March 2022 – News

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


February 2022 – News

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)

24th February

GCSE Observing: A number of Hundred astronomers joined GKWJ for their final session to complete their aided observing tasks. Sketches were made of M42 – The Orion Nebula and M31 – The Andromeda Galaxy through the 10-inch and binoculars. Star counts in and out of the plane of the Milky Way were made with binoculars and an ETX and photographs for a star trails image were captured to measure the sidereal rotation period of Earth

22nd February

GCSE Observing: The Remove astronomers came up to the dome with CEB and GKWJ on a beautiful clear evening. They completed a worksheet that looked into circumpolar stars, constellations of the Zodiac and made sketches of Orion as viewed by naked eye, in binoculars or through a telescope

12th February

Friends Observing: Cloud and rain prevented this year’s Lunar Observing session from taking place at the Dome. instead a small group of Friends gathered online via Zoom with CEB, GKWJ and JAG for a presentation and discussion about the Moon, how and when to observe it and the wealth of features to find and observe. The discussion ended with a look at NASA’s Artemis programme to return humans to the Moon and a consideration of the importance of the Moon to the very existence of complex life on Earth

10th February

House visit: 8 Shell pupils and a Tutor from TU joined CEB at the Dome for the last House visit of the academic year. The sky was clear, though very bright with the 73% Waxing Gibbous Moon. The Pleaides were viewed in the Binos and then the Moon’s Terminator in the 10” which showed sunrise over the crater Copernicus

GCSE Observing: Almost all the Hundred Astronomy set were able to join CEB and GKWJ at the Dome for perhaps the last clear night in which List B projects could be attempted. Drawings were made of Copernicus and the Moon’s Terminator in the 10”, Pleiades (M45) in Binos and M42 and M31 in ETX. Star counts were also done in ETX. Cameras were set up and star trail images taken for the Sidereal Day project. M82 was also seen in the ETX but too dim to draw

3rd February

House visit: 10 pupils from SU Shell joined CEB at the Dome. The evening was cloudy
Next visit: Thursday 10th February (TU)

2nd February

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

1st February

House visit: 9 pupils from PR Shell came up to join CEB at the Dome. The evening was cloudy
Next visit: Thursday 3rd February (SU)

January 2022 – News

27th January

GCSE Observing: The Hundred astronomers joined CEB and GKWJ at the Dome, where intermittent cloud cleared to allow further work on their List B observing projects. M42 and M1 were seen through the 10-inch. Sketches were made as well as an impressive photo of M42 taken at the eyepiece with a latest model smartphone. Views of M45, M42 and M44 were sketched through binoculars and the two ETXs. Star counts were made through binoculars for areas of sky in and out of the plane of the Milky Way. Photographs were taken to create a star trails image


25th January

Outreach Visit: 15 Cubs with 4 Cub Leaders and 1 Young Leader in Training visited the Dome with GKWJ. It was cloudy

22nd January

Friends Observing: Cloudy skies prevented the ‘Bring Your Own’ observing session from taking place at the Dome, so instead, a group of 15 Friends joined CEB, GKWJ and JAG online via Zoom for a presentation on ‘Observing through 2022’ with questions and answers

19th January

House visit: 11 pupils from NC Shell, their HM and 2 young children came up to join CEB at the Dome. The sky was largely clear and the temperature dropping. The Waning Gibbous Moon was rising in the NE as they arrived and against the trees gave a good feeling for the speed of the Earth’s rotation. The Pleiades were viewed in Binos and then The Great Nebula in Orion (M42) with the Trapezium and nebulosity nicely showing in the 10-inch
Next House visit: Thursday 27th (PR)


GCSE Observing: 10 Hundred astronomers came up to the Dome to join CEB and GKWJ. All were able to view M42 in the 10-inch and then some started their List B projects, either drawing M42 or the Moon and its features at this phase. The others were given a Demo of how to do the “Finding the length of the Sidereal Day using star trails” project and also were talked through the 6 marker question that might come up for this in the exam

18th January

Outreach visit: 14 Cubs and 3 Cub Leaders visited the Dome with GKWJ. It was cloudy
House visit: Due to multiple Covid absences the visit was run over Zoom with CEB cold at the Dome and all the C1 Shell pupils warm in their own rooms or at home. The evening was cloudy
Next House visit: Thursday 20th (NC)

17th January

Radcliffe Society: 16 members joined GKWJ, JAG & CEB at the Dome. A cold and clear evening allowed the meeting to take place at the Dome for the second month running. The full Wolf Moon drowned out all but the brightest targets. The Full Moon was observed through the 10-inch, including with the diagonal and eyepiece removed, allowing the Moon to be ‘held’ in the palm of the hand and its warmth felt. GKWJ set up the 8-inch outside to demonstrate how to capture stellar spectra; five bright stars (Capella, Menkalinan, Rigel, Alnitak and Betelguese) were targeted. The data were then processed on a laptop attached to a projector in the classroom, allowing members to follow along with the procedure. The spectra were calibrated and plotted together, allowing the differences between spectral classes to be clearly seen
Next meeting: 28th February

13th January

House visit: 13 Shell pupils from MO and a Tutor came up to join CEB at the Dome for the first clear Shell night in some time. The waxing Gibbous Moon made for a very light sky and prominent lunar shadows. Polaris and the Saucepan and Orion with Sirius and Betelgeuse were identified along with M32 Andromeda Galaxy just discernible with averted vision. The 10-inch tracked M42, the Orion Nebula where the Trapezium was clearly seen, though the nearby Moon made the nebulosity very faint
Next House visit: Tuesday 18th January (C1)

GCSE observing: All bar two Remove GCSE astronomers came up to the Dome to join CEB and GKWJ. Small instruments were used outside to do drawings of the 83% Moon and then high magnification (x235) drawings of the crater system Gassendi were done through the 10-inch

12th January

Outreach visit: 12 Scouts with 2 Scout Leaders and a Parent Helper visited the Dome with GKWJ. A clearing sky and cold conditions allowed the 77% Waxing Gibbous Moon to be viewed in the 10-inch. Outside, the group enjoyed a sky tour, identifying the Plough, Polaris, the W of Cassiopeia, Alcor and Mizar, Orion and the Orion Nebula (M42)

11th January

GCSE observing: All bar one of the Remove astronomy set came up to the Dome to join CEB and GKWJ. Sadly the sky clouded over and remained cloudy until they all left

6th January

House visit: The first Shell visit of the year took place as 13 pupils form MM joined CEB at the Dome. Small gaps in the clouds allowed brief viewing by eye of Betelgeuse and Orion, Castor and Pollux, the Pleiades, the Saucepan and Polaris.
Next House visit: 13th January (MO)

December 2021 – News

15th December

Outreach visit: 14 Scouts with 2 Scout Leaders visited the Dome with GKWJ. It was cloudy

11th December

Friends observing: Unfortunately, cloudy skies prevented the Friends from observing the Winter Wreath, but around 20 Friends joined CEB, GKWJ & JAG on Zoom to enjoy a presentation and Q&A session on the topic of ‘Comets’ instead

9th December

House visit: 8 Shell from LI were lucky to be chauffeured up and down by their HM in the pouring rain. This was the last House visit of 2021
Next House visit: 6th January (MM)

8th December

Outreach visit: 8 Scouts with 2 Scout Leaders visited the Dome with GKWJ. The evening was cloudy
External lecture: CEB gave the lecture “The ‘computer’ who unlocked the Universe” to Hertford Astronomical Group. The talk was delivered over Zoom to celebrate the Centenary of the death on 12th December 1921 of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, perhaps once of the most pivotal forgotten astronomers

7th December

House visit: 10 pupils from IH Shell came up with a tutor to join CEB at the Dome. Despite poor weather forecasts, the sky cleared for the hour slot they were there. Polaris was located, followed by the Summer Triangle, Northern Cross and Milky Way. The Andromeda galaxy was then seen with averted vision, almost at the Zenith. The Pleiades were viewed in Binos and then Jupiter and 3 moons in the 10 inch; the planet was low and the seeing poor. The rain set in as the group left
Next House visit: 9th November (LI)

6th December

Radcliffe Society: 14 members of the society met at the Dome with GKWJ, CEB & JAG. The sky was clear, which enabled a varied evening of observing. Multiple instruments were used with the 10-inch slewing to: Jupiter with 4 moons, Neptune and Uranus. While outside, M45, the Pleiades, was seen through binoculars, an ETX was used to find M45, M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) and globular cluster M15; the 8-inch was set up to observe M45, M42 (Orion Nebula), double star Almach, M31 and C14, the Double Cluster. Next meeting: 17th January 2022

2nd December

House visit: 14 pupils from EL Shell and a Tutor came up to join CEB at the Dome. Bar a brief sighting of Jupiter by eye, the evening was cloudy

November 2021 – News

30th November

Blackett Science lecture: The 17th annual lecture “New perspectives on the Universe in an era of multi-messenger astronomy” was delivered to a large audience of both astronomy and physics pupils and Friends of the Marlborough Telescope outreach group. The speaker, Associate Professor Samaya Nissanke from the University of Amsterdam, a winner of the Breakthrough 2020 New Horizons Prize in Fundamental Physics, was actually involved in the 2015 discovery of Gravitational Waves. This was an inspirational talk on perhaps the newest area of Astrophysics, generating some excellent questions from the audience

25th November

House visit: 11 pupils from DA Shell joined CEB at the Dome. Bar a brief glimpse of Jupiter by eye, the evening was cloudy
Next visit: Thursday 2nd December (EL)

24th November

Outreach visit: 11 Scouts, 1 Scout Leader and 1 Parent Helper visited the Dome with GKWJ. The evening was cloudy

23rd November

House visit: 10 Shell pupils from CO joined CEB at the Dome. The evening was cloudy
Next visit: Thursday 25th November  (DA)

18th November

House visit: 12 pupils from C3 Shell joined CEB at the Dome. The evening was cloudy
Next visit: Tuesday 23rd November (CO)

16th November

House visit: 11 pupils from C2 Shell came up to join CEB at the Dome. The evening was cloudy
Next visit: Thursday 18th November (C3)

8th November

Radcliffe Society: A small group from the society met at the Dome with GKWJ, JAG & CEB to hear the monthly What’s Up and pupil presentations on ‘Introducing the Space Tourism Market’ and ‘An Introduction to Comets’. Next meeting: 6th December

4th November

GCSE Observing: The Hundred GCSE Astronomers joined GKWJ at the Dome. They found and made sketches of Messier objects using various instruments: M45 – The Pleiades in binoculars, M31 – The Andromeda Galaxy in both ETXs and M27 – The Dumbbell Nebula in the 10-inch. Seven Taurid meteors were seen

2nd November

GCSE Observing: The Remove GCSE Astronomy set joined CEB & GKWJ at the Dome for a cold and clear evening. They completed a worksheet all about coordinates, local sidereal time and hour angle. Five Taurid meteors were seen

October 2021 – News

31st October

Dark Skies Festival – Talk: GKWJ and JAG delivered the talk ‘Cosmic Recycling’ to an audience in the White Horse Bookshop

Dark Skies Festival – Talk: GKWJ delivered the talk ‘From Smart Phone to Smart Dome’ to an audience in the White Horse Bookshop

30th October

Dark Skies Festival – Public Observing: Clear skies allowed 48 visitors to enjoy a fabulous evening at the Dome with CEB, JAG & GKWJ. A spectacular fireball was seen in the northeast, with further meteors seen throughout the evening. Jupiter was observed in the 10-inch with three Galilean moons, later joined by the fourth, Io, as it emerged from occultation. Outside, visitors were given a tour of the night sky and viewed The Pleiades, Andromeda Galaxy and Brocchi’s Cluster through binoculars

Dark Skies Festival – Q&A: CEB held the session ‘To Infinity and Beyond – Astronomical Q&A’ in the Town Hall Assembly Room

Dark Skies Festival – Public Solar Observing: 33 members of the public came up to the Dome across two morning sessions with CEB, GKWJ & JAG. The Sun was viewed through solar goggles, an ETX with solar filter and the 10-inch in white light. Two large sunspot groups were clearly visible

29th October

Dark Skies Festival – Public Observing: CEB, GKWJ & JAG hosted the first nighttime public observing session, with 60 people of all ages across two groups visiting the Dome under clearing skies. Jupiter, initially with three Galilean moons and then four moons, was observed through the 10-inch. A sky tour was given outside, with M45 – The Pleiades, Brocchi’s Cluster and M31 – The Andromeda Galaxy viewed through binoculars

Dark Skies Festival – Welcome lecture: CEB delivered the opening lecture of the Festival ‘Welcome to MDSF 2021 – the importance of a dark night sky’ to a large audience in the Town Hall

25th to 31st October

Dark Skies Festival – Museum of the Moon: CEB, GKWJ & JAG are hosting public visits to the College Chapel to see Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon, part of the Marlborough Dark Skies Festival. Visitor numbers: Monday 25th = 175, Tuesday 26th = 213, Wednesday 27th = 230, Thursday 28th = 209, Friday 29th = 200, Saturday 30th = 372 and Sunday 31st = 244. Total = 1643

15th October

External Lecture: CEB delivered the lecture ‘The oldest GOTO telescope in the World’ to 35 members of Swindon Stargazers Astronomical Society in their Liddington Hall base

10th October

Friends observing: Just over a dozen Friends joined CEB and GKWJ at the Dome for ‘Double Stars’ observing under hazy, but clearing skies. The session started outside to spot naked-eye doubles: Mizar & Alcor and Algedi, both of which were also viewed through binoculars. The group then moved to the 10-inch to observe 11 different doubles, noting angles of separation, magnitude and colour differences. The stars viewed were: Albireo (Beta Cygni), Epsilon Lyrae (the Double Double), Gamma Delphini, Almach (Gamma Andromedae), 36 Andromedae, 65 Piscium, Psi Piscium, Gamma Arietis, 1 Arietis, Miram (Eta Persei) and to finish, Iota Cassiopeiae (a triple star)

9th October

Marlburian Club Day: CEB hosted 2 groups of Old Marlburians and their families. Some 30 OMs came up to the Dome (ages ranging from 8 to 80). The sky was clear and the sun viewable in solar goggles and then using the white light filter, through the 10”. The large sunspot 2882 was clearly seen with umbra and penumbra and its growing sunspot group noted

8th October

PR visits: A member of Town Council and a photographer joined CEB at the Dome to take some film clips to be used in the PR efforts for the Marlborough Dark Skies Festival at the end of October

5th October

GCSE observing: All but two Pupils from the Remove came to the Dome for their second evening of practical observing with CEB and GKWJ. They were introduced to the southern view. The ‘invisible’ lines of the meridian, the celestial equator and the ecliptic were pointed out, followed by asterisms: the Summer Triangle, the Northern Cross, the Great Square of Pegasus and Andromeda. Jupiter and Saturn were noted on the ecliptic, the faint Andromeda Galaxy and Fomalhaut were seen. The pupils sketched the southern view. The session ended at the 10-inch with a view of Jupiter and its 4 Galilean moons

September 2021 – News

27th September

Friends observing: A group of 10 Friends, including several new members, joined CEB, JAG and GKWJ for an evening of planetary observing through the 10-inch. Saturn was seen first, with two moons (Titan and Rhea), next was Jupiter with its four Galilean moons. We then slewed to Neptune and finally Uranus. Outdoor observations included an overhead ISS pass, the rising Waning Gibbous Moon and the Pleiades through binoculars

24th September

Friends 17th annual drinks: The Friends of the Marlborough Telescope were thrilled to gather at the Dome for the first time in two years. A beautiful evening saw a large number of the outreach group, including several new members, get together for our annual drinks and nibbles

Imaging: GKWJ stayed at the Dome after the drinks to capture some better data of Saturn through the 10-inch. The planet was much higher, at about 17° altitude, giving significantly more stable seeing and far superior quality data

23rd September

House Visit: The season started well with a clear sky to welcome 8 Shell pupils from B1. They were introduced to the facilities of the Blackett Observatory by GKWJ. The group first observed Saturn through the 10-inch, followed by Jupiter. As the sky darkened, the Plough, Polaris and Cassiopeia were pointed out to them. Next visit: Thursday 30th September (BH)

GCSE Observing: 13 GCSE Astronomy pupils (plus a budding astrophotographer) from the Hundred joined GKWJ at the Dome. On arrival, they looked West to see an overhead ISS pass, noticing it redden as it was eclipsed by the Earth’s shadow. They were taken on a tour of the night sky, with a series of questions to test their naked eye observing knowledge. The group then moved to the 10-inch to observe Jupiter, with the Great Red Spot, clear banding and 4 moons visible, followed by Saturn and Titan

Imaging: GKWJ remained up at the Dome to image through the 10-inch, capturing good data of Jupiter with 3 moons and then moved to Saturn, though the planet had sunk low to the horizon by this time, resulting in a poor quality image

21st September

GCSE Observing: 13 members of the Remove GCSE Astronomy set came up to the Dome for their first observing session with GKWJ. The session started with an overhead ISS pass, we then moved to the 10-inch to observe Saturn and its moon Titan. They were introduced to observing and sketching techniques and made a wide-field sketch of The Plough, Polaris and the W asterism of Cassiopeia. The group then observed Jupiter through the 10-inch, where only 3 Galilean moons were visible as Io was occulted. Europa was also occulted later in the evening

Imaging: Inspired by the recent planetary imager visit, GKWJ set up the 10-inch with planetary camera and atmospheric dispersion corrector to attempt an image of Jupiter. A reasonable image of Jupiter with moon Europa was obtained and a time lapse of the occultation of Europa was made from all the captures

20th September

Radcliffe Society: The first meeting of the new academic year was held at the Dome and 15 members of the society enjoyed an evening of observing with GKWJ, CEB and JAG. GKWJ presented the What’s Up for the coming weeks and future plans for increased pupil participation were discussed. Clear, though hazy skies allowed views of Saturn, with moon Titan clearly visible, and Jupiter with banding on its surface and its four Galilean moons spread out in a neat line to be seen through the 10-inch. Next meeting: 8th November

7th September

Observing visit: GKWJ hosted a visitor at the Dome, recounting the history of the Blackett Observatory and the Cooke 10-inch telescope. A second night in a row of near perfect dark and clear conditions allowed a fabulous observing session, starting with the planets: Saturn and 5 moons, Jupiter and 4 moons and Neptune. Next up were M15 (globular cluster), M31 (Andromeda Galaxy, with spiral arm detail observed), Almach (beautiful double star in Andromeda) and the Double Cluster. Finally, the visitor, who is an expert planetary imager, gathered data of Jupiter through the 10-inch to create this fantastic image:

6th September

Observing: GKWJ & JAG saw in the start of the new academic year with a great observing session through the 10-inch. Wonderfully clear skies, no Moon or wind and near perfect seeing gifted the finest views of Saturn and 5 moons at up to x237 magnification, Jupiter with the GRS and its 4 Galilean moons, including a moon shadow transit of Io and finally the pale blue disc of Neptune. GKWJ then took images of the Milky Way over the Dome

Milky Way over the Dome

August 2021 – News

26th August

Olympiad team training camp: CEB joined the UK BAAO team and leaders for the week long 2021 International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics training camp, based at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. The team of 5 (3 girls and 2 boys) were introduced to observing techniques, specifically solar observing and analysis of multi-wavelength images, to prepare them for the Observational round of the IOAA to be held remotely in November from Bogota, Columbia.

12th August

Friends Observing: A small group of Friends met with CEB, GKWJ and JAG at the Dome to observe the Perseids Meteor Shower. The forecast was correct and the cloud cover cleared from the West as the group assembled from 22:00 BST. During the first hour 17 Perseids and 2 sporadics were seen. Meteor recording was carried out in earnest for the hour 22:00 to 23:00 UT, when 39 Perseids and 3 sporadics were observed and recorded, including 4 fireballs. It was a magnificent night with a beautifully clear sky, no Moon and the Milky Way clearly visible arcing over the sky. A wonderful return to observing at the Dome for the first Friends session in some 18 months due to the Covid pandemic restrictions

June 2021 – News

28th June

Radcliffe Society: The final meeting of the year took place on Zoom. A number of Shell pupils who will be studying Astronomy GCSE next year also attended. GKWJ gave a What’s Up that highlighted observing opportunities throughout the summer. CEB spoke about noctilucent clouds and JAG gave a Latest News update, with mention of recent research developments on the dimming of Betelgeuse and the Cosmic Dawn. Next meeting will be in September

23rd June

Remove Physics visit: On the first opportunity to see shadows since the Solstice, CEB was joined by a Remove Physics set at the Dome. Measurements of shadow lengths were made at local noon (1pm). These measurements were fed into the National Schools Observatory Solstick website and, knowing the length of the dowling rod used, gave each pupil their own estimate for the circumference of the Earth (out by only 1000km in most cases) in a repeat of the famous Eratosthenes experiment of 3rd Century BC

16th June

Upper Sixth visit: An U6 girl, who was new in the L6 and her HM (IV) came up to the Dome for a tour and to do some solar observing. The mature sunspot 2833 was visible in the Solarscope and well viewed in the ETX and 10 inch with its sunflower-like penumbra

11th June

Upper Sixth visit: 2 U6 girls, who had arrived at the College in the L6 and never visited the Dome, asked for a tour of the observatory with CEB. They were able to view the Solar disc in goggles, a solarscope, the ETX with white light filter and the 10 inch with white light filter, where, though the disc was devoid of sunspots, the photosphere granulation could be clearly seen

10th June

Partial Solar Eclipse: The sky was largely cloudy throughout the eclipse, but a small break in cloud at around 11.30am allowed several of the Remove astronomers to see the edge of the Moon using solar goggles and even take a couple of mobile phone images. GKWJ manged to get a super H alpha shot from his River Park Observatory (see solar section in Images)

9th June

GCSE revision lesson: The Remove astronomy set joined CEB for a revision lesson outsde the Dome. The sky was clear and the sunspot group 2829 viewed in the 10 inch. The College had a film crew on site, so they were able to use some of the pupils in their PR shots

May 2021 – News

27th May

Friends Solar Observing: CEB and GKWJ hosted a small group of Friends who joined our live stream over Zoom. Though there were sunny patches, the seeing/turbulence and hazy cloud made for very blurry images. The two sunspot groups 2824 and 2826 were seen and the odd shape (more elongated in longitude than latitude) of 2826 was obvious. A magnetogram image of the solar disc clearly showed the anomalous orientation of the field in 2826

20th May

Astronomy for All lecture 2021: CEB delivered the 44th Green Templeton College, Astronomy for All (A4A) talk via Zoom. Hosted by Dr Rebecca Surender, GTC Vice-Principal and a Pro Vice- Chancellor of the University. The talk ‘The ‘computer’ who unlocked the Universe’ was attended by an audience from both the University and beyond

5th May

GCSE Solar observing: The Remove astronomers returned to the Dome for an early, Period 1, session. The sky was clear, though it was a little chilly. The Sun had no spots, but with the white light filter and the 10 inch on full aperture, the tiny, 1000km sized, convection cells (granulation) on the photosphere were visible

April 2021 News

23rd April

GCSE Solar observing: As part of Topic 10, the Remove Astronomy set of 15 pupils came up to the Dome and were supervised by CEB and GKWJ. The sky was clear and the Sun was observed first in Solar Goggles and then using Solar Scopes. The rotation rate of the Earth was estimated from the projected image. The 2 ETXs were then used with white-light filters to view the photosphere and the 2 sunspot groups were clearly vsisble. The image was as expected clearer at 35x magnification than 70x. The 10 inch was then used with the hydrogen-alpha filter to view the chromosphere and a large, bonfire shaped, prominence seen on the south westerm limb. This was drawn by the students

March 2021 News

25th March

MCBO Outreach: GKWJ presented a live guided tour of the Blackett Observatory to a Zoom gathering of 50+ members from the Basingstoke and Newbury Astronomical Societies. The audience heard about the history of the observatory and its main instrument, the Cooke 10-inch. The session concluded with a live-stream view of the waxing Gibbous Moon through the 10-inch, allowing viewers to enjoy impressive detail of the Montes Alpes, Rima Suess, Schickard crater and more

22nd March

Radcliffe Society: Members of the society met online for the March meeting. First, a pupil spoke about his Royal Astronomical Society award winning poster on radio meteor detection. The group then looked back at the three recent missions to Mars, enjoying the Night Sky News video from popular Oxford astrophysicist YouTuber, Dr Becky Smethurst. The session ended with an appraisal of the scientific accuracy of the film ‘The Martian’. Next meeting: 24th May

18th March

Sun-Earth Day Lecture: CEB delivered the 2021 NASA/ESA Sun-Earth Day Lecture to a group of Friends, pupils and invited guests via Zoom. The lecture title was ‘The ‘computer’ who unlocked the universe’ – a fascinating look at the work of four of the most influential women in the history of astronomy

16th March

GCSE Observing: 10 pupils from the Remove joined GKWJ at the Dome for observing. The session started with a view of the 3 day old crescent Moon in the 10-inch – a marvellous sight! The pupils then made sketches of the southwestern sky, placing Orion carefully with respect to the horizon, meridian and celestial equator. They estimated the right ascension of Betelgeuse, given the local sidereal time and estimated magnitudes of various stars. A most enjoyable return to observing

11th March

GCSE Observing: Members of the Hundred joined GKWJ at the Dome for a long awaited observing session. Conditions were windy with fast moving patchy cloud. Pupils made an observing target list, selecting one of each astronomical object type. Observing started outside with the naked eye, finding: Orion, Orion’s Belt, Betelgeuse, The Orion Nebula (M42), The Pleiades (M45) and Mars. The Right Ascension of Betelguese was estimated using the Local Sidereal Time and finding the Meridian. The group moved inside to slew the 10-inch to The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51), but unfortunately thickening cloud brought the session to an end. Irritatingly, the sky cleared some ten minutes later!

2nd March

House visit:7 Shell pupils from PR joined CEB on Zoom for the rearranged Dome visit. This was the last visit this year. Visits will recommence in September (hopefully live)