This Course will next run in the Autumn of 2013. If you would like to be informed of future courses, please
to email me using your default email client.
Who is it for? Anybody with an interest in astronomy who would like to find out more. No experience or equipment is required or expected.
What is covered? This course is an overview of the basic knowledge that an amateur astronomer would expect to have. In addition to the material in the Start Stargazing course, it covers the evidence for our current understanding the Universe and our place in it. When there is enough demand, these topics are extended and covered in greater depth in Intermediate and Advanced courses.
Where? The Victoria Rooms, 26 Bridge Street, Fordingbridge,
SP6 1AY (at the centre of this map)
When? Wed 7:30 - 9:00pm, weekly from 23 Jan - 20 Feb 2013. (23 Jan, 30 Jan, 6 Feb, 13 Feb, 20 Feb)
Course Fee: £40 for the complete course of 5 indoor sessions and one or more observing sessions (payable at the first session)
The Development of Astronomical Ideas
An overview of the evidence for our current understanding the Universe and our place in it. This is a recurring theme throughout the course.
What to Observe
A selection of astronomical objects and sky phenomena to observe, at different times of the year, with the unaided eye and with small telescopes or binoculars.
Useful Astronomical Resources
Pointers to a selection of books, planetarium programs and other astronomical software, internet resources.
The Solar System
An overview of the Solar System: Sun, major planets and their moons, minor planets, comets. Earth-Moon-Sun Phenomena including eclipses, tides, seasons, the "Moon Illusion". Atmospheric phenomena including meteors and halos.
Galaxies, Clusters, Star-forming regions, Planetary Nebula, Supernovas, and what they teach us about the Universe and our place in it.
Choosing and Using Astronomical Equipment
Telescopes, different kinds of mounts, and binoculars for astronomy. How to choose what gives you the best value for money for your specific situation/needs. How to make the best use of what you do have. How to observe effectively, safely and comfortably.
We will go to a dark site in the New Forest, where I will help you to get the best out of your kit and will demonstrate the capabilities of some of mine. The timing of this will be weather-dependent and may take place on a different day or even after the end of the course. For this reason, it is not included in the course fee (i.e. it is a "free" session for participants in the course) and we usually have more than one session.
The Course Leader
Stephen Tonkin has been an amateur astronomer since childhood and now spends most of his time doing astronomical outreach; he led some of the public observing sessions at local BBC Stargazing Live events. He has taught astronomy to adults and children for over 30 years and has authored many articles and several books on practical aspects of astronomy. He writes a monthly Binocular Tour for Sky at Night magazine. Stephen is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a past-chairman of the Wessex Astronomical Society. He is an occasional part-time Lecturer in Astronomy for Brockenhurst College.