The next course will run in November 2014
This course is run in conjunction with Moors Valley Country Park
Who is it for? Anybody with an interest in stargazing who would like to find out more and to be guided around the night sky. No experience or equipment is required or expected but, if you have binoculars or a telescope, please do bring them.
What is covered? This course covers: The choice and use of observing equipment; the Solar System; Deep Sky Objects (galaxies, nebulae, star clusters). Sessions will be part indoor presentation and (weather permitting) part observing. (See below for detailed content.)
Where? Moors Valley Country Park, Horton Road, Ashley Heath, Dorset, BH24 2ET.
When? Mon 7:00 - 9:00pm, weekly from 3rd - 24th Nov 2014, Feb/Mar 2015 (dates TBC), Nov 2015 (dates TBC)
Booking is essential and will open in September, 2014.
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. (NB: You cannot book on this telephone number or email address.)
Detailed Information: (Click the subheadings to toggle their content on/off)
Approximately half of each session will be dedicated to observing (weather permitting). We will cover constellation recognition, navigating around the sky by identifying star patterns (including finding north), and star-hopping to find some deep sky objects (galaxies, star clusters, nebulae, etc.)
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.
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.
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".
Galaxies, Clusters, Star-forming regions, Planetary Nebula, Supernovas, and what they teach us about the Universe and our place in it.
Useful Astronomical Resources
Pointers to a selection of books, planetarium programs and other astronomical software, internet resources.
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.