BRIDGWATER ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY:

Established 1969

 

  For the Most up to date info GO To the  BWASTRO Facebook Page >>   https://www.facebook.com/bwastro/ 

 

Last changed on 11th Dec 2018.

Welcome to the Bridgwater Astronomical Society Web Site. 
Our monthly meetings are held from Sept until March on the 2nd Wed in each of those months at Bawdrip Village Hall, 7-00pm to 9-00pm. 
We are a small friendly group of individuals mainly interested in looking at the night sky. (More Info)
New members of all ages and abilities are most welcome with no obligations on regular attendance. Just come along!
Bawdrip Village Hall and the surrounding car park is fairly wheelchair friendly, so if you would like to join us and you have to use a wheelchair, 
you will be most welcome. Just come along!
Bawdrip Hall Map: http://www.geocities.ws/dbown100/bawdripmap2.jpg  
 
 
New to Astronomy? then start by looking at some of the links below here:  
 Beginners Corner , Stargazing for beginners, Setting up a simple telescope.
 This week's sky at a glance  shows night by night some interesting things to look for in the night sky
If you find you have questions that can’t be answered use the contact details below and we will try to help.
  
Contact us by email at [email protected]  or telephone 01278 683740 for more information.
               

Please use the links in the four sections below; General, Observing, Space Exploration & Cosmology.

 

  GENERAL:     

  Programme of Meetings                     Programme                  

  Contact Details                                   Contact     

  Sites of interest                                    Links

  Pictures of the night sky                     Photos         

 

 OBSERVING:   

Observing/Stargazing Evenings.     Observing 

New to Astronomy? Some basics        Beginners Corner

Setting up a simple telescope.                  Setting

Photography  Basics                            Photography  

 

Viewing the Night sky:  This is a large section below:

 

S&T helpful night by night reminder of what is on view, for the week ahead.  http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/sky-at-a-glance/

 

Heavens Above.  Lots of info including a useful  night sky chart with planets & the  moon. You can also change the date and time to suit your needs to plan your observing on a future date.  This chart is set for Bawdrip, our observing site. 

http://www.heavens-above.com/SkyChart.aspx?lat=51.1526&lng=-2.9424&loc=Bawdrip&alt=16&tz=GMT 

Sky Diary  from the Society for Popular Astronomy…. http://www.popastro.com/skydiary/index.php

 

CalSKY  calsky.com  Customise it to your own location, then generate your own observing list for the evening.

 

BBC Science night sky page…. This link has now been removed as the web site appears to be constantly out of date.

Astronomy Now                      astronomynow.com                     

Space.com……                           http://www.space.com/skywatching/                       Skywatching

                                                        http://www.space.com/spaceflight/                         Spaceflight

                                                http://www.space.com/search-for-life/                 Search for Life

News Now Astronomy              Newsnow.co.uk/h/Science/Astronomy

Universe today                            Universetoday.com/

 

 

The Milky Way Galaxy :

http://www.atlasoftheuniverse.com/galaxy.html  Atlas of the Universe: Tip: Zoom in several times to see the objects nearest to the Solar System in a way you’ve probably never seen them before.

http://astronomyonline.org/OurGalaxy/Introduction.asp?Cate=OurGalaxy&SubCate=OG01  Astronomy on line .org

http://earthsky.org/space/does-our-sun-reside-in-a-spiral-arm-of-the-milky-way-galaxy  Where are we located in the Milky Way Galaxy?

 

 

ISS  ISS      Iridium Flares

 

Sun:  BAA Solar page   

 

Moon:  Moon Map  BAA Lunar page. Virtual Atlas: http://www.astrosurf.com/avl/UK_index.html

http://www.lunar-occultations.com/iota/iotandx.htm 

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/moon

 

Planets  skyandtelescope.com/observing/planets  Various info on planetary observing.

  Mars: Interactive Mars map. Set date & time to see what features might be visible on the face of the planet.

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/javascript/3307831.html#

 

Asteroids(minor planets)

S&T Asteroid page  http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/asteroids

Nasa Near Earth Object Programme http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/

Heavens above: http://www.heavens-above.com/Asteroids

Comets:  

http://cometchasing.skyhound.com/                                         Skyhound comet pages

http://www.heavens-above.com/Comets                                  Heavens above Comet Page

http://www.ast.cam.ac.uk/~jds/                                               BAA comet pages

http://kometen.fg-vds.de/fgk_hpe.htm                                     German comet pages

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/comets   S&T comet pages

 

Meteors: http://www.theastronomer.org/meteors.html   

 

Deep Sky: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/deepsky

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey  http://www.sdss.org/

 

Radio Astronomy:  Jodrell Bank http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/ 

 

       SPACE  EXPLORATION:          

SPACEFLIGHT NOW:  http://spaceflightnow.com/ Shows all the latest goings on in space 

 

NASA :      jpl.nasa   A definitive list of and details of all missions that are still ‘live’.

 

MARS:      http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/  Curiosity rover

                   Marsrovers  There are 2 Mars Rovers still on Mars, but only one still operating.

                  

 

SATURN:  Cassini  Various close fly by’s of Titan, other moons, & Saturn itself. 

 

OTHERS      dawn    Dawn launched Oct 2007, Dawn visited the Minor Planets Vesta (Aug2011) & will visit Ceres (Feb2015)

 

         COSMOLOGY              

   Nasa site on Cosmology         http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/m_uni.html  

   University of Cambridge site   http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/gr/public/cos_home.html

   The Official String Theory Web Site        http://www.superstringtheory.com/cosmo/index.html

   UCLA site                                          http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/cosmolog.htm

 

                                                 

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                           PHOTOS:

 

 Go below for a small selection of pictures to give you some ideas for your own attempts.

Some technical information is given with each picture. Some pics are taken using ‘old’ methods with film, whilst others are taken with digital. Whatever equipment you have, you will be able to do something.  For the basic techniques go to  Photography    

Look at the following section….. Comets  Stars  Moon

 

To look at pictures taken by some of our members……..

Go to       Terry's  Astrophotos      DB's Pics  

 

         

 

 

  

 

COMETS     

 

 

Comet Hale Bopp

 

 

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29/03/97 :  3mins with 50mm f1.8, Nikon camera guided by 10"scope.Colour corrected to remove light pollution causing a yellowish cast caused by the town of Bridgwater. Film:Ectachrome 100ASA push processed  to 400ASA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comet Hale Bopp 12/04/97  20secs at f4.3(prime focus) through 250mm Aperture reflector on HP5 film uprated to 1600ASA. Photo by DB.

 

 

 

STARS

 

Orion Nebula & Horsehead.

 

 

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10min @ f2.8 using 135mm telephoto on a camera, mounted piggyback on a guided telescope. As well as M42, the Orion Nebula, you can just make out the dark shape of the Horsehead just below the faint star below the left hand belt star .                                                        

The Horsehead, difficult visually, but relatively easy to photograph.

 

 

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Jupiter in Leo.(11/06/04) A 15sec unguided digital shot. ISO set at 400, exposure time , f No,  & focusing manually set. Noise reduction set at ON. Camera used Olympus C765, set on tripod with self timer to take the photo. Photo by DB.

 

 

 

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031208   The Moon, Venus & Jupiter, from left to right, seen across Radipole Lake at Weymouth in Dorset.

For the technically minded, digital photo, 1 sec at F2.8,  ISO 400

 

 

 

MOON

 

     ‘Shoot the Moon’

 

 

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 A simple photo that anyone might try!  Digital camera pointed into the eyepiece of 11 x 80 binoculars aimed at the moon. Or use an SLR set at 1/125sec, with the lens wide open set to infinity.

 

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This is a digital shot at 45x  through a 10”Newtonian with the camera held up to the eyepiece.

 

 

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Same as previously but now at around 70x                   

 

 

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                                      And then some more magnification (but a different part of the moon)

Photos by DB.

 

 

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Bridgwater Astronomical Society : Programme for 2017/18:

 

The Monthly Meeting is on the 2nd Wednesday of each month during Sept - March, from 7pm - 9pm at Bawdrip village hall.

Check out our Facebook page for the latest info.  https://www.facebook.com/bwastro/

 

GoTo our Facebook Page. There is a link at the top of this web page to take you there, where you will find all the latest info

 

 

 

 

 

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CONTACT:                    For further information write to [email protected]

                                              Telephone : 01278 683740

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OBSERVING / STARGAZING 

 

 

A Stargazing session will always be held at the meeting in Bawdrip Village Hall  if the weather is suitable.

 

Bring your binoculars, telescopes, and star charts and red not white lights if you have them.

 

Laser pointers are not allowed, and smoking or vaping is not allowed in the hall or the private car park area around the hall, and no dogs please.

 

 

 

 

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Links to sites of interest to the Astronomer

 

If you have some favourite links why not share them with others. Please email to bwastrosoc at above address.

 

Members Favourite Links:

http://www.astronomycast.com/

http://www.jodcast.net/

http://www.slackerastronomy.org/wordpress/

http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/

http://www.lpod.org/

http://www.planetary.org/home/

 

 

Pages for Observers: 

 

This weeks night sky                                                  http://www.skypub.com/sights/sights.shtml        

Comet Pages                                                               http://www.skypub.com/sights/comets/comets.shtml         

Comet Observation Pages                                           http://encke.jpl.nasa.gov/  

Satellite Observing                                                      http://www.skypub.com/sights/satellites/satellites.shtml

Heavens above                                                            http://www.heavens-above.com/

The Astronomer                                                          http://www.theastronomer.org/index.html

BBC  Science & Nature : Space                                  http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/space/myspace/

Astronomy Now magazine                                          http://www.astronomynow.com/

Sky at Night Mag                                                         http://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/ 

The Society for Popular Astronomy                            http://www.popastro.com/home.htm

 

Telescopes  & telescope making:

Picstop.co.ul                                                                http://www.picstop.co.uk/telescopes

Skys the limit (Chinese Imports)                                  http://www.skysthelimit.org.uk/ 

Sherwoods                                                                    http://www.sherwoods-photo.com/homepage.htm

First Light Optics (Exeter)                                           http://www.firstlightoptics.com/

MC2scopes (Frome)                                                                     www.mc2scopes.com   

 

UK Telescopes                                                            http://www.uk-telescopes.co.uk/index.htm

Broadhurst Clarkson & Fuller Ltd                               http://www.telescopehouse.com/acatalog/about_us.html

David Hinds                                                                http://www.dhinds.co.uk/ 

AWR Technology                                                                        http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/awr.tech/

Beacon hill telescopes                                                  http://www.beaconhilltelescopes.mcmail.com/   

 

Societies & Groups:

British Astronomical Assoc                                          http://www.britastro.org/main/

Bristol Astronomical Society                                         http://www.bristolastrosoc.org.uk/

Crewkerne Astro Soc                                                     http://www.cadas.net/

South Som Astro Soc                                                     http://ssas.fateback.com/home.htm

Charterhouse Centre                                                       http://www.charterhousecentre.org.uk/

The North Devon Astronomical Society                            http://www.ndastros.org/

 

Misc.

Hubble Heritage Gallery of Images                                http://heritage.stsci.edu/public/gallery/galindex.html

Hubble Space Telescope  Public Pictures                       http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/pictures.html

ESO Online Digitized Sky Survey                                     http://arch-http.hq.eso.org/dss/dss

Cassini Huygens Mission to Saturn/Titan                           http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/index.cfm

JPL Nasa home page                                                                                  http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/      

Nasa home page                                                                                          http://www.nasa.gov/

ESA                                                                                                               http://www.esrin.esa.it/export/esaCP/index.html                    

 

 

 

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Setting up and using your telescope.   

(Please note that these are brief notes relevant to simple telescopes without electronic GoTo drives etc.)

 

The two most common questions we get asked from someone new to astronomy are usually these

1. " I've just bought a new telescope but I can't find anything with it"

2. "I've just bought a new telescope but I don't understand how to set it up. How do I set it up so that I can find something ?"

 

The first question is usually associated with actually pointing the telescope at an object, and is usually to do with the finder scope not being properly aligned with the main telescope tube. In daylight, point the telescope at a distant object such as a tree or building and then without moving the main telescope, adjust the finder so that the centre of the cross hairs points at the same object that you lined the telescope up on. If you can’t understand how to do this, then forget about the finder scope and at night time try looking up along the length of the main telescope tube to line it up on the object that you want to view. Make sure that the telescope is first set up with the lowest power of eyepiece ( focal length of 20mm or more).

 

The second question is more complicated and is to do with lining the telescope mount up with the sky. If your telescope has an 'Equatorial mount' the polar axis should be pointing towards the Pole star Polaris. To do this look at your mounting and identify the 2 movements that it has. Each movement is around a shaft or spindle. One of these, the polar axis can usually be tilted up or down at an angle to point at the pole star. If there is a scale then it should be set at your latitude(approx +52degrees for Bridgwater). Now when you take your telescope outside, position it so that polar axis points up at the pole star, or if you can't see or identify the pole star, set that axis pointing northwards using a compass. This should be good enough for simple observing.

 

IMPORTANT TIPS:

a) Always start off with the lowest magnification eyepiece in the telescope. This will be the one with the longest focal length such as 20mm or 25mm, and gives a wide field of view most suitable for initially finding things

b) Check before use that the small finder telescope is still lined up with the main telescope. Use a bright star or the moon.

c) Commence viewing on a bright object so that you can get the eyepiece in focus to start with. It will then be easier when you move on to fainter objects.

d) If you have an equatorial mount, line the polar axis up with the North Star, Polaris, as best you can.

 

If you are still stuck with something then send us an email [email protected]

 

 

Basic photography.

By far the easiest object to start with is the moon. You can just hold almost any type of camera to the eyepiece of your telescope and try pressing the shutter. The lens of the camera must be looking into the telescope eyepiece. Focus the moon in the eyepiece before you take your picture, and only use a low magnification eyepiece.

If there are settings on your camera that you can adjust, set focus to infinity or  max distance,  lens  ‘F’  no to lowest such as f2.8, and shutter speed to about 1/125th. Otherwise if your camera is automatic, let the camera do the work and keep your fingers crossed.

 

Another interesting object to consider, but without your telescope this time, and only if you have a camera with at least a 10x zoom facility, is to try a picture of Jupiter and it’s moons. You will need your camera tripod mounted, zoomed in to max setting. If possible use manual focussing, set to infinity, and manual exposure time set at half a second to begin with. Experiment with shorter or longer times to reveal the moons. Jupiter will be over exposed and will show no detail other than a bright blob of light.

 

Other objects will not normally be possible unless your camera shutter can be left opened for more than several seconds, and then the camera must be securely fixed to something on the telescope, and the telescope needs to have a motor drive running so that it keeps pace with the star movements. With this method it is possible to take pictures of the planets, or close ups of the moon.

 

If you have a tripod you may be able to have a go at photographing the stars in the night sky using just your camera lens and a time exposure to collect their light.

First aim your camera in the required direction. As before, set focus to infinity or  max distance,  lens  ‘F’  no to lowest such as f2.8, and shutter speed to 10 seconds or more. If automatic, make sure the camera is set for a time exposure of at least 10 seconds if possible. Shorter times will do but you will only capture the brighter stars in your photo.

Now comes the tricky bit. If there is a self timer button use this to fire the shutter after you have pressed the button. That way you will not shake the camera during the time the lens is open. If not you will have to try and do it manually.

Depending on your camera and specifications you should be able to photograph all stars that can be seen with the naked eye, and possibly some fainter ones. Have a go at the planets among the stars, minor planets, comets, etc. Good Luck.

 

For a detailed article on processing webcam images of the planets go to http://www.skyandtelescope.com/howto/astrophotography/How_to_Process_Planetary_Images.html

http://www.threebuttes.com/RegistaxTutorial.htm

http://www.davesastro.co.uk/techniques/registax_tutorial/index.html

 

 

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BEGINNERS CORNER.

 

Q:  Do I need to buy a telescope?

A:  No not at all. In fact until you decide what it is that interests you in the night sky it is difficult to choose which telescope will suit you best . So to start with, use your eyes, or perhaps a pair of binoculars if you have some, or can borrow a pair, or borrow the Society’s 150mm reflector if you feel confident of having a go.

 

Q:  OK so what can I see with just my eyes?

A:  Well  a whole night sky covered with stars, constellation patterns including the constellation signs of the zodiac (Aries, Taurus, etc)  the moon and planets including, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, but you will need to know where to look ( Click on the Heavens Above link in  Viewing the Night sky’ to get a star chart that includes planet positions).

Then there are shooting stars (or meteor showers as they are known to astronomers), orbiting earth satellites such as The International Space Station Int' Space Station(ISS), Eclipses of the Sun & Moon, Transits(events where objects pass in front of other objects such as the sun or planets), comets…..

 

Q: And what can I see with binoculars?

A; Much, much more. Fainter stars (The bigger the binoculars or telescope lens, the fainter are the stars that you can see), lots of details on the moon (such as its Mares or Sea’s and the many craters that pockmark its surface), Jupiter’s 4 brightest moons (but you will probably need to steady your binoculars on a post or a wall), Saturn’s rings (You can just about make out the elliptical shape of the rings in 7 x 50 binoculars), star clusters, nebulae, galaxies, minor planets(asteroids), fainter comets,  2 more planets of the Solar System  Uranus and Neptune….

 

Q: And what are those funny numbers they always show when advertising binoculars?

A:  Well the numbers are usually something like .. 7 x 35,  or 10 x 50.  The first number, such as 7 or 10,  is the magnification, or how much closer an object will look compared to the eye. The second number, such as 35 or 50, is the size of the lens in millimetres (mm). Remember the answer in the question above… The bigger the binoculars or telescope lens, the fainter are the stars that you can see.

 

Q: All very well, but do I really need binoculars or a telescope?

A: No not at all. Some people are quite content reading about all aspects of astronomy, others like to follow what’s happening regarding space travel and space probes, some like to carry out calculations to prove or disprove theories, and there are many other things that can be done without optical equipment.

 

 

Stargazing for Beginners.

 

 

So ….  moving on to doing some Stargazing, first you need to be able to identify North & South. If you have a compass then use that, or if you can already recognise the Plough use the chart below to identify the Pole Star, which is almost due North.

 

 

 

 

Once you have found the Pole Star you can use your new found knowledge then to find other things….

 

 

 

Having found Cassiopea, you might then be able to find the square of Pegasus.

 

 

 

 

Then that leads you to Andromeda and the Spiral Galaxy M31 (marked as ‘nebula’ on the chart below) that looks like our own Milky Way Galaxy.

 

 

 

 

Things can soon get quite complicated though. Take a look at the next chart!

 

 

 

 

 

So….. Don’t panic!  Here is an all sky star chart that you can download, print off and take outside.

 

 

 

 

So how do you use it?  Look at it carefully and you will see ‘South’ at the bottom. Just above it is marked ‘Sept’, short for September, and to the left

of ‘Sept’ is a ‘20’ indicating the position for 20th September. The short note at the right tells you the chart is for midnight for the dates shown.

So if you went outside at midnight on 20th Sept, looked South and held the chart up in front of you, that would be the view of the night sky that you

should see. If you go out 2 hours earlier at 10pm you need to rotate the chart slightly so that the Roman numerals XX11 are at the bottom.

 

 

 

 

Similarly if it’s October 20th then you need to rotate the chart the other way until ‘20 Oct’ is at the bottom. Again if the time is 10pm instead of 12pm

then rotate the chart by 2 hours on the upper scale from ‘11’ back to ‘O’. If it was 11pm you would move it to ‘1’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A brief History of the Society.

 

1969  Spring/ Summer,  Formation of the Bridgwater Astronomical Society. Five Members present.

 

1969 3rd Nov. There were seven members present, plus a new member Mr Buckland. This brought the total membership of the Society to 11. Mr Charles Key was the chairman, Mr K Combes the Vice Chairman, Mr Duncan Bee was the secretary and Mr Gentile was the Treasurer.

 

1969 Dec.  The Society has 15 members.

 

1970 6th Jan.  There were seven members present. Additional officers elected were Mr Stone as Press Officer and Mr Livingstone as Librarian. It was also agreed that members should pay 6d a week to cover the cost of the clubroom.

 

1970  4th Feb.  A secretary’s report exists. It mentions that ‘the club has now been in existence for just over 6 months and has added 14 members to the original 5.’ ‘The last 6 months have seen a change of meeting place from the Bridgwater Squib to the Fountain Inn’

 

1971 June WL Buckland becomes the secretary.

 

1972 Sept Mr G Jarvis makes his first appearance.

 

1973 Sept Mr D Bown makes his first appearance.

 

1973 Oct  Ken Coles had been nominated as the Society’s representative to be trained in the use of the Charterhouse telescope.

 

1977: Oct 12th The first Observational Evening at Parchey Bridge arranged by Mr D Bown for the following Friday.

 

1980: June 11th  Mr G Jarvis becomes Treasurer after Mr Coles relinquishes the position.

 

1982: June 9th  Mr D Bown replaces Mr W Earp as Deputy Chairman.

 

1984: June 13th Mr D Bown succeeds Mr K Coombs as chairman.

 

1984:  Sept 12th First meeting in room D10 at Bridgwater College, Bath Rd.

 

1985: Nov 18th  Mr Bown, the chairman and provider of monthly notes, presents notes stating that Halley's comet will be near the Pleiades in a few days time.

 

1987: Jan 21st Mr Earp tells of a letter received from Mr Dowling in Australia, commenting on Orion being upside down. Also, this meeting had to be postponed for a week due to the severe arctic weather.

 

1987: Oct 7th Patrick Moore gives a lecture at the BCL Social Centre.

 

1998: 10th June Walter Buckland retires as secretary after 27 years, Gordon Mackenzie takes over the role.

 

1999: Aug 11th  Members travel to various places to view the Total Eclipse of the Sun.

 

 

 

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Introduction Continued……. (return to Start of Introduction)

 

 

If the sky is clear we will normally be outside from 7pm for most of the time so bring along your binoculars and telescopes, and wear warm clothing.

 If the weather is unsuitable for viewing, we will look at the night sky on a projector screen indoors and discuss what is currently on view, and perhaps have a short talk on a topic of current interest.

 

New members of all ages and abilities are most welcome with no obligations on regular attendance. Just come along!

 Bawdrip Village Hall and the surrounding car park is fairly wheelchair friendly, so if you would like to join us and you have to use a wheelchair, you will be most welcome. Just come along, it's only £1 for the evening!

 

The Society has a basic 6” reflecting telescope, that is brought to each meeting for members wanting to try out a telescope. Do come along and have a go if you have never tried one before. It is really quite easy. If there is something in particular that you would like to see do ask, and if it is visible on the night, we will make every effort to locate the object for you to see.

 

We operate a No Smoking and No Laser Pointers policy at both our meetings in the hall and during Stargazing in the Hall Car Park.

 

If there is anything else you want to ask about Tel 01278 683740