Livewire - January 18, 2012

secretary of the Blackpool and district astronomical society, Terry Devon with his telescope.
secretary of the Blackpool and district astronomical society, Terry Devon with his telescope.
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By Terry Devon, secretary of Blackpool and District Astronomical Society

I got hooked on astronomy at seven – it was a radio series called Journey into Space that did it for me. No Brian Cox back in the Fifties!

Today I’m secretary of Blackpool & District Astronomical Society (BADAS) and we’re supporting BBC2’s Stargazing Live 2012 – just as we did last year when we got new members as a result of interest. Blackpool astronomers are holding a special event this Friday and Saturday evenings at the Solaris Centre, New South Promenade, Blackpool, 6pm-9pm both evenings.

Accompanied children and adults are welcome to join us to try their hand at live stargazing. And take it from us it’s a lot better than watching on television – although you will have to wrap up warm!

There will be telescopes available to use as well as video presentations and static displays.

The Blackpool society has also arranged an exclusive live link via the internet to a remote controlled telescope situated in the French Alps. Our chairman Chris Lord, who has been a keen astronomer since eight, and is a well-known figure within the UK amateur astronomy community, hopes the weekend will provide people with a chance to try something new and see just how amazing astronomy can be. Our membership has been growing steadily since we started in 1986. We hope the event will inspire more to join us in future. We hold regular monthly meetings with guest speakers, workshops and observing sessions, the first Wednesday of every month.

We also hold star parties, often combined with a starbecue (barbecue) which makes it a nice social occasion.

At our next monthly meeting the speaker is local astronomer Peter Franklin, who has built his own automated observatory – which will also be on display and demonstrated this coming Friday and Saturday. If there’s cloud we can go indoors and show people some stunning visuals and operate the observatory.

We already have a very active internet group, based around our website, designed and run by Peter, which recently won an award from the Federation of Astronomical Societies as best astronomical society website. It is astonishing how much technology is used in modern amateur astronomy. We now use computer guided telescopes specialist cameras allow us to take pictures of extremely distant objects.

n To learn more visit blackpool astronomy.org.uk or call me (01253) 625975 or 07804469792.