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Bayfordbury observatory


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Hi all,

Has anybody been to the Bayfordbury observatory in Hertfordshire? I have booked to go in November so hoping for clear skies and a decent view from one of their telescopes. What sort of thing should I expect to see or do when I am there?

Thanks in advance,

Michael

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Hi Michael,

I work there, so hopefully can give you some idea..

The main attraction naturally is the 7 large telescopes, between 14-inch and 20-inch. They'll all be open with a knowledgeable PhD/undergraduate student inside.

Some of them are robotic so will have cameras on taking images, the others will have eyepieces and be pointing at different targets for you to look through. Our largest one has been refurbished over the summer, and is still just used visually at the moment (just need to collimate it for next friday!)

If we have the manpower there will also be some smaller portable telescopes set up outside.

Next to the telescopes is the control building, which will have a couple of radio astronomers talking about radio astronomy whilst using the 4.5m radio telescope (runs even when raining).

A few minutes walk from the observatory (there will also be a shuttle minibus running) is a nearby Science Learning Centre, which we take over for the open evenings.

There houses a planetarium, two labs with various activities and experiments largely aimed at kids - related to astronomy, as well as a stall run by the local Hertford Astronomy Group. There will also be a number of expert talks throughout the evening dependent on the evening's theme (not sure if November's had been decided yet). There's also a small restaurant for teas/coffees/sandwiches/cakes.

Hopefully this helps. Happy to answer any questions.

..and of course, fingers crossed for clear skies!

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Thanks very much for letting me know. I am really looking forward to the visit and my wife is even interested now!

We are obviously hoping for clear skies but at least there should be plenty to look at even if the horrible clouds make an appearance!

Michael

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Hi Michael,

I work there, so hopefully can give you some idea..

The main attraction naturally is the 7 large telescopes, between 14-inch and 20-inch. They'll all be open with a knowledgeable PhD/undergraduate student inside.

Some of them are robotic so will have cameras on taking images, the others will have eyepieces and be pointing at different targets for you to look through. Our largest one has been refurbished over the summer, and is still just used visually at the moment (just need to collimate it for next friday!)

If we have the manpower there will also be some smaller portable telescopes set up outside.

Next to the telescopes is the control building, which will have a couple of radio astronomers talking about radio astronomy whilst using the 4.5m radio telescope (runs even when raining).

A few minutes walk from the observatory (there will also be a shuttle minibus running) is a nearby Science Learning Centre, which we take over for the open evenings.

There houses a planetarium, two labs with various activities and experiments largely aimed at kids - related to astronomy, as well as a stall run by the local Hertford Astronomy Group. There will also be a number of expert talks throughout the evening dependent on the evening's theme (not sure if November's had been decided yet). There's also a small restaurant for teas/coffees/sandwiches/cakes.

Hopefully this helps. Happy to answer any questions.

..and of course, fingers crossed for clear skies!

Hi Dave, Sounds like you've got a wonderful office :D. Out of curiosity, if you don't mind me asking, what do you do there?

You've written some great programs for astronomy for which I am very greatful.

Scott

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We are obviously hoping for clear skies but at least there should be plenty to look at even if the horrible clouds make an appearance!

Looks fantastic out there at the moment, as does most of England. I wish I could say the same about Friday's forecast, but you never know. It was forecast cloud for the past two nights but we've seen stars every night this week.

Hi Dave, Sounds like you've got a wonderful office :D. Out of curiosity, if you don't mind me asking, what do you do there?

It's a great place to work, but the hours can get to you sometimes. Summer is quiet time when we do all the equipment installs and upgrades, and then in october all the students arrive and it suddenly gets very busy every night until April.

I work mostly as a technician, in particular I'm working on the robotic telescopes at the moment. I also teach the undergraduates observatory practicals, as well as help with the normal physics labs.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi,

I have been meaning to update after my visit a few weeks ago. Both my wife and I enjoyed our evening and luckily there was a break in the cloud so we actually got to do some observing!

Everybody involved seemed very enthusiastic and knowledgable which was good. It was obvious it is not just a job but a hobby as well. You are lucky to work there and hopefully you get some time to look through some of the amazing telescopes as well.

I think we will be going back to another event and I will encourage all my astro friends in the area to visit too as it is well worth the experience.

The cake was a bargain too....

Michael

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  • 1 year later...

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