2013 News

28th December

External visit: A small group gathered to make the most of a clear and cold evening. With temperatures dropping below zero and no Moon or astrolights, the sky was very dark, though humidity made for non-perfect Seeing. Jupiter was viewed well in the 10 inch and low and high maginification. M31 was spotted easily by eye. The ETX was used for M42 then to split Mizar A and B. The Binos viewed M45. The 10 inch then split Castor easily in two but the third brightest of the multiple system was not visible. 5 meteors were seen at least 2 late Geminids


21st December

Winter Solstice: Despite high wind and cloud, a one hour window gave clear skies. Jupiter was tracked in the 10 inch and gave superb detail. Though the seeing was not perfect, 7 bands were clearly seen on the surface at x172 magnification. Different colour filters were also tried. The Pleiades were viewed in the Binos and M42, the Orion Nebula in the ETX


5th December

House visit: In the last visit of the term 11 pupils from C2 Shell came up to the Dome. Although there were clouds over 40% of the sky, the high wind meant there were clear patches. The Pleiades were viewed in the Binos and Jupiter and its 4 moons seen in the 10 inch


Next House visit: Tuesday 14th January (New L6 from CO/LI/PR

GCSE Observing: With patches coming and going the sky was remarkably still and gave access to some good observations by 7 pupils (Remove and Hundred) who came up to the Dome. M45 was drawn in Binos and some star counts were done. Constellation drawings of UMa, Cassiopeia and Orion were also done and all saw Jupiter well in the 10 inch

28th November

House visit: 10 pupils form C1 Shell came up to the Dome. Sadly the sky was cloudy


Next House visit: Thursday 5th December (C2)

21st November

House visit: 12 pupils from MO Shell came up to the Dome. The sky initially cloudy cleared, though the high moisture content made for a good deal of scattered moonlight as the Moon rose. M45, the Pleiades, were viewed in the Binos and the waning Moon in the ETX. The 10 inch viewed Jupiter and its 4 moons; IO visibly orange closest to the planet. The equatorial bands were clear


Next House visit: Thursday 28th November (C1)

19th November

GCSE Observing: A large number of remove and Hundred came up to the Dome. The cold tem,peratures had frozen out th moisture making for a good evening despite the near Full waning Moon. RDM , NMA and SDGR manned the observatory. The 10 inch tracked Jupiter and later when risen high enough M42


16th November

External visit: 20 Marlborough 2nd Beavers aged 6 to 8 and 1 cub accompanied by 8 adults came up to the Dome. Sadly the evening was cloudy. Some excellent questions and knowledge however were displayed by a comparatively young group


12th November

GCSE Observing: One of the busiest observing evenings in 10 years took place with 4 members of staff CEB, RDM, NMA and DGR supervising some 40 Hundred and Remove pupils. 2 other CR visitors also came up to see the dome in action. Many coursework observations took place. The Remove sat north of the dome and focused on constellation drawing, whilst the Hundred completed Messier drawings of Pleiades and M57. The ETX and Binos were used for star counts centered on Uma and Cygnus and Cassiopeia. Some circumpolar star trail images were also obtained. Several meteors were seen. By the end of the evening Jupiter was high enough for a first view this autumn in the 10 inch which showed two equatorial bands on the planet and all 4 Gallilean moons strung out to one side in order. The poor Seeing of the evening was clear as the planet was very hazy


New L6th House visit: Groups of some 18 new L6 pupils from SU and IH came up to the Dome. The evening was clear but high humidity and the 8 day old Moon made for a decent rather than perfect evening. The Moon was viewed in the ETX and M45 Pleiades in the Zeiss Binos. M57 Ring Nebula was then viewed well as a grey-green slighty wavy ring in the 10 inch

Next House visit: Thursday 21st (MO)

5th November

House visit: 11 Shell pupils from TU came up to the Dome. The night was cloudy with sporadic fireworks


Next House visit: Tuesday 12th November (New L6 from IH and SU)

31st October

House visit: 13 Shell pupils from EL came up to the Dome. The night was cloudy


Next House visit: Tuesday 5th November (TU)

15th October

Observing comet ISON: An attempt was made to catch a first glimpse of Comet ISON in the pre-dawn sky in Conjunction with Regulus and Mars. CEB opened the Dome at 4.30am after a night of clear sky, but by then the clouds had closed in


GCSE Observing: The first fully clear night for the Hundreds saw 9 pupils completing coursework. The 11 day old waxing gibbous Moon made the sky very bright and the level of humidity caused problems for all the small instruments. The evening opened with a superb pass of the ISS, directly overhead, though quickly disappearing into Earth’s shadow. The solar panels were visible in the WW2 binos. Targets for the evening were Polaris for star trail photography, Cassiopeia and Uma for stellar density measurements and the 10 inch tracked M57 (Ring Nebula) which, despite the moonlight, showed good detail

12th October

External visit: 2nd Marlborough Cubs came up to the Dome in a group of 4 Adults and 22 cubs aged 8 to 10.5 yrs. Sadly the evening was cloudy and raining by the time the left


8th October

House visit: 9 pupils from BH Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy


Next House visit: Thursday 31st October (EL)

7th October

Friends Q&A: A small group of Friends gathered for a Q&A session discussing SETI and the newly launched UK SETI centre and the set up of SETA (Search for Extra Terrestrial Artefacts) Clouds prevented any observing


3rd October

House visit: 12 pupils form NC Shell came up to the Dome. The evening was warm and largely clear at first. Autumn asterisms were identified by eye and then M13 the Great Globular in Hercules observed in the 10 inch. Several metoers and satellites were seen


Next House visit: Tuesday 8th October (BH)

GCSE Observing: 2 Hundred pupils started their List B Star Trails project; setting up cameras and tripods. The sky was rather cloudy with poor Seeing and much skyglow. The zenith and Milky Way were beutifully clear however. A bright flaring satelluites was seen in C assiopeia

26th September

House visit: The first House visit of the academic year took place with 12 Shell pupils form B1 coming up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy, though clearing later but not in time for the GCSE Group


Next House visit: Thursday 3rd October (NC)

20th September

Friends 9th annual drinks: Some 35 Friends gathered for the annual drinks and eats. A display of the 224 past MC GCSE Astronomers (86% A*-A), the Johnson Medal and the Space Tomatoes project was viewed


19th September

GCSE observing evening: The first GCSE evening of the academic year (Remove only) got off to an excellent start with a lovely clear, relatively warm, if moonlit, evening. Both Remove groups came up to the Dome and CEB with DGR and NMA introduced them to working at the Dome. All had a brief tour of the autumn sky and observed the Full Harvest Moon in Binos and ETX. The 10 inch followed M13 (Great Globular in Hercules) which showed well despite the light sky. All pupils then practised drawing Uma


9th September

Observing outer planets: The new observing year for the Friends group started well after cloud cleared and by 10pm left a superb clear sky. No astro lights interferred as the Sun set and the Summer Traingle and autumn marker Arcturus appeared. The 10 inch went straight to Neptune which appeared in the centre of the main eyepiece next to a very similar magnitude orange star. Neptune appeared bright and showed a slight light blue hue. The 10 inch was then pointed at Pluto, but the sky was too light. Uranus was the viewed low in the East and showed its slightly larger disc clearly along with a distinct blue-green colour. M31 and M13 were viewed by eye and M13 having been found in the ETX, many satellites were seen and 6 or so sporadic meteors


17th July

Summer School visit: Another large group of Summer Schools guests, with a family from Vienna and a guest from Hong Kong came up tot he Dome. The Moon was viewed in ETX and Binos and the stars spotted as they appeared from the twilight. 3 meteors were seen. Saturn was tracked in the 10 inch but only Titan was visible. The heat in the Dome and outside rendered the seeing poor


16th July

Summer School visit: A large number of Summer School guests from UK and overseas, young and old came up to the Dome. Inside the Dome was a sultry 28 degrees. Venus was spotted as the Sun set and stars as they cam out in order of brightness, Vega then Arcturus then Altair and Deneb. The ETX viewed the First Quarter Moon as did the Zeiss Binos. A satellite was seen and then when Saturn appeared the 10 inch viewed the planet and first Titan and then a second moon. The heat rendered the view less than perfect but a fine sight for the first time


19th June

External visit: CEB welcomed a group of PA’s to 7 College Council members to the Dome, accompanied by 2 College staff. The visit was brief but, with a moderately clear sunny sky, the 10 inch was used to view the Sun in H-alpha. Several sunspots and prominences were visible.


13th June

External visit: J G Barclay’s great-great grandson visited the Dome. The 10 inch was tracking the Sun in H alpha but sadly the sky was cloudy


5th June

External visit: A BBC programme director visited the Dome to investigate the possibility of it being used later in the summer for a location. The sky was clear and we were able to view several large prominences in H-alpha using the 10 inch


17th May

Outreach lecture: CEB gave the talk ‘Living in the atmosphere of the Sun’ to a group from Swindon Stargazers in the Lawn Community Centre


15th May

Public solar viewing: The unpredictable cloud and rain meant that this event was effectively cancelled. However a brief gap in clouds allowed a couple of Friends to come up to the Dome. The 10 inch tracked the Sun and through the white-light filter the Photosphere was seen to be peppred with a large number and variety of mature spots and active regions, the largest spanning well over 10 Earth diameters


1st May

Remove GCSE Astronomy Solar observing: CEB accompanied by RDM and DGR brought up the whole Remove year group in their lesson to view the Sun. The sky was cloudless and the Sun peppered with sunspots. The Sun was viewed in solar goggles, solarscopes, the ETX and the 10 inch which was set up with the H-alpha filter. One of the spot groups was large enough to be made out in the goggles. In H-alpha two huge loop prominences were clearly visible


22nd April

Brain Tumour Trust charity evening: 5 visitors came to the Dome having bid for an evening at the observatory in aid of the Brain Tumour Trust


22nd April

Brain Tumour Trust charity evening: 5 visitors came to the Dome having bid for an evening at the observatory in aid of the Brain Tumour Trust


25th March

Friends outing to JET and MAST: A successful morning visit took place with JAG leading a bus load of 17 Friends to the new Fusion facility near Culham


21st March

Sun-Earth Day lecture: The 11th annual Lecture was given by Ian Ridpath entitled ‘The year of the Aurora’ and attended by an apprecisative audience of Friends and visitors


13th March

Marlborough Malaysia visit: 27 pupils from Malaysia on exchage visit came up to the Dome in 2 groups, 12 girls then 15 boys, each group accompanied by an Old Marlburian. The temperature was falling and a 2 day old Moon showed its slender crescent in a fine sunset. Though we tried to locate the naked-eye comet PanSTARRSs it was too close to the horizon, though a couple of younger eyes thought they saw it. A couple of meteors were seen and the Moon viewed in binos and then the Pleiades. M31 the Andromeda galaxy was found by eye. The ETX was used for the Moon and then Jupiter and 3 of the 4 Galillean moons. The 10 inch tracked Jupiter and 4 or 5 storm bands could be made out on the disc


5th March

School Lecture: CEB delivered the lecture ‘No telescope required to a mixed audience of year 11 to 13 pupils at Alleyn’s School


4th March

Lecture: CEB delivered the 24th Green Templeton College Astronomy for All lecture ‘Martian Origins’ in the Oxford Astrophysics departemnt. A good audience of some 60 visitors attended


28th February

House visit: On the last visit this winter, 11 Shell pupils from C3 came up to the Dome. Though high cloud was drifting across the sky, Polaris was identified by eye and then the 10 inch used to view Jupiter looking ‘criket ball-like’ with its equatorial zones as the seams. The 4 Galilean moons were nicely grouped to one side of the planet


Next House visit in September

21st February

House visit: 11 Shell pupils from TU came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy


Next House vist: 28th February (C3)

15th February

Asteroid spotting: A group of some 25 Friends and visitors gathered on an initisally clear evening to try to spot Asteroid 2012 DA14. The clouds however rapidly closed in but not before the earlier arrivials had a chance to see M42 the Orion Nebula in the ETX and M45 Pleiades in Binos. The 10 inch tracked Jupiter throughout the evening and the positions of the 3 inner Gallilean moons were seen to change perceptively as Europa prepared to transit


7th February

External visit: The second group of 13 year 4 pupils from Preshute Primary School came up to the Dome. Sadly the sky was cloudy, though Jupiter was just visible


6th February

GCSE Observing: A group of desperate GCSE Hundred astronomers joined RDM for an extraordinary Wednesday session at the Dome, as a last chance for clear data gathering presented itself before the analysis of Coursework begins after half-term. The ETX and Binos were used to get drawings of M42 and M45 and star counts were also completed as well as a circumpolar trail photograph


5th February

External visit: 12 pupils from year 4 at Preshute Primary School accompanied by their Head Mistress and 2 members of staff came up tot eh Dome. Sadly the sky was cloudy


House visit: 11 Shell pupils from C1 and the Director of Co-Curriculum came up to the Dome and were lucky enough to have a clear patch of sky between fast moving clouds. A tour of some bight stars was followed by glimpses of Jupiter and its 4 moons in the ETX and then M45, the Pleiades, in the Binos

Next House vist: 21st February (TU)

4th February

Friends evening: The high winds meant clear patches came and went quickly. The sky was 95% cloudy and the temperatures felt low due to wind chill. 2 current Friends and another visitor and daughter (in year 6) came up to chance their luck. The pole star was found from the Pointers, Cassiopeia identified and then M45 viewed in Binos. The ETX viewed Jupiter and its moons. It was too cloudy for the 10inch


29th January

House visit: 12 pupils from C2 Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy


Next house visit: Tuesday 5th February (C1)

24th January

House visit: 14 Shell from MO and a House Tutor came up to the dome on foot (snow still making the track unsuitable). The sky was cloudy


Next House visit: Tuesday 29th January (C2)

17th January

House visit: 14 Shell from EL were joined by 2 Shell from NC and came up to the dome as light snow started falling. Though very scenic, this was not conducive for astronomy


Next House visit: Thursday 24th January (MO)

15th January

House visit: 11 pupils from SU Shell accompanied by a House Tutor and his family atended the Dome on a cold and excellent night. The 4 day old waxing crescent Moon was viewed in Binos and M42 the Great nebula in orion in the ETX. The 10 inch tracked Jupiter, which at a high elevation/altitude, showed superb detail and colour, browns and greys in the storm bands


Next House visit: Thursday 17th (EL)

GCSE Observing: A small number of Hundred and larger cohort of Remove came up in cold (-3) clear conditions to complete Controlled Analysis observations. Cygnus and Casseopeia were drawn. the ETX viewed M42 and M31 and the Binos M45. The 10 inch gave a super view of M42 and was then turned to the Eskimo Nebila in Gemini. Andromeda (M31) was found by eye easily

14th January

Marlborough Stargazing – Friends bring your own Binos evening:The first Friends gathering of 2013 took place and the sky was clear! (at least for 90 minutes) In between clouds and light rain then snow fluries a small group of Friends gathered. The sky was very still and excellent Seeing. Several different pairs of binoculars were tested out on Jupiter and M42 in Orion. The ETX viewed the 3-day Moon, which a lovely sunlit peak on the Northern rim. Jupiter and 4 moons was then viewed in the ETX and also the 10 inch. The view in the main telescope was superb with between 4 to 6 of the bands being visible with noticeable different colours. Europa ‘closed’ with the planet as the evening progressed, preparing to make a transit (unfortunatley not till 10pm) M42 was then viewed in the ETX and then in the 10 inch, first at 80x and then 140x. The Trapezium was exellent and the nebulocity really 3D. 2 bright meteors were seen and all were happy that at last some observing had taken place


12th January

Stargazing Oxford: As part of the BBC Stargazing Live events CEB took part in an outreach day in Oxford running the mobile planetarium, which provided 3 shows an hour for 7 hours via a team of presenters. CEB also gave a flash talk on ‘No telescope required – naked eye astronomy’ and the final event of the day a head to head debate on Alien life exisitng in our galaxy. Some 1100 visitors of all ages attended the event run by Oxford Astrophysics Department


10th January

House visit: The first visit of 2013 saw 9 Shell pupils from PR come up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy


Next House visit: Tuesday 15th January (SU)