News

Find out about HCO's past news and events in the articles below. For astronomical notes (since summer 2015), see the Skynotes section of our website.

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2017

Stars & Specula

Friday 3 March 2017
We had a great evening with the Museum of the History of Science demonstrating the use of different historical telescopes. Unfortunately cloud and rain meant we had to relocate inside the museum, but over 50 visitors were still able to try out the different telescopes (just looking at Blackwell's bookshop over the road instead of the Moon and Venus!). more...

 

2016

Society for the History of Astronomy Summer Picnic

2nd July 2016
HCO hosted the Society for the History of Astronomy's 2016 summer picnic, with 38 SHA members joining HCO members for a picnic in the gardens of Hanwell Castle. This is the second time HCO has hosted the SHA summer picnic, and the visitors enjoyed a tour of the observatory site and a talk by HCO director Christopher Taylor about his recent trip to the Paris observatory. more...

Transit of Mercury 2016

9th May 2016
We had a great afternoon in Oxford and Banbury with our free public viewings of the transit of Mercury. Mercury transits occur about a dozen times every century, and ones visible from the UK are even rarer, so HCO teamed up with the Museum of the History of Science to run observations for this rare event. Several hundred people were able to see the sun through our various telescopes (with solar filters specially made for the event), projections and solar scopes. more...

Stars & Snowdrops 2016

25th January 2016
With great regret, we are cancelling Stars & Snowdrops 2016. A combination of circumstances, including a family crisis, building work at Hanwell Castle overrunning, and forecast rainfall levels affecting the woodland walk have meant that organising the event this year would be incredibly difficult and potentially hazardous. more...

 

2015

Skynotes Launched

June 2015
Every month, get ideas of things to see in the night sky, and find out what what HCO members have been observing, with Skynotes - excerpts from HCO member's own observing notes. more...

Partial Solar Eclipse

20th March 2015
On the morning of 20th March 2015, a partial solar eclipse was visible from the UK, the best for over 10 years. Despite cloud cover during parts of the eclipse, people all over the country enjoyed spectacular views of over 80% of the sun being covered by the moon. more...

Stars & Snowdrops 2015

16th February 2015
We had an amazing weekend at Stars & Snowdrops 2015, with nearly one thousand visitors making it the second most successful Stars & Snowdrops in the history of HCO (beaten only by the two days of perfect sunshine in 2008)! Visitors enjoyed the beautiful snowdrop colonies (which were looking better than ever according to many visitors), saw the progress at the observatory, and had the bonus of discovering the history of Hanwell Castle's grounds with the ongoing archeology project around the site. Plus, of course, there were the delicious teas and cakes! more...

 

2014

Galaxies & Gardens open weekend 2014

29th September 2014
Hundreds of visitors enjoyed the September sunshine at our Galaxies & Gardens open weekend. After February's record rainfall forced us to cancel Stars & Snowdrops 2014, we ran the one off September open weekend instead. more...

Target Jupiter stargazing evening a resounding success!

8th March 2014
Over 400 visitors enjoyed "amazing views" of the Moon and Jupiter at HCO's most successful free stargazing event yet. The Target Jupiter stargazing evening, run as part of the Oxfordshire Science Festival and National Astronomy Week 2014, gave members of the public the chance to see the best views of Jupiter for years. more...

Stars & Snowdrops 2014 cancelled due to record rainfall

31st January 2014
With great regret, we were forced to cancel Stars & Snowdrops 2014 due to the state of the woodland walk. January’s record rainfall meant that the snowdrop paths were unsafe for the number of visitors that Stars & Snowdrops generates. more...

 

2013

Altitude drive fitted to 30" telescope

20th October 2013
The altitude drive has been attached to the 30" telescope. It will enable the telescope to be tilted up and down with precision, making it easier to operate in public stargazing evenings. more...

Spectacular views of the sun at Banbury Canal Day 2013

6th October 2013
HCO had a brilliant day at Banbury Canal Day 2013, with spectacular views of solar prominences and sunspots throughout the day. more...

An altitude drive in the making!

7th August 2013
The altitude drive for the Millennium telescope is being built like a fishing reel. Two wires wound around a steel tube will be used to tilt the telescope up and down with precise control from the observing platform. The spool for the drive has been made for us by Dave Rose of Rowan Engineering, who has kindly supplied us with this video of his CNC machine in action. more...

Optical improvements of the 30" mirror completed

28th June 2013
A series of optical improvements on the 30” primary mirror for the Millennium Telescope have been completed. The mirror will be ready to install into the telescope in mid-September, after being kept indoors for the reflective coating to harden. more...

Stars & Snowdrops 2013

17th February 2013
Thanks to the hundreds of visitors to Stars & Snowdrops 2013. Everyone who came on the extra Sunday enjoyed the beautiful snowdrops, spectacular views of the sun and the moon and the delicious cake! And a special thanks to everyone who braved the weather to come to Stars and Snowdrops the previous weekend. Despite the rain, over 100 visitors enjoyed the snowdrops, talking to the astronomers and, of course, the tea and cakes by the huge log fire! more...

History at Hanwell

Archeologist Stephen Wass has recently begun a study into Hanwell Castle and it's grounds, where HCO is based. Hanwell Castle, the area's oldest brick building, was built by Henry VII's treasurer, and the park's 16th and 17th century water gardens were visited by royalty. more...

 

2012

Transit of Venus

On the 6th of June 2012, Venus was seen from Earth to transit across the face of the Sun. While Venus is larger than Earth's Moon, it is much further away from us and much closer to the Sun. During a transit, Venus only eclipses a small part of the Sun's face. Nonetheless, its silhouette is large enough to be easily seen from the Earth. This event happens twice in roughly every century when Venus happens to cross the line between the Earth and the Sun. more...

Fireball over the UK, seen from HCO!

Many people across the UK witnessed a fireball on the Saturday 3rd March. Some HCO members who were gathered together that evening were lucky enough to see it too. (Not the webmaster though, who is a little miffed he wasn't there). more...

Stars & Snowdrops 2012 a success despite the weather!

Thank you to the 600+ who came along this year despite the postponement and the bad weather on Saturday. Sunday's weather made up for the previous day and many visitors were delighted with the the views of the sun through the solar telescope and, later, Venus in the daytime sky! more...