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Blackett Observatory Dome
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SpaceWeather | More weather... Coordinates: 51.25.25 N and 1.44.24 W
Marlborough College
Oxford Astrophysics
Green Templeton College

Mercury Transit: Monday 9th May. The Observatory will be open from midday till the end of the Transit (weather permitting)


NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day
The SONG and the Hunter

What's Up - Week of 2nd May

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 23.04 BST at the start of the week and at 23.31 BST at the end

  • The Moon is waning to New on Friday

  • The Sun is peppered with 6 sunspot groups, none of which is active

  • Mercury is moving towards its first of the pair of Transits this decade next Monday. The Transit starts at 12.12 and ends at 19.42. Mid Transit is 15.57. The observatory will be open throughout weather permitting. Next Transit is November 11th 2019

  • The ISS makes no evening passes this week

  • There are 4 bright evening Iridium flares this week on Monday at 23.17.21 at 13 degrees altitude in WNW. Tuesday at 23.09.39 at 18 degrees altitude in NNE and 23.20.47 at 11 degrees in WNW and Wednesday at 22.05.53 at 12 degrees altitude in N

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Random Blackett Image
A wonderful explosion of colour (in Gemini) as an old star dies leaving a central tiny, hot, White Dwarf and several layers of exploding gas (NASA, Hubble)

News - 5th April

BAAO training camp: CEB spent a day in Oxford on day 2 of the 4 day British Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad training and UK team selection camp (12 yr12 and yr13 pupils being narrowed down to a team of 5 and a reserve for the 2016 International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics in India in December). CEB ran a planetraium session, gave a lecture on Telescopes and Optics followed by some questions and then in the evening oversaw an observing session on level 6 of the Denys Wilkinson Building. 2 ETX 105 Meades were available as well as a small Newtonian and a huge 12 inch Meade (brough by Alan Pickwick). The sky was largely clear and, though the view was restricted by the buildings, Jupiter and its moons were viewed (with Europa and Io in conjuction and visibly seperating over the 2 hours of observing) and Mizar and Alcor (with Mizar A and B resolved) and then h and k Persei, the Double Open Cluster. Individual stars were also identified and pointer patterns discussed

24th March

Sun-Earth Lecture: The 14th lecture focussed on the Vernal Equinox and tackling subjects within the basic field of Sun-Earth connections 'Transits an Occultations - the importance of shadows' was delivered to an audience of some 40 Friends and visitors by CEB

19th March

Friends outing: A group of 20 Friends headed to Oxford for visits in the Astrophysics sub-department. A talk on the E-ELT and Oxford contribution to major instruments by Dr Fraser Clarke and tours of the Instrumentation labs. After lunch the group were met by Proffessor Jeff Burley in Green Templeton College for tours of the Tower of the Winds and the old Radcliffe Observatoy

13th March

House visit: The last Shell House visit of the academic year took place with 7 pupils from PR coming up to the Dome. The temperature was falling and the sky very clear. There were also no Astro lights so the conditions were perhaps the best so far since January. The 4 day old Moon was viewed in the ETX and M45 in the Binos. Jupiter shone brightly in the ESE and was viewqed very well in the 10 inch with Europa and Ganymede very close and several storm bands on he planet seen

12th March

Spring Sky: A small group of Friends and visitors, including a family from Oxford and a yr 6 and yr 8 pupil, came up to the Dome. Depsite mist and hazy cloud the 3 day old Moon was viewed in the James ETX and the Pleiades in Binos. The ETX was used for M42 the Orion Nebula earlier. A tour of the sky was given including the Zoiac constellations. The 10 inch tracked Jupiter and its 4 moons. 2 main bands and 2 subsidiary bands were visible on the main planet

8th March

House visit: 9 pupils from C1 Shell came up to the Dome. It was cloudy

Last House visit of the academic year: Sunday 13th March (PR)

6th March

House visit: 7 pupils from CO Shell came up to the Dome. One or two stars were visible in cloud gaps; only Sirius identifiable

Next House visit: Tuesday 8th March (C1)

28th February

House visit: An even better clear night greeted 14 MM Shell. The Pleiades ere viewed in Binos and Jupiter and 4 moons in ETX. The 10 inch showed good detail of M42, the Orion Nebula and the Trapezium

Next House visit: Sunday 6th March (CO)

23rd February

House visit: At last a clear night and LI Shell drew the lucky card. 8 pupils came up to the Dome. The sky was bright with the waning just off Full Moon beutifully in conjunction with Jupiter less than 2 degrees away. The Binos were used to view the pleiades and the ETX Jupiter and 3 moons (Io in Occcultation) The 10 inch tracked M42 (Orion nebula) and gave a super viw of the Trapezium and good detail in the nebula itslef. The bottom right star inthe Trapezium could just be resolved into two

Next House visit: Sunday 28th February (MM)

GCSE Observing: The last chance for Coursework to be completed by Hundreds. With CEB, NMA and DGR at the Dome, 6 pupils came up to complete stellar density and Messier drawings and photographs. All the instruments were used, Binos, 2 ETXs and the Smith Newtonian. Several Remove also came up to fisnish Constellation drawings , using Orion and Cassiopeia. Io was seen to appear from occultation and the Spring marker, Arcturus, rose in the East. A close call, we have never had to wait to so near March to complete observations

10th February

GCSE Obsertving: At last a clear night and an emergency observing session with 5 out of the 6 Hundred pupils joining NMA at the Dome to complete drawings

7th February

House visit: 14 Shell pupils form EL came up to the Dome in rain and high winds, having been out climbing during the day. One of the most miserable evenings but lots of good questions

Next House visit: Tuesday 23rd February (LI)

31st January

House visit: 10 pupils from TU Shell came up to the Dome in high winds but at least no rain

Next House visit: Sunday 7th February (EL)

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