Wednesday 25 August 2021

It's nearly 50 years since the Mendip Astronomers stared to build their observatory


Cheddar Valley Gazette Friday 23rd February 1973

Digging begins for telescope

Mendip Astronomers meeting on Thursday last was mainly taken up discussing just what help members could be to Dr. Armitage with the construction of the Charterhouse observatory, and decided that the best thing would be to offer to do some digging for the initial stages of the building.

Dr. Armitage agreed that this would be a good idea, and members will meet on Sunday next at the site to start clearing it. It is hoped to film some of the various stages of the work.

The actual telescope is now completed and is being stored in Bridgwater awaiting the building of its housing. In fact it was shown on television last week when Patrick Moore was in Bridgwater. It is an f 7 Newtonian reflector mounted on a German equatorial mounting. The tube is eleven feet long and holds an eighteen inch diameter minor.

This mirror has been figured by Henry Wildey who is one of, if not the best astronomical mirror makers alive today, so it will be a superb mirror. It has three finders and a rotatable eyepiece holder which will make it very easy to use. It is also fitted with setting circles for locating celestial objects and is fully electrically driven.

Although it was very cold on Thursday evening, some of the more intrepid members of the group ventured outside to have a look at the moon and the planet Saturn through Mr. E. Beech's six inch telescope. Despite a slight haze, Saturn was seen quite well, with its rings wide open and Titan, the largest of its moons alongside it.

The moon, our moon that is, was too near full to show much detail, it is best seen when only partly illuminated when there are plenty of shadows bringing out the detail.

However, the rays from the ,craters Tycho, Copernicus and a few smaller ones stood out very well. These rays which fan out from the craters and cover vast areas of the Moon are thought to be material which has been ejected out of the craters during their formation.

There was a huge halo around the moon. This was caused by ice crystals in our upper atmosphere refracting the moonlight. It is under these conditions that we sometimes get the phenomenon known as "mock moons," a halo around the moon and four images of the moon above. below and to either side of the moon itself.

The next meeting will be on Thursday. March 1st , once again at Derek Randal's house 'Tregantle' in Milton Lane, Wells. New members are still coming along from time to time and anyone interested in astronomy is welcome.

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