Beginners Course

New to astronomy? The Society holds 2 beginners courses during the winter months usually Oct/Nov and Feb/March.
Course places are limited to 20 per course.

See below for more information.

2017-18 Program of events - downloadable edition

This is a printable and downloadable version of the Astronomy Society's program for the remainder fo 2017-18.

There are still a few details to fill in and these will be done when information is available.

Watch this Space!

Observatory public solar open evenings

The following evenings will be dedicated to observing the Sun and are open to the public - if the sky is clear:

a) Friday 23rd June 2017

b) Friday 7th July 2017     and

c) Friday 21st July 2017

If the sun is out on any of these three evenings the Observatory will be open to the public - starting at 6.30pm until approximately 8pm, weather permitting.

The cost of general admission is £3 adult and £1.50 concessionary.

Please contact the Society in advance if you wish to come along - use the Contact Us form

2018 - HAPS will be celebrating is 50th Birthday

During 2018, HAPS will be celebrating its 50th Birthday.

We are hoping to invite a very special keynote speaker for mid-2018.

Details of this event and others planned as part of our celebration will be posted here in due course

Watch this space!

2017 - the Planets are coming

During 2017, a number of the Planets will appear during quite a few months of this year.

Some will be easily spotted in the sky such as Venus and Jupiter, others such as Saturn will take a little tracking down. A third group including Mars will take a bit more effort to locate.

So, taking each Planet in turn, here are some notes to get you started:

a) Venus - the Morning [and sometimes Evening] Star. 

Between now and March 16th Venus will appear as a brilliant object in the after-dusk sky - visible for many hours after sunset. Between March 17th and April 2nd it will disappear behind the Sun. Then from April 3rd until November 16th it wil be present in the pre-dawn morning sky.

Tuesday Night Meetings

In addition to our weekly Friday events the Society also meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month.

These meetings are great for astronomy newcomers as well as for the more experienced, they are less structured than the Friday meetings and have a relaxed, sociable feel to them.

We chat about astronomy and science related subjects, share information, and help each other with advice on equipment matters, astrophotography, observing etc.

There is currently a telescope building project on the go (anyone can join in), we have a Tuesday night Facebook group, and we organise observing trips, both to our Observatory and to other dark sky sites in the area.

Meteor Showers 2016 to 2018

The Autumn and Winter of 2016, 2017 and 2018 promise the potential for some good shooting star observing.

The first major shower of the Autumn are the Draconids - these are active around the 10th October. They are the left-overs from a well known comet Goacobini-Zinner and on occasion they can have quite a good showing.

Next comes the Orionids - these are active from 16th to 27th October with a peak on the 20th/21st. There will be a nearly new Moon on this night so get ready for some hours spent tracking these down. Orion rises at around 11pm so you need to stay up late or get up very early to see this shower as they are best viewed after midnight.

The Summer Night Sky

Summer brings longer brighter [hopefully] days and as a consequence shorter nights.

This restricts the hours of darkness during June, July and August to no more than about 6 hours at most.

The main thing to see is the Summer Milky Way - along with a very special summer phenomenon - Noctilucent clouds. These are crated when sunlight reflects/refracts off very high placed ice crystals and may show up as iridescent coloured 'fishnet' style clouds that are often only see around a few hours either side of midnight [1am BST!], when the Sun is at its lowest point in the sky.

The Planets are moving around and later in the year most will be lost to solar conjunctions.

Campaign for Dark Skies

Campaign for Dark Skies, sometimes also known as CfDS, is a forum, run by astronomers in the UK in support of ensuring that anyone can find places to go to, in order to be able to view the Milky Way and other aspects of our Night Skies, free from the problems caused by unnecessary or overuse of artificial lighting, in town centres as well as out-of-town developments.

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