Observatories

We have use of our own observatory at High Top, Flaunden.

High Top

Our observatory at High Top was previosly equipped with a 14 inch Newtonian telescope housed in its own dome. The telescope was built by a group of society members led by former Chairman, the late, Allan Swan in 1997/1998. More recently it has been fitted with a custom built computerised ‘Go-to’ system.

Other instruments are also in regular use at High Top, as well as a clubhouse where members meet on Saturday evenings for observing sessions.

The site at High Top was donated to the Society in 1974, and given the name ‘High Top’ by our first Chairman, Jan Willemsteyn

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The 14 inch Newtonian reflector at High Top
(Fitted with a temporary solar filter for the transit of Venus)The Royal Masonic School

The school has its own Zeiss planetarium, used at our monthly meetings for talks about the current night sky and what may be observed.

The school telescope

The following details no longer apply, but are retained as they are of historcal interest.

The School observatory housed an 11 inch Celestron Schmidt Cassegrain mounted on a EQ6 PRO SynScan mount.

This mount was driven by a ‘Go-to’ system which can be controlled by a laptop computer, allowing objects of interest to be quickly located and observed.  The observatory was refurbished and fitted with the current telescope by members of the Society, who maintain it on behalf of the school.

The telescope can be fitted with a high-sensitivity video camera which allows images of celestial objects to be viewed on a TV screen. The image below shows a view of Comet Hartley (The comet is the ‘fuzzy patch’ just to right of centre). (This was taken with the original 10 inch Newtonian, which has now been replaced by the Schmidt Cassegrain).

Although optically satisfactory, the Newtonian suffered from the disadvantage of having its eyepiece at the top of the telescope tube. This made observing difficult when vieiwng objects towards the zenith – it was necessary to mount a ladder to view through the eyepiece – not always very convenient.

For the vast majority of observations the Schmidt Cassegrain allows viewing with the eyepiece at a much lower position and without the need for the ladder.

The last image is an excelllent one of the M51 Whirlpool galaxy, taken by member David Hepwood, using the 10 inch Newtonian and his own CCD camera