Many members of RAG turned up with scopes and filters to watch the planet Mercury transit the sun today.
The Met Office predicted variable weather and there was even an icon on their website showing simultaneous sun, cloud, rain and and rainbow – never seen that before! However, they were absolutely right because at one point we did indeed see all those things in the sky at the same time.
Due to cloud, we missed those few minutes when Mercury crossed onto the sun, but at various points in the afternoon were able to view it on the solar disc together with a solar prominence through gaps in the cloud. The sky improved towards the end of the afternoon but Mercury dropped behind trees at about 15:45 which meant further observations were not possible. Of course, it was followed by a clear night…..why couldn’t that have been 8 hours earlier?
Today we held our first public open day for the Peter Bolas Observatory – over 250 people came down to visit the observatory during a sunny science event at the forestry centre.
Photos below show the team with the public at the observatory, RAG members on the grass in front of the cafe, and Bob and Andrew with their radio meteor observing kit and the best radio meteor observations from the day.
Nick Rufo (left) with Andrew Thornett (right) – Nick did sterling work directing members of the public towards the observatory:The Sun through Paul Bertenshaw’s telescope:
Picture below is of Ann Bolas (Peter Bolas’ wife) and her son outside the new observatory:
Many members of RAG attended Nightworld tonight at Rosliston Forestry Centre. This annual event is open to the public and involves astronomy, bat walls, moths, and a variety of other night time science and conversation activities.
Thanks to Damian who provided transport for me following my operation, I was also able to attend and had a great time!
Many members of the public also learnt about telescopes and astronomy c/o RAG, also cloud and drizzle prevented any actual observing of the night sky. I wonder if a subscription to an online telescope service would be a good idea to give us some access to the night sky during these events even when it is cloudy or rains? One for the future to consider.
Thanks to all members who turned up for another great outreach event at the forestry centre! A great team of people working hard to make the event a success – you were all brilliant!
Poor forecasts kept the crowd numbers down to below last year’s turnout, but there were still many families and the rocketry and dot-to-dot activities went flat out most of the day.
At the telescopes, we saw a series of four solar prominences develop and change in sequence at the solar limb next to the current sunspot – some great views in clear spots between cloud! Both white light and hydrogen alpha filters were used to show the public these phenomena. Many folks had never viewed the sun or seen a sunspot before. I was also able to view the sunspot in calcium-H filtered light on my scope, although the view was not as spectacular as through the hydrogen alpha filter.
Bob and I set up an aerial to detect meteors by radio scatter – initially unsuccessful until we found a broken wire! Once fixed in a rather Heath Robinson way, we detected a fair number of meteors (a few screenshots below).
Next outreach event is the 7th Lichfield Scouts summer camp next month – see you there!
Meteors detected by radio scatter today:
Rocket launching next to the Peter Bolas Observatory:
Telescope field and Training Room:
Making a hole to insert bottom of meteor radio scatter aerial:
Last time I bought my mobile meatiest scatter radio equipment to an outreach event at Rosliston forestry Centre, children were dipping and diving around pegs and ropes holding the ex-military Klansman aerial up. This was identified as a health and safety risk. I have just received the item below – recommended by Ed – it is a wonderfully well-designed piece of kit sold as a mobile stand for garden parasols – it locks both up and down using a spring-loaded mechanism and a metal bit which fits into a slot at the top or the bottom so that it is very solidly held in place in either the open or closed position. It is quite robust be made of solid metal construction, and its ability to fold up makes it easy to transport – bank said for a brilliant idea!
My Clansman radio mast that I am hoping to erect using this base:
I had a reply from George Mihail that I met in greece. It’s worth having a look at his website. Very interesting setup, a great view. The last photo is the latest live feed from his webcam at 1711 15th september. If you read further down, the english translation of my message is at the bottom
We manage to communicate and to take pictures of every activity of the stargate we have a very interesting winter here in Skopelos.Thanks with the best wishesGeorge Michail
We’ve just got back from a holiday in Greece, and as part of a local festival of music, dance and culture, I met a really nice chap George (Giorgiu),who had set up a viewing area for the public to see the Moon (Selene in Greek), Mars (Aris), Jupiter (DIas) and Saturn (Kronos). That’s George checking the view of Saturn in the second photo
He has the first, and only, observatory on the island and it’s in a great location away from the town lights (the lat long coordinates are on the poster in the first picture)
He was interested in what we are doing too so I’ll drop him a line and hopefully get to see his obsy next time
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.