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School of Physics and Astronomy

Astronomical Observatory

The observatory is located on the roof of the School of Physics and Astronomy at Queen Mary, University of London, providing the ideal location for undertaking astronomical observations within central London

The primary purpose of the observatory is for teaching undergraduate students studying for a BSc or MSci degree in astrophysics. Students will be introduced to basic techniques in astronomical observing and data analysis as part of their undergraduate taught modules, and will have opportunities to undertake observational astronomy projects. We also use the observatory as a key resource for our outreach activities.

Payloads and hardware

The observatory houses a number of payloads with a range of subsidiary hardware.

  • Celestron C14, 14" Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector telescope, Starlight Xpress H18 CCD camera
  • Off Axis autoguider and filter wheel
  • Coronado starmax solar telescope
  • Paramount MEII telescope mount
  • Motor-driven dome and a concrete viewing plinth.

Funds to support these upgrades have been generously provided by the University of London Perren Fund and by the Queen Mary Annual Fund which disburses donations received from QM Alumni.

QM telescope QM Astronomical Observatory

Observing

Although we are located in central London, a broad range of observations can be undertaken through use of appropriate filters or by a judicious choice of targets. Examples of the types of observations that students will undertake include:

  • Planetary and lunar imaging
  • Imaging and analysis of globular clusters and open star clusters
  • Imaging of nebula and galaxies
  • Photometry: colour-magnitude diagrams of stellar clusters
  • Photometric monitoring of eclipsing binaries and extrasolar planets
  • Solar imaging - sunspots, active regions and prominences

Examples of images taken recently from the observatory are shown below. These were obtained as part of summer internships for two of our current undergraduate students who learned how to use the telescope and perform image analysis during a 8 week period in the summer of 2013. Moving from left to right these show:

  • M13 - the great globular cluster in Hercules
  • M27 - the Dumbell nebula (another planetary nebula) in Vulpecula
  • M57 - the Ring nebula (a planetary nebula showing a star going through its final stage of evolution) in Lyra
  • A solar image captured with our H-alpha solar telescope showing sunspots, active regions and prominences protruding from the limb.