Ean Ean Thornett

Visit to Herschel Museum in Bath

Ean Ean, Rhys and Hannah and I visited the Herschel Astronomy in Bath on the way back from a weekend trip to Wells. The Herschel Museum of Astronomy at 19 New King Street, Bath, England, is located in a preserved town house that was formerly the home of William Herschel and his sister Caroline. Its patron is Queen’s Brian May and the introductory video is narrated by Patrick Moore. It was from this house, using a telescope of his own design that William discovered the planet Uranus in 1781, and below are some pictures from the garden from which this observation was made. The photos are from our visit today.

The objects in the pictures below are in some cases the Herschels’ own or those of people close to them. Other aspects of the house are re-creations to give idea of what life was like when the Herschels lived there, including items from the same era.

Andy, Ean Ean, Rhys and Hannah


Stoney Littleton Long Barrow

Ean Ean, Rhys, Hannah and I visited the Stoney Littleton Long Barrow, on our way to visit the Herschel Astronomy Museum (see next post for our visit to that museum). A long barrow is a prehistoric monument dating to the early Neolithic period. They are rectangular or trapezoidal tumuli or earth mounds traditionally interpreted as collective tombs. The Stoney Littleton Long Barrow (also known as Bath Tumulus and the Wellow Tumulus) is a Neolithic chambered tomb with multiple burial chambers, located near the village of Wellow, Somerset. It is an example of the Severn-Cotswold tomb. The barrow is about 30 metres (98 ft) in length and 15 metres (49 ft) wide at the south-east end, it stands nearly 3 metres (10 ft) high. Internally it consists of a 12.8 metres (42 ft) long gallery with three pairs of side chambers and an end chamber. There is a fossil ammonite decorating the left-hand door jamb. The site was excavated by John Skinner in 1816-17 who gained the entry through a hole originally made about 1760. The excavation revealed the bones (some burned) of several individuals (https://www.heritagedaily.com/2017/11/seven-must-see-long-barrows-in-england/100889).

A south-east north-west orientation is very common for Mendip barrows (http://www.ubss.org.uk/resources/proceedings/vol24/UBSS_Proc_24_3_187-206.pdf). A discussion of possible Stoney Littleton Long Barrow Winter Solstice Alignment can be found at https://www.silentearth.org/stoney-littleton-long-barrow-winter-solstice-alignment/

Andy, Ean Ean, Rhys and Hannah


Meteorites in Melaka, a full moon but very few stars

Today we visited Melaka (Malacca) in Malaysia. Amongst the many sights to see at the World Heritage area was the Muzium Rakyat (people’s museum) and within that we found the Galeri Meteor. This is the only gallery displaying and selling meteorites in Malaysia. There was a wonderful opportunity to hold a large and heavy stony iron meteorite, view the typical etched markings on a slice of an iron meteorite, and to take on the challenge of identifying which of two similar looking rock’s was a meteorite after a brief educational session by the lady in charge. We learnt how to identify the fusion crust, use a magnet to find out which rocks had a significant iron content (stony iron and iron meteorites). We also looked at iron and nickel dense inclusions and the markings seen with etching on iron meteorites (it turns iut iron meteorites contain iron and nickel which is often separated out). A great experience and some incredible meteorites!


Visit to Galeri Meteor:

Testing a large stone to find out if it is a meteor using a magnet:


Photographing the Moon with Samsung S7 phone in Malacca:

View from hotel window at Night – lot of lights and cloud – although it is a spectacular view:

I did manage to find this one star although I am not sure which one it is!

Trip to Penang, Malaysia, August 2017 – possible opportunities for observing

This is my first entry in my astronomy blog for our family trip to visit relatives in Malaysia. This trip is mainly to visit my wife’s family but hopefully there will be some observing opportunities too. Weather here is a reasonably constant 33 degrees C or so but with high humidity and this often results in posts of clouds that can obstruct observations. In the past, this has been particularly frustrating at Ean Ean’s mum and dad’s house – they live at the base of Prnsng on the side away from the ocean and with the cloud – arrrhhh! One memorable year we were here during the Perseid meteor shower and I went outside and saw nothing whatsoever due to an almost complete cloud layer. The following day the university’s astronomy society reported a wonderful and spectacular meteor observing session on the other side of the island!

This year I am hoping to remedy that – I have emailed the local astronomy society and another contact I found on the internet that has previously organised meteor observing sessions…..and am now waiting for responses – hopefully one of them will be organising another Perseid meteor observing session this year. This is due to fall on 12/13 August whilst we are in Penang.

There is one really big positive about observing the Perseid meteor shower from Penang, if I can find a good location (transport at night is an issue I need to find a way of overcoming). That is, that unlike the UK which will suffer from a virtually full Moon (5 days past full) all night, in Penang the Moon does not rise until 11:20pm on12th August, as the following screenshot from Sky Safari Pro 5 shows, a massive improvement on the UK where it will be near zenith by this time:

The only equipment I have bought along this year is my Canon Image-stabilised 10×30 binoculars. These are easily hand-held and the image stabilisation really makes a difference. They have excellent contrast which makes up for the small aperture. The obvious down side is magnification. If I can attend an event then other attendees may have a telescope or two I can take a look through…..you never know!

At the moment we are in Kuala Lumpar and over this weekend we are visiting Malaca – we might find something astronomical there, I don’t know! That reminds me – I better take the binoculars along. It would be frustrating if the sky was wonderfully dark in Malaca and I did not have the binoculars.

I have also discovered that there is a telescope shop in Penang now – a new addition since I last came there. I don’t intend to visit it though. I really don’t have anything I need to buy, although I suppose they might rent out telescopes…..


Map of Malaysia showing location Penang upper left and higher resolution map of Penang Island itself:

Information on organisations that I have contacted to see if they are arranging a Perseid meteor shower observing session this year:

Information on the Perseid meteor shower from Astronomy Now:

Tech Dome Penang science discovery and education centre:

There is now also a science discovery centre with what looks like full dome presentations on astronomy in Penang. They certainly emphasise their astronomy related educational content and offer astronomy courses and day passes to participate in various activities.