Cornwall LivingIssue #66
Reach for the stars
Top NASA scientist opens mainland UK’s first solar observatory at Truro High School.
The sky is no longer the limit for young stargazers at Truro High School who have just taken delivery of the only solar observatory on mainland UK. The facility has already caught the eye of one of the world’s foremost space scientists who travelled to the school recently to officially open the facility. It will be operated by the school’s science department in conjunction with the Roseland Observatory, led by Director Brian Sheen.
“The observatory is the latest in a long line of STEM-based facilities that help the school bring science to life…”
Professor Richard Harrison is Head of RAL Space Physics Division and Chief Scientist for RAL Space as well as being the Principal Investigator for space instrumentation aboard NASA and European Space Agency.
During his visit, Professor Harrison hosted a series of lectures to introduce pupils to the exciting possibilities the observatory holds and encouraged them to delve into the fascinating world of space science.
Professor Harrison says: “The UK has a long heritage for building and operating solar instrumentation on international spacecraft, playing a leading part in studying our nearest star and in understanding its impact on near-Earth space. Indeed, we now talk about ‘space weather’ and the UK Government has formally listed the impacts of space weather on the national risk register.”
The observatory is the latest in a long line of STEM-based facilities that help the school bring science to life for pupils from four years old to 18. From designing electric racing cars to building programmable robots, the practical appliance of science enables the girls to leap ahead in their learning.
Years of planning have gone into the new observatory, which will enable pupils to record the progress of sunspots on a day-by-day basis. In the future it should enable the school to produce a daily space weather forecast, similar to the one produced by the Met Office.
Truro High’s teatime Astronomy Club is one of a large number of extra-curricular activities at the school. This summer two pupils celebrated their decision to join the club as they collected grades A and B in their Astronomy GCSEs, despite only being in Years 9 and 10.
"The observatory is the latest in a long line of STEM-based facilities that help the school bring science to life..."