September 2023 – News
Outreach Visit: 12 members of the Bath Astronomers visited the Dome on a partly cloudy evening. GKWJ and JAG first slewed the 10-inch to the waxing gibbous Moon, which was visible through the cloud. Small clear patches allowed Albireo to be viewed next; easily split and with a glorious colour difference between the two stars as ever. Unfortunately, observing was cut short by thickening cloud. The group enjoyed a selection of images taken at the Observatory, watched the radio meteor detector live feed, where multiple events were seen, and marvelled at the Wetton Meteorite Collection.
Friends 19th Drinks Party: GKWJ hosted the 19th Anniversary Friends Drinks Party at the Observatory. A total of 57 Friends and family were present to help consume the vast array of canapés and drinks. Many new Friends attended, along with longer standing Friends, some of whom had even attended the inaugural party! A lull in the recent poor weather allowed the party to be held on the observing platform, with the First Quarter Moon visible through breaks in the cloud. As darkness descended, the stragglers were treated to a clearing sky. GKWJ and JAG gave a sky tour of the main constellations; multiple satellites and an excellent overhead ISS pass were also seen. One Friend set up binoculars, through which Saturn and Neptune were observed. It was a wonderful start to the 2023/24 Friends observing year.
SQM Start: GKWJ set up the fixed SQM on the outside of the classroom and configured the software for continuous nighttime data gathering. The first data set of a full night of magnitudes per square arcsecond (mpsas) readings taken every fifteen minutes was gathered, with the highest reading being 20.78 mpsas. We can now empirically monitor the sky quality at the Blackett Observatory. A project to monitor sky quality across the local area will commence this autumn.
Sky Quality testing: The new Sky Quality Metering project commenced with a kit testing session at the Observatory by GKWJ & JAG. The fixed Sky Quality Meter (SQM) system was successfully connected up and tested in various locations on the exterior of the classroom; a decision was taken for its permanent location.
Planetary Imaging: Another planetary imaging session through the 10-inch by GKWJ and JAG. Saturn was captured, this time with five moons, including a first capture of Enceladus. Jupiter was attempted, but its low altitude at that hour led to awful data and an unsuccessful image.
Planetary Imaging: GKWJ and JAG spent an evening testing a new planetary camera, successfully capturing data of Saturn and three moons through the 10-inch. Results were encouraging, despite Saturn’s low altitude, and this year’s high apparition of Jupiter is eagerly anticipated.