January 2020 News
GCSE Observing: 8 pupils came to the Dome on a rare clear evening. They started by making magnitude estimates of the dim Betelgeuse. They then continued work on their Aided Observing Tasks: drawings were made of M42 through the 10 inch, M45 through binoculars and photos of star trails around the North Celestial Pole were taken
External visit: 14 pupils and a teacher from Hardenhuish School, Chippenham, joined GKWJ at the Dome. Contrary to the forecast, the cloud parted to give hazy but satisfactory conditions for observing. Venus in gibbous phase was seen through the 10″ followed by the crescent Moon. The group then saw the ISS pass overhead and the seemingly endless stream of Starlink third launch satellites. Finally, the Andromeda Galaxy, Almach and the Orion Nebula were viewed through the 10″
Stargazing Oxford: CEB managed the queue and welcomed over 1200 visitors to the annual stargazing open day at Oxford’s astrophysics department
House visit: 10 Shell boys and a Tutor from Preshute visited the Dome with GKWJ. It was cloudy.
Next House visit: Tuesday 4th February (MO)
House visit: 14 Shell girls from Mill Mead visited the Dome with GKWJ. It was cloudy.
Next House visit: Thursday 23rd January (PR)
Radcliffe Society: The first meeting of the revived Radcliffe Society (the Marlborough College astronomy and astrophysics society) took place with GKWJ, JAG, CEB and eight pupils representing all year groups from Remove to Upper Sixth. The agenda was: Welcome (GKWJ), Society History (JAG and CEB), What’s Up (GKWJ), then two pupils gave talks on Differential Photometry and Astrophotography at Marlborough College. The next meeting is on 11th February.
Prep School visit: 23 year 7 pupils and 3 staff from Cothill School visited the Dome. Arriving at twilight, the evening was perfectly clear, though the atmosphere damp. Venus in its Gibbous phase was seen in the ETX and the Pleiades in Binos. A couple of meteors were seen and a dozen or so satellites. Shortly after 6pm two stationary bright lights appeared in the East below Gemini, looking like a bright double star they then disapeared, remaining an unidentified sighting. The 10inch was then used to view the Great Nebula in Orion and the Trapezium of young stars
External visit: Eight members of the Basingstoke Astronomical Society visited the Dome on a wonderfully clear night. GKWJ, JAG and CEB hosted. The first observation was the stream of third launch Starlink satellites. The group lost count in the twenties. Targets in the 10″ through the session were: M36, M37, M38, Almach, Uranus, M33, M31 and M42. Double star Alnitak (2″ separation) was seen as a distorted ‘snowman’, but not fully split. An attempt to split Sirius and observe Sirius B (‘The Pup’ at 11″ separation) proved difficult, but moments of two stars being visible were reported from a number of the observers. Finally, the Eskimo Nebula (NGC 2392) was observed, with definite improvement provided by use of the recently acquired UHC filter.
Freinds evening: CEB, JAG and GKWJ met at the Dome to observe and discuss the dimming of Betelgeuse
House visit: 10 Shell boys from Littlefield joined GKWJ at the Dome. It was cloudy.
Next House visit: Tuesday 21st January (MM)
House visit: 10 Shell girls from Ivy House and a Tutor joined GKWJ at the Dome. It was raining.
Next House Visit: Thursday 16th January (LI)
3rd January 2020
Friends evening: A gathering of Friends joined CEB, JAG and GKWJ to spot Quadrantid meteors. 7 were seen in total during the one hour window in the hazy cloud. M42 was viewed through the 10 inch and Betelgeuse was noted as being significantly dimmer than usual.