Autumn Messier Challenge

Calling all NLO members – come along to the Observer Group Messier Challenge!

We will attempt to find the 96 Messier objects that should be visible in one night between dusk and dawn at this time of year

Plans are for the night of Saturday 29 October  – Dave Alexander is coordinating so please contact him if you are interested. He will give full details at NLO members meeting on Friday 27th

The Sound of Music

This Month’s talk – 9th May at 19:30.

While the Ancient Greeks gave the mathematical basis of perfect intervals in music over two and a half thousand years ago, there are still many considerations (not all understood) that influence and affect how we experience music today. These include culture, memory, familiarity, setting, acoustics, physics, mathematics and psychology – to name but a few. In this introductory talk (with many audio examples), I’ll look at just one aspect – the physics and mathematics of sound. From this, can we scientifically explain concepts like dissonance/consonance in music? How is this related to the Western 12-tone scale? What has this to do with MP3 compression? Or maybe music just transcends any crude scientific reductionism?

Restored 19th Century Orrery

NLO members, John Bardsley, Bill Hitchings & Pete Youd have spent the last year restoring this wonderful 19th century Orrery to full working order. It was donated by Howard Anderson, a member of the British Sundial Society.

On arrival it consisted of a painted wooden base, the Sun and Mercury and the clockwork mechanism but no other planets. Pete restored and french polished the base. John who is a master watchmaker/repairer, worked on the mechanism,repaired the gears and made new arms. Bill restored the Earth and the Cambridge Design Partnership 3D printed Saturn and the remaining planets (this orrery also includes asteroids, Ceres, Pallas, Vesta).

It is believed to have been made in Germany circa 1895, but we would be grateful for further information about this remarkable model of the solar system.

Transit of Mercury Event

The Norman Lockyer Observatory will be open to the public for viewing the Transit of Mercury
from 12.00pm on Monday 9th May 2016. This is quite a rare event happening just 13 times each century.
Using our telescopes we will be able to safely see the small planet transiting across the face of the Sun.
There is no charge for attending and visitors are welcome to drop in at any time during the day
(providing the Sun is shining!) to join us for observing this rare event.

You can find out more about this astronomical event at the British Astronomical Association website.

Family Day at the NLO Programme

Lecture Theatre:

11.30 – 12.00 The Big Bang! How it all began! The story of the early universe.
Kate Kay (NLO)

14.00 – 15.00 Accelerate! An electrifying science show for all!
Joe Spencer, Azaria Coupe, Alex Jantzen (Univ. of Southampton)

“Ever wondered how the world’s biggest machine, The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), works or what makes up everything in the universe? Accelerate is an interactive and exciting science show about answering those exact questions with the help of practical demonstrations, explosions, electrifying members of the audience using a Van der Graaf Generator, liquid nitrogen and levitating superconductors! Come join us for a 50 minute show where we will break down the recipe for building your very own particle accelerate and how to use it to discover the hidden secrets of how the most fundamental building blocks of the universe works. This explosive and electrifying show is delivered to you by postgraduate researchers from the University of Southampton.”


11.15 – 11.45 Discovering the Night Sky: Alan Green (NLO)
12.15 – 12.45 What’s in the Sky Tonight?
13.15 – 13.45 Stories Under the Stars: Mike O’Leary (The Hagstone Storyteller) + Mac
14.15 – 14.45 Springtime Stars: Martin Andrews
15.15 – 15.45 More Stories Under the Stars: Mike O’Leary (The Hagstone Storyteller)
16.00 – 16.30 Myths & Legends of the Stars: Mac (NLO)

Also, be sure to visit Colyton Grammar School “Hands-on Science” demonstrations in the meeting room.
Visit the Lockyer, Kensington and McClean Domes for historic telescope tours. The Lockyer Technology Centre for live radar meteor detecting, and if sunny, view solar activity safely through our new John Pope Solar Telescope.

Refreshments provided by Love Cake Catering.

Entry Fees: Children Free! Adults: £8

Norman Lockyer Observatory, Salcombe Hill, Sidmouth EX10 0NY

Events for March 2016

The following events are scheduled for March 2016

19th March – 11am to 5pm: Family Day at the NLO
Hands on Science demonstrations, Story telling in the Planetarium, Historic Telescope Tours, Safe Solar Observing,  Live Radar Meteor
Watching, talk about the Big Bang and featuring an explosive and electrifying lecture/demonstration from Southampton Accelerate:
“Ever wondered how the world’s biggest machine, The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), works or what makes up everything in the universe?
Accelerate is an interactive and exciting science show about answering those exact questions with the help of practical demonstrations”

The full programme has now been announced.


14th March – 7:30pm: A Cosmic Miscellany. A talk by guest speaker James Fradgley of Wessex Astronomical Society.

Open Evenings on 5th March and 31st March.

Also there are Sidmouth Climate Week events taking place in the town from Tuesday 8th to Friday 11th March