26 Jan: Astronomy Club visit to Orwell Observatory

The club took a very exciting trip to the Orwell Observatory last night and, it was clear that someone was also looking down on us, as the night could not have been any better. The clouds and rain from earlier in the week had all cleared and by the time we were on our way to Orwell, we had a perfect view of the stars.

On arrival, we did a quick walk about outside where our guide, Paul, used a rather flashy laser to point out the various constellations. Being a group of boys this inevitably caused great excitement and we had to be reminded that the laser and its burning/blinding capabilities were not the main educational focus of the trip!

Once inside the 3 storey observatory, the boys listened to the history of how Orwell Park had managed to end up with such a gem and talked about the different types of telescopes. This was of particular interest to our Year 7’s who have just started the topic of light with Mr. B this week. It turns out what they’ve been learning in Physics is true!

The top floor of the observatory was the one we all wanted to see with its spinning domed roof and huge telescope. It was a very weird feeling to stand still and have the roof rotate above you and took a bit of getting used to! Luckily for us, with the weather being so kind, we were spoilt for choice on things to look at and we managed to open up the roof in a number of directions to see the highlights of the night sky. Despite doing the best she can with the schools telescope, Miss Pugh hadn’t quite managed to organise a night’s stargazing like this one before.

The Moon – obviously! – came first in its waxing crescent phase (the children will tell you what that is!) followed by an absolutely stunning view of Jupiter and 4 of her moons. The telescope was so good you could see the swirls of gas that make up Jupiter. Following that we looked at Venus and the better-known constellations.

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