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Guildford Astronomical Society

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Our Observatory

The Society operates the JST (John Smith Telescope), a 20.5-inch (approximately half-metre), reflector at a secluded dark-sky site. It is situated near Holmbury Saint Mary, on the south-facing side of the Surrey part of the North Downs, approx 12 miles east of Guildford. It avoids much of the local light pollution and regularly achieves visual limiting magnitudes averaging 5.5 - 5.7, (very good for this part of southern England). Transport is essential; adjacent parking is available.

The JST is mounted on a driven one-ton Fork mount. It is currently configured as an f/5 Newtonian, with an open truss-type tube assembly. It is housed in a dome, with full access to the zenith. Ancillary buildings provide storage, shelter and computing facilities. These have recently been extensively renovated.

The JST is named after John Smith who was a long-standing member of the society, a lifelong amateur astronomer, and one of the foremost radio astronomers in the country. With his technical ingenuity he made many improvements to the Observatory and its systems. As Observatory Director, John spent many wonderful nights with us acting as host and mentor to less experienced observers. Sadly, John passed away in 1998, and the observatory (and in particular, the telescope) is now dedicated to his memory.

Loan Telescopes

The Society has eleven telescopes that are available to borrow (all currently in use) but there are several more parts to be evaluated and combined into usable scopes .

Quite often beginners to astronomy are uncertain about what sort of telescope to buy and whether or not they'd be able to use one. So this Society resource gives you an excellent opportunity to try one out. Loans are available to paid up members free of charge. They're renewable if there's no-one else waiting to borrow.

The (currently eleven) instruments include the following five (all are Newtonian reflecting telescopes):

Also, we've been donated a Meade ETX 70, motor-driven with GoTo suite, tripod, 2 Meade eyepieces - all in terrific condition.

All are equipped with finderscopes and at least two eyepieces.

If you'd like to borrow one or just talk about what's most suitable for you then please register your interest with the Secretary (see 'Contact Us' on the Home page) or in person with any committee member. They will put you in touch with the current loan organiser.

Let's keep these scopes in use.

Our Library

Over the years we have accumulated a large number of books, maps and periodicals. These include introductory guides, advanced observing handbooks and general astronomy texts.

Most of these have arrived via members donations and we have a number of rare volumes of historic interest; the NASA Lunar Orbiter Moon atlas and others covering the Skylab and Viking programmes.

All material in the library is available for loan to members. In addition to books, there is a fairly large collection of magazines. The collection is being added to with material on CD and DVD.

Librarian with books at monthly GAS meetingOur Librarian, has a table at each meeting with a selection of books and other material for loan.