of the active sunspot 892. The seeing was superb until light cloud at the end of the morning and high resolution of the penumbra was possible
Observing afternoon: The clear blue skies gave a chance to get the H-alpha filter running and the Solar limb was observed by a small group during the morning, with several prominences visible. The First Quarter Moon was also observed in the early evening
Observing evening: At long last a clear evening gave a chance to view Jupiter again in the 10 inch and also to admire the young Moon in close proximity to Venus below it, Mars just to the left and Saturn just beyond, also Castor and Pollux all within a few degrees.
Prep School visit: 12 scholars from Cheam School and the Head of Science visited the Dome. Despite a largely cloudy sky, all were able to view the solar disc in the 10 inch and to make out the two small sunspots present today
Public Solar viewing afternoon: Sadly the weather (rain) was hardly suitable for viewing the Sun, nevertheless a couple of visitors attended the Dome for a presentation and tour of the telescope
Green College lecture: As part of the Astronomy for All Public Understanding of Science lecture series CEB gave the lecture 'Ancient Observatories - Archaeoastronomy' to a 'full-house' (120) in Green College, Oxford. The lecture was followed by a tour of the Radcliffe Observatory, Tower of the Winds by Professor Jeff Burley
Collingbourne Kingston lecture: 48 visitors attended a lecture on 'Ancient Observatories - Archaeoastronomy' given by CEB in St Mary's Church.
Transit of Io: After a rainy start to the day preventing sunrise being visible at Avebury, the day cleared and a clrear sky brought some 20 Friends to the Dome to view a transit of Jupiter's moon Io. After a good ISS pass and viewing of the Moon and Saturn through the ETX the 10 inch watched Jupiter and its beutifully aligned 4 moons. At 20.48.40 UT Io made 1st contact. Sadly since Jupiter was only 10 or so degrees above the horizon, the seeing was not good and details, including Io and its shadow, were hard to resolve though this improved during the evening until light mist and cloud stopped the observation at 23.15 local time. Fragment C of 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann was also viewed in the Binos in Hercules.
Observing evening: After a very long spell of no clear nights, the second of the week was seized as an opportunity to do some calibration of the drive mechanism on the 10 inch. An attempt was made to see the 14 hour old Moon, but the Western horizon was not clear enough of cloud at sunset. Jupiter was amazingly bright at -2.5 magnitude approaching Opposition and showed a good deal of detail. The ISS was followed on its predicted pass with the Binos and showed clear structure of solar panels and segmented craft. Searching Corona Borealis fairly quickly located the 9th magnitude segment B of the comet 73P Schwassman-Wachmann as it continues to break up.
31st March till 7th April
Astronomy expedition to La Palma: CEB and Dr Andrew Taylor (Kings School Canterbury) were accompanied by 3 pupils (one from MC and 2 from KSC) and joined a researcher from the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute in the Netherlands on the 2.5m Isaac Newton telescope for 2 clear nights of observing small Irregular galaxies. Visits had also been arranged to the GTC 10.4m under construction, the 4.2m WHT, Magic 17m and Magic 2 also at 17m, whilst at the Roque de los Muchachos observatory. Many thanks are again due to Rene Rutten (ING Director), Javier Mendez (ING publicity) and to Mr and Mrs Wetton for providing accomodation. The remainder of the week was again spent touring the island and walking, including along the fault line on top of the Cumbre Vieja.
Partial Solar Eclipse: The Dome was open to the Public and despite growing cloud cover all the 50 or so visitors were able to view the partial eclipse in the various instruments. Solar specs. and projection boxes worked well and the images in the ETX 105 and the 10 inch were very clear. It was good to have the proximity of a few sunspots too. The edge of the Moon was clearly not entirely smooth in the 10 inch. Sadly the Web link to Turkey did not function but we were constantly updated by a Friend in Turkey who described Totality and the Corona as a view of a lifetime
2006 Avebury Society Lecture: Some 100 members of Avebury Society and guests attended CEB's lecture Ancient Observatories - Timeless Knowledge (a repeat of the 2005 Sun-Earth day lecture) in Devizes Town Hall.
Lecture: CEB gave the Lecture Ancient Observatories - Timeless Knowledge to Malmesbury Community Science group at Malmesbury School
Tour of the Spring Sky: After a cloudy start, though light haze obscured some of the sky, the evening improved and gave the small group present superb views of Saturn at high magnification. Several structures in the rings were visible and 2 bands on the surface. 5 Moons including the far out Iapetus were visible
2006 Sun-Earth Day Lecture: The 4th S-E day lecture took place in the Ellis theatre. Titled 'Eclipse - in a different light'. A good number of Friends and visitors were present.
House observatory visit: 9 pupils from NC Shell visited the Dome for the last House visit of the year. Sadly again it was totally cloudy.
Next house visit: Tuesday 3rd October 2006
House observatory visit: After a 2 week break and little clear weather, 10 Shell pupils from PR visited the Dome. Though the Moon could just be seen through the clouds, there was not enough clear sky to observe.
Next House visit: Tuesday 14th March (NC)
Observatory visit: 11 members of a local Astrology group visited the Dome and despite the possibilty of return of snow, they were treated to a superb night. M45 the Pleiades were viewed in Binos and Saturn was very clear at high magnification x240 and showed 3 bands on the surface, the Cassini division and 4 moons. The sky tour included all the visible Zodiac constellations and a 3 minute pass of the ISS
Observatory visit: The Master of the College visited and Saturn was viewed in clear patches between the fast moving cloud and showed plenty of detail with 3 of the moons easily seen
House visit: 13 pupils from EL and 2 remaining from MO came up to the Dome. Light snow was falling, so sadly the Dome could not be opened.
Next House visit: Monday 13th March (PR)
Observatory visit: A group of some 18 cub scouts (aged 8 and 9) from the Marlborough pack attended the Dome with 4 accompanying adults. Sadly the night was cloudy.
Observatory visit: 7 visitors from Malmesbury Community Centre were lucky to coincide with a rare clear evening. Despite light polution, made worse by some light cloud, Saturn was observed with 4 moons in the 10 inch. M45 was viewed in binos and a tour of the sky was given including locating M31 by eye.
Flare observation: The -8th magnitude Iridium flare was observed as predicted. Despite low cloud it shone though with a brightness not far short of the Moon 5 degrees to the East
House visit: At last a clear night. 11 Shell pupils and a House Tutor from MO came up to the Dome and were able to view the waxing Gibbous Moon at high magnification in the 10 inch and Saturn in the 4 inch as well as the Pleiades in the Binos. Despite the Moonlight, a guided tour of the main objects visible was undertaken.
Next House visit: Thursday February 23rd (EL)
GCSE Observing evening: Once MO Shell had departed, 2 Hundreds pupils and 2 Remove pupils came up to finish Coursework drawings. The Artist in Residence also attended. The Moon was viewed in the 10 inch then Saturn showing good surface detail at x173. In the 4 inch Saturn then Mizar A and B and then M42. The ETX 105 was used for M45 and M42 and Saturn and M44. The Binos were also used for M31, though little detail could be seen due to the moonlight.
Observatory visit: 7 students and their teacher from the Astronomy GCSE course at Swindon New College visited the Dome. Though the Moon was glimpsed by eye the evening was otherwise totally cloudy
Prep School Science teacher visit: 3 Science teachers from Cheam, Port Regis and St Hugh's schools came to the Dome for a morning tour and to establish links
Primary School visit: 10 children (aged 5 to 11 yrs) and 9 adults from Avebury School visited the Dome. Sadly the cold night was not clear.
House visit: 12 pupils from MM Shell came up to a freezing Dome. Sadly the cloud cover was total.
Next House visit: Thursday 9th February (MO)
Observatory visit: 9 pupils and 2 staff of the French exchange from Orleans came up to the Dome for a tour and were lucky, given the mist and reflected light, to get a decent view of Saturn (and Titan) in the 10 inch. The crescent New Moon was also seen as it set orange in the West
Observatory visit: 2 pupils and a member of staff from Kings School Canterbury visited the Dome for a pre La Palma expedition briefing. As the temperature fell, Mars was viewed in the early evening in the 10 inch
House visit: 12 Shell pupils from B1 came up to the Dome and though a brief break in clouds allowed a quick tour of the winter sky and Mars and Saturn, it was not enough to use any of the instruments.
Next House visit: Thursday 2nd February (MM)
GCSE Observing evening: Though the evening did not turn out to be crystal clear and -6 as forecast, as the temperature fell towards zero there was enough clarity at high altitude (the mist meant that the lower 25 degress in the South were washed out with light pollution) for 12 or so pupils to work frantically at the Dome completing many pieces of coursework. Saturn with 4 or 5 moons visible was drawn in the 10 inch and then M42 showing the Trapezium well. M45 was viewed in the Binos and M42 in the ETX.
House visit: 9 pupils from LI came up to the Dome. As has been the norm this winter, the sky was cloudy.
Next House visit: Thursday 26th January (B1)
Observing evening: A very brief clear interval allowed the 10 inch to swing into action and view M42 at a variety of magnifications. The Double stars in the Trapezium were easily resolved. Sadly cloud ended the session before any GCSE coursework could be undertaken.
House visit: At last after a long run of available cloudy nights, the telescope saw some action. A group of 12 SU pupils were able to view the nearly Full Moon in the 10 inch and then in Binos. The cloud allowed little else to be seen, though a few glimpsed Saturn in Binos.
Next House visit: January 19th (LI)
Tour of the Winter Sky: Despite total cloud and light snow falling, 9 Friends (including 5 children)attended the Dome for a tour of astronomical images
Observing evening: Though the mist was too thick for observing a superb Lunar Halo of some 20 degrees diameter was visible around the nearly Full Moon
Observing evening: A clear cold evening gave a chance to test out the Apogee CCD camera and to observe the Moon and Mars
House observing evening: 10 pupils from Turner House came up to the Dome and despite mist and patchy cloud were able to see the First Quarter Moon in the Binos and Mars (with detail just discernable) in the 10 inch.
Next House visit: January 12th (SU)
GCSE observing evening:1 Hundreds and 2 Remove pupils took advantage of a clear sky to complete several pieces of Coursework. Despite scattered light masking the lower 15 degrees above the Southern horizon, we were able to view and draw M45 in Binos and M42 in ETX (which was impressive with the 4th of the trapezium easily resolved). The 10 inch was used for M42 at high magnification and the nebula structure was clearly seen. Saturn was also viewed in the ETX even showing some banding on the surface. During the evening 2 Arietid metreors and 1 Geminid were seen.
Primary School visit: 40 pupils and some 14 parents from St Michael's School in Aldbourne visited the Dome in two groups for an hour. CEB was helped by 2 graduates from Oxford University, so that the groups could be split. Though the cloud was patchy in the early evening, all saw M45 in Binos and had an introduction to Constellations and then were able to view Mars through the 10 inch.
Observing evening: A small group of Friends and visitors from London gathered at the Dome just in time to catch an Iridium flare in Cassiopeia. M45 was viewed through Binos and Mars showed some detail in the 10 inch.
House visit: 11 pupils from C2 came up to the Dome in driving rain for a tour of the telescope and the website.
Next House visit: December 8th (TU)
Einstein Year Lecture: An audience of some 150 pupils, staff, visitors and Friends attended the Ellis Theatre to hear 'In pursuit of pulsars', a superb lecture given by Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Visiting Professor in the Oxford Astrophysics Department.
House observing evening: After a week of foggy nights, 10 Shell pupils from CO were lucky to get a cold clear sky. M45 and M31 were seen outside and Mizar A and B. Mars showed more detail than last week with both the bright white ice cap (S) and Syrtis Major being evident as dark green-grey markings on the disk.
Next House visit: December 1st (C2)
GCSE observing evening: 10 Remove pupils gathered at the Dome and having set up to observe were thwarted by an unexpected snow shower. 3 pupils were able to stay for the resumption of cold clear skies and could attempt coursework drawings of M45, MizarA and B and Mars
GCSE observing evening: 18 pupils from both year groups joined CEB, JAG and RDK at the Dome for a couple of hours of superb observing. As the temperatures dropped well below zero the sky was clear and still. Only the bright Noon washed out some detail. Mars was viewed and drawn in various instruments, as was M45 and Mizar A and B. Later Saturn and Titan were viewed in the ETX and then M42 for the first time in this instrument, the Trapezium being well resolved. The Trapezium was then viewed at x240 in the 10 inch and 2 of the 4 bright stars resolved into much fainter doubles. One Leonid a Taurid and one sporadic were seen by the group
Observing evening (Friends): Despite not being as clear or cold as predicted, a group of Friends gathered to view Mars, the Moon and possible Leonids. The Moon was too bright to give hope of many metoers and none were seen. Mars was good in the 10 inch at high magnification and the southern polar cap discernable. M42, once high enough, was viewed and, given the Moon light, showed plenty of detail in the 10 inch. By 11pm Saturn was dominent in the Eastern sky and this allowed the first view of the year, this was the more exciting since it was the first use of the new ETX 10.5cm telescope (the BLT) The image was suprisingly good and the gap between the rings and the planet and the moon Titan were both very clear
Observing evening: Though it soon clouded over and a group of 6 GCSE pupils were able to look at the Moon and Mars in the small instruments and briefly in the 10 inch. A bright meteor was also seen (not a Leonid)
Public open evening: The Dome was open to the public in three one hour sessions from 8pm till 11pm. A superb clear sky with temperatures falling to freezing allowed good views of the waxing gibbous Moon and Mars at high magnifications in the 10 inch. M45 was also viewed in Binos. The final group also saw M42 in the 10 inch. A total of 42 visitors attended from a large age range. CEB was assisted by a graduate from Oxford Astrophysics
House observing evening: 12 pupils from BH came up to the Dome on a mild and totally cloudy night.
Next House visit: November 24th (CO)
Mars at Opposition: Despite a very poor forecast and fast moving clouds, 16 visitors were able to get good views of the planet. The cloud helped to mask some of the glare and detail on the surface could be seen at high magnification (x238)
Observing evening: A clear spell early in the evening with falling temperatures gave an opportunity to observe Mars clearly in the 10 inch. The brightness was such as to require filters to see surface detail. Cloud and rain had moved in by 8pm
House Observing evening: At last a clearish night. 11 Shell pupils from C3 attended the Dome and were able to view Mars at low magnification in the 10 inch. Due to some cloud and scattered light early on details were hard to see, though the ice caps were obvious to most.
Next House visit: November 10th (BH)
Observing evening: As the temperature dropped, the sky continued to clear and 10 Remove GCSE pupils were able to view Mars at up to 320x magnification, where several surface features were visible. In between Mars viewing, the pupils watched for Taurids. A total of 7 were seen (+2 sporadics) the brightest being mag.-2, slow and yellowish with an exploding head.
Lecture: CEB gave a lecture entitled 'Observational Astronomy' at Malmsbury Community Centre as part of the launch of a local astronomical group
Primary School visit: Some 40 pupils and accompanying parents and the Headmaster from Ramsbury School filled the Dome for 2 one hour slots. The evening was warm and too cloudy for the 10 inch, but all had a tour of the sky and looked at the First Quarter Moon in the 4 inch and then later Mars, where the Northern Ice was discernable as a brightness at the edge of the disc
Observing evening: A clear and colder evening gave an opportunity to view Draconid metors for the first time. 3 were seen in the space of 1 hour, so hardly spectacular. Mars was observed rising 5 deg. from M45. M34 an Open Cluster in Perseus was also observed
Lecture: CEB gave a lecture entitled 'Astronomy in the family, J.G.Barclay and the 1860 10 inch Cooke' to a distiguished audience at the 2nd Autumn Conference of the Society for the History of Astronomy (SHA) in Birmingham
House observing evening: The year's House Shell group visits got underway with 11 pupils from C1 visiting the Dome. The sky was cloudy and the evening warm.
Next House visit: November 3rd (C3)
Observing evening:A clear sky brought 19 GCSE pupils to the Dome from both year groups. Coursework drawings of Mizar A and B and the Pleiades were made using the Binos and 4 inch. The 10 inch showed all those present a good view of Uranus and later Mars. Some surface features were seen on Mars though it was still rather low in the sky and the growing Northern ice-cap visible. M31 was also viewed in Binos and a sky tour conducted. Several bright meteors were also seen.
Partial Solar eclipse:4 optimistic Friends attended the Dome but the eclipse was invible throughout. We will hope for better luck in March (29th) for the 25% view of the Total eclipse on that day
Anniversary drinks: Some 60 Friends and family gathered to celebrate the first anniversary of the founding of the Friends of the Marlborough Telescope. Though windy and chilly and too cloudy for viewing, the Dome made a good venue for the event.
Observing night: 4 Remove astronomers grabbed the clear slot till 9.30pm to get 3 coursework drawings completed. The 10 inch was used to view Mizar A and B, and M51. The 4 inch was used for M31, M45 and Mars as it was rising where the polar caps where just discernable. Mars was still too low for the 10 inch at that time
Observing evening: Sadly the planned viewing of the outer planets was clouded out though one local Friend did brave the winds to visit the Dome for an introductory tour
Observing night: What appeared to be a clear night allowed a good view of Uranus and a brief glimpse of Mars before cloud prevented location of Neptune
Observing night: The first clear Tuesday night of term saw an unprecedented number of pupils from the Remove and Hundred (some 32 in all) attend the Dome. Sadly the clouds rolled in and the observing was cut short. Nevertheless all got to see the now waning Harvest Moon through the 10 inch and Mizar A and B through the 4 inch.
Observing afternoon: A small group of children gathered to view the huge sunspot 798 through solar viewing glasses and in the Solarscope projetion box
Lecture: Mr David Humphrey lectured to an audience of pupils staff and a couple of Friends on his theories and ideas about the early solar system. This was a trial run for a lecture to be given at Cambridge later in the week.
Prep School Lecture: CEB gave a lecture titled 'The Sun - our star' to some 220 pupils and staff at Windlesham House School in Sussex
Observatory visit: A small group including 2 children visited the Dome for a quick tour. Sadly the evening was cloudy
Observing evening: The first Friends event of the new calendar brought a group of a dozen observers (3 under 12) to view first Jupiter and Venus only 1.4 deg. apart in the pink glow of the setting Sun then a tour of the Summer sky as the light dimmed. By 9.30pm it was dark enough to find the calibration star Xi Serpens Cauda and thence locate the Pluto field. Again the younger eyes had greater ease in seeing the tiny dim dot which came and went, but had moved since Monday. Nearly all those present managed to see the planet, making this an unusual evening for all present. The few who stayed on were able to see a butterscotch Mars rising in the East
Observing evening: Another stunning Summer evening. A small group gathered to study the faint objects in the Pluto field. Younger eyes had less difficulty in finding the faint candidate. Certainly the coordinates were correct, but at nearly 14th magnitude the image in peripheral vision was not constant; again we will await movement. Uranus was also viewed seeming unbelievably bright in comparison.
Opening up post holiday: The telescope was calibrated and the field of 10th and 11th magnitude stars located to find Pluto. One candidate was identified right at the edge of the telescope and dark-adapted eye's capabilities. If it has moved later in the week, Pluto will have been seen. Mars rose in the East after 11pm and by Midnight was high enough to view for the first time this year; very bright orange with some dark markings, though unlike in 2003 little sign of the Ice cap
Observing afternoon: The Sun was viewed in H alpha and some imaging of a 'hedge prominence attempted'.
Observing afternoon: 2 visitors were able to view the Sun in H alpha during a clear hot afternoon. Several prominences were visble changing visibly over 30 minutes. Spot 798 also showed considerable disturbances
Observing evening: A couple of Friends were able to catch glimpses of a handful of brighter Perseids between the clouds between 10 and 11.30pm BST
Observatory visit: At last a clear evening. A group of Summer School visitors and local Friends were able to view a clear Summer sky. The Milky Way was clear and Andromeda (M31) easy to find. The 10 inch was used to separate Mizar A and B and then to view the bright Globular Cluster M3 and then the Whirlpool Galaxy M51, within which some spiral structure could be seen.Some 15 Perseid meteors were seen during the evening, one bright enough to show slight pink colour.
Solar Observing: A couple of Friends and 2 teenagers from Summer School observed the Sun in white light through the 10 inch. The active spot group 792 was very prominent mid disc
Observatory visit: 10 Summer School visitors came up to the Dome. Through gaps in the clouds Jupiter and 3 moons were visible in the 4 inch. Various constellations could be identified and the Milky Way near Deneb viewed in Binos. By 11pm the sky had cleared to the SE and Mizar and Alcor were viewed in the small instruments. 3 Perseid meteors were also seen.
Observatory visit: 8 Summer School visitors attended the Dome. Though there was hazy cloud, the Summer Triangle was clear and Mizar and Alcor were viewed in Binos and then Mizar A and B in the 10 inch
Observatory visit: 2 visitors attended the Dome on a damp and cloudy evening
Observatory visit: 8 visitors attended the Dome for a 90 minute tour and introduction to the website. Sadly again cloud prevented any viewing.
Summer School Courses: 12 adults are attending the morning 'To Infinity and Beyond' introduction to Astrophysics and 6 the afternoon 'Solar weather' a study of the Sun. 8 visitors came up to the Dome for a tour and introduction to the website despite the clouds.
Prize Day: 80 visitors including parents, pupils and staff came up to the Dome to see the exhibition of GCSE Moon maps and as the sky cleared during the afternoon, to view the solar limb in H alpha
Consultancy visit: 2 Architects from London visited the Dome to gather information and consult for a potential project in the North of England
Teacher visit: Two teachers from Cranbrook School in Kent visited to look over the Observatory and discuss setting up their own operation.
Observing evening: A couple of Friends and 2 College staff came up to view Venus and Mercury (all for the first time). Saturn was again not discernable in the haze. The 10 inch was also turned on Jupiter, which given the twilight was rather featureless, other than the main belts.
Observing evening: A small group gathered at sunset to watch the conjunction of Planets. Mercury and Venus were clear but due to low haze in WNW, Saturn could not be made out.
Solar observing: 20 Lower sixth pupils and their teacher were able to view the Solar spectrum
Observing evening: The gathering planets Mercury, Venus and Saturn were viewed low in the WNW sky. Venus appearing first at around 10pm, Mercury was clear lower and further North by 10.15pm
Solar observing: 8 Lower Sixth pupils viewed the almost blank Solar disc and were able to view the Frauenhoffer lines in the Solar spectrum
Observing evening: The rising of the Moon at its furthest South standstill position and the optical illusion of its abnormal size was viewed. the Honey Moon was indeed a superb orange-pink in colour
GCSE Revision: 11 GCSE Astronomy pupils gathered from 9am till 5pm for a final intense revision session prior to the exam. The Sun was also viewed in H alpha.
Solar observing: A small group of visitors viewed the Sun in H alpha
Solar observing: 12 Remove pupils viewed the Sun in H alpha. An enormous prominence was seen on the eastern limb stretching some 200,000 km
Solar observing: 3 Shell sets, a total of 60 pupils and 3 staff, viewed the Sun as yesterday. the limb activity in H alpha had increased around the whole disc
Solar observing: 2 Shell sets, a total of 34 pupils and 3 staff, viewed the Sun both in white light and though the H alpha filter on the 10 inch.
Observing afternoon: The Solar limb was viewed in H alpha and many prominences seen on both the Western and Eastern limbs
Observing evening: A warm clear evening with just a little high cloud allowed a small group of Friends to view Jupiter. Ganymede was seen to be the innermost moon and was moving in to transit in the morning, the seperation of it and Io, which was moving to apjove, could be seen easily over the course of 30 minutes. Plenty of satellites were visible. Tempel 1 proved ellusive, though a potential sighting was made, there was just too much scattered light for this low magnitude object.
Observing evening: The Summer Constellations. Sadly, despite some promise of clear patches, the event was clouded out.
Observing evening: Given its proximity to Jupiter, an attempt was made to locate Comet Temple 1, the target for the Deep Impact mission on 4th July. At 11th magnitude it was not easy in the twighlight sky, but could just be seen, close to the magnificent M3 orange giant Auva (delta Virginis). A chance glance at Jupiter caught an unusual close gathering of moons with a transit of Io, the end of an occultation of Europa and a close skim of Callisto to Jupiters northern limb.
Public Open afternoon: The observatory was open from 2pm till 6pm and despite haze and progressive cloud, most of the 60 or so visitors were able to view the Sun through Solar viewers or via projection, assisted by an Oxford PhD student. In occasional clear patches the finder scope was used with a broadband filter and the single sunspot was easily seen. Mid afternoon the haze cleared for 20 minutes and the H-alpha filter on the 10 inch allowed the group present to see some small loop prominences. Many of the group were under 10 yrs old and asked plenty of good questions.
Solar observation: In preparation for the Solar viewing on Wednesday. The Solar disc was viewed in H-alpha and several loop prominences were visible on the western limb where spot 756 had recently disappeared.
Observing evening: A cold clear night allowed the first sighting of Ceres, which was hard to find against a rich star field. The bright globular cluster M5 was also seen for the first time.
Observing evening: An unexpectedly clear night with no Moon made for excellent conditions to view Jupiter, though the relative warmth after a sunny day did not allow much of the fine surface detail to be seen. A very bright and full pass of the ISS was a bonus and the solar panels were easy in the Binos.
Observing afternoon: A small group including 3 from Australia were able to observe spot 756 during the afternoon, despite variable cloud cover
Observing afternoon: A sunny afternoon with some light cloud at last allowed the telescope to swing into action to observe the huge mature spot 756 (5 times bigger than Earth and visible to the unaided eye) A group of 5 prospective artists visited the Dome and were able to see good penumbral detail at low magnification. This visit was followed by the Director of a Community project in Malmesbury who is about to set up an Astronomy group there.
Astronomy expedition to La Palma: CEB and RDK were accompanied by 3 pupils one from each of the top three year groups and joined Oxford University researchers on the 2.5m Isaac Newton telescope for 2 clear nights of observing. Tours were also arranged of the GTC 10.4m under construction, the 4.2m WHT, the new 17m MAGIC and 2m remote Liverpool telescopes whilst at the Roque de los Muchachos observatory. Many thanks are due to Rene Rutten (ING Director) and Javier Mendez (publicity)and to Mr and Mrs Wetton for providing our accommodation.The remainder of the week was spent exploring the island including walking the fault line on top of the Cumbre Vieja.
Observing evening: Tour of the Spring Sky. A group of 11 Friends including several children beat the weather forecasters and though there was plenty of cloud around and much scattered moonlight, decent views were snatched of Saturn and later Jupiter (at rather low altitude). The Moon's final shadow on the East limb was viewed at high magnification. M45 and M42 were also viewed in Binos.
Public Lecture: The 2005 Sun-Earth day NASA lecture (3rd hosted in Marlborough) took place in the Ellis Theatre. An audience of some 70 people attended the one hour tour through the multinational and multicultural development of Astronomy from 5000 BC, the audience included distinguished figures from the study of Archaoastronomy both locally and from further afield
Observing evening: A small group of Friends seized the opportunity of a remarkably clear and warm evening. Saturn was excellent at high magnification in the 10 inch and by 9.30pm Jupiter was at last visible for the first time this year. M45 and M42 were rather washed out by the moonlight. The Moon itself was viewed at high magnification as well.
Observing afternoon: At last the weather has begun to change and a clear hot afternoon gave a chance for the first Solar Observing of the year. The Solar disc was fairly quiet with one mature sunspot in the Western hemisphere. A large prominance with plenty of magentic field line structure was visible on the Eastern limb stretching some 100000km into space.
Observing evening: Brief patches in cloud allowed the final piece of GCSE coursework observation to be carried out on M45 using Binos. The first Quarter Moon was also clear of cloud as were Mizar A and B in the 4 inch. Jupiter was already up at 8.15pm but too low for a clear image.
Observing evening: A still sky with large clear patches gave an opportunity for a couple of last minute GCSE drawings to be made. Saturn was excellent in the 10 inch and M45 in Binos. Given the good seeing it was possible to pick out some previously less visited Messier objects (Open Clusters) in the Binos. M44 (Beehive), M67 (Cancer), M41 (Canis Major), M38 (Perseus) and h and chi (Perseus). Jupiter and 3 moons was rising in East but too low for the 10 inch.
House observing evening: The last House C1 with 11 pupils accompanied by their HM came to the Dome. As seems the norm this winter the sky was cloudy and the evening relatively warm. The sky then cleared after the group had left. With a few exceptions due to illness and other commitments, the whole first year group in the College have now had an introduction to the Observatory.
Next House visit will be in September.
External visit: Basingstoke Astronomical Society became the first Society to visit the Dome. Though there was cloud around and especially some fine high cloud the evening improved as time went on and the 9 members of the group (including Guy Hurst, ex-president of BAA) were able to observe M42 (Orion Nebula), M44 (Beehive Open Cluster), M45 (Pleiades) and for the first time M67 (Open Cluster) and at the end of the evening Jupiter low in the East in Binos and M31 (Andromeda galaxy) in the 4 inch. The 10 inch was used for part of the evening to view Saturn (up to 280x)with occasional moments of clarity.
Observing evening: A superbly clear and very cold evening (-6)gave the best conditions this winter. GCSE astronomers were summoned to complete observational coursework pieces and a total of some 13 different observations were drawn. Targets included Saturn (superb in the 10 inch even at high magnification, with Enke's division visible in the Rings), M42 again superb and showing clear green-grey colour, M44 Beehive, M45 Pleiades, M31 Andromeda, comet Machholz (now so close to the Pole Star that it required no movement of the Binoculars during the evening and for the first time M51 Whirlpool galaxy. As the cloud closed in at 10.30pm the just gibbous Moon was rising with Jupiter at last visible within a couple of degrees above it (sadly too low for the 10 inch but the 4 moons clearly visble in the 4 inch)
School visit: A group of sixth form pupils from Shrewsbury School visited in the early evening with the Head of Science and another member of staff. Having come on from a visit to Greewich it was fitting that they were rewarded by superb clear skies and as the Sun set, viewed Saturn, M31, M44, M45 and M42.
School visit: The Dome was packed with a group of 17 year 6 (11yr olds) from Preshute Primary School accompanied by a teacher and 8 parents. 2 graduates from Oxford astrophysics came over to assist with the event. Sadly, though the hour around sunset had given hope of a clear night, by the time the children had arrived so had the clouds.
House observing evening: 12 pupils from C3 visited the Dome and predictably the weather (suitably cold but cloudy and snowing lightly) prevented observation.
Next House visit (and last this academic year) Thursday 10th March (C1)
Observing evening: At last a clear spell. A couple of Friends seized the early evening window and were rewarded with excellent views of Saturn at both low (50x) and high(280x) magnification in the 10 inch , being very close, the Eskimo nebula was also viewed but showed little detail due to thin high cloud. M44 (Beehive) and Comet Machholz were viwed in the Binos and the 4 day old Moon in the 4 inch.
House observing evening: 8 pupils from BH came up to the Dome, yet again the weather was poor and no observing was possible.
Next House visit: Thursday 24th February (C3)
Observing evening: GCSE Observing was cancelled due to poor weather (cloud and light polution from Astros)nevertheless a break in the cloud gave an opportunity for one piece of coursework and an unusually clear and detailed view of Saturn, which showed a particularly dark band about two thirds of the way from the pole and indeed a dark spot at the pole.
House observing evening: 11 pupils from EL came up to the Dome. Again poor weather prevented observations.
Next House visit: Thursday 10th February (BH)
House observing evening: 10 pupils from C2 came up to the Dome. Thick cloud prevented any observations.
Next House visit: Thursday 3rd February (EL)
External visit: 14 adults and their teacher from Swindon New College (Astronomy GCSE Course) had an introduction to the Observatory. Though the temperature was falling there was no break in the cloud cover and hence no chance of observing.
House observing evening: 10 pupils from SU and RJP came up to the Dome. The high winds and cloud prevented any observations with the telescopes, but the clouds cleared just enough to view the Moon through Binos at the end.
Next House visit: Thursday 27th January (C2)
GCSE Astronomy evening:Though the scattered light from the astros to the South and the Quarter Moon to the South-West limited the magnitudes of stars seen, a group of 8 GCSE pupils gathered and completed some 14 pieces of coursework. Comet Machholz now at some 80 degrees altitude showed a clear ion tail in the Binos. Mizar A and B were again targets in the 4 inch and Saturn was clear in the 10 inch with 5 visible moons including Titan which all present wanted to look at given the events of 14th January.
Next observing evening Tuesday 25th January if clear.
House observing evening: 9 Shell pupils from LI came up and were lucky to find a cold clear evening. Though the light pollution from the astropitches was considerable, all were able to find Comet Machholz by eye. M45 was viewed in Binos, sadly light cloud obscured the Comet in Binos. The 10 inch was used to see Saturn which was very clear with 4 visible moons.
Next House visit: Thursday 20th January (SU)
GCSE Astronomy evening: High winds caused the cloud cover to change rapidly but gave a clear window from 8.30pm till 10pm. 3 Hundreds pupils and 4 Remove astronomers attended and 6 pieces of coursework completed. Targets included Comet Machholz and M42 in Binos and Mizar A and B in 4 inch. Though the sky was relatively bright with scattered light from the astropitches, it was reasonable seeing and Saturn was clear (though uncoloured) in the 10 inch with 4 moons easily visible.
Next Observing evening Tuesday 18th January if clear.
School visit: The Dome was full for 2 one hour sessions with 28 pupils (aged 9 to 11 yrs) and 12 Parents from Bedwyn Primary School. Sadly the poor weather prevented observing, but with assistance from an Oxford Graduate, they had an introduction to Astronomy and the Observatory.
Observing evening: A short break in the light cloud brought a couple of Friends to the Dome to check on the Comet's progress. It was brighter than ever to the unaided eye and easy to see vertically below the Pleiades. Its Coma was good in Binos (even 8x25)and in the 10inch was measured to be 15 arc minutes in diameter. The Comet had moved 3 degrees in 2 days. The comet will remain at roughly 4th magnitude till 12th January.
Observing evening: A small group of Friends met to view the nucleus of comet Machholz in the 10 inch, the ion tail was discernable and the comet was an easy object by naked eye. M42 the Orion nebula was excellent and Saturn very clear with 4 moons easily visible and Titan especially bright. 2 Quadrantids were seen.
School vist: A group of 8 pupils from Farley School attended the Dome. Sadly the weather did not allow any observing.
Observing evening: A cold crisp night with a full Moon at apogee gave a good opportunity for some full Moon pictures. Comet Machholz was only just visible in the scattered light.
Observing evening: A superb still and cold (-5) sky brought a last minute gathering of 14 Friends to the Dome. Scattered Moonlight washed out details of the comet but all saw it in Binos and the 10 inch. Saturn was superb even at high magnification with surface details, the Cassini division and 4 moons being very clear. The Orion nebula (M42) was also superb and the contrast within the gas clouds as good as ever
Tour of the Winter Sky: Despite the complete lack of any 'sky', other than miserable cloud and rain, a small group of Friends gathered for a short talk and virtual 'tour' of the main objects visible in the winter evening sky.
17th DecemberObserving evening: The best sky since September saw a small group at the Dome, including 4 under 11s, viewing the Moon, M42, Saturn and comet Machholz in the 4 inch and binoculars and M42, Saturn, the Eskimo nebula and comet Machholz in the 10 inch. Using CEB's drawing of the comet's movement from 16th (4 minutes of arc in one hour) and the published Ephemerides for distance (1.34 A.U) JAG calculated a rough speed of 50 km/s for the comet.
Observing evening: At last a clear sky gave an opportunity to view comet Machholz; just visible to the unaided eye and easy in binoculars. In 10 inch a faint tail can be seen and its movement against background stars was obvious over an hour. The comet is working its way up the west side of Orion and should get easier over the holidays.
House observing evening: 11 pupils from TU came up to the Dome for the last House visit this term. The sky had been clear all day, but by evening a fog had settled in and only the extent of Marlborough's light pollution was visible. Images from the internet were therefore invaluable.
House observing evening: 12 pupils from MM attended in falling temperatures and clearing skies. The smaller instruments could be used and Saturn was viewed in the 4 inch. M45 the Pleiades were seen in the binoculars and M31 identified by eye. Sadly the amount of moisture and scattered light prevented the 10 inch from being used within the hour slot available.
Next House visit: Thursday 9th December (TU)
External visit: 10 members of the Shrivenham Scout group attended the Dome with their organiser, accompanied by a local family. Sadly the weather was cloudy again (the Shrivenham pack were the first external visitors after the 2002 re-opening of the telescope)
House Observing evening: 12 pupils from MO Shell attended accompanied by JAG and 2 other adults. A small group and 2 pupils stayed on after the rest had departed and were rewarded by glimpses of the near full Moon when brief breaks occurred in the cloud.
Next House visit: Thursday 2nd December (MM)
Exobiology Lecture: A total of 7 Friends and some 40 pupils for Hundred and above and a couple of College staff attended the lecture given by CEB in L3
Public open evening: All 60 tickets for the evening were taken up via the Marlborough Town library. The Observatory was full for the 3 one hour slots from 8pm till 11pm. Sadly the clear crisp night forecast did not materialise and the first group only saw a very hazy Moon through the 4 inch. By 9.30pm however the sky cleared for the next 45 minutes; the 10 inch was then used by all those present. 70 visitors covering an age range from 7 to 75 yrs attended. CEB was assisted by JAG and 3 graduates from the Oxford Astrophysics Department. Sadly the group at the Dome saw no Leonids (in fact the shower was poorer than expected with a maximum of 12 per hour being seen anywhere) One pupil further down the fields did manage to see 4. Photos of the event will shortly appear on the 'Past events' on the Contents page.
Observing evening: A cold clear sky (no Moon) at last enabled some fainter objects to be viewed. Though the 'seeing' was not perfect (some turbulence). JAG, DGR and ORB viewed the Eskimo nebula, M1, M42 and Saturn. M42 was as clear as ever seen before with plenty of structure in the nebula and a clear Trapezium. Saturn is not as fine as last year being a little further and the rings less 'open'.
House observing evening: CO House Shell group attended. Sadly due to thick cloud we were again unable to observe.
Next House visit: Thursday 26th November (MO)
GCSE Astronomy observing night: At last another clearish night. Despite high cloud, poor seeing and plenty of light scattered from the Astropitch lights and Swindon, some coursework was completed. Targets included: M2 (the Globular Cluster in Aquarius), M45 and Mizar A and B. A severe geomagnetic storm was in progress during the evening and at 2035UT there was a hint of green auroral activity visible in NNE about 10 degress altitude above Swindon's yellow glare.
Next observing night: Tuesday 16th
House visit: NC came up last night and at last the sky was clear. M57 (Ring nebula) was viewed in 10 inch and M45 Pleiades and M31 Andromeda Galaxy in Binoculars. 5 Taurid meteors were also seen.
Next House visit: Thursday 11th November (CO)
Taurids meteor shower: Due to thick cloud the observation was cancelled.
Next event: Leonids meteor shower, early morning (5am)17th November.
Total Lunar eclipse: Due to thick cloud and rain which was not shifted by the predicted high winds, the Eclipse was a non-event. The clouds parted briefly at 3.36am to show a beutifully orange eclipsed moon. At 5.30am after a thunderstorm, the skies cleared revealing the last 20 minutes of the waning shadow. Next total lunar eclipse is March 2007.
Orionids meteor shower: Cloud and heavy rain meant that the observation of the event was cancelled.
House Visit: B1 visited the Dome. Heavy cloud and rain meant that the evening was spent inside.
Next House visit; Thursday 4th November (NC)
House Visit: The first Shell group of pupils (Preshute) visited the Dome for an introduction to the telescope and its facilities. Sadly the evening was too cloudy to make any observations.
GCSE Astronomy observing night: A reasonably clear night saw the 2nd meeting of Radcliffe Society. 6 Pupils in the Hundred and Remove joined JAG and CEB at the Dome. Many completed 2 or even 3 GCSE Coursework observations. Targets included Uranus and Neptune in the 10", Mizar A and B, M31 and M32 in the 4" and M45 in Binoculars.
Next Observing evening is Tuesday 9th November (if clear)
Launch of Friends of the Marlborough Telescope: The party to launch the Friends group was held at the Marlburian and attended by 45 Founding Friends and their partners. Professor Roger Davies, Wetton Chair of Astrophysics at Oxford represented the new link with Oxford University. Sir Patrick Moore (Honorary Friend) sent a note of support. Paul Orchard-Lisle, Chairman of the College Council represented the College with the Master Nicholas Sampson. Speakers: The Master, Philip Wetton (Chairman of the Friends) and Charles Barclay (Observatory Director and Friends Secretary)