Thursday, April 02, 2009

A Night with the Stars

Our work experience student Isobel Stone from King Edward VI School has written about our 'Night with the Stars'...

"On 1st April, the University of Southampton's School of Physics and Astronomy hosted an open night with a lecture by Prof Greg Parker on Astrophotography. About 45 people attended the event which started with a presentation by Mark Peacock on the World-wide Telescope. There were also some 3D astronomy pictures on display that the younger visitors enjoyed looking at.
Greg Parker then showed us some of the breath-taking pictures which he had taken from the New Forest Observatory (a dome in his back garden). He also showed us the equipment which he uses to take the pictures, some of which require an exposure time of up to 40 hours! One such picture was a beautiful shot of the horsehead and flame nebulae in the constellation of Orion - my personal favourite!"
After the talk there was a live link to Dr Vanessa McBride who is supervising undergraduate Astronomy students currently based at the La Laguna University in Tenerife doing astronomy research projects. Malcolm Coe hosted a Q & A session about the student projects whilst some of the visitors went on tours onto the roof - assisted by PG student Grace Thomson and myself.
The visitors were shown the moon and saturn through five different telescopes. Post graduate researcher Elme Breedt staffed one of the School's Meade telescopes in the dome, whilst under graduate astronomer Hayden Watkins showed people student research projects on extra solar planets, Sam Bradley from the University's Astrosoc - helped out as did 'Ian' from the Southampton Astronomy Society who manned two of his telescopes, one of which was home-made.

The craters and mountains on the moon were clearly visable and many people got the opportunity to see both Saturn's rings and its moon, Titan.
A small group of people did an Astrophotography workshop with post docs Tony Bird and Dave Clark and got some wonderful images of the moon, Saturn, the Orion Nebula and the Pleiades.



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