• 25th to 31st October 2021

    Marlborough Dark Skies Fest

    A series of events across Marlborough celebrating the night sky and exploring the importance of reducing light pollution

    For Full Information, CLICK HERE
  • 8th November - FRIENDS EVENT -

    "Winter Sky" (8.30pm - please note later start time)

    Our next Friends event is to observe the Winter Sky. *Weather Permitting* - this will only go ahead under clear skies, so please check here for updates nearer the time


Marlborough College

Welcome to the Marlborough College Blackett Observatory, home to the largest refracting telescope in Wiltshire. The Observatory is a key facility for the study of Astronomy by pupils at Marlborough College, but is also open to the public through the Friends of the Marlborough Telescope membership scheme.

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What's Up!

Week of 18th October 2021

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 19:58 BST at the start of the week and at 19:47 BST by the end of the week
  • The Orionid meteor shower peaks on Thursday. It is a relatively small shower, with a ZHR of only around 15, caused by debris deposited by comet 1P/Halley. Its radiant appears in the constellation of Orion. Unfortunately, the Full Moon this year will drown out all but the brightest meteors
  • Saturn (+0.6) and Jupiter (-2.6) are moving ever further West in our evening sky, so enjoy the beautiful gas giants now, while they are still visible
  • The Moon is Full on Wednesday – the Hunter’s Moon
  • The Sun currently has 1 active region: AR2882. The sunspot number is 11
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week


Visit the What’s Up! archive


15th October

External Lecture: CEB delivered the lecture ‘The oldest GOTO telescope in the World’ to 35 members of Swindon Stargazers Astronomical Society in their Liddington Hall base

10th October

Friends observing: Just over a dozen Friends joined CEB and GKWJ at the Dome for ‘Double Stars’ observing under hazy, but clearing skies. The session started outside to spot naked-eye doubles: Mizar & Alcor and Algedi, both of which were also viewed through binoculars. The group then moved to the 10-inch to observe 11 different doubles, noting angles of separation, magnitude and colour differences. The stars viewed were: Albireo (Beta Cygni), Epsilon Lyrae (the Double Double), Gamma Delphini, Almach (Gamma Andromedae), 36 Andromedae, 65 Piscium, Psi Piscium, Gamma Arietis, 1 Arietis, Miram (Eta Persei) and to finish, Iota Cassiopeiae (a triple star)

9th October

Marlburian Club Day: CEB hosted 2 groups of Old Marlburians and their families. Some 30 OMs came up to the Dome (ages ranging from 8 to 80). The sky was clear and the sun viewable in solar goggles and then using the white light filter, through the 10”. The large sunspot 2882 was clearly seen with umbra and penumbra and its growing sunspot group noted

8th October

PR visits: A member of Town Council and a photographer joined CEB at the Dome to take some film clips to be used in the PR efforts for the Marlborough Dark Skies Festival at the end of October

5th October

GCSE observing: All but two Pupils from the Remove came to the Dome for their second evening of practical observing with CEB and GKWJ. They were introduced to the southern view. The ‘invisible’ lines of the meridian, the celestial equator and the ecliptic were pointed out, followed by asterisms: the Summer Triangle, the Northern Cross, the Great Square of Pegasus and Andromeda. Jupiter and Saturn were noted on the ecliptic, the faint Andromeda Galaxy and Fomalhaut were seen. The pupils sketched the southern view. The session ended at the 10-inch with a view of Jupiter and its 4 Galilean moons

27th September

Friends observing: A group of 10 Friends, including several new members, joined CEB, JAG and GKWJ for an evening of planetary observing through the 10-inch. Saturn was seen first, with two moons (Titan and Rhea), next was Jupiter with its four Galilean moons. We then slewed to Neptune and finally Uranus. Outdoor observations included an overhead ISS pass, the rising Waning Gibbous Moon and the Pleiades through binoculars

24th September

Friends 17th annual drinks: The Friends of the Marlborough Telescope were thrilled to gather at the Dome for the first time in two years. A beautiful evening saw a large number of the outreach group, including several new members, get together for our annual drinks and nibbles

Imaging: GKWJ stayed at the Dome after the drinks to capture some better data of Saturn through the 10-inch. The planet was much higher, at about 17° altitude, giving significantly more stable seeing and far superior quality data

23rd September

House Visit: The season started well with a clear sky to welcome 8 Shell pupils from B1. They were introduced to the facilities of the Blackett Observatory by GKWJ. The group first observed Saturn through the 10-inch, followed by Jupiter. As the sky darkened, the Plough, Polaris and Cassiopeia were pointed out to them. Next visit: Thursday 30th September (BH)

GCSE Observing: 13 GCSE Astronomy pupils (plus a budding astrophotographer) from the Hundred joined GKWJ at the Dome. On arrival, they looked West to see an overhead ISS pass, noticing it redden as it was eclipsed by the Earth’s shadow. They were taken on a tour of the night sky, with a series of questions to test their naked eye observing knowledge. The group then moved to the 10-inch to observe Jupiter, with the Great Red Spot, clear banding and 4 moons visible, followed by Saturn and Titan

Imaging: GKWJ remained up at the Dome to image through the 10-inch, capturing good data of Jupiter with 3 moons and then moved to Saturn, though the planet had sunk low to the horizon by this time, resulting in a poor quality image

21st September

GCSE Observing: 13 members of the Remove GCSE Astronomy set came up to the Dome for their first observing session with GKWJ. The session started with an overhead ISS pass, we then moved to the 10-inch to observe Saturn and its moon Titan. They were introduced to observing and sketching techniques and made a wide-field sketch of The Plough, Polaris and the W asterism of Cassiopeia. The group then observed Jupiter through the 10-inch, where only 3 Galilean moons were visible as Io was occulted. Europa was also occulted later in the evening

Imaging: Inspired by the recent planetary imager visit, GKWJ set up the 10-inch with planetary camera and atmospheric dispersion corrector to attempt an image of Jupiter. A reasonable image of Jupiter with moon Europa was obtained and a time lapse of the occultation of Europa was made from all the captures



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