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.

HAPS 2017 Annual General meeting

On Friday 28th April 2017, HAPS will be holding its Annual General Meeting.

This meeting is primarily designed to discuss the ongoing business of the Society.

Guests may attend this meeting and can contributes but for not allowed a vote on any decisions.

2017-18 HAPS Program of Events - draft program

The next program of Events is drafted and will be updated as and when speakers and other events are confirmed.

So, Paul Money is coming on  Friday 5th May - in the 2017-18 program - for part 2 of a series of lectures entitled :

Triumphs of the Voyager part 2 [May PL]

This talk will be highlighting the major milestones and discoveries of the longest ever space missions - the Voyager Program - that started off in the late 1970s and have now reached far beyond the orbit of Neptune and are still trickling back date about the outer reaches of the solar system.

Astronomy and Astronometry

Inspired by one of the projects undertaken by our January 2017 Public Lecture speaker, Rob Ince, from Preston; here are a few starter projects to get you to locate some of the smaller bodies of the soar system - Asteroids.

Enclosed are star charts for the track of two of the brighter asteroids, Vesta and Pallas:

Vesta -


Pallas -

Vesta is bright enough to be found with binoculars. Palls is much fainter and will be a challenge in even large binoculars but should be visible with a small telescope.

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 Spring Night Sky

Spring is traditionally the season for spotting Galaxies - in the constellations of Leo and Virgo and a few others scattered across the less-well known constellations such as Coma etc.

As well as galaxies, in Spring 2017, there is the ongoing observation of Venus - the Evening Star - which is currently showing a  pronounced - and thinning - crescent as it moves in its orbit around the Sun with respect to Earth.

Also in the next few months the giant Planets Jupiter and Saturn are on show.

Though nights are getting shorter there is still plenty of opportunity to view a dark skies until well into April provided you don't mind burning the midnight oil.

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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