2015 News

6th December

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


Next House visit Sunday 10th January 2016 (BH)

29th November

House visit: 10 Shell pupils from IH came up to the Dome in wet and windy weather


Next House visit: Sunday 6th December (SU)

24th November

Blackett Science Lecture: Professor Donald Kurtz, University of Central Lancashire and Vice-President Royal Astronomical Sociaty delivered the 11th annual lecture ‘Planets and Pulsations – A new Keplerian revolution’


15th November

House visit: 12 Shell pupils from C3 came up to the Dome. It was cloudy


Next House visit: Sunday 29th November (IH)

8th November

House visit: 12 Shell pupils from MO came up to the Dome under cloudy skies and light rain. As they left the sky was clearing


Next House visit: Sunday 15th November (C3)

4th November

External visit: 12 Spanish sixth form students and their teacher from Colegio Peleteiro in Santiago de Compostela were accopanied to the Dome by AHDT. The sky was cloudy


31st October

Double Star obsrving: A small number of Friends gathered on a classic Halloween evening (misty and laterly moonlit) and unusually clear. The Pleiades (this night is the Feast of the Pleiades and perhaps the origin of the Feast of the Dead) were viewed in Binos. The calibrated 10 inch was then turned to a number of Double Star targets, all selected to be high in the sky away from the mist and to test both the observing power of the telescope and observers. First Epsilon Lyrae: A widely spaced Double of almost identically bright, white stars, easily split in binos. The telescope however weas just able to split each of these into close binaries. Beta Cyni (Albireo) was next: A beutiful easy Double, 2 magnitues difference and coloured. The brightest a bright gold (described as Topaz) and the dimmer a slight blue (sapphire!). Omicron (31) Cygni: The is a triple system (squashed triangle) in a very rich star field. The brighter stars are well separated. Each has a slight colour (officially red, white and blue). Gamma Delphinus: A beutiful close bright pair. A magnitude difference and showing a gold and ?green clour. We then pushed the telescope to nearly vertical to view Delta Cephei (the original Cepheid variable) A fine double of nearly 2 magnitudes difference and showing orange and blue. We estimated that the variable was towards the dimmer end of its cycle. Several Taurid meteors were seen in the telescope


22nd October

External visit: 8 children (mainly yr 10 and 11) and 10 adults from Albourne Youth Council came to the Dome. A lunar aureole was seen and the waxing gibbous Moon was viewed in Binos. Otherwise the sky was cloudy


18th October

GTC visit: 16 Staff, Fellows and family from Green Templeton College Oxford (the previous pre-1935 home of the 10 inch) came up to the Dome. The evening was cloudy


11th October

House visit: 11 pupils from NC Shell came up to the Dome with 2 Tutors. The evening was cloudy


Next House visit 8th November (MO)

9th October

GCSE Observing: 8 Remove astronomers joined DGR at the Dome and though hazy near the horizon, managed drawings of Casssiopeia and Cygnus. The Pleiades (M45) were viewed in Binos


7th October

Friends Q&A: A small group of Friends attanded the Dome for a Q&A on Dwarf Planets, particularly the status of Pluto and definitions of planets. As a bonus we were able to observe Vesta in the 10 inch and then Uranus; neither of which showed the colour we had seen at the week-end4th OctoberHouse visit: The first House Shell visit of the academic year saw 10 pupils from C2 and their HM’s wife and children visit the Dome. The sky was cloudy


Next House visit: Sunday 11th October (NC)

3rd October

Outer Planets: A small group of Friends gathered (possibly reduced in number by the England rugby match) on a clear evening for the first observing event of the new Diary. The ETX split Mizar A and B and then M13 and the Binos M31, which was easily seen by eye. The 10 inch was calibratedand then tracked Neptune, which showed a lovely pale blue colour and just discernable disc. Vesta was the next target and bright in comparision with a discernable warm brown/orange colour. The last target was Unranus showing a much bigger disc and a clear green-blue (or blue-green) hue


1st October

GCSE Observing: The first clear evenming of the academic year saw DGR and NMA at the Dome with 2 H and 18 R astronomers who had an introduction to the Dome, asterisms and constellations and the ETX was used to view some Messier objects


28th September

Total lunar eclipse: CEB decided to go to the Dome between 3am and 4am to watch the Total lunar eclipse (having seen the last in April in Australia) It was most impressive by eye, though the Binos showed it well against the background stars. In fact the most impressive sight was when it first rose early evening and appeared huge a pink against the horizon


25th September

Friend drinks: The 11th annual Friends drinks took place at the Dome under initially clear skies. A good number of Friends both old and new gathered in advance of the new Diary year


14th August

‘Family’ visit: 4 descendents of Joseph Gurney Barclay visited the Dome. A Gt-Grandaughter and, from the States, a Gt-Gt-Grandaughter and 2 Gt-Gt-Gt Grandaughters


13th August

Perseids meteor shower: A good group of Friends and past pupils gathered up at the Dome, joining JAG and CEB as the light faded. Setting Saturn was viewed in the ETX. Almost to order, at just before 10pm, we were treated to a super-bright -6 fireball, lighting up the sky like a flare and this was follwed shortly by another in the SW which left a long train in the sky which persisted for 20 seconds or so. In the first 20 minutes there were 6 fireballs giving green, pink, blue and yellow meteors. The display quietend down after that and encroaching high cloud probably stopped many meteor from bing seen. After 11.30pm the sky cleared again. In all 54 meteors were recorded


24th July to 4th August

9th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics: CEB and Sandor Kruk (Oxford Astrophysics) led a team of 3 year 13 students (from schools around the UK) in the first UK entry to this Olympiad, which took place in Magelang, Central Java in Indonesia. Over 200 students competed, from 41 countries. The competition consited of 3 tough rounds; Observation, Theory and Data Analysis. The opening ceremony was at Borobudur temple and the closing ceremony at Prambanan. Excitingly, the team won 2 silver medals, coming 22nd and 30th overall. The UK was thus 9th in the medal table. The top three countries were Iran, India and Indonesia. The UK Team managed to come second to India in the Team competition


22nd July

Summer School visit: 21 visitors came up to the Dome on a clear evening. Stars were identified as they appeared in the dimming twilight. The Moon was viewed in Binos and then Saturn in ETX. The 10 inch then tracked Saturn which was well viewed with 4 to 5 moons depending on eyesight


15th July

External lecture: CEB delivered the talk ‘The oldest GOTO telescope in the World’ to some 25 residents, the Warden, Steward and a Trustee of the Duchess of Somerset’s Alms House in Froxfield


Summer School visit: 14 visitors from Week 1, including a family from near Bilbao and from Hong Kong, joined JAG and CEB at the Dome. The sky was largely cloudy, however gaps appeared and enabled the Summer Triangle, Arcturus, Antares and Spica to be seen along with the Saucepan and Polaris and Cassiopeia. Sevral satellites were spotted. The ETX was used to view Mizar and Alcor and split the binary Mizar A and B

28th June

IOAA Training Camp: CEB and Sandor Kruk from Oxford Astrophysics spent the day in Oxford with the 3 pupils who are to compete at the IOAA in Indonesia at the end of the month (The first time a British Team has entered). The Pupils practiced questions and, using solar goggles and the ETX, were able to view the Sun, though there was only one pair of sunspots. In the warm evening, on Merton playing fields using the ETX, many objects were viewed and coordinates and angular seperations practiced, until the sky clouded over at midnight; including Venus’ crescent phase, Jupiter and 3 moons, the Gibbous Moon and its main ray craters. Mizar and Alcor among other Doubles were split and also Mizar A and B seen


18th June

External visit: 15 Pupils from Marlborough Malaysia and two teachers came up to the Dome with 2 ex-pupils from Waterford Kamhlabe United World College in Swaziland. A faint CZA was visible when we first reached the Dome (2nd in a week!) The Sun was then viewed in solar goggles and the with ETX and white light filter. The sky was too cloudy sadly for the H alpha filter


16th June

External visit: A large group of local group of Ladies Who Latte came up to the Dome late afternoon. Though no Latte was provided they were greeted at 6.30pm by a clear sky and for the first time that I have seen, 3 solar atmospheric phenomena. Either side of the Sun were clear Parhelia (sundogs)or rainbow clouds, 11 degrees from the Sun at 9 and 3 o’clock. Joining them was a faint Parhelic circle of diameter 22 degrees. Most beutiful however was a clear Cicumzenithal arc (CZA)an inverted rainbow arc directly above the Sun. These all lasted for 15 minutes or so. The Sun was then viewed in solar goggles, Solarscope and then the ETX, which showed clearly the group 2367. The 10 inch was then used with the H alpha filter to view spot 2365 and its Plage. Very faint prominences were seen, however the sky had already become hazy


15th June

External visit: 2 yr 12 pupils from Pate’s Grammar School in Cheltenham visited the Dome at the start of a work experience week, where they are to assist in the putting together an exhibiton of astronomical images which will hopefully run early in 2016. The sky had rather clouded over but in bright breaks the Sun was viewed in solar goggles, the ETX (which clearly showed the large sunspot group 2367 with umbra and penumbra and then the 10 inch and H-alpha filter which showed some clear prominences and granulation


External lecture: CEB gave the lectue ‘The oldest GOTO telescope in the World’ to a large gathering of Chipping Norton Amateur Astronomy Group

13th May

Solar open day: 15 Friends and College staff gathered on a clear sunny afternoon. The Sun was veiwed in the Solarviewer which clearly showed the enormous sunspot group 2339 and 2345. The ETX showed excellent detail of the umbra and penumbra of the larger spots and clear striation in the penumbra. The main pair of spots were seen also to split into further pairs. Some 7 other spot groups were visible. The 10 inch viewed the Sun in H alpha and was focused on the lower limb where an enormous quiescent Hedge Prominence was seeen in the process of lifting of the surface. A great deal of detail was evident and the shape change perceptively over the 2 hours of observing


24th April

NASA lesson: The top Remove Physics sets had a lesson with Dr Abell and were able to ask plenty of questions


23rd April

NASA visit: Dr Paul Abell, lead scientist for small planetary bodies at Johnson Space Centre, Houston, came to the College for an outreach visit. He talked to Physicits and Astronomers about detecting, monitoring and intercepting asteroids and then gave an open talk on Asteroid Impact Threat and the Chelyabinsk Event in 2013


4th April

Total Lunar Eclipse: CEB and a family group in Gembrook, Victoria observed the eclipse until Totality (only 5 minutes or so) as the Moon became a dull red colour. It was the first time that the pair of eclipses 2 weeks apart had been seen by CEB


Good Friday 3rd April

Outreach lecture: CEB gave the lecture ‘The oldest GOTO telescope in the World’ to a large and diverse audience at Mt Burnett observatory near Gembrook to the East of Melbourne. The talk was followed by Observing using the 18 inch Newtonian Relefctor (ex Monash University). Several new objects were seen, including the Omega Centaurus Globular and the Jewel Box Open cluster


1st April

Archaeoastronomy meeting: CEB met the Nura Gili Indigenous Astronomy Group at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. This was followed by an exciting visit to rare petroglyphs north of Sydney in the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park


26th March

Sun-Earth lecture: The Rev. Dr Janneke Blokland gave the 12th annual lecture in the Ellis Theatre, ‘Particles in the Spotlight’, which was well attended by Friends and visitors


20th March

Partial Solar Eclipse: Astronomers past and present and Friends started gathering at 8am under cloudy skies. A glimpse of sunlight but nothing for First Contact. Then around 8.45am the Sun appeared and could be located in the 10 inch (with solar filter!). The ETX and filter was in use and all watchers had solar goggles. NMA created an amazing projection box and in this and the 10 inch the large sunspot was visible as well as the rugged edge of the Moon itself (mountains and valleys). Cheers went up as the skies cleared. Collinders were put to use and multiple images projected as planned. At 9am the pupils and CEB departed to join the whole College community on the XV Ruby pitch. 100s watched as the eclipse drew to a maximum, leaving a smiley face, aerial photographs were taken. The observatory continued to operate till Last contact at 10.38.59 UT. An experience to remember!


5th March

External vist: 20 pupils and 2 staff from the French exchange school near Versailles came up to the Dome. The afternoon sky was cloudy. All were briefed on the forthcoming eclipse and went away with solar goggles


26th February

House visit: The last Shell visit took place with 9 pupils from IH coming up to the Dome. This was one of the best evening s this year and as well as a tour of major asterisms, the Moon was viewed in ETX and Pleiades in Binos. The ten inch tracked Jupiter ad gave a good image of the planet and 3 moons, 2 of which closed perceptively during the evening


Next House visit: September 2015

24th February

House visit: 11 Shell pupils from C1 came up to the Dome. The sky was initially clear and enabled major asterisms to be pointed out. Jupiter was viewed in the 10 inch with 4 moons and clear equatorial bands. The sky then clouded over


Next House visit: Thursday 26th February (IH)

17th February

Extra GCSE Observing: In a frantic last ditch attempt to finish Coursework observations, 2 Hundreds girls came up to complete star counts. This was done amid patches of cloud. Mars and Venus were clear in the West and Jupiter bright in the South East. A good ISS pass was viewed before they came up and a bright meteor seen in UMi


12th February

House visit: 9 pupils (reduced by illness) from EL Shell came up to the Dome. There were some clear patches on arrival and Polaris, Jupitr and Orion were located. The clouds however closed in before any of the instruments could be used


Next House visit: Tuesday 24th February (C1)

3rd February

GCSE Observing: 3 Hundreds and 1 Remove pupil came up to the Dome to complete coursework. The sky was bright with the Full Moon (and Jupiter only 5 degrees away) star counts and a constelation drawing were done


External visit: 10 students and a an accompanying adult from 4 Schools in China came up to the Dome in the cold and remnants of the morning snow

22nd January

House visit: 12 Shell pupils from TU came up as temperatures dropped. The sky was clear though there was high cloud/mist. Pleiades were viewed in Binos and Jupiter and 3 moons seen in ETX and then in the 10 inch where some good detial on the planet’s surface was seen


GCSE Observing: The Hundreds all came up to continue their star count coursework. The Seeing was better and there was no Moon but the light fog was a problem and soon started to render dimmer stars invisible. Comet Lovejoy was found in Aries but has noticeably faded

Next House visit: Thursday 12th February (EL)

19th January

Extra GCSE observing: Period 6 was cancelled and an opportunity seized to get the Hundred astronomers to the Dome. Though Astronomical twilinght had not ended it was possible for each to get a pair of stellar density drawings done using the ETX and Carl Zeiss binos. At the end of the hour Comet Lovejoy was found in the Binos and for the first time its long Eastwards Ion tail was seen pointing towards the Pleiades


15th January

House visit: 12 Shell pupils from BH came up to the Dome in a very chilly (with wind chill) 1 degree clear night. The Seeing was very poor and the sky bright with skyglow. Nevertheless Comet Lovejoy was easily found just below M45 (Pleiades) and viewed in Binos and M42 tracked in the 10 inch


Next House visit: Thursday 22nd January (TU)

GCSE observing: With a clear sky, Hundred astronomers were summoned to catch up much needed coursework drawing. On arrival at the Dome it had clouded over. One Remove drawing of Orion was done as the stars faded behind cloud

13th January

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


Next House visit: Thursday 15th January (BH)

10th January

Comet Lovejoy: Given an unusal clear night (though a moisture laden sky) the Dome opened in an attempt to find Comet Lovejoy which had just passed Perigee and was around 0.79 AU distant and peaking in magnitude at around +4 (though this is integrated across a large (0.3 degree) spread out Coma. Initially it was hard to find. As the sky darkened it was picked up by sweeping to the right of Orion and below Aldeberan with wide field Binos. It was then discernable by eye (with averted vision) Coordinates for the 10 inch proved useless due to the rapid motion and the Comet had to be acquired by eye. The 10 inch gave a very fuzzy image, though showed a brighted nucleus. The traking was not able to prevent the Comet going out of view and we were able to calculate a motion of some 0.1 degrees per hour by watching the background stars. The best view was gained using the new 8 inch (Smith) Newtonian which was both clear and bright and showed the slight greeninsh tinge. Altogether 15 or so gathered, including Staff and Friends and 3 L6 pupils also were attempting digital photography of the winter constellations rising over the Dome


8th January

House visit: The first visit of 2015 took place with 12 Shell pupils from B1 coming up to the Dome. The sky, though clear in the late afternoon, had largely clouded over, though there were glimpses of the Pleiades cluster and then Orion at the end


Next House visit: Tuesday 13th (LI)