Public Outreach

Nightwatch event 27/7/2018 & successful detection of start of Perseid meteor shower at Rosliston Forestry Centre

On paper, the Nightwatch event was going to be particularly amazing this year. This annual event is an outreach activity organised by Rosliston Forestry Centre, where the astronomy group always has a presence. Many members of the public come to look through our telescopes, watch owl and bird or prey displays, go on a bat walk and join the moth group to explore the world of moths.

Last night stool out in that it coincided with the date of one of our usual meetings, and at the start there was going to be a total lunar eclipse and many planets were on display.

In addition, the sky had been amazingly clear for weeks beforehand.

…….Until the day when it clouded over and we could not see a thing in the night sky during the event!

Good job I bought my mobile meteor radio kit along (telescope at the ready to go in car at home – replaced last minute when I looked at the sky) – worked well (thanks to Bob Williams in particular for his help here) – plenty of meteors detected – we are the start of the Perseid meteor show with the keep coming up in a couple of weeks. The kit includes small portable aerial, Yaesu FT-817 radio, audio cable connection to my windows laptop, Spectrum Lab software, all powered very successfully by Ed Mann’s power pack – the inclusion of in-built inverter and 240V sockets on the side is a real boon. The radio is 12V and currently I am running it through a power supply that plugs into 240V socket which is a bit ridiculous – must make a 12V socket version.

Nevertheless, quite a few people turned up from the club to meet members of the public. Plenty of scopes were on display. It stayed dry and we all had great fun.

This is what it means to observe in the UK. You’ve got to be interested in clouds.

Particular thanks are due to Damian who made the effort to attend in spite of needing to get up really early the following morning to catch the plane for his holiday.

Look at how dry the grass is! We have had a particularly dry summer this year.



Meteor detection screenshots from Spectrum Lab:

Rosliston Forestry Centre Science Day 5/5/2018

See also

One of the annual forestry centre outreach days, today was a day where members of our group joined with other groups to deliver a range of science-related activities at the forestry centre. The event occurs each year around this same date – the next one is the Night World event in July. This time, it was predicted to be cloudy, but turned out to be beautifully sunny and clear – we could not have asked for more! Being a bank holiday weekend, it led to hundreds of members of the public coming along to the event. Heather helped around 150 people to make rockets which were launched by Peter Hill using the club’s rocket launcher!

At the solar scopes, Ed, Roger, Damian, Nick, Dave, Terry and I demonstrated the sun in white and hydrogen alpha light to a constant queue of people for hours on end (apologies if I missed any one). I managed to get sun-burnt but it was a fantastic day – loads of young families and lots of oohs and ahhs when attendees saw the sun for the first time through a telescope.


Andy (our chairman) in middle talks about astronomy whilst Ed (left) and Peter Hill (right) look on:

Terry at Andy’s solar scope/Quark:

Nick did sterling work talking to the public:

And so did Damian (below) and many others:


Rosliston Science Discovery Day 7/10/2017

The sun decided it didn’t want to come out to play this time round….

Despite the wishful thinking of Pete….

I think the ‘special filters’ he was referring to, were unfortunately… CLOUDS!

Instead I had a play with Andy’s new ‘toy’ – a polarising microscope and some purchased pre-prepared ‘rock’ slides, great fun!

Had a go at imaging with the iPhone hand held to the eyepiece. Below a selection of slides at none and fully polarised settings – I think I’ve got the samples in the correct order!

Passed a happy hour or two…


Rosliston Science Discovery Day 7/10/2017

Thanks to Peter (Hill), Ed, Bob, Roger, Geoff, Terry, Heather and Damian, who along with myself talked to 50+ members of the public about astronomy at the science discovery day today at Rosliston Forestry Centre.

The weather remained dry although persistent cloud meant that solar observing was limited to a few precious moments in the first hour. I ought along my LOMO polarising microscope and folks were excited to look at the birefrigement colour patterns on meteor thin microscope sections and at microfossils in thin sections of fossil-containing rock. Problems with my power inverter left my laptop out of action but Ed’s battery saved the day for the microscope illuminator so that the public could continue to look through the microscope!



The picture below was taken today through the LOMO microscope using my Bresser MikrOkular camera – it shows microfossils in rock thin section. Birefringence in the crystals of minerals in the fossil-bearing rock is evident:

Rosliston Astronomy Group Great American Solar Eclipse observing event @ the forestry centre 21/8/2017

Damian, Dave Jones and myself met at the forestry centre at 7pm tonight to observe the partial eclipse visible from the UK. Although only around 3-4% eclipse, we wanted to be part of this worldwide celebration – the most widely covered and watched solar eclipse of all time!

In the event, the sky was cloudy and we did not see the sun from Rosliston. However, we were able to stream live views of the eclipse from the USA and had a great time – we must have watched 3 or 4 eclipses! A group of walkers joined myself, Damian Briden and Dave Jones outside the Forestry Centre – we were even able to view the solar eclipse in the location in the US where Pete Hill, one of our members had gone on holiday.

I include photos below.



More photos of Andy teaching at Astronomical Society of Penang event 12/8/2017

The following pictures were taken by members of the Astronomical Society of Penang and sent to me. It is an exciting experience to tell so many new people to astronomy about the night sky – if you are feeling jaded or your interest in astronomy is waning, I can recommend it! Look out rather than in!