Observing 2017

The next observing session will be on Thursday 2nd November at 7:30pm

Observing sessions begin in September when the nights are darker and finish in May, however we will have occasional meetings at Sconce throughout the summer months (dates to be announced).

We intend to set up a couple of telescopes on these nights and run through the basics, so please bring along your telescopes if you need any help or advice setting up or using it.

Please Note – There will be no telephone ring round or text messages to remind you on the day, so please check our website to see if observing is going ahead.

All members are welcome, you can bring along your own telescopes and binoculars or just turn up and have a guided tour of the night sky using the society equipment.

Warm clothing and stout footwear are essential. Toilet facilities are available on-site and we have use of the building if you need to warm up. Tea and coffee making facilities are available if required.

Observing Help and Advice

Firstly – if you intend to go outside observing then make sure you wrap up really well, you will be surprised how quickly you start to feel the cold if you are not used to observing – remember you are not moving about much, so the cold will soon ‘bite’ if you do not have sufficient insulation. Make sure you have some thick socks and stout boots as well – the cold will soon get through lightweight shoes. Take a flask with some warm tea, coffee or even soup. Hand warmers are also very useful – you can buy the type that use solid fuel sticks which burn slowly for a few hours, or the chemical ones which last for about 1/2 hour and can be re-generated by boiling in a pan of water. You can even buy battery heated socks these days – They certainly take the chill out of your feet.

Once outside or at your observing site, allow yourself time to become dark adapted – Your eyes need time – anything up to half an hour to adjust to the low light levels, and as time passes you will be amazed at how many more stars you are becoming aware of as your eyes slowly become adapted – keep away from any areas where there are bright lights, or at least keep your exposure down to a minimum – if possible mask any lights with something – I used an old towel draped across the trees in my garden to mask out a neighbors security light. If you are in the garden don’t keep going inside to get warm unless you turn out the house lights, otherwise you will never allow your eyes to adjust to the dark – use a red lamp not a normal torch, I use a purpose made observing light but a cycle rear light is just as good and this will not affect your dark adaption.

If you are observing with binoculars, it can be much more comfortable if you take a garden chair to sit in – especially the type that allows you to recline, this way you can enjoy effortless scans of the skies without getting a stiff neck or straining your arms – binoculars seem to get very heavy after a while and unless you have some of the image stabilised ones then you will find everything starts to dither about.

Use a star chart or planetarium to find you way around the sky, start with learning a constellation that you can easily recognise – the plough for example, which can be used to point the way to polaris the pole star. Other constellations are used in a similar way to point to other constellations, in no time at all you will be able to find your way around the sky.

If you are new to Astronomy and maybe just bought your first telescope, make sure you are completely familiar with it before you start to observe. Set everything up in the house in daylight and make sure you know what everything does and how it all fits together and operates before going out in the dark – there’s nothing worse than trying to figure out where that elusive lever is when it’s dark, so run through the set up a few times during the day or indoors untill you are confident you can do it easily – this will save a lot of frustration believe me!

Observing Help and Advice

Firstly – if you intend to go outside observing then make sure you wrap up really well, you will be surprised how quickly you start to feel the cold if you are not used to observing – remember you are not moving about much, so the cold will soon ‘bite’ if you do not have sufficient insulation. Make sure you have some thick socks and stout boots as well – the cold will soon get through lightweight shoes. Take a flask with some warm tea, coffee or even soup. Hand warmers are also very useful – you can buy the type that use solid fuel sticks which burn slowly for a few hours, or the chemical ones which last for about 1/2 hour and can be re-generated by boiling in a pan of water. You can even buy battery heated socks these days – They certainly take the chill out of your feet.

Once outside or at your observing site, allow yourself time to become dark adapted – Your eyes need time – anything up to half an hour to adjust to the low light levels, and as time passes you will be amazed at how many more stars you are becoming aware of as your eyes slowly become adapted – keep away from any areas where there are bright lights, or at least keep your exposure down to a minimum – if possible mask any lights with something – I used an old towel draped across the trees in my garden to mask out a neighbors security light. If you are in the garden don’t keep going inside to get warm unless you turn out the house lights, otherwise you will never allow your eyes to adjust to the dark – use a red lamp not a normal torch, I use a purpose made observing light but a cycle rear light is just as good and this will not affect your dark adaption.

If you are observing with binoculars, it can be much more comfortable if you take a garden chair to sit in – especially the type that allows you to recline, this way you can enjoy effortless scans of the skies without getting a stiff neck or straining your arms – binoculars seem to get very heavy after a while and unless you have some of the image stabilised ones then you will find everything starts to dither about.

Use a star chart or planetarium to find you way around the sky, start with learning a constellation that you can easily recognise – the plough for example, which can be used to point the way to polaris the pole star. Other constellations are used in a similar way to point to other constellations, in no time at all you will be able to find your way around the sky.

If you are new to Astronomy and maybe just bought your first telescope, make sure you are completely familiar with it before you start to observe. Set everything up in the house in daylight and make sure you know what everything does and how it all fits together and operates before going out in the dark – there’s nothing worse than trying to figure out where that elusive lever is when it’s dark, so run through the set up a few times during the day or indoors untill you are confident you can do it easily – this will save a lot of frustration believe me!