Blackett Observatory Dome
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Geminids: The Dome will not be open on 13th as in Diary. Full Moon makes this year very unfavourable.

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day
Lightning over Colorado

What's Up - Week of 5th December

  • Astronomical Twilight ends at 18.02 UT at the start of the week and at 18.02 UT at the end. We are approaching the Winter Solstice

  • The Moon will be First Quarter on Tuesday and will then wax to Full (Solstice Moon) at the start of next week

  • Venus continues to dominate the evening twilight sky in the SW and familar Orion rises in the ESE mid evening, with bright red Betelgeuse at the top left 'shouler'

  • The Sun has 4 sunspot groups and 2615 is active

  • The ISS makes good evening passes: Monday at 18.00.39 from SW to SE reaching 49 degrees. Tuesday 17.08.58 SW to E reaching 34 degrees and 18.45.00 W to W to 33 degrees. Wednesday 17.53.03 WSW to E to 73 degrees and 19.29.33 W to W to 11 degrees. Thursday 17.01.09 WSW to E to 55 degrees and 18.37.32 W to W to 39 degrees. Friday 17.45.31 W to W to 89 degrees and 19.22.03 W to W to 13 degrees. Saturday 16.53.31 WSW to E to 79 degrees and 18.30.01 W to W to 49 degrees and Sunday at 17.38.00 W to E to 84 degrees and 19.14.31 W to w to 16 degrees

  • There are no bright evening Iridium flares this week


Random Blackett Image
Past Events - La Palma College Trip - April 2005

News - 1st December

External visit: NMA hosted another group (yr 5) from the Swindon Academy primary school. The sky was clear with a very young crescent Moon

House visit: 12 TU Shell pupils came up to the Dome. The sky was clear and Andromeda M31 and the Milky Way was viewed by eye and notable asterisms identified. The Binos viewed M45 and the ETX Mars. The Dome had unfrozen and thus the 10 inch was used to look at Aldeberan a K Giant (given the Shell are covering HR diagram)

Mext House visit: Tuesday 6th December (C1)

GCSE Observing: 1 Hundred astronomer grabbed another opportunity for star counts. The clouds moved in by 9.30pm

30th November

External visit: Though not as cold or clear as last night, the sky was clear and seeing I/II. A large group of 21 Savernake Explorers, 16 students from yrs 10 to 13 (mainly from St John's) and 5 adults, came up to the Dome. M45 Pleiades was viewed in Binos and setting Mars in ETX. Sadly the extreme cold had frozen the Dome, so the 10 inch could only view a random star

GCSE observing: 3 Hundreds pupils came up to the Dome to carry out onstellation photography, Messier Drawing (M45 in binos and M42 in ETX) and star counts

29th November

Blackett Science Lecture: The 2016 lecture was given by C. Barclay 'Tungunska's legacy - The threat of asteroid impact' and was attended by local Friends, pupils and visitors

28th November

External visit: 19 pupils from yr 7 of Swindon Academy's Grammar stream came up to the Dome. The sky was clear with no Moon

GCSE observing: Possibly the best evening so far with a New Moon, so dark and clear Milky Way. Seeing for once was II as the temperature fell. 4 Hundreds pupils came up to the Dome to carry out star counts parallel and perpendicular to the Galactic plane. The Binos showed M45 well and the 10 inch initially viewed M29 Open cluster, then M1 (Crab SNR) and finally for the first time this winter, M42 which, the low, showed good detail and a well resolved Trapezium

24th November

External visit: 16 year 6 pupils from Swindon Academy were hosted at the Dome and Marlburian by DGR and NMA. M31 was visible between clouds

House visit: For the very first time 12 DA Shell pupils and a tutor came up to the Dome. The sky was largely cloudy, though M45 was viewd in Binos just before departure

Next House visit: Thursday 30th November (TU)

GCSE Observing: 3 Hundreds and 4 Remove pupils came up to the Dome and were looked after by CEB and DGR respectively. Whilst Remove drew Constellations the Hundred drew Messier Objects (M45 (Pleiades) in Binos and M57 (Ring) and M27 (Dumbell) in 10 inch. The ETX was used for star counts

23rd November

External visit: 27 visitors from the St John's Academy community crammed into the Dome, including one teacher, 7 parents and 19 pupils from years 6 to 12. Sadly the sky was cloudy

18th November

External visit: 7 sixth form girls from St John's Academy came up to the Dome and were hosted by JAG

17th November

House visit: 11 Shell pupils and a House Tutor from NC came up to the Dome. Luckily the rain kept off, but the sky was cloudy with just the waning gibbous Moon being visible and Vega and Polaris in cloud gaps. No Leonids were seen

Next House visit: Thursday 24th November (DA)

External visit: 26 year 5 from the Woodpecker class at Swindon Academy Primary School came up to the Dome and were hosted by NMA and DGR. In spite of clouid and rain, half the group found some clear sky and managed to see some stars and Mars. As well as using the Observatory, the second group worked at the Malburian Social Centre, where a scale Solar System was displayed with a 3m disc for the Sun and 3cm picture of the Earth

16th November

External visit: 24 Cubs (girls and boys from years 4,5 and 6) from Aldbourne and 10 adults including leaders and parents attended the dome in 2 sessions. The rain had stopped but the sky was completely cloudy, though the waning gibbous Moon was just visible at the end through cloud

10th November

GCSE observing: 3 Hundred and 3 Remove pupils came up to the Dome. The sky was clear between cloud banks. The 8 inch initally viewed M13 and was then used to photograph the 81% waxing gibbous Moon. M45 Pleiades were drawn in Binos and M57 the Ring nebula was drawn in the 10 inch. The ETX was used for Stellar Density counts

8th November

House visit: 8 Shell pupils from IH came up to the Dome. It was wet and cloudy

Next House visit: Thursday 17th (NC)

External visit: 26 year 5 children aged 9 and 10 years old and 4 teachers from the Swindon Academy visited the Observatory in two groups with NMA in charge to learn about the dome, the telescopes, observing the night sky and meteorites. Due to the poor weather, they also took part in activities in the main Pavillion<./p>

7th November

Public open evening: Some 25 visitors came up to the Dome, many for the first time. The evening was clear, though moisture scattered the moonlight. Mars was viewed in the Smith and ETX. The first Quarter Moon was viewd in Binos and the ETX. The 10 inch split gamma Delphinus and then delta Cephei. M42 was viewed in ETX when it rose and the Binos were used on M45. M13 was also viewed in the Smith 8 inch. 2 meteors were seen, possibly a bright Northern Taurid and an Andromedid

5th November

Friends Q&A: A small group of Friends braved the first real winter evening, with falling temperature and the best skies this term, to attend a Q&A session on 'Citizen Science'. Current Zooniverse projects (inclugding Galaxy Zoo, Planet Hunters, Radio Meteors, Finding Comets, Disc Finders and Gravity Wave searcher) were introduced. Given the clear skies, the Binos were used for M45, M31 was easily viewed by eye and the 10 inch was used to split 3 Optical Doubles. First theta Serpens and lovely balanced pair of white stars with a 22" seperation. Next Albireo (beta Cygni), the famous bright double, seperated by 34" and clearly coloured (Blue and Yellow) and last gamma Delphinus, an aesthetically pleasing yellow and green Double with a 10" seperation

1st November

House visit: 11 pupils from SU Shell came up to the Dome. The sky was cloudy

Next House visit: Tuesday 8th November (IH)

24th October

Maintenance: The new Drive system returned from AWR Engineering repaired after the August electrical storm damage. CEB wired it up and then re-calibrated the drive speeds on both axes

22nd October

Orionids: a very small group gathered, with clear skies near the zenith and a good Milky Way, to catch some Orionid meteors. None were seen. Neither were any satellites and we suspected that the high misty cloud may have obliterated all but the brightest lower altitude meteors. One bright sporadic was seen and two possible Northern Taurids

10th October

GCSE Observing: One Hundred pupil ran up to get the chance of photographing the 8 day old Moon for his Lunar features project. Initially cloudy, the sky cleared. Seeing was poor but the Moon bright and well placed for observing in the 8 inch Smith

6th October

House vist: 9 pupils from BH Shell came up to the Dome, including the grandson of Basil Blackett, after whom the Observatory is named. The sky was largely cloudy but the Moon was viewed in Binos and the ETX

Next House visit: Tuesday 1st November (SU)

GCSE Observing: 1 pupil who is embarking on lunar feature photography cam up to catch the waxing Crescent Moon. The Moon was low by 8.30pm and the heavy 8 inch Smith had to be moved to the top corner of the parking space. Trial exposures were done and despite some tree branches interfering some decent first images obtained

5th October

Drive Engineer visit: Following the lightning storms in August, a visit was needed to attempt to locate the cause of malfunction. After a couple of hours of rewiring and testing, it seems likley that the main processor chip needs replacing. It is hoped to get the 10 inch operational after half-term

4th October

GCSE Observing: 4 Hundred and all 10 Remove pupils came up to the Dome, joning CEB and DGR. In light wind and no moon some work was carried out and an introduction for some to the Dome. The binos focused on M31 Andromeda and M45 Pleiades at the end of the evening). The ETX was used for Star Counts (having viewed M82 for the first time before the pupils came up). The Binos were also used to locate and draw M13 in Hercules

30th September

Dr Payel Das visit: Dr Das from Oxford University Theoretical Physics Dept came to attend physics lessons in the morning, have lunch with a number of Astronomy pupils and attend Period 6 with all the Remove and Hundred Astronomers. After supper with invited Physicists, She then gave the lecture 'Galactic Archaeology' in L3 in the evening to Astronomers and 6th Form Physicists

29th September

House visit: The first Shell House visit of the year took place. The sky was largley clear and the temperatures were falling. The 10 inch was out of action following the August storms and so M31 Andromeda was viewed in the Binos, having been located by eye

Next House visit: Thursday 6th October (BH)

GCSE Observing: The first evening for observing saw 4 of the Hundred coming up to the Dome for a familiarisation session. M31 was viewed by eye and in binos and the Smith 8 inch was brought out to view Altair and to practice some star photography

23rd September

Friends drinks party: The 12th annual Friends drinks party took place at the Dome with long standing and new Friends having a chance to catch up and look ahead to the winter

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