Monkton Stargazing Weekend

mslogoMonkton Nature Reserve & Thanet Observatory

11th – 12th October

The theme of the weekend will be satellites and Space.

DAYTIME – we will have solar telescopes to observe the Sun’s surface and prominences. We will have on show the only Solar Ionospheric Disturbance monitor in the United Kingdom which will indicate when the Sun is giving out a solar flare – of huge importance to the communication and navigation satellites in orbit. The Hilderstone Radio Club will demonstrate the reception of data from the FUNcube satellite in low Earth orbit giving information on the temperature of its special black and shiny panels in deep space. Using this data visitors can determine the period of its orbit and its speed. They will also demonstrate the reception of weather satellite pictures sent by radio waves to Earth. We will put on a radio direction finding activity, similar to geocaching, where visitors have to find hidden transmitters using only a handheld radio and antenna, with a prize for the shortest time. The club will also set up a special radio station so that visitors can send messages to amateur radio enthusiasts around the world. Information on Space will be provided by the UK Space Agency and worksheets on satellites will be available with questions set by the Nottingham Geospatial Institute.

EVENING – the powerful 12inch Newtonian reflecting telescope in the Thanet Observatory will be in operation to observe the night skies. We might see the International Space Station and hopefully we will be able to communicate with the astronauts using amateur radio. Also we will be looking out for the flares from the Iridium satellites. We will be assisted by students from the Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science at the University of Kent in Canterbury.

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