A plug plate for the South Downs Planetarium and Science Centre

Yesterday I had the pleasure of giving an SDSS Plug Plate to the South Downs Planetarium and Science Centre, in Chichester, West Sussex. This facility has been run by a team of volunteers and astronomy enthusiasts since 2002. It boasts a 100 seater planetarium, running 8-9public planetarium shows each month, as well as being available for schools bookings. I was visiting the planetarium with a group of First Year Physics students from the University of Portsmouth.


John Mason takes delivery of SDSS plate 3955 from SDSS-IV Spokesperson, Karen Masters.


The organization plan to put the SDSS plate on display, along with their other astronomy displays which include a waxwork model of famous UK amateur astronomer, Sir Patrick Moore and memorabilia from British Astronaut Tim Peake who went to school in the nearby Chichester High School. In addition they discussed plans to show the sky location the plate was designed for in future planetarium shows.

If you’d like to explore the data from this plate, which is in the direction of the constellation “Serpens”, see Plate 3955 in our Skyserver Navigate interface.


Certificate of Ownership for Plate 3955.

The South Downs Planetarium and Science Centre now joins museums and science centres from all over the world who display SDSS plates.

IYL2015 Post: SDSS Plates (in Retirement!)

As part of Dresdner Lichtjahr 2015 [Dresden Year of Light 2015], you can now see a previously-used SDSS plate on display at Technische Sammlungen der Stadt Dresden, a museum located in a former Dresden factory. The exhibit will run through June of 2016, and has some really awesome demonstrations of how light propagates, and how much today’s technology depends on light.  Technische_SammlungenThe SDSS plate (below, designated plate 4385) is suspended above a table illustrating principles of how light propagates, what we can do with light of different wavelengths, and a demonstration of fiber optics. If you’re curious why our telescope might need need a metal plate, read this previous post.

Technische_Sammlungen2Used SDSS plates are available for educational purposes by schools, museums, astronomy clubs, and other educational & community organizations. Just contact someone at your nearest SDSS member institution to get started!

Technische_Sammlungen3Elsewhere in the exhibit and the museum, you can find a working infrared camera (selfie-compatible!), a very challenging puzzle involving prisms and laser light, and other neat activities suitable for children of all ages.

While you’re in Dresden, make sure to also stop by the Mathematische-Physikalische Salon [Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments], at the Zwinger Palace in the center of Dresden, to have a look at old telescopes, clocks, and surveying tools. Of special interest to telescope enthusiasts are two very early reflector telescopes (i.e., telescopes that use a mirror to focus the incoming light, rather than lenses). You can also see them online in a panoramic view (upstairs in “Instruments of Enlightenment”).


This post is part of the SDSS Celebration of the International Year of Light 2015, in which we aim to post an article a month in support of the celebration of light.