2004 News

29th December

School vist: A group of 8 pupils from Farley School attended the Dome. Sadly the weather did not allow any observing.

26th December

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.

19th December

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

18th December

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 December

Observing 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.


16th December

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.

9th December

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.

2nd December

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)

25th November

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)

23rd November

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

19th November

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.

14th November

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’.

11th November

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)

9th November

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

4th November

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)

2nd November

Taurids meteor shower: Due to thick cloud the observation was cancelled.

Next event: Leonids meteor shower, early morning (5am)17th November.

28th October

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.

20th October

Orionids meteor shower: Cloud and heavy rain meant that the observation of the event was cancelled.

14th October

House Visit: B1 visited the Dome. Heavy cloud and rain meant that the evening was spent inside.

Next House visit; Thursday 4th November (NC)

7th October

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.

5th October

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)

2nd October

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)