June 2024 – News

24th June

Radcliffe Society: 6 pupils and CJW joined GKWJ and JAG at the Observatory on a perfectly still and sunny evening for the final Radcliffe Society meeting of the year. As is tradition, rockets were launched on the sports pitches. Three vehicles were available, two from last year (Alpha and Wizard) and one new rocket, Elektra, put together by two pupils. The launches started with Alpha and Wizard each using an A motor, reaching 66m and 133m respectively. Elektra, being slightly heavier, was first launched with a B motor and reached 113m. Alpha on a B motor flew a strange trajectory and was lost to the rough at the far end of the pitch! Wizard with a B motor reached 340m. The final launches were of Wizard and Elektra on C motors; this power motor has not been used at the Observatory before, but the very still conditions meant that recovery should be possible within the grounds. Elektra reached 210m, but suffered structural damage on landing and was retired. Wizard excelled for the second year running and set a new altitude record of 370m; thankfully it was finally found at the far reaches of the sports field and safely recovered for further flights next year.

20th June

Friends Observing: 22 Friends joined GKWJ and JAG at the Observatory to celebrate the Summer Solstice. In the twilight, the 97% Waxing Gibbous Moon was observed through the 10-inch, while outside, the first stars were seen to appear. As the summer darkness descended the 10-inch was used at 90x magnification to view M13, the Great Hercules Cluster, and then M57, the Ring Nebula in Lyra, where the mag was increased to 140x. Next up was Albireo in Cygnus, looking spectacular, before moving to the Double Double at the northern edge of Lyra. Epsilon 2 Lyrae was just split at 140x, but Epsilon 1 Lyrae remained elusive. Magnification was increased to 224x, which allowed both 1 and 2 to be split, easily as the seeing settled intermittently. Outside, a Friend set up a ‘live view station’ with a 4-inch refractor and camera, showing live stacked images of M57, M27, M13, M81 & M82 and the Veil Nebula. There was also a bonus item of a glow worm found shining with its particular wavelength of green on the stones by the Observatory!