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? Thursdays, 7:00 -9:00 pm, weekly from February 7th, 2019 for 4 weeks. (Feb 7, 14, 21, 28)
Course Fee: TBA
Booking is essential, as places are limited. If you wish to be informed when booking (which is handled by Moors Valley) goes "live", or if you have any queries about the course, please click here
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 (Steve) 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 35 years and has authored many articles and several books on practical aspects of astronomy. He writes equipment reviews and a monthly Binocular Tour for BBC Sky at Night magazine. Steve is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a past-chairman of the Wessex Astronomical Society and a founder member of Fordingbridge Astronomers.
Comments from previous courses
"Astronomy is a fascinating subject already but, combined with Steve's enthusiasm and knowledge, it's irresistible."
"... presentation style and subject matter were good. I have really enjoyed the course ... give me more."
"Thank you to Steve for making the subject so much fun and approachable. I have learned such a lot..."
"Everything was explained very succinctly in layman's terms which made all the information gathered easy to understand ... very well structured."
"Good visuals, good explanations of questions. Easy to understand."
"Steve is fab at what he does!"
"Good for learning the sky."
"Friendly atmosphere and felt able to ask questions. Fantastic teacher..."
"Excellent presentations. Clear and concise."
"Should be longer."