`BATH TAPS INTO SCIENCE'

Green Park Station, 8-9 March 2002.

A number of members designed and built devices which displayed aspects of astronomy and the work of William Herschel to the public at this exhibition during the national Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) week. Members of the group who were not able to devise exhibits gave their time to supervising the stand over the two days.

Particularly successful with younger people was an electrical quiz board on astronomy built by Allan Comer and a set of boxes, built by Mike Perkins, for viewing various astronomical pictures such as Moon craters, Martian volcanoes, Saturn and the surface of Mars in 3-D.

Two model telescopes were of great interest to those of all generations. Every one seemed intrigued by Steve Kimmins' `shaving-mirror' reflecting telescope and John Mudford's explanatory model of how a refracting telescope works was very successful with those with an enquiring mind. Mike Tabb's automated model demonstrated the discovery of infra-red radiation by William Herschel in 1799, using a projector in place of the Sun and a thermistor and a computer display in place of Herschel's thermometers. However, the glass prism used was very much like that used by Herschel himself. Dick Phillips' rotating 3-D model of the local group of galaxies acted as the centrepiece of the display.

In addition and on the suggestion of the new Dean of Science at Bath University, Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who agreed to take part, an "Ask an Astronomer" booth was set up. This was in the form of a geodesic dome framework provided by BRLSI member Tony Marsh. Dr Rodney Hillier of Bristol University was the professional astronomer on the Friday and was partnered by amateur astronomer John Ball of Beckington Astronomical Society. Mike Tabb, as an amateur astronomer, shared the Saturday session with Professor Bell Burnell herself.

Richard H Phillips