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The observatory

Today has been another busy day, as Wednesdays often are. The weather has been amazing though, the sunrise was spectacular today and the telescope was looking particularly photogenic when I arrived this morning:

Lovell telescope in the morning
The Lovell telescope in the early morning CREDIT: Megan

The University has a small observatory (the John Meaburn Optical Observatory) on the roof of the physics building which is used for undergraduate teaching. As the weather stayed nice, I spent the evening helping some students with their observations. We had been in the observatory for a while when an impressive halo developed around the moon:

Mars and a lunar halo
Mars and a lunar halo CREDIT: Megan

Mars was sitting to one side of the Moon, right in the middle of the halo, you can see it on the right in the image above. My little camera couldn't cope with the contrast very well, so I used the roof of the dome to obscure the light coming directly from the Moon. Stuart also took a nice picture of this effect. While I was playing around taking pictures the students were using the telescope to take spectra of various objects. They looked at Vega to try and see absorption due to hydrogen, and Mars to see if they could detect absorption by carbon dioxide in it's atmosphere. Tomorrow they will have a go at reducing the data to see if the observations worked.

Dome and lunar haloLight pollution
Left: JMOO and a lunar halo. Rigth: Bad lighting on campus CREDIT: Megan

I also took some pictures of the light pollution around the campus. The above pictures show what we have to contend with. The image on the left shows the observatory dome and east Manchester with the lunar halo again. The tall lights near the centre of the frame are at the railway depot a couple of kilometres away. The image on the right shows some of the campus buildings. There are a lot of large floodlights around the campus and most are badly angled like the ones in this image.

Posted by Megan on Thursday 17th Nov 2005 (01:09 UTC) | Add a comment | Permalink


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