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)