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Saturn rising, 22nd March 2011

Although labs are done this sememster, the telescope is still actively being used. The first part of the preliminary testing was done to assess the telescopes capability of detecting the lightcurve made by transiting exoplanets.

Transit of Venus
8th Jun. 2004

The Astrophysics Group at the University of Exeter provided a live web feed covering the transit of Venus on the 8th of June 2004. More information about the transit can be obtain from the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

8th June 2004

Eclipse of dwarf nova HT Cas
16th Oct 2003

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HT Cas is a dwarf nova with a binary period of just 106 minutes. The eclipse of the white dwarf and accretion disk by the red dwarf can be spectacularly deep when outbursts occur. Each eclipse lasts just 12 minutes and high speed photometry can yield impressive light curves which help us to understand the astrophysics envolved in these highly energetic binary stars.

The eclipse of this dwarf nova was observed by students at the University of Exeter Observatory using our LX200 and ST7E CCD camera.

Transit of Mercury Across the Sun
7th May 2003







Images of the transit of Mercury in front of the Sun. Click on the images for larger versions. Visible are Mercury (upper left region of the solar disc), a large sunspot (lower right in most images, at the centre of the solar disc in the image of the full solar disc), and a group of sunspots (on the right-hand limb in the full solar disc image).

The transit was viewed by students at the University of Exeter Observatory by projecting the solar image on to a screen and taking photos with a digital camera. This is a safe method for observing solar phenomena, since viewing the Sun directly using the naked eye, or an optical instrument such as binoculars, may lead to permanent blindness.

Note the motion of Mercury relative to the large sunspot over the 1 hour, 40 minutes spanned by the photos. We did not obtain images of Mercury very near the edge of the solar disc due to cloudy weather.

Transits of the planet Mercury are a relatively rare occurence, with on average thirteen transits per century. Mercury appears as a small black disc that passed across the face of the Sun. The planet, which has a diameter of 5000 kilometres, is dwarfed by the Sun, which is a collosal 1.4 million kilometres across.

Comet C/2001 RX14 (LINEAR)
13th Mar 2003

Click for Animated GIF (672k)

A blink comparison of two 10-minute images of comet C/2001 RX14 (LINEAR) taken 15 minutes apart. The motion of the comet as it falls towards the Sun is clearly visible with repect to the background stars.

This comet was discovered by LINEAR as an 18.8 magnitude object in September 2001. It has an only slightly hyperbolic orbit, and reached perihelion on the 18th of January 2002 at 2.06AU from the Sun.

The NASA Near Earth Object (NEO) Program provides an Java orbit simulation applet for C/2001 RX14, along with a high accuracy ephemeris, on their home page.

Email: webmaster@astro.ex.ac.uk
Last Modified: Mon 21 Mar 2016

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