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Blackett Observatory Dome
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Marlborough College
Oxford Astrophysics
Green Templeton College

Partial Solar Eclipse: We saw it all (bar Fist Contact) What an amazing experience! See www.marlboroughcollege.og for pictures


NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day
A Flag Shaped Aurora over Sweden

What's Up - Week of 16th March

  • Astronomical Twilight ends at 20.05 UT at the start of the week and 20.17 UT at the end as we approach the start of the Astronomical Year when the Sun rises due East and sets due West. The Vernal Equinox this year occurs at 22.45 UT on Friday

  • The Moon is waning and will be New on Friday as it exactly aligns with the Sun

  • The deepest Partial Solar Eclipse since 1999 and till 2026 will occur on Friday morning. The Eclipse will start at 8.29am here and last 2 hours and at maximum at 9.34am will leave a 'smiley' in the SE sky with only 18% of the bright photosphere remaining. At NO stage can the Sun be viewed directly safely(see the safety video made for the College at https://vimeo.com/122297668 . For further details see the brochure 'How to observe an eclipse safely' at https://www.ras.org.uk/images/solar_eclipse_leaflet.pdf. The 10 inch will be used to time first contact and the Dome will remain open for external guests. If weather allows the whole College community will gather from 9.15am on Hamersley for an aerial photoThe Sun has 3 sunspot groups, 2297 is still active

  • There are no ISS passes this week

  • There are no bright evening Iridium flares this week

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Random Blackett Image
Past Events - Sir Patrick Moore's visit

News - 20th March

Partial Solar Eclipse: Astronomers past and presnet and Friends started gathering at 8am under cloudy skies. A glimpse of sunlight but nothing for First Contact. Then around 8.45am the Sun appeared and could be located in the 10 inch (with solar filter!). The ETX and filter was in use and all watchers had solar goggles. NMA created an amazing projection box and in this and the 10 inch the large sunspot was visible as well as the rugged edge of the Moon itself (mountains and valleys). Cheers went up as the skies cleared. Collinders were put to use and multiple images projected as planned. At 9am the pupils and CEB departed to join the whole College community on the XV Ruby pitch. 100s watched as the eclipse drew to a maximum, leaving a smiley face, aerial photographs were taken. The observatory continued to operate till Last contact at 10.38.59 UT. An experience to remember!

5th March

External vist: 20 pupils and 2 staff from the French exchange school near Versailles came up to the Dome. The afternoon sky was cloudy. All were briefed on the forthcoming eclipse and went away with solar goggles

26th February

House visit: The last Shell visit took place with 9 pupils from IH coming up to the Dome. This was one of the best evening s this year and as well as a tour of major asterisms, the Moon was viewed in ETX and Pleiades in Binos. The ten inch tracked Jupiter ad gave a good image of the planet and 3 moons, 2 of which closed perceptively during the evening

Next House visit: September 2015

24th February

House visit: 11 Shell pupils from C1 came up to the Dome. The sky was initially clear and enabled major asterisms to be pointed out. Jupiter was viewed in the 10 inch with 4 moons and clear equatorial bands. The sky then clouded over

Next House visit: Thursday 26th February (IH)

17th FebruaryExtra GCSE Observing: In a frantic last ditch attempt to finish Coursework observations, 2 Hundreds girls came up to complete star counts. This was done amid patches of cloud. Mars and Venus were clear in the West and Jupiter bright in the South East. A good ISS pass was viewed before they came up and a bright meteor seen in UMi

12th February

House visit: 9 pupils (reduced by illness) from EL Shell came up to the Dome. There were some clear patches on arrival and Polaris, Jupitr and Orion were located. The clouds however closed in before any of the instruments could be used

Next House visit: Tuesday 24th February (C1)

3rd February

GCSE Observing: 3 Hundreds and 1 Remove pupil came up to the Dome to complete coursework. The sky was bright with the Full Moon (and Jupiter only 5 degrees away) star counts and a constelation drawing were done

External visit: 10 students and a an accompanying adult from 4 Schools in China came up to the Dome in the cold and remnants of the morning snow

22nd January

House visit: 12 Shell pupils from TU came up as temperatures dropped. The sky was clear though there was high cloud/mist. Pleiades were viewed in Binos and Jupiter and 3 moons seen in ETX and then in the 10 inch where some good detial on the planet's surface was seen

GCSE Observing: The Hundreds all came up to continue their star count coursework. The Seeing was better and there was no Moon but the light fog was a problem and soon started to render dimmer stars invisible. Comet Lovejoy was found in Aries but has noticeably faded

Next House visit: Thursday 12th February (EL)

19th January

Extra GCSE observing: Period 6 was cancelled and an opportunity seized to get the Hundred astronomers to the Dome. Though Astronomical twilinght had not ended it was possible for each to get a pair of stellar density drawings done using the ETX and Carl Zeiss binos. At the end of the hour Comet Lovejoy was found in the Binos and for the first time its long Eastwards Ion tail was seen pointing towards the Pleiades

15th January

House visit: 12 Shell pupils from BH came up to the Dome in a very chilly (with wind chill) 1 degree clear night. The Seeing was very poor and the sky bright with skyglow. Nevertheless Comet Lovejoy was easily found just below M45 (Pleiades) and viewed in Binos and M42 tracked in the 10 inch

Next House visit: Thursday 22nd January (TU)

GCSE observing: With a clear sky, Hundred astronomers were summoned to catch up much needed coursework drawing. On arrival at the Dome it had clouded over. One Remove drawing of Orion was done as the stars faded behind cloud

13th January

House visit: 12 Shell pupils from LI came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy

Next House visit: Thursday 15th January (BH)

10th January

Comet Lovejoy: Given an unusal clear night (though a moisture laden sky) the Dome opened in an attempt to find Comet Lovejoy which had just passed Perigee and was around 0.79 AU distant and peaking in magnitude at around +4 (though this is integrated across a large (0.3 degree) spread out Coma. Initially it was hard to find. As the sky darkened it was picked up by sweeping to the right of Orion and below Aldeberan with wide field Binos. It was then discernable by eye (with averted vision) Coordinates for the 10 inch proved useless due to the rapid motion and the Comet had to be acquired by eye. The 10 inch gave a very fuzzy image, though showed a brighted nucleus. The traking was not able to prevent the Comet going out of view and we were able to calculate a motion of some 0.1 degrees per hour by watching the background stars. The best view was gained using the new 8 inch (Smith) Newtonian which was both clear and bright and showed the slight greeninsh tinge. Altogether 15 or so gathered, including Staff and Friends and 3 L6 pupils also were attempting digital photography of the winter constellations rising over the Dome

8th January

House visit: The first visit of 2015 took place with 12 Shell pupils from B1 coming up to the Dome. The sky, though clear in the late afternoon, had largely clouded over, though there were glimpses of the Pleiades cluster and then Orion at the end

Next House visit: Tuesday 13th (LI)

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