26 January 2022
Nancy and Zoe, Year 11
On the evening of Wednesday 19 January, the Physics Society spent a fabulous evening at the Norman Fisher Observatory in nearby Kenley. For many of us this was our first experience of a professional telescope.
The observatory is home to the Croydon Astronomical Society and its members work on a voluntary basis to bring the delights of the night sky to others. It encouraged us to delve deeper into our studies by learning about physics in the real world.
Our visit began outside with a tour of the night sky with the naked eye. For many of us this was our first ever observation of the Big Dipper and Orion’s Belt in the clear night sky. We could see the stars clearly and our hosts pointed out many other constellations to us. We also saw the International Space Station, which appeared in the sky for around 15 seconds.
We then went inside to observe using the telescope. We were able to identify Sirius, the brightest star in the sky; we looked in detail at the stars in Orion’s Belt; and the image of the moon was so clear we could see its structural landscape. It felt very different seeing into space ourselves rather than just looking at pictures online.
Finally, we enjoyed a fascinating lecture on astronomy from one of the Society’s members, where he showed us some of his own photographs of the sun taken using the telescope, with special filters to protect the eyes.
Observing the night sky in such detail was an unforgettable experience and very helpful in enhancing our understanding of astrophysics, part of our GCSE course. The trip was especially interesting for those in the group planning to study physics and astronomy at A Level and beyond.