Week 9 – Project Update

Here’s a short update that I wrote two Mondays ago (on the 19th) and never got around to posting:

An unexpected bought of cold brought clear skies to London briefly tonight (Monday). As I type this week’s update from the tube on my way home, I can barely feel my fingers still. Tonight was very, very cold. Way colder than it should ever get in March. We did some imaging of M53 and the cigar galaxy as we slowly turned into human icicles. These images will be stacked and processed by each of us and the best result will be posted in our next update! In the meantime, here’s a picture of Malcolm when he stopped playing space invaders long enough to decide what to image : “


Final update coming soon!



Weeks 7-8 Project Update

Hi everyone! We’re back to tell you a bit more about what’s been going on up on the roof lately!

The biggest obstacle we’ve been facing recently has been the weather. London is usually quite cloudy, but recently it seems as though clouds have a permanent place overhead (and let’s not even begin to discuss the snow we got). While we did go up to the roof once in weeks 7 and 8, the sky wasn’t quite clear enough to see much of interest. But fear not, we were still productive! Our biggest accomplishment of that night was adjusting the weighting of the telescope to improve accuracy. It was a group effort to hold up the OTA (Optical Tube Assembly – aka the main body of the telescope) and move it into the optimal position. There was much trial and error involved, and the words “we have to move the telescope again” may or may not have earned Isaac some death glares throughout the night. In the end though, we managed to get the counterweight on, the telescope balanced, and we saw a dramatic improvement in the accuracy and steadiness of the telescope. Of course, no blog post would be complete without pictures, so here’s one of Malcolm laughing at us trying to get the telescope into place:



Check in again soon for more of our adventures!

  • Despina, Conor, Ethasham, Isaac, and AJ

Weeks 2-6 – Project Update

Hello everyone!

So as it turns out, we have not been very good about these ‘weekly’ updates. Here is a bit of an update from week 2 – week 6!

First of all, below are some pictures from a late night telescope visit earlier this term:



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During this particular session, we took spectral readings of the Orion nebula and Sirius, which were used for calibration. This was done using the DADOS spectroscope.


The poor quality of the spectrum is due to the fact that this is a picture of the screen in the observatory (don’t worry, our actual data is better than this!)

Of course this was all after we focused the telescope by spying on some office workers. When you are located somewhere like London (i.e. an area of extreme light pollution and perpetually dismal weather), sometimes the best targets for observation are offices and bars (whoops?). Before going home, we looked at the moon briefly – here is a picture taken through the telescope (with an iPhone camera):


We took this picture of the moon by pressing a phone camera up against the eyepiece of the telescope

After this, the next couple of weeks primarily focused on analyzing the data we obtained and writing a code to give us pretty graphs like the one that Conor is pointing at below from our original spectral data (shout-out to AJ and Ethasham for doing the heavy lifting on this part of the project!)



Conor points at a screen (!)

Keep an eye out for our next post (coming soon!) where we’ll talk about what we’ve done since then!

– Despina, Conor, Isaac, Ethasham, and AJ