Deep space comes to Reepham High School

Seeing the Rings of Saturn or deep space objects in galaxies far away is usually a past-time restricted to specialists. But not for much longer. This weekend a Norfolk high school, one of the only schools in the UK lucky enough to have its own observatory, will be showing off its new deep space telescope at a special astronomy event at the school.

Seeing the Rings of Saturn or deep space objects in galaxies far away is usually a past-time restricted to specialists.

But not for much longer. This weekend a Norfolk high school, one of the only schools in the UK lucky enough to have its own observatory, will be showing off its new deep space telescope at a special astronomy event at the school.

The giant 30inch telescope in its own observatory at Reepham High School between Aylsham and Fakenham is thought to be one of the largest amateur telescopes in the country and is powerful enough to see into galaxies beyond our own solar system.

Alongside it runs a robotic 10inch telescope through which students can see planets in our solar system, from Mars to the rings of Saturn.


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Norfolk Astronomers, the society which owns and runs the observatory in the school's grounds, also hopes in future to add a solar telescope - to look at the sun - to the equipment based at the school.

Ronnie Shalom, a science teacher at the school who runs the astronomy club, said: 'The students love to be able to use the equipment. It is equipment they would not normally be able to get access to.

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'I don't know of any other schools in Norfolk with an observatory and it is one of the largest amateur telescopes in the country.

'The telescope is designed for astronomers and would normally only be used by adults. They appreciate how much has gone in to it and to be able to find objects in space.'

The observatory and telescope has been built over a number of years by astronomers Ron McArthur and Brian Mitchell, of Norfolk Astronomers.

It ended up at Reepham because the site is in a dip and there is minimal light interference.

On Saturday, alongside the telescopes, will be a whole host of activities and demonstrations relating to astronomy and space and a talk by Lewis Dartnell, an astrobiologist from University College London, about his work looking for signs of life on Mars.

The astronomy event on will also have an inflatable planetarium, a chance to observe the sun, moon and Jupiter, rocket launching by UK Rocketry Association, telescope displays, GPS and satellite communication demonstrations by the Gardline Group and guided tours of the observatory.

The event, at the high school, runs from 11.30am to 6pm and is open to all. For more information call organisers Reepham Learning Community on 01603 308133.

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