• 20th June 2024 - Friends Event

    Solstice Sky - Observatory 10pm

    The Friends will celebrate the Summer Solstice at the Dome with a twilight observing session starting at 10pm. Fingers crossed for noctilucent clouds!

  • 12th August 2024 - Friends Observing

    Perseid Meteor Shower - Observatory @10pm

    The Friends will gather at the Observatory from 10pm to monitor the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower.
    This event is weather dependent and a final decision will be published on the day.

BLACKETT OBSERVATORY

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. It is open to the public through the Friends of the Marlborough Telescope membership scheme. School and Society visits are welcome, please contact the Director to arrange your visit.

FIND OUT MORE      Become a Friend      CONTACT

What's Up!

Week of 20th May 2024

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 00:23 BST at the start of the week and by Thursday, Astronomical Twilight does not end until 21st July.
  • As Astronomical Darkness ends, we move into the peak solar observing period. Use a solar filter to keep track of the highly active Sun. Active Regions 3685 and 3686 are currently making their way across the face of the Sun.
  • We are also moving into noctilucent cloud season, which peaks around the Summer Solstice. Keep an eye on the area above the northern horizon about an hour or so after sunset (around 21:00 BST this week) to spot these beautiful pearlescent high altitude clouds.
  • The Moon is Full on Thursday.
  • The Sun currently has 9 active regions and the sunspot number is 166.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

Visit the What’s Up! archive

Latest News

What's been going on at the Blackett Observatory

20th May

Solar Observing: A clear, bright and sunny day led GKWJ to alert All Staff and members of Radcliffe Society that the Observatory would be open in the afternoon for solar observing. JAG assisted with 54 members of staff and assorted family, 13 pupils and 2 dogs that enjoyed views with: eclipse specs, the Celestron 8-inch in White Light, with a rash of sunspots visible in lovely detail, the Lunt 50mm in hydrogen alpha, giving a detailed view of the full disk with active regions, filaments and multiple prominences, including one vast prominence that stretched about 6 Earth diameters from the chromosphere, and the 10-inch with the hydrogen alpha filter which showed a more detailed view of the large prominence and the main active region, AR 3685. Seeing was good, though variable through the afternoon; in the large clear patches, it settled to give stunning views.

10th May

Aurora Imaging: A truly unexpected news item… GKWJ visited the Observatory at about 23:45 to capture the end of the most incredible display of the Aurora Borealis. Huge active region AR 3664 has been crackling with activity recently, sending five CMEs towards Earth. They arrived on Friday evening, sparking the largest geomagnetic storm for over twenty years. The Aurora was seen overhead in extreme southerly latitudes, including Marlborough. An amazing show to witness and unlikely to be repeated for at least twenty years!

An extraordinary display of the Aurora Borealis over
the Blackett Observatory on 10-05-2024 (photo by GKWJ)

 

 

GCSE Observing: The 16 Remove Astronomers had Period 2 at the Observatory with GKWJ. Sunny conditions, though through hazy high cloud, were perfectly timed to fit in with their current topic about Solar Astronomy. The session started with a look at the Sun through Eclipse Specs, with AR 3664/8 clearly visible by naked eye, it really is a gigantic active region. Outside, the photosphere was observed in white light with the Celestron 8-inch, and the chromosphere in hydrogen alpha through the Lunt 50mm. The group moved inside to the 10-inch, where the full disk was seen in hydrogen alpha at 90x, with multiple prominences, the vast AR 3664/8 and various other filaments and active regions. Magnification was increased to 140x for a close inspection of the large AR and nearby complex prominences. The session ended with the pupils making a sketch of the whole disk or a feature of their choice.

8th May

Outreach Lecture: GKWJ and JAG delivered their ‘Cosmic Recycling’ lecture to a group of 20 members of the Leckhampstead WI. The talk was followed by various questions from members and a delicious sit down WI tea!

 

 

Visit the News archive

All Sky Eye

The Latest View from the MCBO

The All Sky Camera operates from 30 minutes after sunset through the night until 30 minutes before sunrise. The latest image is updated automatically every 5 minutes and the time lapse video is refreshed each morning at around sunrise. Click the still image to view a large version

 

Latest Still Image


Most recent time lapse video

Sky Quality

The Latest SQM Chart from the MCBO

Thanks to generous funding from the North Wessex Downs National Landscape, the Blackett Observatory now has a fixed Sky Quality Meter (SQM) in place, measuring sky darkness every night throughout the year.

 

This is the latest chart of SQM readings, measured in magnitudes per square arcsecond (mpsas). The darkest reading to date is 21.1 mpsas, which equates to Bortle 4 and a naked eye limiting magnitude of +6.3. The sky will now be monitored constantly to see how the effect of light pollution is changing over time. A project to monitor sky quality across our local area is underway using NWD funded handheld SQM devices and volunteers from the Friends of the Marlborough Telescope.


The SQM chart updates every 15 minutes through the hours of darkness.
The yellow circles show the altitude of the Moon, if present.