Today the building was full of teachers who were here on a training course. They were learning how to use the Faulkes telescopes, a pair of 2-m telescopes, one situated in Hawaii, the other in Australia. They can be used by school teachers in lessons to show children the planets, comets, galaxies, pretty much anything you want to look at in the sky (except the Moon - it's too bright!). Their locations mean that when it is daytime here in the UK, it is night time at the telescopes so they can be used in normal lessons.
Back in January this year several of us used the Faulkes Telescopes at a nearby school to image a variety of objects. It was quite scary doing this live in front of a hall full of children having never used the telescopes before! The weather caused us problems too as it was unseasonably cloudy on Hawaii. We did get some good results though, and some of them can be seen on the left. Click on them to see larger versions.
After the teachers left, I went to speak to the people from the FT project who were running the training course about their science projects that are available for schools. It sounds like things are going well for the project at the moment and the training courses are in demand from teachers around the country. They have some big news too: a new sponsorship deal! This will mean that the telescopes will be available free to schools in the near future. But I can't say any more (ooooh, suspense!), mainly because they wouldn't tell me any more. There will be a press release on Monday though, so we'll all have to wait until then to find out who the mysterious benefactor is. Any guesses?