ISON in memoriam;- Karl Battrams has written a
eulogy on the NASA web site
www.isoncampaign.org under his blog outlining the life and death
of this comet.
Paul Hughes of the Observatory
imaging team was out and about early (21st Nov) to take this
excellent image, it has appeared in
in the ISON gallery - well done Paul. To see the rest of Paul's
images scroll down to the Pelican nebula and click on his link.
The last word on this comet is yet to come as in a few days
Hubble will have a look and if it cannot find anything then that
will be that.
Any way look out for Comet Lovejoy
naked eye in the morning sky near Corona
Jupiter as seen from Cornwall.
Clarke has joined the ranks of astro imagers here is his
Bodiggy School paid us a visit a few days ago
here is some of the evidence
rocket has launched to Mars ;-
MAVEN blasted off from Cape
Canaveral on the 18th.
More importantly Andy Smith friend of the Observatory was watching from the
Cape as a special guest and accompanied by 3 cameras.
Image Credit Andy Smith
Tuesdays Life and
death of stars - with Clint.
Tuesdays Astronomy for Interest - with Brian
Wednesdays GCSE Astronomy - as above
Astronomy for interest is our basic entry level course for new
comers to the sport. Life
and death of stars is a little lower than A Level
All courses start;-
and finish at 9.00pm and are £5.00 per night. Courses are 10 weeks
long except the GCSE which runs until May. "Astronomy for interest" and
"Life and death of stars" on Tuesday
GCSE Astronomy Wednesday. Contact Brian Sheen
(01726) 813602. email
December Night Sky
getting proper cold but now, however it gets dark early
enough for younger folk to view the heavens above. We must all wrap up warm with stout footwear and a suitable
Comet ISON will soon be the star of the
show? Well no, as I feared it
failed to survive its journey around the Sun – at the time
of writing the best we can hope for is a small dimsy effort.
Time to look south as we get the first proper views of the
Orion group of constellations. Orion itself is one of the
best know star groups with its bright star at each corner
and one of the most familiar asterisms – Orion’s Belt – 3
stars similar in layout to the Hurlers.
New Moon 3rd , First Quarter 9th, Full
Moon 17th. , Last Quarter 25th .
The Sun;- The
winter solstice is on the 21st – this means the
Sun has travelled as far south as possible. Also the days
are at their shortest and the nights their longest. Special
events will be taking place on the Hurlers at that time -
see the website for updates.
Venus;-. It is
that very bright object in the Southwest. The best time to
see it with a telescope is before it gets really dark.
in the East fairly early in the evening – check out its four
moons and watch them dance around the planet night by night.
The Geminids peak on the 14th
too close Moon for a good job, however can be a very bright
The Ursids peak on the 22nd,
again not expected to be at its best.
International Space Station;
As usual check exact times from www.heavens-above.com
LIKE us on
Twitter and Facebook.
Taken from our contribution to the St
Glass;- About 28 million years ago a comet
exploded over the desert, it melted the sand into what we
call a "glass". This is typically pale green and has a
jewel like quality one piece was made into a brooch for
Tutankhamun. Interest in this event has been triggered by
the discovery of what is believed to be part of the comet's
nucleus a small black pebble.
Image credit Uni of Witwatersrand Joburgh
Astronautics Badge;- The UK Space
Agency have sponsored a new Scout Badge. We are
investigating the best way of delivering this to Cornish
or Giant's Quoit;- We are supporting this
effort as well as our own Hurlers Exploration.
The Carwynnen or Giants Quoit has been a pile of
rocks for many a year but efforts by Pip Richards of the
Sustainable Trust are well underway to achieve a eventual reinstatement in
its original condition.
www.giantsquoit.org A good review can be found in the book
"Romance of the Stones" by Robin Payne. Although there may be
some alignments to this monument it is believed to be very much
older than the Hurlers.
Mapping the Sun;-
A combined project 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. Some of our research work can be found on this
page see below;-
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
Stop Press - Equinox problem solved. The
Sun did not rise and set as expected this problem has now been
addressed with a little help from my friends.
NB The first rough draft has been prepared, images
have now been inserted and then GPS and other data. It will then be
released on macastro. Watch this space!
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
On this web
site;- Much further down this page you will find an
account of some the research that has gone before.
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!
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.
Mike in the
my main man up there has got a new website
check it out it even links back to this one. The plan is that we
will become a binary system exchanging information.
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 .....!
The Sun is very
An image taken through our H Alpha Scope.
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
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.
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
An 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.
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 2014 to the Par Green address and not the Observatory site.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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!
For a report see Sky & Telescope P. 28 (July edition).
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 Iain Rowe (based at the old Engine House Visitor Centre, 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 App is now on a an APP store but in a Beta Version to be
tested by those involved.
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
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 due 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.
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
The papers on precession and
the second on astronomy
on Bodmin Moor
ages are on hold
at the moment.
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