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.

Rosetta - the Mission ends but now the science begins

Today marked the end of one of the most audacious space missions - to orbit and also land on a Comet.

The Rosetta mission along with its plucky robot lander Philae has been examining Comet 67P/Churiumov-Gerasimenko for about 2 years.

With failing power as the comet recedes from the Sun, the Rosetta craft was planned to de-orbit form the comet and make a soft-ish landing into its surface today.

At around 1219BST today the signal was lost from the probe indicating that it has now lost contact with Earth.

Rosetta has made many stunning discoveries and there is probably enough data to keep comet scientists busy for decades.

One thing is sure is that Rosetta has completely re-written the rule book about Comets.

2016-2017 Program of Events - draft

This is a draft program of events for 2016-2017.

Details of the upcoming Public Lectures are still be finalised and program updates will be published when these details are available.

Please check back here regularly for any changes and announcements with regards to the program of events for 2016-2017.

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.

James Webb Space Telescope - the countdown begins

Many people have been wowed by the amazing images from the Hubble Space Telescope for more than two decades.

But in the not too distant future a new Space Telescope will be ready for launch.

The James Webb Space Telescope [JWST] has been under construction for more than 10 years and with increasing costs has faced many calls for it to be scrapped. However following a current spend of around $10 billion the JWST has got to the final hurdle before ground based testing begins.

Scheduled for launch some time in 2018, the components of the JWST have finally been married together recently with space-frame and mirrors made in the USA, Instruments in Europe - including the UK, and various important electronics and cameras from Canada.

Citizen Science needs you

Dopes your computer stay powered on for some time every day?

Does is stand idle while you go make a cup of tea?

Do you watch as the egg-timer trundles away while you download the latest movie across your slow internet connection?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions then you could release your PC to do something interesting and cool for the benefit of science.

Mass-participation offline number-crunching is the latest way to get involved in science investigation.

Just turn over your pc to use some of its spare capacity to crunch the numbers from a world-wide science collaboration.

To find out more check this out .... 

The Stars by Night - a guidebook to planning an evenings observations

Ever wondered about doing a  simple observing program.

This one is about as simple as it gets - observe one star each night - for every night for a whole year.

About 150 years ago this was the aim of a local amateur astronomer and he published a guidebook to help other observers undertake the observing plan.

Now the guidebook is being re-released by a local publisher.

For more details check out this blog....


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.

Recent Astro-Photographs taken by HAPS members on vacation

This ia a link to recent astro-photographs taken by one of the members of HAPS.

You will see images of the recent Total Solar Eclipse in Svalbard on 20/03/15 as well as images taken of the Aurora Borealis in Iceland in 2013.

This Website is a work-in-progress project.


The Winter Night Sky

Winter is upon us and hopefully there have been a few opportunities to get our telescopes and Binoculars out.

Winter brings the opportunity to view Orion's treasures and the many starfields in Cygnus are still visible though getting lower in the west as the night proceeds

December, January and February will bring opportunity to view two bright planets - Venus and Jupiter - but Saturn is still too close to the Sun at the moment - its time will come in Summer 2017.

There are also opportunities to view two bright meteor showers - the Geminids in December and the Quadrantids of early January.

More details are in the sky notes and star charts enclosed.

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