It was Hurlers time again. A group of the intrepid marched out to
Craddock Moor Circle, as we have said before more or less invisible
on a featureless moor it surrounds a very large gorse bush which as
been cut down and removed. Difficult in daylight but in the
dark..... However in spite of the cloud the Sun was seen rising
above the Bronze Age cemetery shades of Newgrange perhaps. Sunset is
in line with Tregarrick Tor, this tor is not a skyline feature
though, further investigation is in hand.
An image has just been taken sunset 24th! a report to
follow from Robin. Iain Rowe a local historian and expert on Bodmin
Moor walked along the 130 bearing from Craddock Circle to a cairn on
Caradon Hill by way of Minions Mound. This is a nice secure
alignment. - Thanks Iain.
All about Rosetta.
We have nearly finished a research article on
"Where did our water come from?"
at Astrofest by Barabara Cozzoni (DLR) who works on Philae
was encouraging. After initial despondency the Philae team realised that they
had collected a lot of information and indeed she is very upbeat
about the chances of more information when the Comet approaches the
Sun and Philae's instruments wake up again. (hopefully)
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 theory that suggests that the necking evident on the images is the result
of out gassing and loss of water ice.
Image Credit ESA
One of the instruments is called Ptolemy
PI is Monica Grady - well known for her expertise with meteorites - 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.
NB the March
Edition in The Voice 4th March on sale this week.
March Night Sky
One to look forward
The star of the show
this month will be the Sun with the biggest partial eclipse since
the 99 total. This will be an early morning event starting at 8.30
AM reaching 86% coverage at 9.30 before finishing at about 10.30 AM.
The two problems are;- time of day ie in the rush hour drivers must
not rubberneck to look at the eclipse to avoid hitting the next car!
Also all the safety points must be observed as per 99 do not look at
the sun with any size
of binocular or telescope that is not equipped with a proper solar
filter – remember the slightest glance will punch a hole through
your retina. Roseland will have a lot of special kit out – location
under wraps at the moment. Keep an eye on roselandobservatory.com A
special event will be held in the Gott Hall, Par on the 11th
starting at 7.00pm, don’t miss it.
Stargazing Live 2015
makes a welcome return for this event 18th, 19th
& 20th with BBC News covering the actual event live.
is now firmly in view with its bright star Regulus a great guide to
it. Half way between Leo and Canes Venatici the often overlooked
large star cluster M111 is worth a second look. (and a third!).
Jupiter is heading towards Leo at the moment.
The Moon;-, Full
Moon 5th , Last Quarter 13th, New Moon 20th. First
On the 3rd
the gibbous Moon makes a nice grouping with Jupiter and Regulus.
Venus;- Is clearly
noticeable in the west after sunset and as it is very bright it can
been seen with the naked eye just after sunset. The best way to see
the disc of this planet is at dusk (after sunset) before it gets so
bright it just looks like a bright blur. The disc will be gibbous
throughout the month.
Mars;- Visible again
low in the southwest after sunset and joins Uranus on the 11th.
Jupiter;- Is the best
planet on view at the moment and now is a good time to put a small
telescope to it. It can be found in the constellation of Cancer.
International Space Station; As usual check exact times from
Taken from my contribution to the St Austell Voice.
Jupiter - Image Credit Paul
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
they 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
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
www.shetlandastrosoc.org.uk To see
Mike's - austroastro's video made from Chris Brown's images of the
click on the link. For other U tube videos by austroastro do a Google search.
Mike in the
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
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 www.zenfolio.com/paulh101
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
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
A great link
from an American fan;- Matthew H. found A kids
Space Centre - Fun with Model Rockets - (http://orlandofuntickets.com/a-kids-space-center-fun-with-model-rockets.php)
while working with his local library.
Mike working on the
magnetometer image credit Rob Stidston
Have your telescope in two places at
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
The Space Station is visible in our skies from time to
time. See www.heavens-above.com
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
H-A are now giving suitable times for daylight passes.
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.
Beyond; Doing Space this term then
school teachers should see our News section.
& Talented sessions for years 10 & 12
at the Observatory.
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.
£5.00 per session.
each case email email@example.com
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.
Scouts, Guides and other youth groups see the separate
RESEARCH AND SPECIALS
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
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".
during the Society for the History of Astronomy autumn conference
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
Image credit "a friend"
Note the Cornish Flag!
Credit;- Jocelyn Murgatroyd and Cornish Cross Laneast
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
This image is of the memorial in
Westminster Abbey and is also by Bruce Joy. Image Credit Westminster
Bill Sheehan's Neptune with 10" RC.
Neptune discovery story.
For a short film of the Neptune story
visit Maarten Roos website. http://www.lightcurvefilms.com
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.
Site;- We are currently
working with Caradon Archaeology on The Hurlers.
(Minions is the nearest
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
A summary of work carried out in the county appears in "The Hurlers an
Archaeological Assessment" published by the Historic Environment Dept of
Mapping the Sun Project Sept
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
find out more about my
attempt to spread the astronomy word
my link Canoe Africa and visit
our special Canoe Africa page. See
check out the reports
filed under IYA 2009.
dates are Sept 9th 2008 and Feb 12th 2009
- Thanks to Tammy Plotner.
ASTRONOMY TO CORNWALL