Report by Mr Gibbs, Teacher of Physics
On 16 March, during British Science Week, some of our Year 13 A Level Physics students went along to the Orwell Park Observatory.
We started our tour on the fourth floor where we were told the history of the Orwell Park grounds and the various wealthy individuals who built the place. It was very helpful for the pupils to be able to see each of the telescopes that they must understand for their A Levels (and some additional ones like the catadioptric). We were even shown the old water elevator which has since been turned into a small library.
Then it was up another set of precarious stairs to the old telescope. The telescope itself was sat on an entirely separate foundation to the rest of the building due to its weight. Unfortunately, since there was not a star in sight, we started by pointing the telescope towards the RHS clock tower. The members of the Orwell Astronomical Society have been using this as a very convenient distance marker. Interestingly, all of the images through the telescope are inverted due to the way the lenses are used.
Since it would have been difficult to try and find any stars behind all the clouds, we instead asked questions about the telescope and physics in general. This led to some good conversations with the volunteer who had been showing us around. In another room we were shown the transit clock which was how astronomers set the time for their recordings.