2005 News

27th December

Tour of the Winter Sky: Despite total cloud and light snow falling, 9 Friends (including 5 children)attended the Dome for a tour of astronomical images

13th December

Observing evening: Though the mist was too thick for observing a superb Lunar Halo of some 20 degrees diameter was visible around the nearly Full Moon

10th December

Observing evening: A clear cold evening gave a chance to test out the Apogee CCD camera and to observe the Moon and Mars

8th December

House observing evening: 10 pupils from Turner House came up to the Dome and despite mist and patchy cloud were able to see the First Quarter Moon in the Binos and Mars (with detail just discernable) in the 10 inch.

Next House visit: January 12th (SU)

6th December

GCSE observing evening:1 Hundreds and 2 Remove pupils took advantage of a clear sky to complete several pieces of Coursework. Despite scattered light masking the lower 15 degrees above the Southern horizon, we were able to view and draw M45 in Binos and M42 in ETX (which was impressive with the 4th of the trapezium easily resolved). The 10 inch was used for M42 at high magnification and the nebula structure was clearly seen. Saturn was also viewed in the ETX even showing some banding on the surface. During the evening 2 Arietid metreors and 1 Geminid were seen.

5th December

Primary School visit: 40 pupils and some 14 parents from St Michael’s School in Aldbourne visited the Dome in two groups for an hour. CEB was helped by 2 graduates from Oxford University, so that the groups could be split. Though the cloud was patchy in the early evening, all saw M45 in Binos and had an introduction to Constellations and then were able to view Mars through the 10 inch.

4th December

Observing evening: A small group of Friends and visitors from London gathered at the Dome just in time to catch an Iridium flare in Cassiopeia. M45 was viewed through Binos and Mars showed some detail in the 10 inch.

1st December

House visit: 11 pupils from C2 came up to the Dome in driving rain for a tour of the telescope and the website.

Next House visit: December 8th (TU)

29th November

Einstein Year Lecture: An audience of some 150 pupils, staff, visitors and Friends attended the Ellis Theatre to hear ‘In pursuit of pulsars’, a superb lecture given by Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Visiting Professor in the Oxford Astrophysics Department.

24th November

House observing evening: After a week of foggy nights, 10 Shell pupils from CO were lucky to get a cold clear sky. M45 and M31 were seen outside and Mizar A and B. Mars showed more detail than last week with both the bright white ice cap (S) and Syrtis Major being evident as dark green-grey markings on the disk.

Next House visit: December 1st (C2)

GCSE observing evening: 10 Remove pupils gathered at the Dome and having set up to observe were thwarted by an unexpected snow shower. 3 pupils were able to stay for the resumption of cold clear skies and could attempt coursework drawings of M45, MizarA and B and Mars

17th November

GCSE observing evening: 18 pupils from both year groups joined CEB, JAG and RDK at the Dome for a couple of hours of superb observing. As the temperatures dropped well below zero the sky was clear and still. Only the bright Noon washed out some detail. Mars was viewed and drawn in various instruments, as was M45 and Mizar A and B. Later Saturn and Titan were viewed in the ETX and then M42 for the first time in this instrument, the Trapezium being well resolved. The Trapezium was then viewed at x240 in the 10 inch and 2 of the 4 bright stars resolved into much fainter doubles. One Leonid a Taurid and one sporadic were seen by the group

16th November

Observing evening (Friends): Despite not being as clear or cold as predicted, a group of Friends gathered to view Mars, the Moon and possible Leonids. The Moon was too bright to give hope of many metoers and none were seen. Mars was good in the 10 inch at high magnification and the southern polar cap discernable. M42, once high enough, was viewed and, given the Moon light, showed plenty of detail in the 10 inch. By 11pm Saturn was dominent in the Eastern sky and this allowed the first view of the year, this was the more exciting since it was the first use of the new ETX 10.5cm telescope (the BLT) The image was suprisingly good and the gap between the rings and the planet and the moon Titan were both very clear

15th November

Observing evening: Though it soon clouded over and a group of 6 GCSE pupils were able to look at the Moon and Mars in the small instruments and briefly in the 10 inch. A bright meteor was also seen (not a Leonid)

12th November

Public open evening: The Dome was open to the public in three one hour sessions from 8pm till 11pm. A superb clear sky with temperatures falling to freezing allowed good views of the waxing gibbous Moon and Mars at high magnifications in the 10 inch. M45 was also viewed in Binos. The final group also saw M42 in the 10 inch. A total of 42 visitors attended from a large age range. CEB was assisted by a graduate from Oxford Astrophysics

10th November

House observing evening: 12 pupils from BH came up to the Dome on a mild and totally cloudy night.

Next House visit: November 24th (CO)

7th November

Mars at Opposition: Despite a very poor forecast and fast moving clouds, 16 visitors were able to get good views of the planet. The cloud helped to mask some of the glare and detail on the surface could be seen at high magnification (x238)

4th November

Observing evening: A clear spell early in the evening with falling temperatures gave an opportunity to observe Mars clearly in the 10 inch. The brightness was such as to require filters to see surface detail. Cloud and rain had moved in by 8pm

3rd November

House Observing evening: At last a clearish night. 11 Shell pupils from C3 attended the Dome and were able to view Mars at low magnification in the 10 inch. Due to some cloud and scattered light early on details were hard to see, though the ice caps were obvious to most.

Next House visit: November 10th (BH)

Observing evening: As the temperature dropped, the sky continued to clear and 10 Remove GCSE pupils were able to view Mars at up to 320x magnification, where several surface features were visible. In between Mars viewing, the pupils watched for Taurids. A total of 7 were seen (+2 sporadics) the brightest being mag.-2, slow and yellowish with an exploding head.

13th October

Lecture: CEB gave a lecture entitled ‘Observational Astronomy’ at Malmsbury Community Centre as part of the launch of a local astronomical group

10th October

Primary School visit: Some 40 pupils and accompanying parents and the Headmaster from Ramsbury School filled the Dome for 2 one hour slots. The evening was warm and too cloudy for the 10 inch, but all had a tour of the sky and looked at the First Quarter Moon in the 4 inch and then later Mars, where the Northern Ice was discernable as a brightness at the edge of the disc

9th October

Observing evening: A clear and colder evening gave an opportunity to view Draconid metors for the first time. 3 were seen in the space of 1 hour, so hardly spectacular. Mars was observed rising 5 deg. from M45. M34 an Open Cluster in Perseus was also observed

8th October

Lecture: CEB gave a lecture entitled ‘Astronomy in the family, J.G.Barclay and the 1860 10 inch Cooke’ to a distiguished audience at the 2nd Autumn Conference of the Society for the History of Astronomy (SHA) in Birmingham

6th October

House observing evening: The year’s House Shell group visits got underway with 11 pupils from C1 visiting the Dome. The sky was cloudy and the evening warm.

Next House visit: November 3rd (C3)

4th October

Observing evening:A clear sky brought 19 GCSE pupils to the Dome from both year groups. Coursework drawings of Mizar A and B and the Pleiades were made using the Binos and 4 inch. The 10 inch showed all those present a good view of Uranus and later Mars. Some surface features were seen on Mars though it was still rather low in the sky and the growing Northern ice-cap visible. M31 was also viewed in Binos and a sky tour conducted. Several bright meteors were also seen.

3rd October

Partial Solar eclipse:4 optimistic Friends attended the Dome but the eclipse was invible throughout. We will hope for better luck in March (29th) for the 25% view of the Total eclipse on that day

1st October

Anniversary drinks: Some 60 Friends and family gathered to celebrate the first anniversary of the founding of the Friends of the Marlborough Telescope. Though windy and chilly and too cloudy for viewing, the Dome made a good venue for the event.

27th September

Observing night: 4 Remove astronomers grabbed the clear slot till 9.30pm to get 3 coursework drawings completed. The 10 inch was used to view Mizar A and B, and M51. The 4 inch was used for M31, M45 and Mars as it was rising where the polar caps where just discernable. Mars was still too low for the 10 inch at that time

26th September

Observing evening: Sadly the planned viewing of the outer planets was clouded out though one local Friend did brave the winds to visit the Dome for an introductory tour

23rd September

Observing night: What appeared to be a clear night allowed a good view of Uranus and a brief glimpse of Mars before cloud prevented location of Neptune

20th September

Observing night: The first clear Tuesday night of term saw an unprecedented number of pupils from the Remove and Hundred (some 32 in all) attend the Dome. Sadly the clouds rolled in and the observing was cut short. Nevertheless all got to see the now waning Harvest Moon through the 10 inch and Mizar A and B through the 4 inch.

18th September

Observing afternoon: A small group of children gathered to view the huge sunspot 798 through solar viewing glasses and in the Solarscope projetion box

13th September

Lecture: Mr David Humphrey lectured to an audience of pupils staff and a couple of Friends on his theories and ideas about the early solar system. This was a trial run for a lecture to be given at Cambridge later in the week.

11th September

Prep School Lecture: CEB gave a lecture titled ‘The Sun – our star’ to some 220 pupils and staff at Windlesham House School in Sussex

10th September

Observatory visit: A small group including 2 children visited the Dome for a quick tour. Sadly the evening was cloudy

2nd September

Observing evening: The first Friends event of the new calendar brought a group of a dozen observers (3 under 12) to view first Jupiter and Venus only 1.4 deg. apart in the pink glow of the setting Sun then a tour of the Summer sky as the light dimmed. By 9.30pm it was dark enough to find the calibration star Xi Serpens Cauda and thence locate the Pluto field. Again the younger eyes had greater ease in seeing the tiny dim dot which came and went, but had moved since Monday. Nearly all those present managed to see the planet, making this an unusual evening for all present. The few who stayed on were able to see a butterscotch Mars rising in the East

29th August

Observing evening: Another stunning Summer evening. A small group gathered to study the faint objects in the Pluto field. Younger eyes had less difficulty in finding the faint candidate. Certainly the coordinates were correct, but at nearly 14th magnitude the image in peripheral vision was not constant; again we will await movement. Uranus was also viewed seeming unbelievably bright in comparison.

28th August

Opening up post holiday: The telescope was calibrated and the field of 10th and 11th magnitude stars located to find Pluto. One candidate was identified right at the edge of the telescope and dark-adapted eye’s capabilities. If it has moved later in the week, Pluto will have been seen. Mars rose in the East after 11pm and by Midnight was high enough to view for the first time this year; very bright orange with some dark markings, though unlike in 2003 little sign of the Ice cap

Observing afternoon: The Sun was viewed in H alpha and some imaging of a ‘hedge prominence attempted’.

21st August

Observing afternoon: 2 visitors were able to view the Sun in H alpha during a clear hot afternoon. Several prominences were visble changing visibly over 30 minutes. Spot 798 also showed considerable disturbances

12th August

Observing evening: A couple of Friends were able to catch glimpses of a handful of brighter Perseids between the clouds between 10 and 11.30pm BST

3rd August

Observatory visit: At last a clear evening. A group of Summer School visitors and local Friends were able to view a clear Summer sky. The Milky Way was clear and Andromeda (M31) easy to find. The 10 inch was used to separate Mizar A and B and then to view the bright Globular Cluster M3 and then the Whirlpool Galaxy M51, within which some spiral structure could be seen.Some 15 Perseid meteors were seen during the evening, one bright enough to show slight pink colour.

2nd August

Solar Observing: A couple of Friends and 2 teenagers from Summer School observed the Sun in white light through the 10 inch. The active spot group 792 was very prominent mid disc

Observatory visit: 10 Summer School visitors came up to the Dome. Through gaps in the clouds Jupiter and 3 moons were visible in the 4 inch. Various constellations could be identified and the Milky Way near Deneb viewed in Binos. By 11pm the sky had cleared to the SE and Mizar and Alcor were viewed in the small instruments. 3 Perseid meteors were also seen.

1st August

Observatory visit: 8 Summer School visitors attended the Dome. Though there was hazy cloud, the Summer Triangle was clear and Mizar and Alcor were viewed in Binos and then Mizar A and B in the 10 inch

27th July

Observatory visit: 2 visitors attended the Dome on a damp and cloudy evening

26th July

Observatory visit: 8 visitors attended the Dome for a 90 minute tour and introduction to the website. Sadly again cloud prevented any viewing.

25th July

Summer School Courses: 12 adults are attending the morning ‘To Infinity and Beyond’ introduction to Astrophysics and 6 the afternoon ‘Solar weather’ a study of the Sun. 8 visitors came up to the Dome for a tour and introduction to the website despite the clouds.

9th July

Prize Day: 80 visitors including parents, pupils and staff came up to the Dome to see the exhibition of GCSE Moon maps and as the sky cleared during the afternoon, to view the solar limb in H alpha

4th July

Consultancy visit: 2 Architects from London visited the Dome to gather information and consult for a potential project in the North of England

28th June

Teacher visit: Two teachers from Cranbrook School in Kent visited to look over the Observatory and discuss setting up their own operation.

27th June

Observing evening: A couple of Friends and 2 College staff came up to view Venus and Mercury (all for the first time). Saturn was again not discernable in the haze. The 10 inch was also turned on Jupiter, which given the twilight was rather featureless, other than the main belts.

26th June

Observing evening: A small group gathered at sunset to watch the conjunction of Planets. Mercury and Venus were clear but due to low haze in WNW, Saturn could not be made out.

23rd June

Solar observing: 20 Lower sixth pupils and their teacher were able to view the Solar spectrum

Observing evening: The gathering planets Mercury, Venus and Saturn were viewed low in the WNW sky. Venus appearing first at around 10pm, Mercury was clear lower and further North by 10.15pm

22nd June

Solar observing: 8 Lower Sixth pupils viewed the almost blank Solar disc and were able to view the Frauenhoffer lines in the Solar spectrum

21st June

Observing evening: The rising of the Moon at its furthest South standstill position and the optical illusion of its abnormal size was viewed. the Honey Moon was indeed a superb orange-pink in colour

13th June

GCSE Revision: 11 GCSE Astronomy pupils gathered from 9am till 5pm for a final intense revision session prior to the exam. The Sun was also viewed in H alpha.

11th June

Solar observing: A small group of visitors viewed the Sun in H alpha

9th June

Solar observing: 12 Remove pupils viewed the Sun in H alpha. An enormous prominence was seen on the eastern limb stretching some 200,000 km

8th June

Solar observing: 3 Shell sets, a total of 60 pupils and 3 staff, viewed the Sun as yesterday. the limb activity in H alpha had increased around the whole disc

7th June

Solar observing: 2 Shell sets, a total of 34 pupils and 3 staff, viewed the Sun both in white light and though the H alpha filter on the 10 inch.

Observing afternoon: The Solar limb was viewed in H alpha and many prominences seen on both the Western and Eastern limbs

Observing evening: A warm clear evening with just a little high cloud allowed a small group of Friends to view Jupiter. Ganymede was seen to be the innermost moon and was moving in to transit in the morning, the seperation of it and Io, which was moving to apjove, could be seen easily over the course of 30 minutes. Plenty of satellites were visible. Tempel 1 proved ellusive, though a potential sighting was made, there was just too much scattered light for this low magnitude object.

4th June

Observing evening: The Summer Constellations. Sadly, despite some promise of clear patches, the event was clouded out.

28th May

Observing evening: Given its proximity to Jupiter, an attempt was made to locate Comet Temple 1, the target for the Deep Impact mission on 4th July. At 11th magnitude it was not easy in the twighlight sky, but could just be seen, close to the magnificent M3 orange giant Auva (delta Virginis). A chance glance at Jupiter caught an unusual close gathering of moons with a transit of Io, the end of an occultation of Europa and a close skim of Callisto to Jupiters northern limb.

18th May

Public Open afternoon: The observatory was open from 2pm till 6pm and despite haze and progressive cloud, most of the 60 or so visitors were able to view the Sun through Solar viewers or via projection, assisted by an Oxford PhD student. In occasional clear patches the finder scope was used with a broadband filter and the single sunspot was easily seen. Mid afternoon the haze cleared for 20 minutes and the H-alpha filter on the 10 inch allowed the group present to see some small loop prominences. Many of the group were under 10 yrs old and asked plenty of good questions.

14th May

Solar observation: In preparation for the Solar viewing on Wednesday. The Solar disc was viewed in H-alpha and several loop prominences were visible on the western limb where spot 756 had recently disappeared.

12th May

Observing evening: A cold clear night allowed the first sighting of Ceres, which was hard to find against a rich star field. The bright globular cluster M5 was also seen for the first time.

7th May

Observing evening: An unexpectedly clear night with no Moon made for excellent conditions to view Jupiter, though the relative warmth after a sunny day did not allow much of the fine surface detail to be seen. A very bright and full pass of the ISS was a bonus and the solar panels were easy in the Binos.

30th April

Observing afternoon: A small group including 3 from Australia were able to observe spot 756 during the afternoon, despite variable cloud cover

29th April

Observing afternoon: A sunny afternoon with some light cloud at last allowed the telescope to swing into action to observe the huge mature spot 756 (5 times bigger than Earth and visible to the unaided eye) A group of 5 prospective artists visited the Dome and were able to see good penumbral detail at low magnification. This visit was followed by the Director of a Community project in Malmesbury who is about to set up an Astronomy group there.

6th-13th April

Astronomy expedition to La Palma: CEB and RDK were accompanied by 3 pupils one from each of the top three year groups and joined Oxford University researchers on the 2.5m Isaac Newton telescope for 2 clear nights of observing. Tours were also arranged of the GTC 10.4m under construction, the 4.2m WHT, the new 17m MAGIC and 2m remote Liverpool telescopes whilst at the Roque de los Muchachos observatory. Many thanks are due to Rene Rutten (ING Director) and Javier Mendez (publicity)and to Mr and Mrs Wetton for providing our accommodation.The remainder of the week was spent exploring the island including walking the fault line on top of the Cumbre Vieja.

23rd March

Observing evening: Tour of the Spring Sky. A group of 11 Friends including several children beat the weather forecasters and though there was plenty of cloud around and much scattered moonlight, decent views were snatched of Saturn and later Jupiter (at rather low altitude). The Moon’s final shadow on the East limb was viewed at high magnification. M45 and M42 were also viewed in Binos.

20th March

Public Lecture: The 2005 Sun-Earth day NASA lecture (3rd hosted in Marlborough) took place in the Ellis Theatre. An audience of some 70 people attended the one hour tour through the multinational and multicultural development of Astronomy from 5000 BC, the audience included distinguished figures from the study of Archaoastronomy both locally and from further afield

18th March

Observing evening: A small group of Friends seized the opportunity of a remarkably clear and warm evening. Saturn was excellent at high magnification in the 10 inch and by 9.30pm Jupiter was at last visible for the first time this year. M45 and M42 were rather washed out by the moonlight. The Moon itself was viewed at high magnification as well.

Observing afternoon: At last the weather has begun to change and a clear hot afternoon gave a chance for the first Solar Observing of the year. The Solar disc was fairly quiet with one mature sunspot in the Western hemisphere. A large prominance with plenty of magentic field line structure was visible on the Eastern limb stretching some 100000km into space.

17th March

Observing evening: Brief patches in cloud allowed the final piece of GCSE coursework observation to be carried out on M45 using Binos. The first Quarter Moon was also clear of cloud as were Mizar A and B in the 4 inch. Jupiter was already up at 8.15pm but too low for a clear image.

12th March

Observing evening: A still sky with large clear patches gave an opportunity for a couple of last minute GCSE drawings to be made. Saturn was excellent in the 10 inch and M45 in Binos. Given the good seeing it was possible to pick out some previously less visited Messier objects (Open Clusters) in the Binos. M44 (Beehive), M67 (Cancer), M41 (Canis Major), M38 (Perseus) and h and chi (Perseus). Jupiter and 3 moons was rising in East but too low for the 10 inch.

10th March

House observing evening: The last House C1 with 11 pupils accompanied by their HM came to the Dome. As seems the norm this winter the sky was cloudy and the evening relatively warm. The sky then cleared after the group had left. With a few exceptions due to illness and other commitments, the whole first year group in the College have now had an introduction to the Observatory.

Next House visit will be in September.

4th March

External visit: Basingstoke Astronomical Society became the first Society to visit the Dome. Though there was cloud around and especially some fine high cloud the evening improved as time went on and the 9 members of the group (including Guy Hurst, ex-president of BAA) were able to observe M42 (Orion Nebula), M44 (Beehive Open Cluster), M45 (Pleiades) and for the first time M67 (Open Cluster) and at the end of the evening Jupiter low in the East in Binos and M31 (Andromeda galaxy) in the 4 inch. The 10 inch was used for part of the evening to view Saturn (up to 280x)with occasional moments of clarity.

27th February

Observing evening: A superbly clear and very cold evening (-6)gave the best conditions this winter. GCSE astronomers were summoned to complete observational coursework pieces and a total of some 13 different observations were drawn. Targets included Saturn (superb in the 10 inch even at high magnification, with Enke’s division visible in the Rings), M42 again superb and showing clear green-grey colour, M44 Beehive, M45 Pleiades, M31 Andromeda, comet Machholz (now so close to the Pole Star that it required no movement of the Binoculars during the evening and for the first time M51 Whirlpool galaxy. As the cloud closed in at 10.30pm the just gibbous Moon was rising with Jupiter at last visible within a couple of degrees above it (sadly too low for the 10 inch but the 4 moons clearly visble in the 4 inch)

School visit: A group of sixth form pupils from Shrewsbury School visited in the early evening with the Head of Science and another member of staff. Having come on from a visit to Greewich it was fitting that they were rewarded by superb clear skies and as the Sun set, viewed Saturn, M31, M44, M45 and M42.

25th February

School visit: The Dome was packed with a group of 17 year 6 (11yr olds) from Preshute Primary School accompanied by a teacher and 8 parents. 2 graduates from Oxford astrophysics came over to assist with the event. Sadly, though the hour around sunset had given hope of a clear night, by the time the children had arrived so had the clouds.

24th February

House observing evening: 12 pupils from C3 visited the Dome and predictably the weather (suitably cold but cloudy and snowing lightly) prevented observation.

Next House visit (and last this academic year) Thursday 10th March (C1)

12th February

Observing evening: At last a clear spell. A couple of Friends seized the early evening window and were rewarded with excellent views of Saturn at both low (50x) and high(280x) magnification in the 10 inch , being very close, the Eskimo nebula was also viewed but showed little detail due to thin high cloud. M44 (Beehive) and Comet Machholz were viwed in the Binos and the 4 day old Moon in the 4 inch.

10th February

House observing evening: 8 pupils from BH came up to the Dome, yet again the weather was poor and no observing was possible.

Next House visit: Thursday 24th February (C3)

8th February

Observing evening: GCSE Observing was cancelled due to poor weather (cloud and light polution from Astros)nevertheless a break in the cloud gave an opportunity for one piece of coursework and an unusually clear and detailed view of Saturn, which showed a particularly dark band about two thirds of the way from the pole and indeed a dark spot at the pole.

3rd February

House observing evening: 11 pupils from EL came up to the Dome. Again poor weather prevented observations.

Next House visit: Thursday 10th February (BH)

27th January

House observing evening: 10 pupils from C2 came up to the Dome. Thick cloud prevented any observations.

Next House visit: Thursday 3rd February (EL)

25th January

External visit: 14 adults and their teacher from Swindon New College (Astronomy GCSE Course) had an introduction to the Observatory. Though the temperature was falling there was no break in the cloud cover and hence no chance of observing.

20th January

House observing evening: 10 pupils from SU and RJP came up to the Dome. The high winds and cloud prevented any observations with the telescopes, but the clouds cleared just enough to view the Moon through Binos at the end.

Next House visit: Thursday 27th January (C2)

18th January

GCSE Astronomy evening:Though the scattered light from the astros to the South and the Quarter Moon to the South-West limited the magnitudes of stars seen, a group of 8 GCSE pupils gathered and completed some 14 pieces of coursework. Comet Machholz now at some 80 degrees altitude showed a clear ion tail in the Binos. Mizar A and B were again targets in the 4 inch and Saturn was clear in the 10 inch with 5 visible moons including Titan which all present wanted to look at given the events of 14th January.

Next observing evening Tuesday 25th January if clear.

13th January

House observing evening: 9 Shell pupils from LI came up and were lucky to find a cold clear evening. Though the light pollution from the astropitches was considerable, all were able to find Comet Machholz by eye. M45 was viewed in Binos, sadly light cloud obscured the Comet in Binos. The 10 inch was used to see Saturn which was very clear with 4 visible moons.

Next House visit: Thursday 20th January (SU)

11th January

GCSE Astronomy evening: High winds caused the cloud cover to change rapidly but gave a clear window from 8.30pm till 10pm. 3 Hundreds pupils and 4 Remove astronomers attended and 6 pieces of coursework completed. Targets included Comet Machholz and M42 in Binos and Mizar A and B in 4 inch. Though the sky was relatively bright with scattered light from the astropitches, it was reasonable seeing and Saturn was clear (though uncoloured) in the 10 inch with 4 moons easily visible.

Next Observing evening Tuesday 18th January if clear.

7th January

School visit: The Dome was full for 2 one hour sessions with 28 pupils (aged 9 to 11 yrs) and 12 Parents from Bedwyn Primary School. Sadly the poor weather prevented observing, but with assistance from an Oxford Graduate, they had an introduction to Astronomy and the Observatory.

4th January

Observing evening: A short break in the light cloud brought a couple of Friends to the Dome to check on the Comet’s progress. It was brighter than ever to the unaided eye and easy to see vertically below the Pleiades. Its Coma was good in Binos (even 8×25)and in the 10inch was measured to be 15 arc minutes in diameter. The Comet had moved 3 degrees in 2 days. The comet will remain at roughly 4th magnitude till 12th January.

2nd January

Observing evening: A small group of Friends met to view the nucleus of comet Machholz in the 10 inch, the ion tail was discernable and the comet was an easy object by naked eye. M42 the Orion nebula was excellent and Saturn very clear with 4 moons easily visible and Titan especially bright. 2 Quadrantids were seen.

2004 News

29th December

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

26th December

Observing evening: A cold crisp night with a full Moon at apogee gave a good opportunity for some full Moon pictures. Comet Machholz was only just visible in the scattered light.

19th December

Observing evening: A superb still and cold (-5) sky brought a last minute gathering of 14 Friends to the Dome. Scattered Moonlight washed out details of the comet but all saw it in Binos and the 10 inch. Saturn was superb even at high magnification with surface details, the Cassini division and 4 moons being very clear. The Orion nebula (M42) was also superb and the contrast within the gas clouds as good as ever

18th December

Tour of the Winter Sky: Despite the complete lack of any ‘sky’, other than miserable cloud and rain, a small group of Friends gathered for a short talk and virtual ‘tour’ of the main objects visible in the winter evening sky.

17th December

Observing evening: The best sky since September saw a small group at the Dome, including 4 under 11s, viewing the Moon, M42, Saturn and comet Machholz in the 4 inch and binoculars and M42, Saturn, the Eskimo nebula and comet Machholz in the 10 inch. Using CEB’s drawing of the comet’s movement from 16th (4 minutes of arc in one hour) and the published Ephemerides for distance (1.34 A.U) JAG calculated a rough speed of 50 km/s for the comet.

 

16th December

Observing evening: At last a clear sky gave an opportunity to view comet Machholz; just visible to the unaided eye and easy in binoculars. In 10 inch a faint tail can be seen and its movement against background stars was obvious over an hour. The comet is working its way up the west side of Orion and should get easier over the holidays.

9th December

House observing evening: 11 pupils from TU came up to the Dome for the last House visit this term. The sky had been clear all day, but by evening a fog had settled in and only the extent of Marlborough’s light pollution was visible. Images from the internet were therefore invaluable.

2nd December

House observing evening: 12 pupils from MM attended in falling temperatures and clearing skies. The smaller instruments could be used and Saturn was viewed in the 4 inch. M45 the Pleiades were seen in the binoculars and M31 identified by eye. Sadly the amount of moisture and scattered light prevented the 10 inch from being used within the hour slot available.

Next House visit: Thursday 9th December (TU)

25th November

External visit: 10 members of the Shrivenham Scout group attended the Dome with their organiser, accompanied by a local family. Sadly the weather was cloudy again (the Shrivenham pack were the first external visitors after the 2002 re-opening of the telescope)

House Observing evening: 12 pupils from MO Shell attended accompanied by JAG and 2 other adults. A small group and 2 pupils stayed on after the rest had departed and were rewarded by glimpses of the near full Moon when brief breaks occurred in the cloud.

Next House visit: Thursday 2nd December (MM)

23rd November

Exobiology Lecture: A total of 7 Friends and some 40 pupils for Hundred and above and a couple of College staff attended the lecture given by CEB in L3

19th November

Public open evening: All 60 tickets for the evening were taken up via the Marlborough Town library. The Observatory was full for the 3 one hour slots from 8pm till 11pm. Sadly the clear crisp night forecast did not materialise and the first group only saw a very hazy Moon through the 4 inch. By 9.30pm however the sky cleared for the next 45 minutes; the 10 inch was then used by all those present. 70 visitors covering an age range from 7 to 75 yrs attended. CEB was assisted by JAG and 3 graduates from the Oxford Astrophysics Department. Sadly the group at the Dome saw no Leonids (in fact the shower was poorer than expected with a maximum of 12 per hour being seen anywhere) One pupil further down the fields did manage to see 4. Photos of the event will shortly appear on the ‘Past events’ on the Contents page.

14th November

Observing evening: A cold clear sky (no Moon) at last enabled some fainter objects to be viewed. Though the ‘seeing’ was not perfect (some turbulence). JAG, DGR and ORB viewed the Eskimo nebula, M1, M42 and Saturn. M42 was as clear as ever seen before with plenty of structure in the nebula and a clear Trapezium. Saturn is not as fine as last year being a little further and the rings less ‘open’.

11th November

House observing evening: CO House Shell group attended. Sadly due to thick cloud we were again unable to observe.

Next House visit: Thursday 26th November (MO)

9th November

GCSE Astronomy observing night: At last another clearish night. Despite high cloud, poor seeing and plenty of light scattered from the Astropitch lights and Swindon, some coursework was completed. Targets included: M2 (the Globular Cluster in Aquarius), M45 and Mizar A and B. A severe geomagnetic storm was in progress during the evening and at 2035UT there was a hint of green auroral activity visible in NNE about 10 degress altitude above Swindon’s yellow glare.

Next observing night: Tuesday 16th

4th November

House visit: NC came up last night and at last the sky was clear. M57 (Ring nebula) was viewed in 10 inch and M45 Pleiades and M31 Andromeda Galaxy in Binoculars. 5 Taurid meteors were also seen.

Next House visit: Thursday 11th November (CO)

2nd November

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

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

28th October

Total Lunar eclipse: Due to thick cloud and rain which was not shifted by the predicted high winds, the Eclipse was a non-event. The clouds parted briefly at 3.36am to show a beutifully orange eclipsed moon. At 5.30am after a thunderstorm, the skies cleared revealing the last 20 minutes of the waning shadow. Next total lunar eclipse is March 2007.

20th October

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

14th October

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

Next House visit; Thursday 4th November (NC)

7th October

House Visit: The first Shell group of pupils (Preshute) visited the Dome for an introduction to the telescope and its facilities. Sadly the evening was too cloudy to make any observations.

5th October

GCSE Astronomy observing night: A reasonably clear night saw the 2nd meeting of Radcliffe Society. 6 Pupils in the Hundred and Remove joined JAG and CEB at the Dome. Many completed 2 or even 3 GCSE Coursework observations. Targets included Uranus and Neptune in the 10″, Mizar A and B, M31 and M32 in the 4″ and M45 in Binoculars.

Next Observing evening is Tuesday 9th November (if clear)

2nd October

Launch of Friends of the Marlborough Telescope: The party to launch the Friends group was held at the Marlburian and attended by 45 Founding Friends and their partners. Professor Roger Davies, Wetton Chair of Astrophysics at Oxford represented the new link with Oxford University. Sir Patrick Moore (Honorary Friend) sent a note of support. Paul Orchard-Lisle, Chairman of the College Council represented the College with the Master Nicholas Sampson. Speakers: The Master, Philip Wetton (Chairman of the Friends) and Charles Barclay (Observatory Director and Friends Secretary)