Week 1 – The STARt of Something New

Hi everyone! We’re Malcolm’s victims this year for the third-year telescope project!


Meet the team:


So, what’s been going on with the telescope project this year? We are currently attempting to calculate Jupiter’s rotational velocity using spectroscopy. For the duration of this project, we will be posting weekly updates on what we’ve been up to, complete with pictures and videos from the world’s most poorly located observatory!


The perfect hours to use the telescope are either extremely late at night or very early in the morning. Our first proper trip up to the telescope required coming in at 5:45am – meaning an early wake up call for everyone. Somehow, it was decided that allowing sleep-deprived young adults functioning almost entirely on coffee near very expensive equipment was a good idea.

The first week mainly revolved around learning how to operate the telescope and its subsequent components, as well as how to collaborate as a team. During that first morning at the telescope we took some readings of Jupiter – we worked on how to find the planet and bring it into focus, how to attach the spectrograph to the telescope correctly, and which sounds made by the camera were “good sounds” vs “bad sounds”. Most importantly, we learned that one cannot always expect good results every night, especially when one tries to use a telescope in central London. It was impossible to get a stable view of Jupiter that night, due in part to the heat haze the city causes, but we were still able to learn a lot about the equipment. Understanding the fundamentals of the technology we are working with and the methods used to evaluate data is crucial to our success with this project, more so than obtaining ideal results from the telescope.

Of course, we were rewarded for our efforts with stunning views of the sun rising over London from the rooftop of Strand Campus (and more coffee – thanks, Malcolm!)
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