Public Outreach

Rosliston Forestry Centre Science Day 5/5/2018

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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!


Teaching Rhys and Hannah about finding evidence of water on Mars through the rocks seen there by analogy with stones on Beach at Bognor Regis

Sometimes I find that our own planet can give me insights into the work of NASA and WAS when they send probes and landers elsewhere. This was the case yesterday when Rhys, Hannah and I walked on the beach here at Bognor Regis.

Recently, we have been told that the Curiosity rover on Mars has found evidence of water on the planet and this stimulated a discussion on how evidence of water in the past can be found on a dry planet today. Admittedly, recent evidence proves there is still water on Mars now but our discussion was around demonstrating previous water.

We noticed that the stones on the beach at Bognor Regis had a number of features:

1. They were of numerous colours suggesting different mineral contents. Assuming that rock’s in a particular area tend to be composed of similar minerals, this indicates that some process has bought together small rock’s  (stones) from different areasxand only process we know of to do that on Earth is liquid flow – water although on Titan this can be methane/methane and on Pluto it is nitrogen. However, the temperature on Mars would support water flow preferentially.

2. The stones on the beach were rounded indicating a process that bashes the edges off – on Earth this is due to rolling as they are carried along by the sea and washed ashore. On Mars round blueberries demonstrate a similar process has occurred in the past.

3. The stones were separated by size depending on where they were on the beach. Location of stones indicates processes that took them the. On Mars, rounded stones are found in depressed areas consistent with previous river beds. Dry now, these previously carried water.



Rosliston Forestry Centre Science Day 29/4/2017

RAG was present at the Forestry Centre’s Science Day on 29/4/2017. Despite cloudy skies for the whole day, this must merit as one of the best outreach events we have ever run. I bought along my mobile meteor radio scatter detection gear, Ed Mann bought his All Sky Camera, and many members of the group bought along telescopes and spoke to the public. Many families came over to visit our display and talk about astronomy. It was also the best detection of meteors I have ever had!

Special thanks to Ed for setting up the Barn Room for folks to read information on the club and our activities, and to Dave/Lee/Roger/Paul for bringing scopes and a wide variety of other equipment, and to every one else who came and helped set up and talk to the public. We could not have done it without you!