We have use of our own observatory for stargazing at High Top, Flaunden.
Our observatory at High Top is equipped with an 11 inch Celestron Schmidt Cassegrain telescope mounted on a steel pier and housed in its own dome.
This is a go-to system based on a Skywatcher EQ8 mount.
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
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 following details no longer apply, but are retained as they are of historcal interest.
The school telescope
The School observatory houses a 10 inch Newtonian telescope 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).
The image below is a picture of the monitor screen and was taken with a high frame rate camera mounted on the 10 inch Newtonian.
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 viewing objects towards the zenith – it was necessary to mount a ladder to view through the eyepiece – not always very convenient.
For a short period of time we loaned the society’s Schmidt Cassegrain telescope to the RMS to allow viewing with the eyepiece at a much lower position and without the need for the ladder. The scope pictured below is now at High Top and the Newtonian (below) reinstated.
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