July 2023 – News
Summer School Tour 3: The Observatory Tour for Week 3 of Summer School was blighted by pouring rain. 15 students joined GKWJ, JAG, a Summer School tutor and a Friend helper for a look around the Observatory followed by a presentation of images taken at the Blackett Observatory. The session ended with some time spent following the radio meteor detector live stream, where multiple small meteor reflections were seen.
Summer School Observing: On the last evening of GKWJ’s Back Garden Astronomy course, the students were gifted a clear sky to put the theory learned in the classroom into practice. 6 students gathered at the Observatory as twilight darkened. Various instruments were used including binoculars, the 4-inch refractor, two small reflectors owned by the students and the 10-inch. The first target was the Waxing Crescent Moon low in the west – a fine sight in all instruments. GKWJ pointed out the principal constellations and asterisms: the Plough and Polaris, Cassiopeia, the Summer Triangle and Cygnus. Double Stars Alcor & Mizar and Albireo were found. The ISS made an overhead pass. The hunt then deepened to find M13, the Great Hercules Cluster. The Keystone asterism in Hercules was identified and the rough location of M13 indicated. The globular cluster was easily found in the 10-inch, with the GoTo system. The group then set about the hunt with their own kit outside. Great success was had with all students eventually finding the cluster in all instruments. Exhausted but satisfied, the students departed for a night’s rest before the final day of Summer School Week 2.
Summer School Tour 2: A beautiful sunset and a mostly clear sky set the perfect scene for the second Observatory Tour of Summer School 2023. 24 visitors were accompanied by JAG and DGR to the Observatory to join GKWJ and a Friend helper. On arrival, they were taken straight into the Dome to view a very low thin crescent Venus through the 10-inch. We then slewed to the nearby even thinner 4% Waxing Crescent Moon. The group moved outside to start their sky tour under the slowly darkening twilight sky and immediately enjoyed an overhead ISS pass. As the tour progressed through the main constellations, unfortunately cloud accumulated from the north, drawing a lovely session to an end.
Summer School Observing: GKWJ’s class of 12 students spent the afternoon at the Observatory as part of the Back Garden Astronomy course. They got to grips with various instruments, hunting down prints of astronomical targets pinned to trees around the sports fields. Clear sky allowed the group to observe the Sun, safely, in white light through the 10-inch and in hydrogen alpha through the 2-inch Lunt solar telescope. Six sunspot groups were seen along with multiple prominences and filaments.
Summer School Tour 1: The Summer School Observatory Tour season got off to a good start as 21 students attending courses in Week 1, two Friends and three family members headed up to the Dome under a clear dusk sky with JAG and DGR. GKWJ welcomed them to the Blackett Observatory and immediately Venus, low in the west, was observed through the 10-inch, showing a beautiful waning crescent phase. As darkness slowly descended, the group watched as stars appeared in magnitude order. The Summer Triangle was seen and double star Dubhe (alpha Ursae Majoris) was observed through the 4-inch refractor. Cloud was starting to accumulate, but gaps allowed the group to head back into the Dome and see globular cluster M3 through the 10-inch. As people dispersed the grand finale was performed by the ISS as it made a bright overhead pass.