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Guildford Astronomical Society

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Recent Outreach Events

H ere are some of the events and activities we've been involved in :

20 Nov 2009 Newlands Corner People looking through the eyepiece of Ted's large Dobsonian

The last of our large observing events for the year was once again held under clear skies (apart from a covering of fog for a short while). There were over 120 visitors and around 20 telescopes and once again everyone was treated to fabulous views of the night sky. The visitor centre was buzzing with activity all evening. We'll definitely be holding more of these in 2010. Images: John Evans

Julia shows a visitor how a CCD camera attaches to her telescope
20 Nov 2009 Busbridge Infant School Shelagh, Julia and Ted met two classes of 6 & 7 year olds, and presented slides on astronomy. The children were very interested to see Ted's telescope, which he will take back and set up in the playground on a fine day, to allow them to see the moon.
18 Nov 2009 Stoughton Youth Group This youth group in central Guildford surely takes the prize for having the worst light pollution we've ever encountered. It was cloudy, but we showed a PowerPoint presentation and showed the younsters how telescopes are set up and used. It cleared slightly, allowing a few glimpses of the stars.
11 Nov 2009 "Telescope Amnesty" at Intech Planetarium Four GAS members took their telescope along to the Intech Planetarium, near Winchester. Clouds prevented outdoor viewing, but there was plenty of interest in seeing some of our telescopes set up, and a simulation of CCD imaging to a laptop. Julia helped out several families who had brought along their scopes for advice on how to get started. The evening ended with a Planetarium show for everybody. Definitely one to do again in future.
9 Nov 2009 1st Witley Scout Group A visit to the 1st Witley Scouts, near Godalming. We hope to return when the weather's better.
29 Oct 2009 Pavement astronomy The Royal Albert Hall In support of the photographic exhibition 'Explorers of the Universe' by Max Alexander, a couple of GAS members took their telescopes into central London to allow concert-goers to grab a close-up view of the moon as they entered and left the venue.
25 Sep 2009 A Tour of the Night Sky The fourth of our series of observing events at Newlands Corner was held under a completely clear and dark night sky. Early views of the moon showed craters Eudoxus and Aristoteles highlighted on the terminator, and Jupiter and the Galilean moons provided a stunning view through the telescopes. There was no shortage of deep sky objects to please the visitors - clusters, the Dumbbell nebula and Andromeda were just a few of the favourites. The Visitor Centre was again buzzing with people who were eager to find out more.By the end of the evening it was apparant that as many as 200 people had attended the event, again, many of them were children. Thanks to Crawley AS for their support - we must have had over 20 telescopes out that night.
12 Sep 2009 Surrey Wildlife Trust's 'Big Birthday Bash' This event was held at Newlands Corner, where Guildford Astronomical Society had its stand amongst stalls offereing countyside activities, crafts, food and music. Once again, we had a warm, sunny day with no cloud, and we were able to offer views through solar telescopes to a constant stream of people. The view of Venus in broad daylight through a refractor astounded most people who saw it.
05 Sep 2009 The British Science Festival GAS exhibition in the quadrangle of Abbots hospital

GAS made use of the beautiful grounds of Abbots hospital, just off the High Street in Guildford, for their display as part of the Hands-On Science Family Day. There were displays to browse, and for most of the day the sky remained clear enough for solar viewing through H-alpha and white light scopes. GAS were joined by the Herstmonceux Science Centre who brought along a gravity well, and telescope-making activities.

GAS exhibition in the quadrangle of Abbots Hospital

It was great to see so many children coming along and taking an interest in astronomy. Images: John Axtell

28 Aug 2009 The Great Look Up Twilight at the Varsity Centre, a queue of people forming by the biggest telescope

GAS teamed up with the University of Surrey to provide a unique astronomy event, held at the Varsity Centre in Guildford. The idea behind The Great Look Up was to celebrate IYA2009 and the start of the British Science Festival by bring together families and friends to join astronomers and share the wonders of the night sky. There were inspiring talks from BBC TV presenter Maggie Philbin, and Stuart Eves from SSTL, as well as a 'What to look for' by GAS secretary John Axtell. Other attractions included a barbecue, telescope users workshop and a moon sketching activity for children. GAS were joined by friends from neighbouring societies including Crawley, Cody, Croydon and Hants Astro to bring the number of telesopes to around 30.

A long expose photo shows figures moving about amongst the telescopes

The night sky remained clear allowing visitors views of the Moon, Jupiter, stars, galaxies, nebulae and clusters through our telescopes. Two large plasma screen TVs displayed live close-up images of the Moon's surface via the society's Stellacam.

The event attracted around 350 people, while hundreds more worldwide followed on Twitter. Images: M. Lawes, Astronomia

27 Jul 2009 Observing with Scouts from Manchester Mike and Julia from GAS took their telescopes to Bentley Copse Camp Site to meet a group of Scouts from Manchester. Once again we had a clear night for observing, and all the group were able to see Jupiter, double stars, galaxies, nebulae and clusters. For many of the Scouts, it was the first time they'd observed the night sky away from city lights.
11 Jul 2009 GAS at Pyrford and Wisley Flower Show Tables and display panels show GAS's activities to visitors at the flower show

There was an astronomical theme for this year's Flower Show - 'Sun, Moon and Stars'. The GAS stand attracted a lot of attention with its displays of information and images. Sadly it was cloudy all day so visitors ddn't get to look through any of the solar telescopes, but as with all our appearences this year, there was a huge amount of interest from passers by, with many stopping by to browse and chat and pick up leaflets.

14 Jun 2009 GAS at Chiddingfold Village Festival There were sunny skies at this year's Chiddingfold Village Festival. The GAS stand with its exhibitions and displays was also equipped for solar viewing with H-alpha telescopes. Over 100 people came over to look through the scopes, and for many it was the first time they had done so. There was a huge amount of interest in the society, IYA2009 and astronomy in general. Many people said they would like to know more and will come to our next scheduled public observing session.
29 May 2009 Observing Evening at Newlands Corner The interior of the Visitor Centre is full of people looking at the diplays and exhibitions

Our recent 'Tour of the Night Sky' at Newlands Corner turned out to be even more successful than the previous two. The evening was beautifully clear, and remained so for the whole event. There were more than 25 telescopes of all sizes, including several from our neighbouring societies Croydon and Crawley. The first quarter moon was the first crowd-pleaser, with beautiful views of the craters along the terminator. As the sky darkened Saturn was of course the centre of attention.

On the grassy field there are several telescopes set up and pointing south towards a clear horizon. Many people are around the scopes, waiting for the sky to darken

By the the time the sky was dark enough to see clusters and galaxies it was clear that there were at least 200 visitors; there were long queues at most of the telescopes. The Visitor Centre was full to overflowing with people eager to see the displays and to watch the DVDs. There was a constant demand for tea and coffee.

A close-up picture of the tiny Stallacam video CCD camera attached to the diagonal of a Meade SCT A large monitor is displaying the output from the Stellacam. Several moon craters are clearly shown

Meanwhile outside, the society's Stellacam gave splendid views of the Moon's craters, Saturn and M13 to a large monitor that enabled a large group of people to observe them easily.

A small boy crouches down to observe through a large pair of binoculars

One of most successful aspects of the event was the large number of children who were able to come along. Maybe the good weather and half-term holiday allowed them to stay up later then usual. It had simply been an exceptional night - and a true celebration of IYA2009.

25 May 2009 GAS At Surrey County Show The GAS gazebo with display material is set up at the Surrey County Show, with lots of visitors around

Forty thousand people flocked to the Surrey County Show to enjoy the sunshine on Bank Holiday Monday. The GAS stand was set up with display materials, and two H-Alpha and one white-light filtered telescope were set up to allow visitors to safely observe the Sun. From mid-morning onwards, the sun shone brightly and there was a steady stream of visitors, attracted by the telescopes on show. There was a huge amount of interest, not just in looking at the Sun but in astronomy in general and we were busy answering questions all day. Many of the people we met attended our next event at Newlands Corner. It had been a most successful day. Thanks John, Sue, John, Peter, Karen, Julia, Tony, Pam and Andy.

GAS members engaging with visitors and offering views through their telescopes
05 May 2009 Astronomy at The Star, Dorking Another succesful evening with indoor films and pavement astronomy with telescopes and binoculars. There was much interest from pub goers and passers-by. The Moon and Saturn were again high on the list of 'Wow's.
01 May 2009 Observing Evening at Newlands Corner Telescopes at dusk

The second of our observing sessions 'A Tour of the Night Sky' was again very well attended, with over 120 people gathered at Newlands Corner. A layer of cloud threatened to disappoint everyone but a large gap soon appeared allowing everyone views of the Moon and Saturn. There were 22 telescopes including Dobs of all sizes, SCTs, refractors, Mak-Newts and a Galileoscope. It was an incredible evening and very much appreciated by all who visited.

Alan describes his Meader SCT to two interested onlookers
01 Apr 2009 Observing Evening, 2nd Reigate Scout Group, Bentley Copse

The Explorer Scouts and their leaders enjoyed views of the Moon, Saturn, stars, globular clusters, nebulae and galaxies through telescopes and tripod mounted binoculars. Judging from the barrage of questions, there was no shortage of interest from the teenagers.

Image description - Explorer Scouts and leaders grouped round a telescope, some of them pointing at the sky
01 Apr 2009 Solar Presentation and Observing, Kids Day, UK Space Conference, Charterhouse School Image description - Solar telescopes in the lawn in front of the Charterhouse Hall, with many students gathered round them

The beautiful green lawn in front of the main hall at Charterhouse provided a perfect venue for a solar observing session for school children attending the UK Space Conference. Indoors, rolling presentations and displays gave information about the sun. Outside, telescopes safely equipped with white light or Hydrogen Alpha filters gave views of the sun. Although no sunspots were visible, there were a few prominences to see. The live video society's Stellacam on a PST was streamed to a display in the classroom, enabling the children to study granulation on the Sun's surface.

Image description - A Solar telescope equipped with Stellacam in the foreground. In the background one of Charterhouse's old buildings with a wide arch
21 Mar 2009 Observing with Cub Scouts, Tilford , Farnham Ken, Peter, Paul and Tony provided the Cub Scouts with stunning views of the Orion Nebula and Saturn through an 8" Meade SCT and a Televue refractor. The evening's success can be summed up by the following overheard conversation. "This is just like science at school" " No it isn't - this is fun !"
20 Mar 2009 Observing with Astronomia Two GAS members joined Astronomia for an observing session for children from Fetcham Infants School, at Denbies View Dorking.
17 Mar 2009 "She's an Astronomer, She's Rocket Scientist"

Our major event of the year, supporting the IYA2009's "She's an Astronomer" cornerstone, held at the University of Surrey. Three professional female astronomers, Dr Emily Baldwin, Dr Lucie Green amd Dr Mini Saaj, presented their experiences in astronomy, from the factors that influenced their choice of career to the exciting projects and missions they are currently involved in. They each described the route they took to achieve their carreer ambitions and provided advice on educational and career opportunities. The audience were students from schools in Camberley, Guildford and Portsmouth, many of them taking physics A-levels and looking for advice on related university courses. Students were given the opportunity to put their questions to the speakers, and these included "What's the future for space tourism?" and "Is there life on Mars?". Everyone agreed that the event had been a great success in motivating and inspiring the young scientists of the future.

Image description - Mini Saaj, Lucie Green and Emily Baldwin
5 Mar 2009 Gomshall and Peaslake Beavers This group of boys aged 6 - 8 were lucky with the weather. Late afternoon was clear, and the boys were able to observe the moon through binoculars and a telescope. After an indoor presentation about the Solar System and the constallations, we all went back outside to observe Venus as a very thin crescent. As the boys were heading home, their mums, dads, brothers and sisters, and even a few passers-by were eager to grab a glimpse of Venus through the telescope.
3 Mar 2009 Goldsworth Park Brownies Unfortunately it was cloudy for the evening. The Brownie pack enjoyed a talk about the Solar System by John Axtell, which earned them points towards their Stargazing badge. Later, Anne showed them how a telescope works, and Julia used Stellarium to show them what to look for on the next clear night.
13 Feb 2009 Observing Evening at Newlands Corner

Over 150 members of the public were treated to a tour of the night sky by members of GAS. 16 telescopes were set up outside the Visitor Centre and visitors enjoyed a clear night looking at a variety of different objects. The most popular sights were a crescent-shaped Venus, Saturn with its rings almost edge on, star clusters, the Andromeda galaxy and multiple stars such as Sigma Orionis. Astronomers were on hand to point out the main constellations using green laser pointers.

In the the Visitor Centre there were audio-visual presentations and information about astronomy and local societies. Comments from visitors included "This was brilliant, thank you very much!", "had a lovely time, learnt LOTS from the members","Looking forward to the next one".

Image description - Several people gathered around telescopes in the field with clear sky beyond