Section secretary Jean Dean said in the past schools had visited La Societe’s observatory in St Peter’s, but as part of its educational outreach programme it had decided to start visiting them instead, and this was the first of those visits.
‘We’ll be going to all the secondary and primary schools,’ said Mrs Dean.
‘Because this is in the middle of the school day we can interact with more students this way.
‘This is a new idea to engage a bit more.’
She had taken along two telescopes – an eight inch reflector with a sun filter and a solarscope.
The latter allowed students to see the sun’s chromosphere which, on this occasion, allowed them to view a solar prominence, a plume of gas that can occasionally last months, Mrs Dean told the students.
Assisting Mrs Dean were two members of the astronomy section who until a couple of years ago were Grammar students themselves, Thomas Harvey and Anthony Nel, both 20.
Thomas is a physics and astronomy student at Southampton University, while Anthony is studying computer science at York.
‘It’s good to do some outreach,’ said Thomas. He said astronomy appealed to him because he found it exciting to consider how much we do not know and how much there was to discover in the field.
There were 18 students present, all of whom were taking A-levels or the International Baccalaureate studying physics or the nature of science.
Among those enjoying the event was IB physics student Lawrence Prigent, 17, who said he had been interested in astronomy for several years.
‘The areas that interest me most are the planetary sciences and wide-scale cosmology,’ he said, adding that he hoped to find a suitable university course upon completing his studies at the Sixth Form Centre.