The 2014 Autumn courses have already started
If you would like to be informed when the next Fordingbridge course is confirmed, please click here.
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? Avonway Community Centre, 36 Shaftesbury Street, Fordingbridge, Hampshire SP6 1JF (at the centre of this map).
Ringwood (Course Ref: RGL500)
If you have any queries about the course content prior to booking, please either telephone me on 01425 650713 or
to email me using your default email client.
Detailed Information: (Click the subheadings to toggle their content on/off)
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.
Weather permitting, 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. Weather permitting, I will offer additional observing opportunities to those course participants who wish it.
The Course Leader
Stephen Tonkin has been an amateur astronomer since childhood and now spends most of his time doing astronomical outreach; he leads public observing sessions at 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 equipment reviews and a monthly Binocular Tour for Sky at Night magazine. Stephen is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a past-chairman of the Wessex Astronomical Society and a founder member of Fordingbridge Astronomers. He is an occasional part-time Lecturer in Astronomy for Brockenhurst College.