Me and the Faulkes

I got an email today from Alison Tripp from the Faulkes Telescope saying “We wondered who had been promoting us as we’ve had a few people sign up recently” So as I’ve been promoting it, I suppose I ought to be telling people how I use it and what it’s all about.

What a 40th Birthday present!

When a group of teachers met in a outdoor centre for a weekend of snoring, laughter and resource sharing we got a talk about a project called the Faulkes Telescope. This appeared to be a great new project for Mrs Physics to try, so I signed up, found out about it and Mr and Mrs Physics did our first trial run on my 40th Birthday (no more details given!) This was my first image. Since then I’ve had a love/ hate relationship with the telescope, but I can vouch that it has a massive impact on the students astonishment about Science and the wonders of our beautiful world.

The telescope has undergone huge changes since 2004 when it opened (and before I was 40!) and the changes just keep on going. I was taken aback on Thursday 5th November 2020 when armed with my list of 6 potential targets (quite high for one session, but unusually involving lots of short exposures) I found that the telescope was no longer needing to change each filter, red green and blue, to image each part of the sky as 3 individual images but that it could take these images simultaneously. So my 6 targets and 2 back ups weren’t enough for my 1/2 hour session.
However, when processing the images it was certainly more tricky with different images not quite aligning, but the technical Mr Physics came up with the solution.

In this post I’ll go through a few of my favourite images from the last 13 years, (whoops I’ve given that away) and then over time I’ll build up some posts about how I go about preparing for a session and analysing the images. Hope you like what you see and feel free to use the pictures, although a credit would be nice!

M16- Pillars of Creation, The Eagle Nebula. I think this is taken in the H-alpha which isn’t possible now
Another M16, we spent one session just imaging M16 in different filters from O, H-alpha and RBG
My first image of the “hamburger galaxy” NGC 3268
NGC 7293


Countdown to 2020

We are on the countdown for the Dumfries and Galloway Space School to Houston Texas around 10th October 2020.

Hot off the press- here is the September Newsletter. You ought to receive one through your Science Teacher. There is also a couple of spare places. This might be the last chance that you get to be part of D&G Space School, so don’t miss out. We will accept people from the current S2, if you are one of the oldest in your year, to the current S4.

Information from the Bridge Meeting 12/6/19

Below is the logo for the Space School 2020. Please use it carefully.

Great meeting tonight folks! Thank you to the students for joining in and to the parents and carers for bringing the students along. If there are no objections I’ll post the 2 photos I took on to this page and you can remind yourself who everyone was.
As long as we know we have final numbers of 50 we can then go up to 55. We can’t travel with 49 for numbers as we wouldn’t be legal! So just check you’ve no friends who’ll be in S4 to S6 when we travel and at a Regional School.

I’m sure those on the reserve list will be getting their invites soon.

I’m looking into easygiving and will get in touch when I have details of the account.

19th June 2019

Please can the students vote on the colour of the t-shirt that you’d like. See the image below, or stick to the blue? We can’t choose 3 colours, although might be able to do two.


This was the initial letter out to parents.

Dear Parents/ Guardians,

We have an amazing opportunity to be involved in a fantastic and life changing school trip in October 2020. This is a chance to be part of a Dumfries and Galloway Space Experience. As someone who was part of the Scottish Space School in 2005, and who has taken groups in 2016 and 2018, I can assure you that students who attend have a great time and develop personally. We are planning this trip early so that there is plenty of opportunity to save over the next eighteen months to pay for the trip or to be involved in fundraising opportunities. We will be taking a group of 16-18 year olds, who we expect to be studying Physics, Engineering or Science in October 2020 and will still be at a secondary Dumfries and Galloway State Secondary school. This trip is not a site seeing trip and will involve practical tasks linked to launching, landing, and roving on Mars, so it is important that you have an interest in Science and or engineering.

I have enclosed details of the trip below. The cost of the trip will be in the region of £2,000 but we hope that much of this can be obtained through fundraising.  The more people we can get to go the cheaper it will be per person. If you wish to be considered for the trip please can you indicate below and bring in a deposit of £150 by 21st May, with a further £100 due on the 10th June. I am aware that this is a large sum of money to pay, but I assure you I will do all I can to keep the costs down and I would not recommend this trip unless I thought the benefits were well worth it. Cheques should be made payable to LOCKERBIE ACADEMY


Just a sample! I’d like to save for the VIP tour.


  • Airport transfers in the UK
  • Fully Comprehensive Insurance (mandatory)
  • Meals & Transportation not indicated in itinerary
  • Dinner on arrival evening
  • Lunches on non-NASA days
  • Cost of visas, full or collective passports
  • Cost of inoculations or medication required for travel
  • Additional sightseeing & entertainment options
  • Hotel incidental bills – meals, mini-bar items, recreation charges, purchases billed to room, etc
  • Personal expenditures
  • Any gratuities – coach drivers, maid service, bellman service, tour Ambassador
  • Additional taxes, fuel surcharges or service charges levied by the governments or our suppliers
  • Baggage handling

Please get signed up as soon as possible so that we can start planning some fund raising ideas.

It’s the Final Countdown

Don’t forget to pack a jumper. In America they turn the air conditioning units onto “fridge”

Tomorrow is our last bake sale.

The passports are all in and labelled, student help cards are ready and laminated , our travel lists are organized and all paperwork is up to date phew! It’s just a pity the staff are now so exhausted that they can’t begin to think of the midnight start.

One of the parents sent me this gif file and I think it fits perfectly! It’s just how I feel.

Only AH and H tests to complete and mark and the October break is upon us.

I will post on here giving you an daily update where possible. Find instant messages on Lockerbie Academy’s FB page.

As on our previous trip, I will note everything in one long post so that it reads in chronological order.  I’m afraid, for avid readers, you will need to scroll through to the bottom on a daily basis.

Don’t be late between Saturday night and Sunday morning: kick off 00:50 that’s ten to one in our time. (For the older ones that is in our non-inertial frame of reference).

Hope you parents have planned an exciting break and Higher students, don’t forget your revision!