This morning I went back to my old primary school with the Observatory's inflatable planetarium. The school has changed in the (many) years since I was a pupil there, but some of the same staff are still there. The kids were great. I did shows for three classes and they all asked some good questions and kept asking things at lunchtime while I was packing up. It somehow feels more worthwhile when the children are that interested, it feels like you've actually got them thinking. The Moon was out in the morning so I asked each class if anyone had seen it. Quite a lot of them had, so when we were inside the planetarium and the Moon appeared as a crescent in the "sky" I asked them if that was what the Moon had looked like that morning, most of them shouted "yes!" (It is actually a waning gibbous and no, before you ask, I didn't use those words to describe it!).
This afternoon has been a bit of a write-off though. The skies were clear again so out came the binoculars and telescopes and we looked at the Sun for a while. Sunspot group 822 is quite impressive and there were numerous small prominances around the limb. Sunset was fantastic. I made a cup of tea and went up on the roof to watch it, very carefully as there is still a lot of ice around from last night where places have been in shadow all day. I had a go at photographing it but my camera doesn't have a large enough field of view. With the use of the glass ball used to measure the number of hours of daylight I did manage to get the whole scene though:
The Lovell telescope at sunset, reflected in the Sun monitor CREDIT: Megan
Then the telescope came out again and we attempted to photograph Venus, saw the ISS and had a look at Mars. You might not be able to "look" through the Lovell, but that doesn't mean we never look at the sky! All in all, a good day for astronomy, but a bad day for getting any actual work done.