Stargazing

We hold open public stargazing events every month. Everyone is welcome to come along and look through the telescopes and learn about the night sky. During the summer we offer solar observing sessions which take place on four afternoons in May, June, July and August.

They are held in two locations – Great Notley Country Park in Braintree, and the Abberton Reservoir Nature Reserve near Colchester.

For details of the events at Abberton Reservoir, go to the Essex Wildlife Trust website here and search the What’s On listing.

For details of the events at Great Notley Country Park, please read on below.

 …….

The sessions at Great Notley are open to everyone and are suitable for all ages, so please do come along. The events are free of charge (a site parking fee appies). We set up in the field behind the main building, a short walk from the public car park.

Also if you already own a telescope and need help with it, you are welcome to bring it along and we will try to assist you BUT only where possible if any of our volunteers are available. Please note that if you do bring your own telescope, it is entirely your own responsibility. We are unable to assist with transporting your equipment to the observing site. Only NEAS members are covered by public liability insurance at our events, so please be aware of this before letting other members of the public use your telescope.

The dates of our stargazing events are as follows. The sessions will run from 6pm to 9pm for evening events, and solar observing runs from 12.00 midday until approx 3pm.

  • Saturday 20th December

Dates for 2015:

  • Saturday 24th January
  • Saturday 21st February
  • Saturday 28th March
  • Saturday 25th April
  • Monday 25th May (Midday solar observing)
  • Saturday 20th June (Midday solar observing)
  • Saturday 18th July  (Midday solar observing)
  • Saturday 22nd August (Midday solar observing)
  • Saturday 19th September
  • Saturday 17th October
  • Saturday 21st November
  • Saturday 19th December (provisional, TBC)

We hope to see you there for some stargazing!

These events are strictly about observing the night sky. In the event of poor weather and not being able to see the stars, please be aware that observing will be limited and you may not get to see anything. Please check this website, our Facebook page and Twitter feed near the event time for any updates regarding cancellation. Unless it’s raining, we will always try to have some members on location to give advice/answer questions if needed in case people still turn up.

  • For more information about Great Notley Country Park and how to get there, click here.
  • A Google Maps link is here. The park is well signposted.
  • For in-car satnav purposes, the park’s postcode is CM77 7FS
  • Please park in the public car park. The main site is off-limits to cars while the event is active, and only NEAS volunteers have the park’s permission to park on site for Health & Safety reasons.
  • If you do bring your own telescope, it is your own responsibility and you will need to be able to transport it from the public car park. Whilst we endeavour to help people learn how to use their telescopes, please be aware that on busy nights, our members may not be free to give you assistance.

Many people have asked us about where to purchase a good quality but affordable telescope. Here are three retailers that we recommend for buying a telescope, or alternatively click on the NEAS Store page link in the top menu).

 

  1. I can’t find your link to the three retailers you recommend. Can you tell me who they are please.
    I am looking for a good telescope for my husband’s 70th birthday. He’s been interested in astronomy froma child but never bought a telescope. Would the Dobsonian you have in the store be a good choice?

  2. Personally I’d say the dobsonian is a very good starter scope, you get a good sized scope for the money. Others the money is spent on the electrics and you will get a smaller scope for the same money.
    There are several retailers out there now but to name a few I’d try, astronomia, first light optics, Tring astronomy, Greenwitch, widescreen or telescope house

    Hope this helps.

  3. Joan, the Dobsonian in the store is a small table top telescope. For something more substantial, try the retailers Paul has recommended. Generally the advice would be to buy the largest aperture (ie widest) you can afford – the bigger the telescope the more you will see – but bear in mind that these telescopes are often larger and heavier than you might think and portability needs to be considered. Talk to the retailers as they will be able to advise based on your husband’s interests and requirements.

  4. Can the Dobsonian be used with a tripod or is it only tabletop?

  5. A dobsonian telescope is just a type of telescope and ranges from small ‘table top’ ones to ones that are so tall you need a ladder to use them. Basically a Dobsonian scope has a wooden mount the scope sits in which can be moved left, right, up and down. Making it cheap to manufacture and more of your money going into the important bit which is the telescope.
    Ask the retailers for more information about your needs and they will guide you better.

  6. 24th November, South East of Hatfield Heath a strange non moving flickering light… Is this a star or some Satelite

  7. Caroline: It’s difficult to know exactly what you saw without knowing what time you were looking. If it was not moving and flickering it could well just be a star. The bright star Sirius rises at around 10pm. The lower something is in the sky, the more our view of it is affected by the atmosphere, so stars lower in the sky appear to flicker more. Satellites are seen as stead moving points of light, without sound.

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