Bringing Astronomy to Cornwall


 Last updated;- 30th Oct

 Located at Court Farm Holiday Camp Site, St Stephen, Mid Cornwall PL26 7LE.

 To contact the Observatory Either 07804 036959 (site), 01726 813602 (Office) or email

Learning More;-  Two opportunities on going,

 28th Oct LIFE & DEATH OF STARS the ever popular 10 week course run by Clint on a Tuesday evening starting at 7.00pm and finishing at 9.00pm at the Observatory. Just a bit below A Level. £5.00 per session

 28th Oct ASTRONOMY FOR INTEREST our ever popular 10 week course run by Brian on a Tuesday evening starting at 7.00pm and finishing at 9.00pm at the Observatory. Our entry level course, covers Sun, Moon, Earth, the solar system & stars. Observing the night sky when clear. £5.00 per session.

Check out the map on the Contacts page for directions

Work experience for years 10 & 12;- Interested students should contact their school coordinator as soon as possible. See also the News Page. All letters and correspondence must go to the Par Office, 92 Par Green, PL24 2AG. and not the Observatory site.   Work Experience years 10 & 12;- Our very successful WE programme enables students to take a genuine part in the work of the observatory as trainee astronomers. Apply now for 2015 to the Par Green address and not the Observatory site.

Jamie Carter of the BBC Sky at Night  came to visit - the purpose was to write a feature on a number of sites around the country suitable for the public to visit and see the wonders of the night sky. Our was one that had to be included he said! Just for once we had a clear sky he was amazed at how clear the Milky Way was, most people are lucky to see it at all. He camped on site to watch Jupiter rising before the dawn. A note on his feature follows;-

Ready - Steady - Buy; November's BBC Sky at Night Magazine runs a feature this month, written by Jamie Carter, on the Observatory a half page no less.  So get out there and buy yours before they sell out, it hit the bookshelves on the 16th.

To keep up to date;- follow/like our Facebook page Roseland Observatory

 Please FOLLOW for updates. For additional information data visit the Contact Page see top tabs.

Then check all the other pages by clicking on the links at the top or bottom of the page.

SS Computer Services when you simply need the best - just telephone 01726 68684.





Radio St Austell Bay; listen on 105.6 FM and on line for all the local news and events. Including a monthly contribution

from Roseland Observatory. On this month 21st at 09.15 and then on their website.

St Austell Voice;- Your local weekly newspaper carries a regular feature about the Night Sky on the first Wednesday of each month.

The Antares Rocket explosion;- No words needed.


 Image credit Ken Kramer and Universe Today


Seen at the Observatory;-










Young Cooper Sale getting to grips with the solar scope, staying with grandfather Mike, on holiday from Australia.

Also Dewy, (Cornish for David) Louise and Paul having a chat.







BBC Sky at Night for November will be shown, hopefully, on the 16th at 21.00hrs for an hour long programme on BBC Four it will be repeated a few days later. The topic this time Rosetta of course. Don't miss it.

Get ready for Rosetta the probe that is stalking a comet;-

The Rosetta Stone


 The Rosetta Stone is described as a grandiorite stele and was made in 196 BC .  Its importance stems from the fact that the text  appears in three scripts, Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script and Ancient Greek.  This stone led to the understanding of the Egyptian hieroglyphs. It was rediscovered by a French Soldier in 1799 its value was recognised and it was copied many times. It was captured by the British Army in 1801 when Alexandria fell.  It was taken to London and put on display in the British Museum in 1802.  It is now the most visited object in the Museum.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is the target of all this attention.  The P is a bit of a give away as it stands for Periodic as it has an orbital period of 6.45 years. Its discoverers whose names it bears found it on a photographic plate in 1969.  It is very unusual in that it appears to be two comets stuck together although I favour the one that suggests that the necking evident on the images is the result of out gassing and loss of water ice.

 Image Credit ESA


 Rosetta Spacecraft;- This is essentially an ESA project It will be the first spacecraft to orbit a comet as it swings around the Sun. It will be imaging the out gassing from the comet and potential break up.  UK scientists including those from Rutherford Appleton Laboratory RAL are heavily involved in the scientific work.



Image Credit ESA


 Philae the lander is named after an island in the River Nile with additional tri script wording that helped with understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs. It will detach from Rosetta and land on the comet and secure itself with grapping hooks.  It is a bit like falling out of an upstairs window onto a moving trampoline and expecting to stay on!

One of the instruments is called Ptolemy  an evolved gas analyser it will collect and analyse samples of organic material on the surface and use this to investigate how similar it is to materials found on other solar system bodies.


Image Credit "Universe Today"


Philae - "a Swiss Army Knife" of a Lander, still attached to Rosetta but due to land on a comet on 12th November.

October Night Sky

Constellations;- October is rated as the second best month of the year to start observing. It gets dark at a even early than September and yet is warm enough to stay out doors with only a light coat.

This is the month when Capella the bright star in Auriga rises higher to herald of autumn. This constellation contains three good star clusters check them out using binoculars. Also the Pleiades, the largest star cluster in the sky and part of Taurus becomes visible. Those up late or on night shift will be rewarded with a view of Orion and all the sights of winter.

The Moon;-, First Quarter 1st, Full Moon 8th, Last Quarter 15th, New Moon 23th.

On the first of the month it passes in front of the open star cluster M25 in Sagittarius, well worth keeping an eye on it as the evening progresses you will be able to see the Moon moving towards the east against the background stars of the cluster.

The Planets;-

Earth;- Remember the clocks Fall back one hour on Sunday 26th

Jupiter;- is making a welcome return to the morning sky getting easier to observe as the month goes by.

Uranus;- is well placed this month in the constellation of Pisces and reaches opposition on the 7th

Neptune;- was at opposition at the end of August and remains well placed through out the month in Aquarius, but is never very easy to spot.

Meteor shower;- The best this month is the Orionids which peaks on the 21st close to New Moon. The Earth passes though dust left behind by Halley's Comet, expect up to 25 an hour at its peak.

Taken from my contribution to the Voice.

Visit the Observatory;-  We have been on the radar for the organisers of youth and adult groups for a while now.

    £6.00 per adult, £4.00 for U 16's and U 8 foc, phone or email for more information.  

For Group bookings for schools, Scout & Guide Association members go to the

News Tab on the top of the page. Please ring (01726) 813602 to book your place. 

 I am Back;- from British Columbia - have been canoeing 200 miles up the coast - wild camping with whales and wolves for company. Just about to start a research project reconstructing Haida Astronomy. Oh and an earlier phase of the exped found what might be a meteorite! - It is on a very very remote beach!



The next stage is to try and recover a sample cut and polish it to see if it contains metal or holes

The planets;-

Jupiter;- is now visible in the eastern sky pre dawn. Image by Paul Clark.

 Uranus and Neptune are available in the southern sky but always difficult to find.

UK's very own Space Weather forecast;- From the Met Office Exeter  comes the UK's first Spaceweather forecasts, they started in May and will ramp up in the coming months.

Naturally RAL Space the source of many of the instruments on the various Solar Observatories is heavily involved.  However we will have to wait before Solar Orbiter launches in January 2017 to get our closest views of our Star.


Prominences and active areas on the surface of the Sun.

An archive image taken through our H Alpha scope.


Shetland Astronomical  Society;   I was in Shetland in the summer 2011 working with the SAS.  Check out   To see Mike's - austroastro's video made from Chris Brown's images of the Northern Lights click on the link. For other U tube videos by austroastro do a Google search.

Mike in the Shetlands; - my main man up there has got his  website  running well - check it out it even links back to this one! He has just added Curiosity to his range of card models you can down load for free. Please note this one is 101 MB - just like the Dalmations. He has just added a solar radio telescope so we can now hear the Sun breathing(!) This is still in its Beta stage.

For the work we did together at Stargazing LIVE 2013 Mike made a model rover as a prize that was won by Thomas. Saw the lad again last week and he has the Rover proudly displayed in his room!


 Mike's model of Curiosity - this one is in Shetland not Mars.

Bodiggy School paid us a visit a few days ago here is some of the evidence





Astronautics Badge;- The UK Space Agency have sponsored a new Scout Badge. We are investigating the best way of delivering this to Cornish Scouts.

Good News;- The Par Community Association has been supported by a grant of £660.00 towards installing the Sphere. Cornwall Council is working out the best way to get the Sphere sited to great advantage. Now getting down to a Business Plan! Now have quotes in and a number of options so things are on the move.

Part of the Paralympics is in Cornwall - it is an Armillary Sphere

Image credit Sonia Clyne.


Joe Warrener who spent a few nights at Court Farm took this excellent view across the site.




The Pelican Nebula an emission nebula in Cygnus.


Image Credit Paul Hughes


To see all of Paul's images at full resolution go to  a lot of detail has been lost on the web page. His favourites file can be run as a slide show covering a range of deep sky objects.  





If you go down to the woods tonight .....! Image credit Anne-Marie

Science Technology Engineering Maths Ambassador;-  or STEM for short. Mainly for those wishing to get involved teaching with the Observatory. This is a National approval scheme that allows us to teach/demonstrate in schools and youth groups. Any one can apply (including those outside our team) is is good for those asked to go into schools to represent the companies they work for, Includes a DBS.  To learn more contact us via any of the Observatory links.

A great link from an American fan;-  Matthew H. found A kids Space Centre - Fun with Model Rockets - ( while working with his local library.


Mike working on the magnetometer

 An image credit Rob Stidston

Have your telescope in two places at once? Well with Slooh you can.

A good way to be able to image almost anywhere any time with your "own" Robotic Telescope. The Observatory has a "Commander" Membership.   


 The ISS;-  

The Space Station  is visible in our  skies  from time to time. See for exact times for you.   There are chances to see it in the daytime and towards dusk when it is getting dimsy.  

It Is so bright that it will flare as the Sun strikes one or two of the large solar arrays.     H-A are now giving suitable times for daylight passes. 

   Regular Opportunities for schools

 For more information about the courses see the "NEWS" page and then contact the Observatory.   

Key Stage One, Two and Three Astronomy. Opportunities throughout the Year  just phone and book, more  under News page on this site.

 Earth & Beyond; Doing Space this term then school teachers should see our News section. 

Gifted & Talented sessions for years 10 & 12 at the Observatory.

GCSE Astronomy Practical Project work. Having successfully guided many students through the GCSE Course work we  offer opportunities on a regular basis. Opportunities throughout the year  just phone and book. Only £5.00 per session. In each case email or phone (01726) 813602 to learn more.  

 Extended project A Level std. Global Dimming. This experiment was extended this year into the IR as it  produced a clearly measurable change in light levels through the previous Christmas period.

 For Scouts, Guides and other youth groups see the separate News Page.


 The Neptune Saga;- Continues with a new book about Le Verrier which fills a black hole in our knowledge of 19th cent. French Astronomy.  Written  a review for publication in a number of journals. Also the long awaited paper on the subject has now been published see below in the main Neptune section. Anyone wishing to read it please request a PDF copy.

Neptune's orbits - a paper  by Norma Foster is also in the Antiquarian Astronomer and compares the actual orbit that Adams calculated and puts right a  view,  long held,  by some that the position he predicted was a long way from that calculated by Le Verrier.  Those wishing to read it please request a PDF copy.

 Our Neptune research has reached the august pages of the Antiquarian Astronomer issue 7 March 2013.  it covers some 11 pages and is described as "incisive".



 Taken during the Society for the History of Astronomy autumn conference 2011.

Neptune's special year;- The year 2010 opened in January with a special presentation in Seattle, USA. NB The Blue Planet is close to opposition at the moment so a good time to observe given clear skies.

Image credit "a friend" 

Note the Cornish Flag!





Neptune from Voyager  2                         Credit;- Jocelyn Murgatroyd and Cornish Cross Laneast












Images by John Chiswell from two cameo reliefs. The lady is Eliza Adams nee Bruce  - It is believed to be the only likeness in existence. The sculpture was by Albert Bruce-Joy a relative and well known artist.



This image is of the memorial in Westminster Abbey and is also by Bruce Joy. Image Credit Westminster Abbey.


 Bill Sheehan's Neptune  with 10" RC.


Neptune discovery story. For a short film of the Neptune story visit Maarten Roos website. 

Have continued my researches by contacting the Chinese University in Hong Kong (been there got the T.Shirt). Some 10 years ago they did some excellent work on Neptune's orbit which I now have permission to use in my talks.

For Canoe Africa see below.

The Hurlers;- 

World Heritage Site;- We are currently working with Caradon Archaeology on The Hurlers.  (Minions is the  nearest village) This work is centred on how to best interpret these ancient sites to an interested general public. At the moment we are helping with an APP to interpret the area in a modern way. Thanks to Cornwall Council and Cornwall Heritage Trust for their support. The Apps are now on a an APP store.

The  background;-  The Hurlers can be found on Google Earth 500 30' 58.67"N   40 27' 29.69" W, the aerial view is  supplemented by a number of photographs and some text. Until recently people studying the various monuments around the country would look closely at one aspect or site and not regard those near by. The Hurlers are the focus of a much larger complex of ancient structures.

It was the Equinox again! We gathered lots of extra data and the weather ranged from great to fog so thick it was not possible to see across a Circle. There are two Equinoxes on the 23rd the astronomer's equinox and on the 24th the landscape version. On the 23rd 2014 the Sun is overhead at the equator as the Sun moves from North to South. On the 24th the Sun rises due East at 7.00AM BST  - 6.00AM GMT although longitude and the Equation of Time also need to be taken into account.  The difference between the two is due to refraction which causes the Sun to appear to be above the horizon earlier than it actually is.  The whole package is being written up as  the "Proceedings of the NAM Conference" we attended in the summer.

Mapping the Sun Day 12th July 2014 at Sterts Arts Centre, Upton Cross. This event went well with about 50 archaeologists attending.  Checked out the orientation of the Rillaton Barrow and found the entrance is open to the Equinox sunrise! However it is believed that the entrance is nothing more than a gap left when the cist was rebuilt after the miners dug out the gold cup!  Not with standing the rising Sun does light up the entrance on the Equinox.

Image credit Mike Clarke


Back to the Hurlers. Lead by Gary and supported by Amanda we measured the elevation of Rillaton Barrow above the horizon step by step using a professional level.  We had good results although more work needs to be done. We have proved which star it celebrates and when it was built. We seem to have identified the Processional Way referred to by John Barnatt in "Prehistoric Cornwall".

The Calendar Stone is to be found in the Centre Circle and to the south of centre. For all time people  have noted that shadows cast by trees or stones change their length and direction during the day and throughout the year. The length marked at midday once a month requires only 7 marks to define the solar year. A more complete explanation of this system is available.

Archaeologists are often rightly sceptical of two point alignments and require either a Back Sight or Fore Sight to support the evidence. Extend the Hurlers SW - NE line northwards about a kilometre to arrive at Tumuli. Due north is Stowe Hill due  south is Minions Mound with more Tumuli. (Tumuli are Bronze Age burial sites.) Due East is Kit Hill,  west is a large barrow. If you turn your back on Kit Hill and look towards the Pipers you will find they lie one behind the other i.e. due west. Stand between the Pipers and look towards Stowe Hill and you look North. Are the Pipers contemporary with the Hurlers - the evidence points in a positive direction. 

The N - S line can be extended on to Long Tom,  Menhirs or Long Stones predate Stone Circles and this one has had a Cross carved on it at a later date. Although not exactly due south of the Hurlers it is south of Stowe Hill which is a long ridge of high ground.

Vernal Equinox;- To celebrate this we  visited the Hurlers  on the Sunday 25th March 2012    Sunday AM was good in that it was clear and we saw the Sunrise, close to Kit Hill although Kit Hill itself was not visible to the naked eye due to general murk. Sunday PM saw the Sun setting due west close to a couple of burial mounds as predicted. 

Summer Solstice;- It so happens that the midsummer Sun rises above Stowe's Hill and sets over Brown Willy. Summer Solstice 21st June and we were at Craddock Moor Circle for the event.  A first for us was an observation of a special Standing Stone on Stowe Hill It seemed to mark the actual position of sunrise. (June 2010)

From Craddock Circle the Sun rose behind the Cheesewring on Stowe Hill as predicted, what was new to me was to see the Sun hitting Tregarrick Tor before it rose for us, this confirms that Tregarrick marks the winter solstice sun set. (June 20th 2012)



                                      The Sun rising over Stowe Hill    (2012)                                       

Image by Amanda King of the Roseland Team.


Summer Solstice 2013;- The group ambled out Craddock Circle. It is a circle of fallen stones close to gorse bush atop a featureless hillock. The Sun had shown signs of remaining visible until sunset but it was not to be. However it appears to set just west of Brown Willy. Images had been taken a couple of days before and will be examined in the Observatory.








7th June                                                                                                             19th June

Many thanks indeed for the images from Robin Paris of Darite - excellent and revealing sunsets. A CD has just arrived with more images all adding to our overall knowledge of the Bronze Age calendar.

Autumnal Equinox;- The Sun rose and set as per the Vernal Equinox, although on the date we were there (21st Sept. 2011) the fog was so thick it was impossible to see across the Circles!

This time using a solar filter in conjunction with a small telescope it was possible to determine that the Sun rose just a bit to the right of Kit Hill stack. The sunset was impossible due to thick cloud. 22nd Sept 2012. Same situation Sept 2013.

Winter Solstice;- The three stone circles known as the Hurlers near Minions, Bodmin Moor. Appear to mirror the well known asterism of Orion’s Belt in the centre of the Orion constellation.

21st Dec Mid Winter Solstice 2013;-  Usual pea souper of course up on the Hurlers - Bodmin Moor, so we were unable to do much until after breakfast. The modified compass worked well to gave us a real baseline for the first time. Checked out Kit Hill again as due East and established the position of the "4th circle". We were unable to do the Sun rise from Craddock Circle. Just too foggy at sunrise.

In the 21st cent. this constellation, including Orion’s Belt, is due south of the Hurlers on the  winter solstice (Dec 21st) at midnight. In the Bronze Age circa 2000 BC this transit occurred earlier in the evening due to precession.  Remember the actual day of the winter solstice was marked from Craddock Circle. Due north was marked by Stowe's Pound and the “ever present” pole star, in those days Thuban in Draco and later Kocab in Ursa Minor. Directly north of the Hurlers is Stowe Hill with its Neolithic enclosure and Rillaton Barrow, the Bronze Age users of the Hurlers would have recognized that the stars directly above the Hill did not move and were therefore special. Today the star that occupies that place is called the Pole Star, North Star or Polaris.

 There is no doubt that the view of the Hurlers would have been very special before the Quarry removed much of the viewing area. However even today the torch lit Circles look impressive indeed.


             Paul Hughes of the Observatory Imaging Team

The Three Circles lit by torches, giving a very atmospheric effect.  It seems that at this time the winter solstice was celebrated all over Europe by the lighting of bonfires. It consists of four individual images merged into one.  It was normal for special events to be marked by lighting fires. We carry this practice forward today with our Torch Light Processions and lights on Christmas Trees and in public places.

The role of Craddock Stone Circle;- One question often asked is, how did the people of 2000BC know which was the shortest day of the year? It just happens that one of very few winter solstice alignments on the Moor is between the nearby Craddock Stone Circle (1 kilometre distant) and Tregarrick Tor.  There is even a raised embankment avenue joining the Stone Circle to the Hurlers complex - problem solved.

Clearly the Hurlers were very important in the Bronze Age and this should be more widely recognized and appreciated.

 Update;- A summary of work carried out in the county appears in "The Hurlers an Archaeological Assessment" published by the Historic Environment Dept of Cornwall Council.

Mapping the Sun Project Sept 2013;-

The Equinox problem solved - Maybe?;- The Sun  does not rise due East (above Kit Hill) on the Equinox but does rise early, these two problems are linked.  Refraction is well known as the reason for the Sun to become visible while still below the horizon.

The Hurlers;- A combined project (Sept 2013) with the county archaeologists culminated in a nine day "Summer School" on the Hurlers. Called "Mapping the Sun" Involved survey work and mapping the Sun rise and set positions. We have created a Bronze Age Landscape map - working with a range of specialist kit new and old to achieve this. New Discoveries were made and new Legends were born. The archaeologists uncovered, examined, photographed and recorded a quartz pavement that last saw the light of day in 1938 and using modern techniques will learn so much more.



 Orion's Belt on Bodmin Moor. The image was taken, with great expertise, by Tony Piper located on  Caradon Hill. Single torches were placed in each of the circles. The result shows how closely the torches resemble the stars in Orion's Belt.


This lovely sunset picture showing two of the Hurlers lit torches was taken by Paul Hughes of the Observatory team




Martin, a German visitor to Cornwall filming the Hurlers from his Quadrocopter.

His You Tube videos can be found on Thesnaptin Image Credit Robin Paris


Canoe Africa;-  To find out more about my attempt to spread the astronomy word  click on my link Canoe Africa   and visit our special Canoe Africa page. See also check out the reports filed under IYA 2009. The dates are Sept 9th 2008 and Feb 12th 2009 - Thanks to Tammy Plotner.  







Home - News - Contact Us - Links - Articles - About Us