2008 News

28th December

Private visit: 2 visitors from Australia visited the Dome. Sadly though the early evening had given a superb sunset and beautiful Venus with a very slender crescent Moon, by 8pm the sky had clouded over

 

26th December

Observing evening: After a superb sunset and viewing Venus at around 60% phase in Binos, 3 Friends and a current GCSE pupil made the most of a very cold winter sky. Though 2 degrees in the Dome, with windchill, the outside temperature was -5 degrees or below. The Binos were used to view M45 (Pleiades) and the ETX to view (for the first time) M1, the Crab nebula (dim though clearly visible) and then M42 the Orion nebula. The 10 inch once calibrated was used at high magnification to view and split Castor. The main Binary elements some 2.9 arcsecs apart were easy and showed some hint of colour (blue and gold). The Eskimo planetary nebula was then viewed and finally M42. There was sadly growing moisture and hence more sky glow, nevertheless, the nebula showed superb detail and the Trapezium was split into several pairs of stars

4th December

House visit: 12 pupils from MO Shell came up to the Dome. The crescent Moon was out but soon clouded over. All were able to get a brief glance at M45 (Pleiades) in Binos

Next House visit: January 8th (NC)

1st December

Planet observing: Between breaks in the cloud the crescent Moon and Jupiter were imaged as the Sun set. Venus was already hidden behind the Moon. The Moon was viewed first in Binos and then in the 10 inch with the lit limb being observed for the re-appearence of Venus. At 17.14.45 UT Venus appeared, sadly the clouds closed in and prevented a picture being taken

External visit: 19 Cubs and 4 adults from 1st Ramsbury Cub pack attended the Dome. 2 Oxford Astrophysics Graduates assisted , but sadly the sky was overcast

28th November

Planet observing: Jupiter and Venus were imaged some 4 degees apart, bright and dominating the early evening night sky in SW, even through severe skygow and encroaching fog

27th November

House visit: 10 pupils from TU Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was too cloudy to observe

Next House visit: Thursday 4th December (MO)

25th November

4th Blackett Science lecture: 150 pupils and Friends attended the lecture ‘Discovering planets around other stars – will we find another Earth?’ by Don Pollacco of Queens Uni Belfast in the Ellis theatre

Observing sesssion: Prior to the lecture Dr Pollacco and CEb used the 10 inch to view a couple a beutiful mixed colour Doubles. Eta Andromedae, Gamma Cassiopeia and then Globular M15

22nd November

Public lecture: CEB gave an Archeoastronomy lecture at Avebury for the National Trust season ‘Avebury in starlight’ attended by some 40 visitors

20th November

House visit: 12 pupils from MM Shell came up to the Dome. Sadly the sky was clouded over, though it did allow a brief glimpse of Vega and Deneb

Next House visit: Thursday 27th November (TU)

15th November

Private visit: 10 visitors spanning a wide age range came up to the Dome for an evening bid for on behlaf of ‘Wiltshire Blind’. Sadly the sky was cloudy but a Tour and Lecture took the place of observing

13th November

External visit: 16 Scouts from the Hungerford pack and 5 adults attended the Dome. Sadly the sky was totally fogged out

11th November

GCSE Observing evening: After a totally clear, cold promising start, cloud closed in from South. The near Full Moon washed out all but the brightest stars and as the sky clouded we were treated to a lovley Lunar Aureole. One bright meteor was seen and several pieces of coursework attempted. the 10 inch looked at the bright ray cratrs and their ejecta. The illumination was perfect for seeing detail around the Schroeter valley and both Aristarchus and Heroditus were super. The ETX viewed Mizar A and B and the Binos were used to draw M45 the Pleiades

7th November

Friends Q and A session: 10 Friends attended the question and answer session on the ‘dark side’ of the Universe. Venus was superb after sunset and the 10 inch viewed the First Quarter Moon in the early evening but the sky then clouded up. By 9.30pm however the sky cleared and the ETX was used to view M31. Unfortunately M31 was too near the Zenith for the 10 inch to locate accurately. M1 (Crab supernova remnant) was then attempted but the moonlight and slight haze prevented observation. Orion was viewed for the first time in the evening sky

6th November

House visit: 11 Shell pupils from PR came up to the Dome. Sadly the sky was totally overcast and orange

Next House visit: November 20th (MM)

22nd October

Shell class visit: 19 pupils from Shell set 3 came up to the Dome and were able to view the Sun through solar goggles and then in the 10 inch. The disc was completely blank, though granulation was visible

21st October

Solar Observing: The white light filter was used to view the Solar Disc in the afternoon, to calibrate the telescope and to check for portes. Granulation was evident but the disc was blank

GCSE Observing: 4 Remove and 2 Hundred pupils came up to the Dome on the best night this winter. With near perfect seeing, the Milky Way was well structured. Jupiter was watched until it set with Europa in transit, though sadly not visible. The ETX was used to view M31 Andromeda galaxy and then M13 in Hercules for the first time, though invdivdual stars could not be resolved. The Bino looked at M45, the Pleiades. The 10 inch was then turned on M13 and subsequently on M57 the Ring Nebula in Lyra with a barely discernable central star. Some 15 pieces of coursework were completed. One late Orionid was seen, very quick, crossing the Square of Pegasus

17th October

Private visit: 7 members of Marlborough Brandt Group came up to the Dome for an extended evening. Sadly the cloudy sky prevented all but the Summer Triangle being seen

16th October

House visit: 11 pupils from C1 Shell came up to the Dome. Sadly high cloud prevented good viewing but the Summer Traingle was seen by eye then Jupiter and 4 moons in the 10 inch showing some surface detail and lastly the waning Gibbous Moon in the Binos. A nice Lunar aureole was present

Next House visit: November 6th (PR)

14th October

Lower Sixth visit: 3 New Lower Sixth pupils from SU came up to the Dome for a tour. Sadly the sky was cloud

Next Lower Sixth visit: Tuesday 2nd December

10th October

RAS Lecture: CEB lectured (Kielder – A new platform for dark sky outreach) to some 80 Fellows of the Royal Astronomical Society

9th October

House visit: 11 Shell pupils from SU came up to the Dome. The increasing high cloud made for poor viewing, and a small Lunar aureole. Jupiter and 4 moons was however seen in the ETX and 10 inch with Io closing in and then passing behind the main planet. The waxing Gibbous moon was viewed in Binos

Next House visit: 16th Ocotber (C1)

7th October

Scouts visit: 14 Scouts from Hungerford and 4 adults came up to the Dome as the clouds cleared after a foul afternoon. The Moon and Jupiter were observed in Binos and then Jupiter and 4 moons in the ETX. The First Quarter Moon was viewed in the 10 inch concentrating on the Alpine Valley area. A tour of the sky was also possible

GCSE Observing: Some 3 Remove and 6 Hundred astronomers came up on the first really good night this term. 12 or so coursework drawings were completed. The ETX looked at Mizar A and B, the Binos viewed the newly risen Pleiades and the 10 inch the Moon’s terminator. Good detail was possible around the Lunar Alps, despite the Moon’s low altitude

3rd October

Friends Q and A evening: 13 Friends gathered for a Q and A evening on Near Earth Objects. As well as considering the threat posed to the Earth, the skies were clear and the temperature falling so the best observing of the Autumn so far resulted. Jupiter and its moons were viewed in the Binos and ETX and in the 10 inch. Though at low altitude, good detail was seen on the planets surface. The Milky Way was clear and M31 was viewed by eye. A good ISS pass was a bonus. Following the evening theme the 10 inch was turned to asteroid Juno. Though low in the sky and at magnitude 10.34 a dim object, it was dicernable to keener eyes below a trapezium of magnitude 10 stars. This was a first for the 10 inch. M13 was then viewed well before cloud closd in. A good bright meteor was also seen heading NE through Cassiopeia

2nd October

House visit: The first House visit of the academic year saw 9 Shell pupils from LI come up to the Dome. Between gaps in the cloud we viewed Jupiter in Binos and in ETX with 3 moons visible. The 10 inch was then used to view Vega. One satellite was seen passing Vega

GCSE Observing: As the temperature dropped a brief clear spell allowed a tour of the sky and views of Jupiter in the Binos and ETX and then the 10inch was used to view M13 (Great Globular in Hercules)

Next House visit: 9th October SU

27th September

Friends 4th anniversary drinks: Some 60 Friends attended a drinks party in the Marlburian to celebrate 4 years of the Friends group

23rd September

Observatory visit: 15 ‘students’ from the local University of the 3rd Age (U3A) came up to the Dome and were lucky with a clear evening. Jupiter and its moons were viewed in Binos, ETX and then the 10 inch at low magnification. Io was noticeably orange and only the large telescope could resolve it from Europa in their orbits. Good cloud detail was seen on the Planet despite the low altitude

21st September

Observing evening: At last a clear evening gave an opportunity to view Jupiter. Though in the South in the evening it is not at high altitude, so viewed through thick atmosphere. Excellent surface features with 4 to 6 individual bands were seen briefly and the 4 moons all lined up to one side. Sadly cloud moving in from the West interupted observations

20th September

Oxford University Alumni week-end: CEB lectured at Green College on the 160 years of Astronomy at the Radcliffe Observatory

11th-12th September

JENAM 2008: Funded by the RAS and Marlborough College, CEB participated in the Joint European National Astronomy Meeting in Vienna as part of Symposium 2 – Communicating Astronomy and preparation for International Year of Astronomy 2009. Presenting a talk on ‘Outreach with large telescopes and a new era in UK school astronomy’

4th September

Observatory visit: A group of 17 from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust including past Churchill Fellows and their partners attended the Dome for a Tour and talk on the restoration of the 10 inch. Sadly the weather did not allow any observing

12th August

Perseids meteor shower: Though the early evening cleared, later clouds prevented meteor viewing. A small group were able to observe the waxing Moon in the 10 inch and Jupiter with its moons (all on one side) in the ETX

2nd August

Society for the History of Astronmy annual picnic: Some 30 members of the SHA (including 3 council members) visited the College for a picnic lunch at the Ellis theatre and then a tour of the Dome and telescope. The clouds parted just in time for the Sun to be viewed (blank) in the white light filter. There followed a short lecture on the refurbishment of the Barclay telescope

1st August

Partial Solar eclipse: Some 45 from the Friends and Summer School came up to the Dome to witness the eclipse. The sky cleared for first contact at 8.31.42 UT and between clouds all phases of the eclipse were seen to maximum at 10.20am. The Moons edge was seen through Solar viewers, by projection in the ETX and in the 10 inch at x80 and x140. The surface features and mountain groups were easily seen in profile against the Sun’s disc. The last contact was seen at 10.01.51 UT

31st July

Summer School lecture: The Bradleian theatre was full for the lecture ‘Tunguska’s legacy 100 years on’

30th July

Summer School visit: Another 20 guests came up to the Dome and despite some high cloud which didnt help the skyglow we were able to do plenty of observing. Jupiter and main moons were viewed in Binos and ETX and the 10 inch again focussed on M13. Several more Delta Auarids were seen as well as a good number of bright sporadics. The ISS again made a good pass and it was good to glimpse Antares very low in the south-west. The Milky Way was prominent, especailly in Sagittarius

29th July

Summer School visit: 20 guests from Summer School came up to the Dome. The evening commenced with watching the stars appear as the Sun set and then viewing am excellent pass of the ISS. Jupiter and the Gallilean moons were viewed in the binos and the ETX (which also showed the two main equatorial bands and the Great Red Spot. The 10 inch was aimed at M13 (Great globular cluster) in Hercules, which was supoerb at low magnification. 2 Delta Aquarid meteors were seen and many satellites

28th July

Summer School visits: Some 16 Summer School attendees came up to the Dome for a guided tour. Sadly the weather prevented any viewing save of the thunder storm on the eastern horizon

10th July

Probus Lecture: Some 40 members of Marlborough Probus listened to a lecture ‘The great Marlborough Observatory’ in the Marlborough Golf Club

23rd June

Shell class visit: 20 pupils from Shell set 1y came up to the Dome and were able to view the Sun between cloud

17th June

Shell class visit: 16 pupils from Shell set 3x came up to the Dome to view the Sun and were lucky to see some H alpha prominences

7th June

Astronomy GCSE revision: A further 7 pupils attended the Dome for 3 hours of reviewing the Specification

6th June

Astronomy GCSE revsion: 12 pupils and RDK came up to the Dome for a concentrated 3.5 hours of revision prior to Monday’s exam

28th May

Dome closure: Due to the work being carried out on the next door field and the potential for dust and dirt, the Observatory is closed to visits until further notice

23rd May

Private visit: 2 Friends and a couple of visitors came up to the Dome for a quick tour

22nd May

External visit: A brief tour was given to a member of the Physics Staff from Wells Cathedral school

21st May

Tutee visit: 4 U6th tutees from MM visited the Dome as the first stars appeared

14th May

Public open afternoon: Several small groups including Friends came up to the Dome. The sky, though cloudy in patches, allowed some amazing views of the Sun, first by eye and in the ETX using white light filters where no activity (spots) were evident. However, through the 10 inch using ther H-alpha filter 2 enormous prominance groups were seen at the E limb. One eruptive and straight the other like a huge sickle or ‘plume of smoke’ trailing down some 15 degrees of the Eastern limb; this was viewed at x95 and x173

7th May

Astronomy talk: 10 members of Shalborne lunch club were given an astronomy talk on the origins of the Blackett observatory

Mercury observing: The Planet Mercury was easily visible in the NW twilight near to a youind crescent Moon from 9.45pm

6th May

Solar observing: 14 pupils from Shell set 3x came up to the Dome and viewed the blank Sun through Solar viewers and then the ETX. The 10 inch was then used with the H alpha filter to see two large loop prominences on the North East limb

23rd April

Friends Solar observing: A small group of 5 Friends came up to th Dome on an unexpectedly clear sunny afternoon. The Sun was viewed in the ETX and the small pair of spots 992 from the old cycle 23 were just visible. The leading spot being more prominent. The 10 inch was used with the H alpha filter and at magnifications of x72 to x172 showed some very fine prominences on the NW limb . One very last minute piece of GCSE coursework was also completed

16th April

Observatory visit: 4 visitors from Kent (including 2 children 5 and 9yrs) came to the Dome on an excellent clear evening. The Moon was bright at 88% but major stars were identified and the Moon viewed through Binos. Saturn though close to the Moon gave an excellent image in the 10 inch with 5 moons visible at x95 and x170. The Moon’s Terminator was also viewed in the 10 inch and an excellent resolution of detail in Gassendi’s central peak obtained

11th April

Observatory visit: 8 members of Basingstoke Astronomical Society visited the Dome. Sadly the evening clouded up. The waxing Moon was seen through Binos and briefly through the 10 inch. The ETX has now been fitted with a Telrad finder which should be a considerable improvement on the Meade ‘red dot’

8th April

Engineering visit: Norman Walker fitted the second long awaited zero-backlash gear box to the RA drive and the 10 inch refurbishment is now complete

30th March

Observation: The very bright ISS was viewed on an excellent pass, followed by 2 minutes later, the ATV Jules Verne ESA module which is due to dock in April

28th March

Special Interest Weekend: CEB gave the lecture ‘Archaeoastronomy – The Dawn of Science’ to some 80 guests at Christ Church, Oxford. Other lectures were by Roger Davies, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Bob Lambourne, Chris Lintott, Katherine Blundell and Michael Rowan-Robinson. An observing session aided by 3 amateur astronomers from Abingdon Astronomical Society was held in the evening in Tom Quad, where Saturn, Mars and the Pleiades were viewed in small telescopes and guided tours of some of the brighter stars given by eye

20th March

Public Lecture: The 6th Sun-Earth day lecture ‘Space Weather around the World’ was attended by some 35 Friends and visitors in the Ellis Theatre

13th March

House visit: 9 Shell pupils from LI came up to the Dome completing the Shell House visits for the year with 4 out of 14 coinciding with clear skies. The cloud prevented any observing

10th March

Astronomical Society Lecture: Some 30 members of Abingdon Astronomical Society attended a talk ‘The World’s oldest GoTo telescope’

29th February

Sixth Form Girls visit: 10 Sixth Form girls from SU came up to the Dome accompanied by HM’s wife and daughter. The weather was filthy and so sadly none of the instruments could be used

28th February

House visit: 10 pupils from SU came up to the Dome. Just a few stars were seen though clouds and a couple saw the Pleiades (just) through the Binos

Next House visit: 13th March (LI)

26th February

GCSE Observing evening: 3 Hundred and 1 Remove Astronomers managed to complete 10 pieces of coursework in just over an hour before the sky clouded from the west. M45 in Binos, Mizar A and B in ETX and Saturn with 4 moons in the 10 inch

21st February

Lunar Eclipse: As predicted, the clouds closed in at 2.15am, having allowed tempting glimpses of the Moon 1/3 obscured by the penumbra. 1 very dedicatd Friend attended the dome but by 3.15am it was obvious that no Total Eclipse would be seen

14th February

House visit: 10 pupils from C1 Shell and 3 from PR attended the Dome. The sky was totally cloudy

Next House visit: 28th February (SU)

13th February

Observing evening: A light fog had settled in by 8.30pm which gave scattered light pollution over a large percentage of the sky. The 10 inch was however able to view Saturn clearly, though only 4 of the moons were visble and faint

 

12th February

GCSE Observing evening: 2 Remove and 1 Hundred astronomers came up to the Dome, completing 8 pieces of coursework. More moisture in the air meant for higher light levels added to by the 5 day old Moon. The ETX was used to view Mizar A and B and the Binos to view the Moon and then M45 (Pleiades). The 10 inch viewed Saturn and gave excellent views of 6 of the moons, including Rhea, though Dione was very hard being very close to the Planet itself

11th February

GCSE Observing evening: The clear weather continued though with poor seeing faint haze adding to the light scattering. 10 GCSE pupils came up to complete coursework and over 25 individual drawings were made. The Binos were used for the crescent Moon, M45 (Pleiades), M44 (Beehive). The ETX for Mizar A and B, M42 Orion nebula. The 10 inch looked first at M42 and then at Saturn, again 5 moons were clearly visible. A bright fireball ? was seen at 20.59 in East breaking up into 3 fragments

9th February

Observing evening: The best evening so far this year, with no Moon, still air and no sports lights allowed 2 Friends to get superb views through a variety of instruments. M44 (Beehive cluster) in Cancer was viewed in Binos. The ETX viewed Mizar and B and M42 the Orion nebula. The Trapezium and Mizar A and B were even better viewed in a TAL 6 inch Matsukov reflector brought up to be put through its paces. The 10 inch first viewed M42 and gave superb detail of the Trapezium, spliting 2 of the 4 main stars and nebulocity, especially through a new OIII filter. The the 10 inch turned to Saturn giving unparalled clear and still views through a new Meade wide-angle 40mm (x95) eyepiece. the Planet showed clear bands and 5 moons were easily visible, Titan, Iapetus, Dione, Tethys and Enceladus

7th February

House visit: 7 Shell PR pupils attended the Dome. The sky was totally cloudy

Next House visit: 14th February (C1)

6th February

Extra GCSE Observing evening: The sky cleared unexpectedly and 2 GCSE astronomers were able to get a couple of drawings done before the expected cloud closed in. Mizar A and B were viewed through the ETX and then Saturn and Titan through the 10 inch

5th February

French Exchange visit: 14 students from Lysee Jaques Monod and 2 teachers visited the Dome. Sadly the weather prevented any instruments being used

1st February

Secondary School visit: 8 year 13 Physics pupils from Wooten Basset School and 4 teachers were lucky enough to catch a clear and cold evening. M31 was located by eye and a faint Milky Way in Cassiopeia. M45 was viewed in Binos and Mizar A and B seperated nicely and showing colour in ETX. The 10 inch was used to view Mars at x173 and then better (in terms of surface detail) at x90. From Mars at 60 degrees altitude we slewed to Saturn at 15 degrees in the East. This was the first sighting of Saturn in 2008 and the difference to 2007 was marked. The Rings are now much more edge on and appear more as a thick band across the planet’s disc. The Cassini division was just discernable at one location around the Disc. Titan was very bright and 2 further orange Moons were seen on the other side of the Planet

31st January

House visit: 12 Shell pupils from MO came up to the Dome, sadly though stars were visible at beginning and the end (enough to identify Mars and Saturn by eye) a violent storm in the middle meant no instruments could be used

Next House visit: 7th February (PR)

30th January

Prep School lecture: The lecture ‘The Sun our Star’ was given to some 70 members of Godstowe School years 5 and 6 followed by’ Living in the atmosphere of the Sun’ to 70 members of years 7 and 8

24th January

Prep School lecture: Some 60 pupils from the Sixth Form Society at The Hall School and several members of staff attended the lecture ‘Living in the atmosphere of the Sun’

Observing evening: RDK opened the observatory on the first clear Thursday for weeks to some 16 GCSE Astronomers. Coursework drawings of M45 (Pleiades) and the waning Gibbous Moon were completed

18th January

External visit: 13 children from 2nd Marlborough Scouts and 2 adults attended the Dome for a tour and talk. The weather was mild, wet and windy, so no instruments could be used

 

17th January

House visit: 13 pupils from MM came up to the Dome in high winds and fast moving cloud. Sadly only a couple were able to glimpse the Moon through the Binos. Breaks in the cloud did give naked-eye glimpses of Mars, Sirius, Orion and Polaris

Next House visit: 31st January (MO)

16th January

Prep School visit: 19 pupils aged 11 and 12 and 2 teachers from Abingdon School attended the Dome on a rare clear break in the otherwise wet and windy weather. The First Quarter Moon was observed in the ETX and the Pleiades in the Binos. The best known asterisms were shown and then the 10inch was used to view Mars at 80x but also at 240x where clear dark green marbelling was seen against the butterscotch disc

10th January

House observatory visit: 13 members of NC Shell came up to the Dome. Sadly the sky was cloudy

Next House visit: 17th January (MM)

2007 News

19th December

Private observing visit: A small group came up to the Dome to view M31. The waxing Gibbous Moon was first viewed in the 10 inch and then the core of M31. M31 was also located by eye, though the Moon made this difficult. The high altitude made observing with the Binos impossible

13th December

Geminid meteor shower: Some 14 Friends and College staff came up to the Dome for the predicted clear evening. Some slight high cloud cleared and for 3 hours gave good observing till cloud ended the evening at 11.30pm. Before the meteors started the Binos viewed M45 Pleiades and the ETX M42 the Orion nebula. The 10 inch tracked Mars throughout the evening. At higher magnification it was too bright without filtering. Surface details showed up best in a red filter. Tours of the winter skies were given and the Milky Way and nearby Comet Holmes were very clear. Geminids started to be recorded around 9pm and at best reached several a minute. Overall some 120 were seen over 3 hours. Many were bright at -1 or less and a couple at -4 were seen. Most were white or creamy but a good number showed shades of green

10th December

Extended project observing: The Sun was observed in the ETX with broadband filter (being too low for the 10 inch) and the large new sunspot group 978 drawn

GCSE Observing evening: A couple of Hundred astronomers and 2 Friends came up to the Dome for an extra observing seesison on the best night of the Winter so far. The exploding Comet Holmes was visble again given the clarity of the sky, obviously huge above and right of Mirfak. M45 the Pleiades were viewed in Binos and then for the first time M35 the faint open Cluster in Gemini. The ETX was used first to view M42 the Great Nebula in Orion and all 4 of the Trapezium could be picked out. The ETX was then used to view Mizar and And B binary system. The 10 inch was turned to Mars and the planet was viewed at magnifications of x90, x173 and then x238. Some good dark green detail was seen on the surface. M42 was then viewed at each magnification, though the evening did not allow more than one of the Trapezium stars to be split. To end, the 10 inch was turned to M1 the Crab supernova remnant which had not been seen for some time. Though faint its characteristic S shape could be seen. During the evening several meteors were spotted including a couple of early Geminids

6th December

House visit: 9 pupils from TU Shell came up to the Dome in high winds and driving light rain for the last House visit this term.

Next House visit: 10th January (NC)

30th November

‘School visit’: 14 children from 2nd Marlborough Scouts and 3 leaders came up to the Dome in driving rain and wind for a talk and tour of the Dome.

29th November

House visit: 9 pupils from C2 came up to the Dome on a rare clear evening. Comet Holmes, though dim was viewed in Binos and looked like a fuzzy grey golf ball at over 2 times the diameter of the Sun. It was visble by eye with averted vision. The 10 inch was used to view Mars at low magnifiaction and though low in the sky, some detail (Syrtis Major) could be seen dark green on the bright orange disc. 3 brightmeteors were also seen

Next House visit: 6th December (TU)

GCSE Observing evening: Sadly by 8.45pm the clouds had closed in,some 12 pupils came up to the Dome but appart from glimpses of Mars, little could be done

27th November

Blackett Science Lecture: The 2007 lecture ‘ A Universe of galaxies’ was given by Professor Roger Davies, Chair of Physics at Oxford University and Philip Wetton Professor of Astrophysics. An audience of some 140 attended with large numbers of pupils studying Astronomy and Physics and also many Friends of the telescope

22nd November

House visit: 10 pupils from B1 Shell visited the Dome. Sadly the sky was cloudy though a very large 30 degree wide Lunar Halo was visible at the start of the evening

 

Next House visit: November 29th (C2)

16th November

Public open evening: Despite total cloud and then light rain, the Dome was filled to capacity in 3 one hour sessions. Some 55 visitors attended talks and tours. Places booked up fast at the Town Libary and some 35 people had to be turned away before the event.

15th November

Outreach lecture: Some 30 people attended a meeting of the Farmers’ club in Oare Village Hall for a lecture on ‘Observing the Wiltshire night sky’

12th November

Extended Project AS observing: A sunny afternoon allowd a lower sixth pupil to make H-alpha observations using the 10 inch. Some high cloud and the low altitude of the Sun made resolution less than perfect, but a good hedge prominence was seen beginning to lift off the North Western limb. Though disturbed in places, as expected there were no Sunspots on the visible disc

11th November

Extended Project AS observing: At last a cold clear night allowed a lower sixth pupil to view the eclipsing Binary star Algol (beta Persei) by eye and in the 10 inch and magnitude estimates made at a point 3 hours before minimum

8th November

House visit: 10 CO Shell pupils were able to observe comet Holmes in binos, by eye and in the 10 inch

Next House visit: 22nd November (B1)

GCSE observing evening: 8 pupils from Remove and Hundred were able to complete coursework drawings of comet Holmesby eye, in Binos, ETX and in the 10 inch. A couple of late Taurids were seen including a fireball which must have been incredibly bright as it was seen behind the ever encroaching cloud

7th November

Friends Q and A evening: 14 Friends attended the evening with the theme ‘Life elsewhere’ considering the possibilities for life in the Solar System and SETI. Some gaps in the cloud allowed early arrivals to see the comet in the Binos

6th November

GCSE Observing evening: A clear patch for one hour allowed 3Hundreds and 1 Remove GCSE pupils to do coursework drawings of comet Holmes by eye, in the Binos, ETX and in the 10inch

3rd November

Taurid meteor shower: For about an hour the clouds held off. Long enough for a couple of visitors to observe the ever expanding comet Holmes and to catch 2 Taurids

2nd November

Comet Holmes observing: 16 Remove astronomy pupils observed 17/P Holmes by eye from the Water Meadows. The Dome opened at 7.30pm and Holmes was observed in Binos and in the 10 inch. By 8pm the fog had set in and the Dome closed

1st November

House visit: 14 Shell pupils from EL came up to the Dome as the clear sky was fogging over. Luckily they were able to view Comet 17/P Holmes in the Binos and then in the 10 inch, the coma again showed some internal structure

Next House visit: 8th November (CO)

31st October

Comet watch: A couple of members of staff joined CEB at the Dome to observe 17P/Holmes for the first time in the 10 inch. As expected it was spectacular showing a spherical outer coma of some 15 degrees and plenty of internal structure. A tiny bright point off centre and an inner brighter coma. The overall magnitude was estimated at 2.7

30th October

External Lecture: Some 45 scholars from Windlesham School in Sussex attended a Question and Answer evening ‘To infinity and Beyond’

30th October

Observing evening (Sussex): The new exploding comet 17/P Holmes was easily identified by eye and drawn in the apparent triangle in Perseus. In Binos the disc was symmetrical and showed a slight golden colour

27th October

Observing evening: Another attempt to view Comet LONEOS proved unsuccessful due to low cloud in the West

24th October

Observatory visit: A private visit was unfortunatley hampered by cloud

20th October

Orionids evening: After an abortive attempt to see comet 2007 F1 LONEOS before it set, due to cloud, 8 Friends gathered till late to watch out for Orionids. The Moon was rather bright until midnight and the moisture in the air led to scattered light. Altogether 7 Orionids were seen and an equal number of sporadics. Meanwhile the Moon was viewed in the ETX. M45 was seen and drawn in Binos, then Mars was seen in both Binos and ETX. The 10 inch was used to look first at M57 (Ring nebula) and then for the first time this year at Mars rising bright in the East. At 173x magnification some dark markings were already clear

11th October

House visit: 11 pupils from BH Shell came up to the Dome. It was too cloudy to observe

Next House Shell visit: 1st November (EL)

9th October

GCSE Observing evening: Having started clear, high cloud meant the evening was called off early. However, 3 Remove astronomres who had come were rewarded as the sky cleared. M31 was viewed by eye and then M13, Mizar A and B were viewed in the ETX. M45 (Pleiades) rising in the East in the Binos. The 10 inch was used to view first M13 (Globular in Hercules) then M57 (Ring nebula) in Lyra and lastly, for the first time M56 (Globular in Lyra). A couple of sporadic meteors were also seen

4th October

Shell House visit: The first Shell visit of the year got underway with 11 pupils from C3 picking a clear night (some high cloud gathering later). M31 was viewed in the Binos and by eye and then M13 in the 10 inch. Tours of the common asterisms were also given

Next house visit: 11th October (BH)

GCSE Observing evening: 4 Hundreds and 6 Remove astronomers joined CEB and RDK to view M31 and M45 in Binos, Mizar A and B in the ETX and M13 in the 10 inch. Several pieces of coursework were completed. 6 sporadic meteors were seen and many satellites

3rd October

Friends Q and A evening: 6 Friends gathered for an evening centered on a discussion of galactic evolution. The sky was clear enough at the end to view M31 (Andromeda) by eye and in Binos, also M13 the Globular in Hercules. The 10 inch gave a good view of the central bulge of M31 with the orientation of the disc but little structure being visible

29th September

Private evening: 11 visitors, 4 adults and 7 children (6 to 13 yrs) attended the Dome. Despite early gaps in the clouds, only a few got to see Mizar A and B through the 10 inch as clouds closed in

28th September

Friends 3rd Anniversary drinks: Some 60 Friends attended the drinks party in the Marlburian to celebrate 3 years of the organisation. We were honoured to be joined by the Director (Honorary Friend) of the Southern Africa Large Telescope (SALT), currently the largest operational optical telescope in the world

23rd September

Prep School Lecture: CEB lectured to some 140 pupils from years 6,7 and 8 at Windlesham House School on ‘Living in the atmosphere of the Sun’

20th September

Observing evening: The ETX was set up to view the First Quarter Moon and the Binos viewed Jupiter and 3 Moons. The 10 inch was calibrated and briefly turned to Uranus, however cloud quickly came in and rendered further observation impossible

11th September

Lecture: CEB lectured to the entire Shell year group (some 165 pupils) and their Form teachers as part of the new Form programme. The lecture was on ‘Archaeoastronomy – our 7000 year heritage’

GCSE Observing evening: 5 Hundreds and 4 Remove pupils came up to the Dome and despite a light sky saw Jupiter and 4 moons in Binos and ETX and then Neptune and Uranus in the 10 inch. M2 the globular cluster in Aquarius was also seen well. We attempted M30 the globular in Capricorn but it was at too low an altitude

10th September

Lecture: CEB gave a short lecture on Sir Edmond Halley to the whole Upper 6th year group as part of thre Enlightenment seminar

Observing evening: 10 Friends gathered to observe the outer planets on the first clear night of the new programme. As the sky darkened, Jupiter was seen in Binos and then the ETX with 4 moons initially before Europa disappeared behind the main planet. The 10 inch was then calibrated on Markab in Pegasus after the Summer break and then found Neptune easily. The planet was bright and showed a hint of blue with the disc being just resolved. Uranus was the next target with a much easier disc and good green-blue hint at low magnification. M31 and M13 were also viewed in Binos and several bright meteors seen

31st August

Teacher visit: After the Summer closure, the Dome opened with an afternoon visit by 6 Physics staff from Wellington College, hosted by 4 Marlborough College staff

12th August

Perseid observing evening: A small group gathered at 9.30pm to view Jupiter and its moons in the ETX (Io moving perceptively into occultation) and the ISS making another super pass with the T-shape and noticeable elongation in the direction of motion being vible to the naked eye. The 10 inch was again following M13 and gave superb resolution as the sky darkened. A band of cloud prevented any meteors being seen till 22.40. Over the next 2 hours 106 meteors were seen (including 12 sporadics). Most around 0 to +1 in magnitude but with an increasing number of -1 and -2 some greeny or creamy in colour. At 23.44 2 meteors travelled an identical track one chasing the other. At 23.48 a -4 with exploding head and 23.53 2 on parallel tracks. Observation ceased at 00.40 with our rate of 60 per hour indicating a ZHR of nearer 80 and an expectation of around 100 per hour in the early morning.

11th August

Observing evening: A group of 19 visitors gathered to spot early Perseids. 11 were seen in one hour, several very bright and many showing a green colour. The ISS (with Endeavour attached) was viewed in the Binos and Jupiter and its moons in the ETX. The 10 inch was used for a spectacular view of the Great Globular Cluster (M13) in Hercules

3rd August

Summer School course: The clouds cleared just enough during the afternoon for brief glimpses of the eastern limb, where spot 966 was emerging and causing slight activity in the Chromosphere

2nd August

Archaeoastronomy: The course had a tour of Avebury in light rain

Solar Weather: The course attended the Dome but the weather did not allow observation, rather a discussion of the possible causes of Global Warming

Summer School Lecture: 100 visitors attended the lecture ‘Life and the Multiverse’ given by Dr Roberto Trotta from Oxford University

1st August

Lughnasadh: 15 of the Archaeoastronomy course walked from Avebury to Silbury Hill to watch the start of the ceremony

Solar viewing: Too much cloud was present to allow use of the H alpha filter

Evening visit: 15 visitors came up to the Dome as the sky cleared. Several early Perseid meteors were seen and a tour of the Sunmer Sky given. Jupiter and its 4 main moons were viewed in Binos and the ETX. M31 was also ssen in the Binos. The sky was too cloudy for the 10 inch

31st July

Summer School course: 8 members of the Solar Weather course viewed the Sun in H alpha (given the lack of sunspots) and were treated to a rapidly changing erruptive prominence of some 80000km height and also some smaller quiescent prominences, one lifting off the surface. The changes seen over the short timescale indicate explosive speeds of up to 1000km/s

Evening visit: 8 visitors came up to the Dome after sunset to view the Summer Triangle, Antares and the rising 1 day waning Moon. Jupiter was viewed in Binos and the ETX and the 10 inch showing up to 4 cloud bands and a closing gap as Europa prepared to transit. The Milky Way was just visible and M31’s core was viewed in Binos and the ETX

30th July

Summer School courses: 15 members of course 170, Archaeoastronomy, had a tour of the Dome in the morning and the 8 members of 171, Solar Weather, spent a couple of hours viewing the Sun in eclipse shades, projection box , ETX and the 10 inch with broadband filter trying to see the tiny groups of spots on an otherwise blank disc. 4 people managed to see spot 966!

Evening visits: 20 visitors attened the Dome to watch the stars appear follwong sunset. The Full (Thunder) Moon was seen large and orange on the horizon and then viewed in the Binos. Jupiter and its 4 Galillean Moons was seen well in the ETX and then at x80 and x160 in the 10 inch. The low altitude and moonlight meant that only a couple of bands were visible on the disc. The coure of M31 (Andromeda) galaxy was viewed in the Binos. In addition a tour of the Summer triangle, Antares, Arcturus and the Summer sky was made

12th June

Dome visit: A lecturer in Cognitive Science from Birmingham University had a brief tour of the Dome

11th June

GCSE revision: 15 GCSE pupils attended the Dome for 6 hours of revision prior to the exam on 12th

8th June

GCSE revision and Solar observing: 12 GCSE pupils gathered at the Dome for 4 hours of revision. The Sun was also viewed in the ETX showing the still large spot group 960

5th June

Solar observing: The ETX was used with 40mm and 12mm (Halpha sensitized) eyepieces to view the active and growing large group of spots near sunspot 960

Observing evening: A dozen Friends gathered to attempt a sighting of Mercury. Sadly the haze and cloud on the North Western horizon prevented this, but Venus was viewed in the ETX and 10 inch, clearly showing its near 50% phase. As the sky darkened, more cloud closed in from the East but the ISS pass was visible in small clear patches. The 10 inch was then aimed at 4 Vesta (the brightest asteroid and second most massive, discovered in 1807 by Olbers) and luckily the cloud parted enough for those remaining to see clearly the disc of the asteroid at its close distance of 1.1 AU

1st June

Solar observing: 2 visitors from London were able to view the nealy blank Sun in the ETX and then using the 10 inch and H alpha filter the prominences associated with a newly emerging active area on the eastern limb

17th May

Observing evening: The slender New Moon was found at 9.15pm and about half an hour later Mercury appeared within a few degrees to the South

16th May

Public Open afternoon: The weather was not conducive to viewing the Sun. Nevertheless a handfull of local people attended the Dome for a presentation of recent images and data on the Sun

4th May

Solar observing: 2 students from Imperial College in London visited the Dome to view sunspot 953 in ETX and at 80x and 160x in the 10 inch, The penumbral filament detail was superb as were the complex patterns of the umbra within the main spot

3rd May

Prep School lecture: 80 pupils from years 7 and 8 and a number of staff and parents attended the lecture ‘The Sun – our star’ at Thomas’s prep School in Battersea

2nd May

Public Lecture: Some 30 visitors attended the lecture ‘Living in the atmosphere of the Sun’ given at Green College, Oxford

 

30 April

Solar observing: 2 members of the College science staff from the early 80’s who had taken groups at the observatory and a friend attended the Dome. Though the sky was beginning to cloud, the Sun was viewed in the projection box with the huge spot clearly visible. Good detail was seen in the ETX and, in the 10 inch it was clear that the umbra had split and the large penumbra encompassed the group showed clear penumbral filaments at x160

29th April

Solar observing: 2 prep school pupils came to view the new large spot 953 in the 10 inch. At 80x the detailed shape of the single umbra was very good

26th April

Question and Answer evening: 14 Friends attended the Dome for an evening of discussion focussing on stellar evolution. The waxing Moon was also viewed in the 10 inch in the twighlight before the cloud closed in and good detail was visble on the walls of Copernicus

19th April

Archaeoastronomy Lecture: Some 20 members of Andover astronomical Society attended the lecture at their Village Hall just outside Andover on a clear night with the crescent Moon beutifully situated a few degrees from bright Venus

27th March to 3rd April

La Palma Expedition: 3 Hundreds pupils accompanied by CEB, JAG and RDK from Marlborough and a teacher from St Mary’s Calne spent a week on La Palma. The group joined researchers from the Netherlands and Warwick Universiry on the 4.2m William Herschel and the 2.5m Isaac Newton telescopes for 20 hours of observing, working on close Binary systems and progenitors of Type 1a supernovae

21st March

Spring Sky Tour: A small group of Friends gathered on the evening of the Vernal Equinox to view a beutiful twighlight sight of the 3 day old Moon showing clear Earthshine and a very bright Venus within 5 degrees. M45 the Pleiades was viewed in Binos and M44 Beehive and h and chi Perseii. The ETX was used to see the nearly Full phase of Venus. The 10 inch showed Saturn very well at low magnification with Titan and Iapetus close together and Rhea, Tethys and Dione visible near to the Planet. M44 was also viewed and then the Binary Mizar A and B. A couple of bright meteors were see, including a fireball in Virgo at the end of the evening.

18th March

2007 Sun-Earth day Lecture: Some 30 Friends and visitors attended the 5th S-E day lecture ‘Living in the atmosphere of the Sun’ in the Ellis theatre

14th March

Lycee visit: 6 sixth form pupils from Lycee Jaques Monod, Orleans, came up to the Dome in the afternoon. The Sun was viewed in Solar specs, a projection box and the ETX with broadband filter. No details were seen, the disc being devoid of sunspots. The 10 inch was then used with the H alpha filter and some fine prominences were seen on the Eastern limb

13th March

Observing evening: Though initially clear allowing some viewing of Coma Berenices galaxy clusters, mist swiftly built up curtailing observations

8th March

House observatory visit: The last Shell House group (C3) of the year came up to the Dome, unfortunately the sky was completely cloudy

Next House visit: October 2007

7th March

Shell Physics visits: 20 pupils from Shell set 3 came up to the Dome to view the Sun, through solar specs, projection box and filtered 10inch as part of the Ast b course. The Sun was devoid of any spots but did show some granulation to keen eyes

3rd March

Total Lunar Eclipse: Some 30 visitors including 3 Remove astronomers watched this spectacularly well situated eclipse. A perfect evening saw timing of the penumbral and umbral phases and a subtle gradiation of constanly changing colour to butterscotch orange at mid eclipse with a blue grey band at the top lunar edge. Certainly one of the best of its kind for a long while.

1st March

Observing evening: An unexpected clear evening gave 7 Remove GCSE Astronomers and 2 U6th visitors a chance to get going with coursework. Saturn and 4 moons was good in the 10 inch, though only 2 degrees from the nearly Full Moon. The closing gap between the two was apparent over the evening as Saturn neared Occultation. M42 was drawn in the ETX and M45 in Binos

Occultation of Saturn: From here the grazing conjunction was watched in detail and rather than ‘rolling’ along the edge of the Moon, Saturn appeared to ‘bounce’ off the edge !. Contact with the outer edge of the rings was made at 02.47.40 UT. The Cassini Division was touched at 02.49.47 UT at closest approach. At no time did the Planet’s disc itself touch the edge of the Moon. Appreciable separation was seen at 02.50.20 UT and the outer ring edge had again detatched by 02.51.30 UT.

22nd February

House observing evening: 9 pupils from BH and 1 from B1 came up to the Dome. Sadly, though Saturn had been clear in the early evening, only the 6 day old Moon could be viewed between the clouds in the Binos

Next House visit: 8th March (C3)

15th February

Observing evening: 2 visitors from London braved the clouds and were rewarded with glimpses of Orion’s ‘belt’ (Alnitak, Almilam and Mintaka)and M45 (Pleiades) in Binos and then Saturn and Titan in the 10 inch. Castor was also resolved into one of its binary components in the 10 inch.

14th February

Observing evening: Despite a fine sunset and bright Venus, by 20.30 UT high cloud and poor seeing rendered Saturn and its moons in too romantic a haze for serious observing

8th February

House observing evening: 10 Shell pupils and the HM from B1 attended the Dome and through gaps in the cloud viewed M45 Pleiades and M42 Orion Nebula through Binos and Saturn at low magnification in the 10 inch. Even so Titan and 3 inner moons were easily visible

Next House visit: Thursday 22nd February (BH)

Observing session: 1 Remove astronomer was able to complete a piece of course work by observing Saturn and 6 moons in tiny patches between the clouds

6th February

GCSE observing evening: High cloud and mist combined with the Astro lights made for a less than perfect sky, however as the temperature dropped a group of 10 Hundreds astronomers managed to complete 1 or 2 observations. Saturn in the 10 inch at x173 showed 6 moons to good eyes including Iapetus out beyond Titan. M42 was viewed in the ETX and M45 in Binos. Mizar A and B were also a target in the ETX. The evening finished with the bright orange waning gibbous Moon rising in the East

3rd February

Observing evening: The Dome was opened for a couple of Friends and despite the considerable moonlight, the evening was superb. M31 and M44 were viewed in the Binos and the Moon in the ETX. The 10 inch was then turned to Saturn which was viewed at increasing magnification until several surface bands and 5 moons were visible at x475 magnification. M42 was viewed at x238 and then x475 and showed the Trapezium and surrounding clouds in incredible detail with several more faint stars in the Trapezium itself. The Eskimo planetary nebula in Gemini was then viewed at x475 and x633 and showed superb detail of the two layers within the bubble of the explosion.

1st February

House observing evening: 13 Shell pupils from EL attended the Dome and sadly cloud prevented all but brief glimpses of the nearly full Snow Moon in Binos

Next House visit: 8th February (B1)

27th January

Art project visit: A former artist-in-residence at the College visited to film projections of the Gibbous Moon. Though clear at first the cloud rolled in a though the Moon was visible the light levels were greatly reduced

25th January

House observatory visit: 11 Shell from NC and 3 from MO were able to catch another clear evening, though with increasing high cloud. The First Quarter Moon was viewed in the ETX, M45 (Pleiades) in Binos and M42 and the Trapezium in the 10 inch

Next House visit: February 1st (EL)

GCSE Observing evening: 4 Remove pupils spent 2 hours doing coursework drawings. M42 and Trapezium, was well resolved in the ETX and Saturn super at higer magnification in the 10 inch. 5 Moons were visible. The high cloud gave both a lunar aureole and lunar halo and the evening finished with a -4 fireball meteor through Orion

23rd January

GCSE observing evening: A superb clear, still, cold evening allowed 6 Hundreds pupils to continue coursework. The 4 day old Moon then M45 and M44 (Beehive) were viewed in Binos. Mizar A and B and M42 in ETX and Saturn in the 10 inch. Saturn was superb and 5 moons visible. Titan bright and far out and Rhea on the opposite side. The best view of the evening was a beutiful triangle of 3 of the Moons on the Titan side with Tethys and Dione close together and Enceladus (the hardest at mag. 11.5) almost lost in the planets glare

18th January

House observing evening: 11 Shell pupils from C1 came up to the Dome in very high winds. No chance of observing

Next House visit: 25th January (NC)

16th January

GCSE observing evening: 4 Hundreds pupils came up to the Dome but the cloud had closed in by the time they had arrived. M42 was viewed well in the 10 inch for 15 minutes in a brief clear patch earlier in the evening.

11th January

Shell Chapel Lecture: CEB gave a short talk ‘The Star of Bethlehem’ outlining some of the possible astronomical evidence for a real event

House observing evening: 9 Shell pupils from CO visited the Dome and though the sky was orange with light pollution due to high cloud, it was possible to have an asterism tour and for all to see the Pleiades through the Binos

Next House visit: January 18th (C1)

10th January

Comet observation: After so much cloudy weather, at last a clear sunset provided the opportunity for 4 of the Physics Department to observe the critical 30 minutes of twighlight when comet 2006 P1 McNaught was beutifully bright and clear just above the southwestern horizon, before setting at 5.30pm, its tail several degrees long. Picture in images to follow.

27th December

Tour of the Winter Sky: Following in a long line of cloudy nights, the sky was totally overcast and it was lightly raining. Nevertheless one Friend did turn up to discuss Summer School courses on offer next July

7th December

House observing evening: The last Shell House visit of the term took place in high winds and almost total cloud, though the Moon was hazily visible. 11 pupils from TU attended

Next House visit: January 11th 2007 (CO)

2006 News

5th December

2006 Blackett Science Lecture: An audience of some 120 including pupils (both scientists and musicians), Friends of the telescope and guests from Oxford attended the lecture ‘Superstrings’. The double act of complex particle physics and music was centered around Einstein, his ideas and life and was delivered by Professor Brian Foster OBE (Head of Particle Physics at Oxford University) and Jack Liebeck, international violinist, playing a 1785 Guadagnini

4th December

Primary School evening: 12 pupils and 11 adults from Ogbourne St George Primary School attended the Dome. Sadly the weather prevented any of the instruments being used

3rd December

College lecture: Some 150 pupils attended the lecture ‘Archaeoastronomy – our 7000 year heritage’ in the Ellis Theatre

30th November

House observing evening: 11 Shell pupils from PR attended the Dome. Sadly the sky was totally cloudy

Next House visit: December 7th (TU)

28th November

GCSE observing evening: As the sky became ever clearer 4 pupils (3 R and 1 H) came up to the Dome and 8 pieces of coursework were completed. M45 was viewed in the Binos and the First Quarter Moon and then M42 in the ETX. The 10 inch was used to see first M57 in Lyra (Ring nebula) and then for the first time in a while the ghostly image of M27 in Vulpecula (Dumbell nebula)

27th November

Prep School visit: 12 pupils from Cheam School and 3 adults attended the Dome. The sky was largely cloudy but a tour of asterisms was possible and the nearly First Quarter Moon and the Pleiades were viewed in Binos

25th November

Public Open evening: A beutifully clear evening saw some 42 visitors at the Dome in 2 one hour sessions (though this extended somewhat due to the activity possible) including familes and several children aged 7yrs +. A tour was given of the Winter sky and then M45 (the Pleiades) was viewed in Binos, Mizar A and B (by the early group) in the ETX and then M57 (the Ring nebula) by both groups in the 10 inch.

Next Public event: March 18th 2007 – NASA Sun-Earth lecture: ‘Living in the atmosphere of the Sun’, 6.00pm Ellis Theatre, Marlborough College

23rd November

House observing evening: 11 Shell pupils from MO and JAG came up to the Dome and though the early evening was clear, sadly the cloud closed in, though a short tour of Asterisms was possible>

Next House visit: November 30th (PR)

21st November

School visit: A Sixth form pupil (doing GCSE Astronomy) and her teacher from St Mary’s School, Calne visited the Dome. Mizar A and B were viewed in the ETX and M45, the Pleiades in the Binos. M13, the Great gl;obular cluster in Hercules was spectacular in the 10 inch. The sky was very clear and allowed good naked eye viewing of the Milky Way and M31

GCSE observing evening: As the temperature fell JAG and 4 pupils came up to the Dome to continue coursework drawings. M13, M45, Mizar A and B were all drawn and then M57 (the Ring nebula in Lyra) which showed some detail in its expanding gas bubble. It was good to compare 2 very different objects M13 at over 33,000 light years and M57 at 2300 light years distance at only about 1 ly in diameter. The Trapezium in M42 was also seen well in the ETX at the end of the evening

 

20th November

External Lecture: CEB gave the lecture ‘Wonders in the sky – an observational list for all’ to some 25 members (children and adults) of Malmesbury Community Centre Science group at Malmesbury School

17th November

Leonids meteor shower: Despite dreadful weather earlier in the day and poor forecasts, the sky cleared around 9pm and a large group gathered JAG, RDK, DGR, 2 U6, 7 R and 3 H with 2 Friends to spot any early meteors. By the time the clouds closed in again at 11pm we had seen 6 Leonids and 18sporadics including two -4 fireballs, though these largely came from near Taurus (but late for Taurids)Some could have been Andromedids

16th November

GCSE Observing evening: After a very unpromising start, at 21.00 the clouds cleared to give a superbly still sky, the best of the year and 13 Astronomers came up to the Dome (13 R and 1 H). The Milky Way was a dominent arc across the sky and M31 was clear to the unaided eye. M13 was viewed well in the 10 inch until it became too low. M45 was drawn in the Binos and M42 seen well with the Trapezium (3 only easily visible) in the ETX. 7 meteors were seen, mainly slow yellowish Taurids, with 2 crossing (1 a sporadic) within 1 degree. One bright (-5) fireball was seen in the early evening covering some 20 degrees of the sky. By 22.15 Orion was fully visible amrking the start of the Winter sky evening observing

13th November

Stellar death observing eveing: Brief holes in the thick cloud were not enough to bring any of the instruments into operation. One determined Friend nevertheless visited for a tour of the Dome

9th November

House observing evening: 14 pupils from MM Shell visited the Dome accompanied by the Head of Science and visiting Inspector (informal) from Bryanston. Sadly, though the evening was clear to begin with, high cloud closed in. Neverthless, a tour of asterisms was possible and M45 (The Pleiades) were seen in Binos and the waning Moon in the ETX. The 10 inch was tracking the Globular Cluster M13 which was little more than a fuzzy grey patch by 8pm

Next House visit: November 23rd (MO)

GCSE Observing evening: Though the cloud meant that no coursework could take place, 8 Remove astronomers and RDK were rewarded by a Lunar Aureole, a bright 3 second sporadic fireball of -4th magnitude and an unusual green late Taurid (-1 mag). Some other less well known constellations were also identified

4th November

Observatory visit: 5 members of CADSAS (Cranbrook and District Science and Astronomy Society (Kent) and 2 teachers from Cranbrook Schoool visited the Dome to see the restored 10 inch and discuss the Blackett outreach programme. Sadly though M13 was good in the 10 inch early in the evening, by the time the group arrived cloud and mist meant that apart from a Lunar aureole, fireworks were the only observation targets

3rd November

Taurid Meteor shower: Despite a nearly Full Moon and high cloud and moisture, 20 GCSE Astronomers from both year groups came up to the Dome. 4 Taurids and one sporadic were seen, a couple brighter than -2 magnitude. The ETX was used to view the Terminator as was the 10 inch, both with filters. At the end of the evening the 10 inch was used to resolve Castor into 3 of its multiple star system

2nd November

House Observing evening: 12 pupils from C2 came up to the Dome on the clearest night this winter with temperatures in the Dome dropping to 4 degrees. The Moon was only 2 days off full so the sky was bright, nevertheless a tour of asterisms and viewing M31 and M45 in Binos and the ETX was possible. The 10 inch was used to view the Moon’s Terminator and the area near Gassendi crater.

Next House visit: November 9th (MM)

GCSE observing evening: The clear evening brought some 30 GCSE astronomers up to the dome from 8.30pm till 10pm. Hundreds focussed on coursework drawings of M45 in Binos and Mizar A and B in the ETX and crater detail on the Terminator in the 10 inch. The Remove had tours of asterisms and viewed the Milky Way and Orion rising. Some attempts were made at digital photography. A couple of Taurid meteors were also seen.

20th October

Orionids evening: Despite cloud rapidly thickening a small group gathered at the Dome mid evening. One meteor was seen but not an Orionid. The Dome was finally closed at 10pm

13th October

R.A.S. Lecture: CEB lectured (‘The Barclay Equatorial – Education with a Victorian telescope’) to some 120 Astronomers and Fellows of the Royal Astronomical Society at their first Open Meeting of the new academic year

12th October

House observing evening: 11 pupils from SU were lucky enough to have the first clear Thursday. After dark adaption we viewed Mizar and Alcor in Binos and then Mizar A and B clearly resolved in ther ETX. The Plough, Cassiopeia, M31 and the Summer Triangle and Milky Way were all clear. Sadly cloud prevented seeing comet Swan. Several satellites and meteors were also seen.

Next House visit: 2nd November (C2)

Remove observing evening: As cloud cover increased one pupil was able to get a great view of M13 (the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules) in the 10 inch and draw it as coursework

11th October

Prep School Lecture: CEB gave the lecture ‘The Sun – our star’ to some 200 pupils and staff at Summer Fields School in Oxford

9th October

Primary School visit: Some 30 year 6 pupils, parents and the Head Master from Ramsbury Primary School visited the Dome for two successive 1 hour tours and lectures. Sadly the evening was totally cloudy.

5th October

House observing evening: The year’s House Shell group visits got underway with 9 pupils from LI visiting the Dome. The sky was totally cloudy, though the Moon was glimpsed as we left

Next House visit: October 12th (SU)

30th September

Friends anniversary drinks: Some 45 Friends attended the Dome for drinks and eats on the 2nd anniversary of the launch of the group. Heavy rain in the afternoon had at least ceased, but the evening remained cloudy and chilly, luckily all managed to pack inside

26th September

GCSE Observing evening: The 10 inch was calibrated on Vega, following the installation last week of 2 new drive belts. M57 (Ring Nebula) was viewed very faint at 9th nagnitude. Sadly clouds closed in before pupil viewing began

19th September

GCSE Observing evening: Despite a poor weather forecast, CEB and JAG opened the Dome and 7 Hundreds pupils attended to start or continue coursework drawings. The Binos were used to view M13 in Hercules and its surrounding field, the summer triangle and M31 were seen by eye and the 10 inch was used to view the Mizar A and B binary system. Several satellites were seen including a medium bright iridium flare and several meteors (2 on the same track through the Mizar, Alcor, Ludwig’s star triangle were seen in the 10 inch at magnitude 6 to 7 ? Eta Draconids)

18th September

Observing the Outer Planets: Despite a fine sunset the clouds quickly covered the sky and rain has started by nine

17th September

Observing afternoon: A sunny clear sky allowed a view of disappearing spot 904 through the white light filter

10th September

Public Lectures: CEB gave 4 lectures at Green College (Radcliffe Observatory)during the afternoon on the Astronomy carried out at ther Radcliffe Observatory, as part of the Heritage Open Day. Some 280 members of the public and Oxford academics attended the lectures.

8th September

Prep School lecture: 150 pupils in years 6,7 and 8 from Farleigh School attended a lecture ‘The Sun – our star’ given by CEB in the Theatre at Farleigh.

Observing evening: The ETX was used to view the now waxing Harvest Moon and the fine details of the ray craters. The Binos were used to locate various Messier Objects including M13 (the great Globular Cluster in Hercules)

7th September

Observing evening: The rising Harvest Moon was viewed and photographed as the umbra of the Earth’s shadow left the surface, sadly the Moon was too low in the sky to view with the 10 inch. The largest Moon of 2006 (at perigee) was then admired as it lit the sky all night

1st September

Observing evening: After a long summer break the Dome was open briefly to view M13 the great Globular Cluster in Hercules. Sadly howevercloud closed in after a setting Gibbous Moon had been viewed in The ETX. 5 dedicated Friends turned up on the off-chance but there was then nothing visible

27th July

Summer School courses: The 6 on the afternoon course were able again to view spot 901 with leader and very faint remains of the follower and a few tiny spots. The leader’s umbra split with a light-bridge over a period of an hour or so

Summer School Lecture: Some 80 Summer School guests and Friends of the Telescope packed into the Bradleian theatre for the lecture ‘Wonders in the sky – an observational list for all’

26th July

Summer School courses: In the afternoon the 6 adults on the course were able to check up on the progress of spot 901 which had started to fade and only the ‘leader’ was visble in the ETX with some 8 tiny spots where the ‘follower’ had been were visible in the 10 inch

Observing evening: With approaching thunder storms and total cloud cover, only two visitors came up for a tour of the Dome

25th July

Summer School courses: 12 on the morning course were able to get even clearer views of the prominences on the Eastern limb in the morning and the 6 in the afternoon viewed spot group 901 in the 10 inch in great detail. The Follower had developed a light bridge.

Observing evening: 16 visitors from Summer School came up to the Dome and despite increasing cloud, which stopped observations at 11.15pm the group were able to get good views of Jupiter and its 4 moons in the ETX and 10 inch and then viewed Alcor and Mizar and split Mizar in to A and B in the 10 inch.

24th July

Summer School courses: 12 adults on the ‘To Infinity and Beyond’ morning course and 6 on the ‘Solar Weather afternoon course were able to view the small group of sunspots 901 in the ETX and then in the 10 inch where a good hedge prominence was visible on the Eastern limb

Observing evening: A group of 30 Summer School visitors came up to the Dome for the sunset and to view the Summer Triangle. Jupiter was also seen in Binos and the ETX. In the 10 inch Jupiter’s disc was clear with several bands visible. Io was seen going into occultation. Several satellites and an Iridium flare were seen

23rd July

Observing evening: 2 young visitors attended the Dome to watch a fine sunset and then observe Jupiter and its moons in Binos. As the light dimmed the 3 stars of the Summer Triangle appeared neatly in order.

8th July

Prize Day: The Observatory was open from 10.30 am till 5 pm with a display of GCSE Astronomy Coursework. 50 visitors came up during the day and those who came earlier before the clouds closed in were also treated to a spectacular view of some huge Solar prominences

30th June

Observing morning: Another group of Shell pupils joined RDK and JAG at the telescope to view spot 898. The spot showed a split on one side of the umbra. Two large prominences were visible on the Eastern limb

29th June

Observing morning: A group of 7 College pupils and 2 staff visited the Dome before school to view the Sun in the clear cool morning sky. The ETX gave good detail of the ‘new’ large (Neptune sized) sunspot no. 898 but the 10 inch showed superb detail and resolution of the sunspot and its surrounding area in H-alpha, with many loop prominences being visible both against the surface as dark filaments and in profile on the limb.

24th June

Summer Sky Tour: A small group of Friends gathered on a perfect, clear, warm summer evening. So close to the Solstice, twightlight lingered till 23.00 BST and the line up of Mercury, Saturn and Mars in the West was not visible. At 22.59 BST a superb bright pass of the ISS was seen crossing through the Summer Traingle, almost at the Zenith and amazingly visible down to 3 or 4 degrees altitude in the East before disappearing. Jupiter was seen well in the ETX with Io in occultation until it emerged on time at 23.29 BST. The 10 inch viewed M57 the Ring Nebula in Lyra. By 00.30 the sky was dark enough to see the Milky Way and may bright satellites including one with an unusual unperiodic flash.

20th June

Observatory visit: 3 teachers from St Mary’s School Calne attended the Dome to discus visits and the GCSE Astronomy coursework

16th June

Observing afternoon: A clear sky with very light high cloud enabled the H alpha filter to be used to view a fine prominence associated with the disappearing spot 892. The rest of the disc being blank. The 40000km prominence developed as the small group of 4 Upper 6th and 2 teachers watched.

13th June

Maintenance visit: A new Drive belt has returned the Telescope to full operation. We were also able to check the polar aligment and confirm very little drift in Declination, which bodes well for imaging at a later date

12th June

GCSE Revision: 8 GCSE Astronomers attended the Dome over 5 hours (at 30 degrees celsius!) for some last minute revision. Sunspots 892 and 893 were viewed briefly in the ETX

10th June

Observing morning: 20 Shell pupils and their teacher came up to view the Sun in the Solarscope, ETX and 10 inch (using H alha filter) Spots 892 and 893 were more prominent than yesterday and there were more pronouced prominences on the SE limb

Observatory visit: Three 12 year olds visited the Dome to view the Sun. The prominences had grown in number and magnitude and were spectacular on the SE limb

9th June

Observing afternoon: 19 Shell pupils and their teacher, followed by an number of GCSE astronomers who were attending for last minute revision, were able to view the Solar disc in Eclipse shades and then projected in a Solarscope which revealed a central sunspot (892). In the ETX the spot was well resolved into a large spot and many smaller spots and pores with obvious umbra and penumbra. The 10 inch with H-alpha filter allowed surface detail to be seen and a loop prominence very evident on the south-Eastern limb

8th June

Maintenance visit and Solar observing: The Dome had been closed over the week, but a full morning observing and testing the telescope with the Solar filter produced superb views of the active sunspot 892. The seeing was superb until light cloud at the end of the morning and high resolution of the penumbra was possible

3rd June

Observing afternoon: The clear blue skies gave a chance to get the H-alpha filter running and the Solar limb was observed by a small group during the morning, with several prominences visible. The First Quarter Moon was also observed in the early evening

30th May

Observing evening: At long last a clear evening gave a chance to view Jupiter again in the 10 inch and also to admire the young Moon in close proximity to Venus below it, Mars just to the left and Saturn just beyond, also Castor and Pollux all within a few degrees.

25th May

Prep School visit: 12 scholars from Cheam School and the Head of Science visited the Dome. Despite a largely cloudy sky, all were able to view the solar disc in the 10 inch and to make out the two small sunspots present today

17th May

Public Solar viewing afternoon: Sadly the weather (rain) was hardly suitable for viewing the Sun, nevertheless a couple of visitors attended the Dome for a presentation and tour of the telescope

15th May

Green College lecture: As part of the Astronomy for All Public Understanding of Science lecture series CEB gave the lecture ‘Ancient Observatories – Archaeoastronomy’ to a ‘full-house’ (120) in Green College, Oxford. The lecture was followed by a tour of the Radcliffe Observatory, Tower of the Winds by Professor Jeff Burley

5th May

Collingbourne Kingston lecture: 48 visitors attended a lecture on ‘Ancient Observatories – Archaeoastronomy’ given by CEB in St Mary’s Church.

1st May

Transit of Io: After a rainy start to the day preventing sunrise being visible at Avebury, the day cleared and a clrear sky brought some 20 Friends to the Dome to view a transit of Jupiter’s moon Io. After a good ISS pass and viewing of the Moon and Saturn through the ETX the 10 inch watched Jupiter and its beutifully aligned 4 moons. At 20.48.40 UT Io made 1st contact. Sadly since Jupiter was only 10 or so degrees above the horizon, the seeing was not good and details, including Io and its shadow, were hard to resolve though this improved during the evening until light mist and cloud stopped the observation at 23.15 local time. Fragment C of 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann was also viewed in the Binos in Hercules.

27th April

Observing evening: After a very long spell of no clear nights, the second of the week was seized as an opportunity to do some calibration of the drive mechanism on the 10 inch. An attempt was made to see the 14 hour old Moon, but the Western horizon was not clear enough of cloud at sunset. Jupiter was amazingly bright at -2.5 magnitude approaching Opposition and showed a good deal of detail. The ISS was followed on its predicted pass with the Binos and showed clear structure of solar panels and segmented craft. Searching Corona Borealis fairly quickly located the 9th magnitude segment B of the comet 73P Schwassman-Wachmann as it continues to break up.

31st March till 7th April

Astronomy expedition to La Palma: CEB and Dr Andrew Taylor (Kings School Canterbury) were accompanied by 3 pupils (one from MC and 2 from KSC) and joined a researcher from the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute in the Netherlands on the 2.5m Isaac Newton telescope for 2 clear nights of observing small Irregular galaxies. Visits had also been arranged to the GTC 10.4m under construction, the 4.2m WHT, Magic 17m and Magic 2 also at 17m, whilst at the Roque de los Muchachos observatory. Many thanks are again due to Rene Rutten (ING Director), Javier Mendez (ING publicity) and to Mr and Mrs Wetton for providing accomodation. The remainder of the week was again spent touring the island and walking, including along the fault line on top of the Cumbre Vieja.

29th March

Partial Solar Eclipse: The Dome was open to the Public and despite growing cloud cover all the 50 or so visitors were able to view the partial eclipse in the various instruments. Solar specs. and projection boxes worked well and the images in the ETX 105 and the 10 inch were very clear. It was good to have the proximity of a few sunspots too. The edge of the Moon was clearly not entirely smooth in the 10 inch. Sadly the Web link to Turkey did not function but we were constantly updated by a Friend in Turkey who described Totality and the Corona as a view of a lifetime

24th March

2006 Avebury Society Lecture: Some 100 members of Avebury Society and guests attended CEB’s lecture Ancient Observatories – Timeless Knowledge (a repeat of the 2005 Sun-Earth day lecture) in Devizes Town Hall.

23rd March

Lecture: CEB gave the Lecture Ancient Observatories – Timeless Knowledge to Malmesbury Community Science group at Malmesbury School

22nd March

Tour of the Spring Sky: After a cloudy start, though light haze obscured some of the sky, the evening improved and gave the small group present superb views of Saturn at high magnification. Several structures in the rings were visible and 2 bands on the surface. 5 Moons including the far out Iapetus were visible

19th March

2006 Sun-Earth Day Lecture: The 4th S-E day lecture took place in the Ellis theatre. Titled ‘Eclipse – in a different light’. A good number of Friends and visitors were present.

14th March

House observatory visit: 9 pupils from NC Shell visited the Dome for the last House visit of the year. Sadly again it was totally cloudy.

Next house visit: Tuesday 3rd October 2006

13th March

House observatory visit: After a 2 week break and little clear weather, 10 Shell pupils from PR visited the Dome. Though the Moon could just be seen through the clouds, there was not enough clear sky to observe.

Next House visit: Tuesday 14th March (NC)

28th February

Observatory visit: 11 members of a local Astrology group visited the Dome and despite the possibilty of return of snow, they were treated to a superb night. M45 the Pleiades were viewed in Binos and Saturn was very clear at high magnification x240 and showed 3 bands on the surface, the Cassini division and 4 moons. The sky tour included all the visible Zodiac constellations and a 3 minute pass of the ISS

25th February

Observatory visit: The Master of the College visited and Saturn was viewed in clear patches between the fast moving cloud and showed plenty of detail with 3 of the moons easily seen

23rd February

House visit: 13 pupils from EL and 2 remaining from MO came up to the Dome. Light snow was falling, so sadly the Dome could not be opened.

Next House visit: Monday 13th March (PR)

21st February

Observatory visit: A group of some 18 cub scouts (aged 8 and 9) from the Marlborough pack attended the Dome with 4 accompanying adults. Sadly the night was cloudy.

20th February

Observatory visit: 7 visitors from Malmesbury Community Centre were lucky to coincide with a rare clear evening. Despite light polution, made worse by some light cloud, Saturn was observed with 4 moons in the 10 inch. M45 was viewed in binos and a tour of the sky was given including locating M31 by eye.

11th February

Flare observation: The -8th magnitude Iridium flare was observed as predicted. Despite low cloud it shone though with a brightness not far short of the Moon 5 degrees to the East

9th February

House visit: At last a clear night. 11 Shell pupils and a House Tutor from MO came up to the Dome and were able to view the waxing Gibbous Moon at high magnification in the 10 inch and Saturn in the 4 inch as well as the Pleiades in the Binos. Despite the Moonlight, a guided tour of the main objects visible was undertaken.

Next House visit: Thursday February 23rd (EL)

GCSE Observing evening: Once MO Shell had departed, 2 Hundreds pupils and 2 Remove pupils came up to finish Coursework drawings. The Artist in Residence also attended. The Moon was viewed in the 10 inch then Saturn showing good surface detail at x173. In the 4 inch Saturn then Mizar A and B and then M42. The ETX 105 was used for M45 and M42 and Saturn and M44. The Binos were also used for M31, though little detail could be seen due to the moonlight.

7th February

Observatory visit: 7 students and their teacher from the Astronomy GCSE course at Swindon New College visited the Dome. Though the Moon was glimpsed by eye the evening was otherwise totally cloudy

5th February

Prep School Science teacher visit: 3 Science teachers from Cheam, Port Regis and St Hugh’s schools came to the Dome for a morning tour and to establish links

3rd February

Primary School visit: 10 children (aged 5 to 11 yrs) and 9 adults from Avebury School visited the Dome. Sadly the cold night was not clear.

2nd February

House visit: 12 pupils from MM Shell came up to a freezing Dome. Sadly the cloud cover was total.

Next House visit: Thursday 9th February (MO)

31st January

Observatory visit: 9 pupils and 2 staff of the French exchange from Orleans came up to the Dome for a tour and were lucky, given the mist and reflected light, to get a decent view of Saturn (and Titan) in the 10 inch. The crescent New Moon was also seen as it set orange in the West

28th January

Observatory visit: 2 pupils and a member of staff from Kings School Canterbury visited the Dome for a pre La Palma expedition briefing. As the temperature fell, Mars was viewed in the early evening in the 10 inch

26th January

House visit: 12 Shell pupils from B1 came up to the Dome and though a brief break in clouds allowed a quick tour of the winter sky and Mars and Saturn, it was not enough to use any of the instruments.

Next House visit: Thursday 2nd February (MM)

24th January

GCSE Observing evening: Though the evening did not turn out to be crystal clear and -6 as forecast, as the temperature fell towards zero there was enough clarity at high altitude (the mist meant that the lower 25 degress in the South were washed out with light pollution) for 12 or so pupils to work frantically at the Dome completing many pieces of coursework. Saturn with 4 or 5 moons visible was drawn in the 10 inch and then M42 showing the Trapezium well. M45 was viewed in the Binos and M42 in the ETX.

19th January

House visit: 9 pupils from LI came up to the Dome. As has been the norm this winter, the sky was cloudy.

Next House visit: Thursday 26th January (B1)

17th January

Observing evening: A very brief clear interval allowed the 10 inch to swing into action and view M42 at a variety of magnifications. The Double stars in the Trapezium were easily resolved. Sadly cloud ended the session before any GCSE coursework could be undertaken.

12th January

House visit: At last after a long run of available cloudy nights, the telescope saw some action. A group of 12 SU pupils were able to view the nearly Full Moon in the 10 inch and then in Binos. The cloud allowed little else to be seen, though a few glimpsed Saturn in Binos.

Next House visit: January 19th (LI)

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)