An Independent Miscellany of Astronomy


R. A. Marriott


Northampton, England



Occasional Notes is a publication not connected with any organisation. I invite contributions on all aspects of practical astronomy: visual observing, imaging, photometry, spectroscopy, telescope construction and maintenance, restoration of classic instruments, observatories, and historical articles particularly relating to instruments.


Please contact me if you would like to receive these free publications directly.

All communications and newsletters are sent ‘bcc’.

All contact details are kept strictly confidential and for my own use only,

but please let me know if you wish to be removed from my private records.


Please contact me if you would like me to present a talk.




Occasional Notes No. 1


27 June 2018



BAA instruments secured for posterity

John Herschel at the Cape of Good Hope


(17 pages)



Occasional Notes No. 2


26 October 2018



Smyth, Dawes, and Lassell

Restoration of an AE350 f/5–20 Newtonian–Cassegrain: Part II


(12 pages)



Occasional Notes No. 3


4 February 2019



John Hadley’s reflecting telescope

σ Orionis

The companion of Sirius

AE instruments at the University of Hertfordshire

Using VHF radio transmissions to detect meteors ablating in the atmosphere

Appulse of Venus and Jupiter

Erroneous discoveries


(11 pages)



Occasional Notes No. 4


2 July 2019



A spectroscope by Browning

Double and multiple stars in Hercules

John Edwards’ metallic specula

Two refractors in New Zealand

A 4-inch refractor by Irving


(15 pages)





During my service for the British Astronomical Association as Curator of Instruments (1991–2016)

and Director of the Instruments and Imaging Section (2003–2017), I produced and issued:


I&I News and Technical Tips


46 issues : 389 pages : 197 authors : 391 articles and contributions : 1,211 illustrations


Each issue can be downloaded separately (click on a picture)


All issues can be downloaded as a zip file (140 Mb)





I&I News, New Series No. 1


26 September 2011



Imaging from Spain

Imaging the Moon with a webcam


Observing Sections


(6 pages)


Technical Tips No. 1


5 October 2011



Webcam drivers


(8 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 2


27 October 2011



Lunar, planetary, and solar observing

Some home-made telescopes

Low-tech imaging

Seventy-five years of visual observing

An Anglo-Saxon dial in Northampton

On wiring astronomical instruments

A home-made 6-inch refractor

A Hilger eyepiece spectroscope


(10 pages)


Technical Tips No. 2


5 November 2011



Joined-up astronomy: connecting all the hardware


(2 pages)



I&I News, New Series No. 3


26 November 2011



A home-made solar telescope

A wooden Crayford focuser

A flat-field Schmidt camera for CCD imaging

Visual observation of double stars

Observing from an AONB

            The 10-inch Cooke refractor of

                                  the Mills Observatory, Dundee

Imaging the Sun with Coronado PSTs

Noctilucent clouds

Visual observing, and mobility

The pouring of the 200-inch mirror disc (1935)

Photographing minor planets (1892)


(14 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 4


24 December 2011




How to run an astronomy meeting


(4 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 5


9 February 2012



Seventy years of observing

Reminiscences of Grubb Parsons

An observatory in the Pennines

A tri-axis counterbalanced accessory system

Deep-sky photographs

The twin equatorial


(18 pages)


Technical Tips No. 3


20 February 2012



Dark-adapted software


(3 pages)



I&I News, New Series No. 6


28 April 2012



Memories of Herstmonceux

Asteroidal imaging from Hampshire

Construction of a 16-inch f/4.4 reflector

Seeing and telescope design

A moveable solar observatory

A metal Crayford focuser made with hand tools

The Godlee Observatory twin equatorial

Making a 30-inch mirror

Delavan’s comets


(14 pages)


Technical Tips No. 4


29 April 2012



Notes on the use of binoculars


(2 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 7


10 July 2012



Imaging the Sun with a 60-mm Coronado Hα telescope

Collimating a CCD camera: a practical solution

The Thompson 30-inch reflector at Herstmonceux

William Huggins’ twin equatorial


(17 pages)


Technical Tips No. 5


12 July 2012





(4 pages)



I&I News, New Series No. 8


21 September 2012



A 10-inch f/7 Newtonian

A 16-inch f/4.4 reflector: further developments

The 1927 British eclipse: a colour cine-film

The Romsey observatory


(12 pages)


Technical Tips No. 6


29 September 2012



Flat fields


(2 pages)


Technical Tips No. 7


24 October 2012



Dewing in an SCT


(8 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 9


24 November 2012



Photographing aurorae

The ‘equestrian’ equatorial mount

Comparison of DSLR and CCD images

          Report on the present state

                                of celestial photography (1859)

The Duke of York’s parhelia


(16 pages)



Technical Tips No. 8


25 November 2012



Notes on the use of the telescope


(3 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 10


24 December 2012





(2 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 11


9 May 2013



Horace Edward Stafford Dall, 1901–1986

The first Dall-Kirkham telescope

Over unknown Iceland on a Raleigh roadster

The camera obscura

A null test for paraboloids

Comments on the null test

FP3 Series II film

Atmospheric dispersion

Maksutov telescopes

Visual astronomy in the ultraviolet

Telescope eyepieces

Finding and guiding on dark skies

Photoelectric methods in amateur astronomy

Filter-type solar prominence telescope for amateurs

A Dollond–Wollaston telescope

Memories of Horace Dall

The genius of Horace Dall

Horace Dall’s observatory

The Horace Dall Medal and Gift


(33 pages)


Technical Tips No. 9


30 May 2013



The use of filters in visual planetary observation


(2 pages)



I&I News, New Series No. 12


5 July 2013



The artificial horizon

The spherometer

The dipleidoscope

The Barlow lens

Fluid lenses and dialytes


(10 pages)


Technical Tips No. 10


14 July 2013



Digital cameras, CCDs, and webcams


(5 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 13


20 November 2013



BAA Sections


(10 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 14


24 December 2013



Archival photographs


(3 pages)



Technical Tips No. 11


7 January 2014



Limiting magnitude

Visual limiting magnitudes


(2 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 15


27 January 2014



A With–Browning reflector

Meridian Observatory Louth

Remounting an old 10-inch Meade SCT

Grubb, Parsons, Dreyer, and the Royal Navy

In the Avu Observatory


(8 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 16


27 February 2014


George Eric Deacon Alcock (1912–2000)


(6 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 17


6 April 2014



John Caister Bennett (1914–1990)

Mileaway Observatory

George Hole’s observatory

            The construction of a cell

                                  for a 14-inch telescope mirror

William Gascoigne’s micrometer

As I Please


(10 pages)



I&I News, New Series No. 18


10 May 2014



Instruments by Zeiss, Cooke, Hilger, and Brashear

Horace Dall’s notebooks

A modified Haig mount

A plant-pot solar projector

A ‘jamjar’ magnetometer

The ‘jamjar’ magnetometer, sixteen years on

Contents of previous issues


(12 pages)


Technical Tips No. 12


20 May 2014



Observatory designs


(10 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 19


16 June 2014



An observatory in Bedfordshire

An observatory with a coelostat

A run-off roof observatory

An observatory in the west of Scotland

A demobbed veteran

An observatory in the Australian bush

A garden-friendly telescope cover

A modified ‘Romsey’ observatory

An observatory in Spain

An observatory for variable-star work

Kingstanding Observatory

A POD in Reading

A Cumbrian observatory

An observatory in Herefordshire

A pivoting observatory

A Pulsar in Cambridgeshire

A hinged-roof observatory

A mount without a telescope

A mechanical drive


(11 pages)


Technical Tips No. 13


28 June 2014



Go to or not go to


(2 pages)



I&I News, New Series No. 20


23 July 2014



A run-off roof observatory

           Restoration of a 4-inch f/15

                                   classic achromatic refractor

A home-made dome

An ‘undesirable’ observatory

An observatory for a small garden

An observatory in East Sussex

A cylindrical observatory


(10 pages)


Technical Tips No. 14


19 August 2014



Dark adaption


(1 page)


I&I News, New Series No. 21


29 August 2014



William Huggins and the Cat’s Eye nebula


(5 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 22


31 October 2014



Some memories

Memories of the Brintons

             The Henry Brinton Telescope

                                  at Bayfordbury Observatory

The Henry Brinton Telescope and its twin

A run-off observatory

Telescope drives

Observatories and observatory equipment


(11 pages)



Technical Tips No. 15


29 November 2014



SBIG cameras


(4 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 23


24 December 2014



Private lives

Historical hearsay


(2 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 24


29 April 2015



Optical Surfaces: the start of it all

Frank Knight: astronomer and war veteran

Construction of the Old Barn Observatory

Two observatories in Shropshire

A garden-shed observatory

An observatory at Farthings

A kennel observatory

A reconvertible observatory

A potential observatory

A modified roll-off-roof observatory

A low-cost observatory


(12 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 25


8 December 2015



The BAA Brashear

               On the magnifying powers

                              used by double star observers

An entertaining book review

A run-off shed observatory

Aesthetics and bias

Two Gregorian telescopes


(7 pages)



I&I News, New Series No. 26


24 December 2015


Hugh Jampton: Astronomer of the Future



(2 pages)


Technical Tips No. 16


20 January 2016



Equatorial mounts and polar alignment


(6 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 27


16 December 2016


Editorial: Telescope makers

Reminiscences of Howard Miles

John Armitage (1945–2015)

Roy Panther (1926–2016)

Popular science in the nineteenth century

Will Hay’s 12½-inch Calver reflector

Pharaoh Seti I and Nut

Vintage videos

BAA instruments: the case of F. W. Hyde

Nomination for the Horace Dall Award

Contents: 26 September 2011 to 16 December 2016


(11 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 28


24 December 2016



Fragments from the Diary of William Herschel


(4 pages)




I&I News, New Series No. 29


16 June 2017



A 30-inch reflector in Norfolk

The Lilburn telescope in Northumberland

Finders for Schmidt–Cassegrains

A mobility mount for a tripod

Celestron air circulation vents

Imaging with an altazimuth mount

An orbit-sweeper

A precision home-made CCD camera rotator

The ladies participate

Restoration of an AE350 f/5–20 Newtonian–Cassegrain

A cautionary tale

BAA instrument no. 1

Reminiscences of Roy Panther


(16 pages)


I&I News, New Series No. 30


25 October 2017



The solar eclipses of 1860, 1868, and 2017

C. D. P. Davies and the 1914 solar eclipse


(29 pages)