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NAGTY Day 2006 at UCLO

WARNING: Under no circumstances look at the sun through an unfiltered telescope.

On 15 August 2006, the facilities at UCLO were used by the NAGTY (National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth) Astrophysics Summer School 2006 . This is a two-week residential course for 11-16 year-olds, led by Dr Adam Burnley.

The theme of this year's summer school was the Sun, from solar activity and the solar cycle through to solar evolution.

For most of the sixteen participants this was their first visit to an astronomical observatory. After a tour of the telescopes, the students embarked upon a day of activities. UCLO made available three telescopes for solar observing. These were fitted with white light and H-alpha filters, and (when the weather eventually cleared up!) everyone had the chance to observe at first hand sunspots and prominences. The data obtained were incorporated into the students' project research work, the results of which were presented at the end-of-course conference at Imperial College.

In addition, the students undertook a computer-based experiment to determine the rotation period of the Sun using sunspot data. There was also the opportunity to study a number of Mount Palomar Sky Survey prints, searching for objects such as interstellar dust clouds and planetary nebulae.


A student in front of the Fry Telescope. A student in front of the Fry Telescope.

Students in the UCLO classroom. Students in the UCLO classroom.

The NAGTY group on the stairs of the Wilson Building after a day at UCLO. The NAGTY group on the stairs of the Wilson Building after a day at UCLO.


The image above was generated by Mick Pearson using a Tele-view SolarMax 50 H-alpha telescope, an Astrovid black and white video camera and a DVD-Recorder.

The video from the DVD-Recorder was loaded onto a computer via a capture card and aligned and stacked using RegiStax. Colour and sharpening was done in Adobe Photoshop.