Starlight which started its journey to earth 150 years before the University of St Andrews was founded, could be seen by visitors at a special open day this weekend.
The colourful star cluster NGC1333 is located in the constellation Perseus – one of the most active sites of star formation in our Galactic neighbourhood.
Since the cluster is around 750 light years away from Earth, the light emitted began its journey around the year 1260, a century and a half before the University was founded in 1413.
The University’s James Gregory Telescope, with its 0.94m sized mirror, is the largest functional optical telescope in the United Kingdom, and has taken startling images of the cluster in recent days.
Members of the public may be able to see similar images through the telescopes at the University Observatory’s Open Night this weekend (Saturday 30 November) arranged by astronomers from the School of Physics and Astronomy.
The NGC1333 cluster has already produced a couple of hundred young stars aged only one million years – truly infants in astronomical standards. And the wave of star formation in this cluster is not over yet.
Dr Aleks Scholz, recently employed director of the observatory, knows the cluster NGC1333 intimately. Together with a small team of astronomers from four continents, he has studied the region in detail.
Members of the public are invited to see what goes on behind the scenes at the observatory during the Open Night. Weather permitting, visitors may be able to observe star clusters, nebulae, planets and could even witness a solar eclipse 400 light years away from Earth.
In any weather guests will be able to see the UK’s largest telescope in the UK in action, watch cosmic rays in a fish tank and take part in various sessions, including a special session for children at 6pm-7pm, astronomy talks at 7pm-9pm and have the opportunity to quiz an astronomer.
The Observatory is located just off Buchanan Street at the University’s sports grounds. The Open Night will take place on Saturday 30 November, from 6pm-9pm.
Note to Editors
For images of the cluster and of the telescope please contact the press office.
Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Fiona MacLeod on 01334 462108/ 0771 414 0559.
Ref: (observatory 27/11/13)
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