Blackett Observatory Dome
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Marlborough College
Oxford Astrophysics
Green Templeton College

Wednesday 7th: Q&A (Dwarf Planets) 8pm at Dome. Places bookable

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day
The Sombrero Galaxy in Infrared

What's Up - Week of 5th October

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 20.30 BST at the start of the week and at 20.14 BST at the end

  • The Moon is waning from Last Quarter on Monday and will be New at the start of next week

  • The Sun has only 3 spot groups with number 2427 producing activity

  • The ISS returns with evening passes: Monday 20.31.16 SW to S reaching 27 degrees altitude. Tuesday 19.39.23 SSW to ESE to 22 degrees and 21.14.53 WSW to WSW to 18 degrees. Wednesday 20.22.32 WSW to ESE to 54 degrees. Thursday 19.30.16 SW to E to 38 degrees and 21.06.22 W to W to 26 degrees. Friday 20.13.49 WSW to ESE to 78 degrees. Saturday 19.21.17 WSW to E to 60 degrees and 20.57.39 W to W to 32 degrees and the best on Sunday 20.04.58 WSW to ESE to 87 degrees and then 21.41.26 W to W to 11 degrees

  • There is one superbright evening Iridium flare this week on Wednesday at 18.59.49 at 59 degrees altitude in N


Random Blackett Image
Past Events - C.Barclay Architects Visit - August 2005

News - 3rd October

Outer Planets: A small group of Friends gathered (possibly reduced in number by the England rugby match) on a clear evening for the first observing event of the new Diary. The ETX split Mizar A and B and then M13 and the Binos M31, which was easily seen by eye. The 10 inch was calibratedand then tracked Neptune, which showed a lovely pale blue colour and just discernable disc. Vesta was the next target and bright in comparision with a discernable warm brown/orange colour. The last target was Unranus showing a much bigger disc and a clear green-blue (or blue-green) hue

1st October

GCSE Observing: The first clear evenming of the academic year saw DGR and NMA at the Dome with 2 H and 18 R astronomers who had an introduction to the Dome, asterisms and constellations and the ETX was used to view some Messier objects

28th September

Total lunar eclipse: CEB decided to go to the Dome between 3am and 4am to watch the Total lunar eclipse (having seen the last in April in Australia) It was most impressive by eye, though the Binos showed it well against the background stars. In fact the most impressive sight was when it first rose early evening and appeared huge a pink against the horizon

25th September

Friend drinks: The 11th annual Friends drinks took place at the Dome under initially clear skies. A good number of Friends both old and new gathered in advance of the new Diary year

14th August

'Family' visit: 4 descendents of Joseph Gurney Barclay visited the Dome. A Gt-Grandaughter and, from the States, a Gt-Gt-Grandaughter and 2 Gt-Gt-Gt Grandaughters

13th August

Perseids meteor shower: A good group of Friends and past pupils gathered up at the Dome, joining JAG and CEB as the light faded. Setting Saturn was viewed in the ETX. Almost to order, at just before 10pm, we were treated to a super-bright -6 fireball, lighting up the sky like a flare and this was follwed shortly by another in the SW which left a long train in the sky which persisted for 20 seconds or so. In the first 20 minutes there were 6 fireballs giving green, pink, blue and yellow meteors. The display quietend down after that and encroaching high cloud probably stopped many meteor from bing seen. After 11.30pm the sky cleared again. In all 54 meteors were recorded

24th July to 4th August

9th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics: CEB and Sandor Kruk (Oxford Astrophysics) led a team of 3 year 13 students (from schools around the UK) in the first UK entry to this Olympiad, which took place in Magelang, Central Java in Indonesia. Over 200 students competed, from 41 countries. The competition consited of 3 tough rounds; Observation, Theory and Data Analysis. The opening ceremony was at Borobudur temple and the closing ceremony at Prambanan. Excitingly, the team won 2 silver medals, coming 22nd and 30th overall. The UK was thus 9th in the medal table. The top three countries were Iran, India and Indonesia. The UK Team managed to come second to India in the Team competition

22nd July

Summer School visit: 21 visitors came up to the Dome on a clear evening. Stars were identified as they appeared in the dimming twilight. The Moon was viewed in Binos and then Saturn in ETX. The 10 inch then tracked Saturn which was well viewed with 4 to 5 moons depending on eyesight

15th July

External lecture: CEB delivered the talk 'The oldest GOTO telescope in the World' to some 25 residents, the Warden, Steward and a Trustee of the Duchess of Somerset's Alms House in Froxfield

Summer School visit: 14 visitors from Week 1, including a family from near Bilbao and from Hong Kong, joined JAG and CEB at the Dome. The sky was largely cloudy, however gaps appeared and enabled the Summer Triangle, Arcturus, Antares and Spica to be seen along with the Saucepan and Polaris and Cassiopeia. Sevral satellites were spotted. The ETX was used to view Mizar and Alcor and split the binary Mizar A and B

28th June

IOAA Training Camp: CEB and Sandor Kruk from Oxford Astrophysics spent the day in Oxford with the 3 pupils who are to compete at the IOAA in Indonesia at the end of the month (The first time a British Team has entered). The Pupils practiced questions and, using solar goggles and the ETX, were able to view the Sun, though there was only one pair of sunspots. In the warm evening, on Merton playing fields using the ETX, many objects were viewed and coordinates and angular seperations practiced, until the sky clouded over at midnight; including Venus' crescent phase, Jupiter and 3 moons, the Gibbous Moon and its main ray craters. Mizar and Alcor among other Doubles were split and also Mizar A and B seen

18th June

External visit: 15 Pupils from Marlborough Malaysia and two teachers came up to the Dome with 2 ex-pupils from Waterford Kamhlabe United World College in Swaziland. A faint CZA was visible when we first reached the Dome (2nd in a week!) The Sun was then viewed in solar goggles and the with ETX and white light filter. The sky was too cloudy sadly for the H alpha filter

16th June

External visit: A large group of local group of Ladies Who Latte came up to the Dome late afternoon. Though no Latte was provided they were greeted at 6.30pm by a clear sky and for the first time that I have seen, 3 solar atmospheric phenomena. Either side of the Sun were clear Parhelia (sundogs)or rainbow clouds, 11 degrees from the Sun at 9 and 3 o'clock. Joining them was a faint Parhelic circle of diameter 22 degrees. Most beutiful however was a clear Cicumzenithal arc (CZA)an inverted rainbow arc directly above the Sun. These all lasted for 15 minutes or so. The Sun was then viewed in solar goggles, Solarscope and then the ETX, which showed clearly the group 2367. The 10 inch was then used with the H alpha filter to view spot 2365 and its Plage. Very faint prominences were seen, however the sky had already become hazy

15th June

External visit: 2 yr 12 pupils from Pate's Grammar School in Cheltenham visited the Dome at the start of a work experience week, where they are to assist in the putting together an exhibiton of astronomical images which will hopefully run early in 2016. The sky had rather clouded over but in bright breaks the Sun was viewed in solar goggles, the ETX (which clearly showed the large sunspot group 2367 with umbra and penumbra and then the 10 inch and H-alpha filter which showed some clear prominences and granulation

External lecture: CEB gave the lectue 'The oldest GOTO telescope in the World' to a large gathering of Chipping Norton Amateur Astronomy Group

13th May

Solar open day: 15 Friends and College staff gathered on a clear sunny afternoon. The Sun was veiwed in the Solarviewer which clearly showed the enormous sunspot group 2339 and 2345. The ETX showed excellent detail of the umbra and penumbra of the larger spots and clear striation in the penumbra. The main pair of spots were seen also to split into further pairs. Some 7 other spot groups were visible. The 10" viewed the Sun in H alpha and was focused on the lower limb where an enormous quiescent Hedge Prominence was seeen in the process of lifting of the surface. A great deal of detail was evident and the shape change perceptively over the 2 hours of observing

24th April

NASA lesson: The top Remove Physics sets had a lesson with Dr Abell and were able to ask plenty of questions

23rd April

NASA visit: Dr Paul Abell, lead scientist for small planetary bodies at Johnson Space Centre, Houston, came to the College for an outreach visit. He talked to Physicits and Astronomers about detecting, monitoring and intercepting asteroids and then gave an open talk on Asteroid Impact Threat and the Chelyabinsk Event in 2013

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