February 2022 – News

28th February

Radcliffe Society: A select group of society members joined GKWJ and JAG to enjoy two excellent pupil presentations. The first was entitled ‘What happens if you try to fly in to Jupiter?’ and the second ‘How have the stars shaped civilisations?’. GKWJ spoke about ‘What’s Up?’ through March and April. Next meeting: 9th May

26th February

Messier Marathon: The 2022 Messier Marathon attempt was able to go ahead under beautiful clear and dark skies. 27 pupils and seven members of staff (GKWJ, JAG, JEL, DGR, ER, ECN & JW) took part. A total of 91 Messier objects were observed over the night, with just 7 objects attempted unsuccessfully and the remaining 12 objects impossible to view as they lay too near or below the horizon. All instruments were involved: the 10-inch, 8-inch, 2 ETXs, 4 binoculars and JW’s electronic telescope. Comet 19P/Borrelly in Aries was also observed on two separate occasions, the ISS was seen passing over twice, multiple meteors were spotted and the night ended with Venus (-4.6) and the waning Crescent Moon low to the horizon as the sun rose. Highlight Messier objects were M82 (Cigar Galaxy), M51 (Whirlpool Galaxy), M3 & M53 (Globular Clusters), M104 (Sombrero Galaxy), M13 (Great Hercules Cluster) and M57 (Ring Nebula)

24th February

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

22nd February

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

12th February

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

10th February

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

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

3rd February

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

2nd February

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

1st February

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