Peter Bolas Observatory

Grand opening of Peter Bolas Observatory

Chris Lee, chief scientist at the UK Space Agency opened the observatory today, in the company of over 100 dignitaries, representatives of benefactors,  members of the group and their families, on one of the few rain-free days of the year so far!

It was a wonderful experience showing us what we can achieve together and giving us a platform for our future activities.




First public open day at the new Peter Bolas Observatory at Rosliston Forestry Centre

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:

Best radio meteor observations from today:

                              Screenshots meteors RAG open day forestry centre 191019

First radio observations at Peter Bolas Observatory – Radio Meteor Scatter from Graves of Lyrid Meteor Shower – 6/5/2019

Radio Scatter Graves Radar Peter Bolas Observatory Rosliston Forestry Centre,

Lyrid Meteor Shower,

6/5/2019 @ 10:30
Andrew Thornett

Successful detection of Lyrid meteor shower at the new Peter Bolas Observatory during an observatory working party session on Bank Holiday Monday.

The surprise was the frequency of meteors shown on screenshots below – there are up to 11/12 meteors evident on singe screenshots!

On Saturday, we had an outreach day and had difficulty getting radio scatter to work. Eventually we found a broken wire in the aerial end of the aerial cable at its connection – a temporary Heath Robinson approach got it working. Since then, I have soldered the connection and today was a chance to test it.
I also changed laptop from my (expensive, cant afford to lose it) main laptop to a spare Dell PC that is 10 years old and not the end of the world were it to get broken or stolen!
Trying it out today – I could not seem to get good signal through the microphone port on this new machine but I had a spare USB microphone port which I plugged in and the laptop and Spectrum Lab successfully detected the microphone and almost immediately meteors were seen on the screen – great success!


Photos of myself observing meteors by radio scatter at Rosliston & serial screenshots at 1 minute intervals from Spectrum Lab:

Peter Bolas Working Party Bank Holiday Monday 6/5/2019

On a cloudy, and occasionally slightly raining, Bank Holiday Monday, Ed, Heather, Julian, Chris and myself turned up at the Peter Bolas Observatory for some emergency modifications to the dome to prevent water ingress, work on the dome motor and gearing, feeding cabling from the observing room into the pillar through the under-floor ducting, and other tasks.

Things are moving fast – won’t be long before we see first light through the telescope in the dome.

Today was first light for radio observing at the Peter Bolas Observatory, Rosliston Forestry Centre – see also associated post from today:




Peter Bolas Observatory Working Group 19 & 20/4/2019

Hi Everyone,

Well …… when RAG Members turn out to form a Working Party they really pull all the stops out !!

Friday – twelve of us arrived with a motley collection of wheelbarrows, garden forks, various forms of spades, lump hammer, pick-axe, etc. Roger, assisted in part by his son Ben, spent all day installing the various electrical sockets, meter and extra Fuse Box – thanks Roger …… The rest of us battled valiantly with the rock hard ground, trying to dig out all the docks, while ‘Fifi Le Grand’ (alias Geoff) provided the drinks and nibbles ! 

The results were amazing ….. a superb effort as the day got hotter and hotter ! Everyone was fair tuckered out by the end.  Even ‘Fifi’ had lost ‘her’ fair complexion – and sustained real sunburn !! The pictures speak for themselves …. including a new use for a wheelbarrow as a seat, and a Guinness Book of Records attempt for the largest blister !

Saturday dawned ….. and at 11 am Angella and Alan began a stalwart attack on painting the inside of the Warm Room. Well done both of you – they eventually finished at 4.30pm, with hardly a break – except for a Pasty, and an Ice-cream !! (Thanks go, too, to my friend Steve who produced the paint, and spent all day Thursday on our behalf, preparing the room – scraping, taping and covering, mixing the paint ….and providing the trays, rollers and brushes). The picture attached is a panorama showing three sides of the room – so no need to panic – A&A haven’t transformed the shape of the building just by painting it !

While they were tackling the blockwork, Ed began the day excitedly unpacking his parcel – the Intruder Alarm system…. and then continued to begin fitting the system. In my wisdom ( or maybe not !) I decided that as I am anaphylactic around paint fumes, I would spend my day continuing to excavate the rocky region and remove even more docks ! Not the best decision given temperatures reached in excess of 24 degrees ! I was rescued at one point, when Rob arrived with friends – thanks Rob !!

The next stage inside is to give the Warm Room it’s second coat …… finish fitting the Intruder Alarm …… and then silicone render the Dome Room before the Platform is constructed. Once these tasks have been completed – the woodworking in both rooms can start in earnest.

Outside – we have the drainage down the sides of the building, and from the roof, to deal with …… and to treat the whole of the wood cladding with Treatex (the suitable coating that goes with Thermowood).

I hope to see as many of you as possible at RAG on Friday – when we have our Guest Speaker, Pete Williamson, on Remote Observing.



Handover of new Peter Bolas Observatory to RAG by builders……and next steps!

Hi Everyone,

Yeay ! At last ! The Observatory is officially OURS ! We took ‘handover’, complete with all the keys, at lunchtime today !!

Now it’s our turn …… There are still loads of jobs to do before we can hold a Grand Opening. We will need to:

* install extra electrics – Roger R has that in hand. Thanks Roger !

* build the Platform all round the Pier, and install steps in the Dome itself

* construct the wooden Storeroom

* paint internal walls / and apply a coating externally

* remove ‘docks’ and prepare surrounding ground for sowing grass seed

* install three wooden ‘table / seating’ units in specific areas around the Observatory

There is more – but this will suffice to get us started …!!

Obviously, we will need a working plan for the order in which we complete things, and Ed has that in hand.

What I am asking all the Members is …….if any of you wish to help out / get involved in your Club / and would like to join one of the Working Parties to carry out this work, please let myself or Ed know.

We have already asked at Meetings, for working volunteers – so we are aware of some names already. This is a general request – to all of you. If you would like to be involved – just let us know !!

Just an aside – we were intending to ‘clad’ the External door, but it is just too heavy for this to be a viable proposition. Also the wood remaining on site will be used in the internal construction.


Heather (calm, but quietly excited …. and still unable to believe we have actually managed it !!)