• 26th May 2022 - Friends Observing

    Solar H-alpha Observing - Observatory @ 2.30pm

    The Observatory will be open to Friends to observe the Sun in H-alpha and white light. This event is weather dependent, in the event of cloudy skies, there will be an online alternative. The forecast is not looking promising - a final decision will be posted here by 12:30pm on the day


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 23rd May 2022

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 00:52 BST on Monday and after that we no longer enter astronomical darkness as the Sun does not reach 18° below our northern horizon; nautical darkness is as dark as it gets until 21st July
  • The Sun is ever more active and makes a superb object to observe *SAFELY* (with the necessary filters or projection techniques, of course!) as increasing numbers of sunspots are developing
  • We are entering the season of Noctilucent Clouds. Keep an eye out for these high level pearlescent shifting cloud displays in the hours of darkness above our northern horizon
  • The waning Moon passes by the four planets in our morning sky through this week, from west to east: Saturn (+0.8), Mars (+0.7), Jupiter (mag -2.2) and Venus (-4.0)
  • The Moon is Waning Crescent all week
  • The Sun currently has seven active regions: AR 3010, 3011, 3014, 3015, 3016, 3017 & 3019. The sunspot number is 110. So far this year there have been zero spotless days!
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week as follows:
    Monday: 22:21, W to ESE, max 83° & 23:58, W to SW, max 29°
    Tuesday: 23:09, W to SSE, max 41°
    Wednesday: 22:21, W to SE, max 55° & 23:59, WSW to SW, max 15°
    Thursday: 23:10, W to SSW, max 22°
    Friday: 22:22, W to SSE, max 30°
    Saturday: 23:12, WSW to SSW, max 11°
    Sunday: 22:23, WSW to S, max 16°


Visit the What’s Up! archive


23rd May

Outreach Visit: The Eton Group Heads of Physics annual meeting was held at Marlborough College this year and following a morning of discussion, including a presentation on the British Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad (BAAO) by CEB, the 12 attendees enjoyed a visit to the Blackett Observatory with GKWJ in the afternoon

10th May

Radcliffe Society: A small group of society members met for the May meeting with GKWJ and JAG. Our 2022 RAS GCSE Poster Competition prize winning pupil gave a presentation on his winning entry, GKWJ gave a Latest News round-up and then the group started its investigation of rocket science with a selection of videos. We started to plan our own small rocket launch attempt for the June meeting, looking at kit required and the potential risks associated with a launch. Next Meeting: 20th June

26th March

Friends Observing: Finally, a clear sky allowed a Friends observing event to go ahead! A group of 9 Friends joined GKWJ and JAG at the Dome for the Spring Sky Tour. Observing started outside to discover the main asterisms and constellations. An overhead ISS pass was seen. M42 – The Orion Nebula, was then explored by naked-eye, binoculars, ETX and the 10-inch. Next up was M45 – The Pleiades in binoculars and ETX. We then moved to the 10-inch, with targets: M1 – The Crab Nebula, the double star, Iota Cancri, the Leo Triplet, with M65 and M66 observed, but only a tentative sighting of NGC 3628. We then attempted to identify quasar 3C-273, but failed. The session ended with the globular cluster M3 – a wonderful object in the 10-inch

24th March

Sun-Earth Day Lecture: An audience of some 30 plus Friends and pupils gathered in the Garnett Room to hear the 2022 NASA/ESA Sun-Earth Day Lecture. It was given by CEB with the title: ‘Illuminating the Dark Ages – the Era of James Webb’, an in-depth look at the latest space telescope and the science that it is expected to investigate

22nd March

GCSE Observing: Half the Remove Astronomy set joined GKWJ at the Dome for the final evening observing session of the academic year. They completed a worksheet that took them on a celestial treasure hunt to solve an astronomical anagram – the answer being Vernal Equinox. The majority was naked eye, but Messier 44 – the Beehive Cluster, was observed in binoculars and the 10-inch

2nd March

Outreach talk: GKWJ gave a talk on ‘Observing through 2022’ to pupils and parents at Hardenhuish School, Chippenham

28th February

Radcliffe Society: A select group of society members joined GKWJ and JAG to enjoy two excellent pupil presentations. The first was entitled ‘What happens if you try to fly in to Jupiter?’ and the second ‘How have the stars shaped civilisations?’. GKWJ spoke about ‘What’s Up?’ through March and April. Next meeting: 9th May

26th February

Messier Marathon: The 2022 Messier Marathon attempt was able to go ahead under beautiful clear and dark skies. 27 pupils and seven members of staff (GKWJ, JAG, JEL, DGR, ER, ECN & JW) took part. A total of 91 Messier objects were observed over the night, with just 7 objects attempted unsuccessfully and the remaining 12 objects impossible to view as they lay too near or below the horizon. All instruments were involved: the 10-inch, 8-inch, 2 ETXs, 4 binoculars and JW’s electronic telescope. Comet 19P/Borrelly in Aries was also observed on two separate occasions, the ISS was seen passing over twice, multiple meteors were spotted and the night ended with Venus (-4.6) and the waning Crescent Moon low to the horizon as the sun rose. Highlight Messier objects were M82 (Cigar Galaxy), M51 (Whirlpool Galaxy), M3 & M53 (Globular Clusters), M104 (Sombrero Galaxy), M13 (Great Hercules Cluster) and M57 (Ring Nebula)



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