Observing Site Etiquette

Please do not arrive at the observing site before 7:30pm as the gates may be locked and you will block the Lane.

Do not use a white light whilst members are observing, your eyes take approximately half an hour to dark adapt and this can be ruined in seconds, red lights only please.

Avoid full beam headlights when arriving or leaving (preferably side lights).

Do not eat food or drink when you are near the telescopes, use the building if you would like to take a break or have refreshments.

In case of medical emergencies or accidents we have a no lone observing policy (safety in numbers), we only observe as a group on planned evenings. You could end up with a vehicle breakdown, puncture, a health issue or injure yourself, not good if you are alone.

At the end of the session the keyholders will do a white light sweep to make sure nothing has been left behind and that the site is clean, tidy and secure before leaving.

The last two cars should leave together.


Observing sessions begin in September when the nights are darker and finish in early May.

If  the weather is poor we will set up a couple of telescopes indoors and run through the basics, so please bring along your telescopes if you need any help or advice setting up or using it.

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.

Non members are allowed three free visits.

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.

General Observing Tips

 Wrap up warm with multiple layers of clothing (base, middle and top layer).

Stout shoes or boots are recommended with thick or heated socks.

Keep your head and neck warm (hat, scarf, hood, balaclava etc). You can lose a lot of heat through your head.

Gloves are essential (handwarmers recommended).

Have plenty of warm drinks or soup.

Optical equipment takes time to cool down, the recommendation is 20 minutes per inch of aperture, therefore a 3” telescope should be left to cool for 1 hour before observing.

Observing Help and Advice

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 you are observing with binoculars, it can be much more comfortable if you use a garden chair or recliner, this way you can enjoy effortless scans of the skies without getting a stiff neck or straining your arms.

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 until you are confident you can do it easily – this will save a lot of frustration believe me!