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 25th October
  • Saturday 29th November
  • Saturday 20th December

Provisional 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

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. Ah right, thanks!

  2. Hi

    I am a Year 1 teacher at a school in Colchester and our topic is SPACE! I have seen you go to Great Notley Country Park to do stargazing evenings and wondered if this is something you offered to local schools. We have a large atrium with a roll back roof and would love to have you come one evening, so the children could experience stargazing. If this is a possibility could you contact me, advising details and prices.
    Thank you.
    Wendy Meadows

  3. Hi Wendy
    We do a lot of outreach with local schools. You can find details of this on our outreach tab at the top, along with the contact email address. However, we are heavily in demand and are already nearly fully booked for this season – as such, we may not have slots available this term, but our outreach officer Terry will have a better idea of our availability. I would advise emailling us asap with your details and we can go from there.
    Best regards, Rachel

  4. intend to go to Gt Notley tomorrow night for our very fiorst stargazing experience, excited :-) hope the weather complies as forecast not looking very promising. When is your next StarFest event, do you have one booked in for 2014 please?

  5. Rachel E (NEAS)

    Hi Jane. Just keep an eye on the weather. If it’s raining then we will call off the event. If it’s just cloudy then we will still be there for a while in case it clears.
    We haven’t started to plan Starfest 2014 yet, but following on from this year’s success there’s a good chance we will be holding another one. Watch this space. Hope to see you under a clear sky tomorrow.

  6. Hi. I was wondering if I needed to book a place to attend the stargazing event at Great Notley but I cant see any indication about this on your website. I’ve tried to book the one at Abberton Reservoir but they told me that it’s fully booked.


  7. Paul Blakesley

    No need to book for Notley. Just turn up. Abberton is ticket only and Notley is free to all.


  8. Great. Thanks Paul

  9. could i have seen a meteor last night? very bright horizontal fireball and trail near Henham, Essex 8.20 isn 19th Ocotber?? Thanks

  10. Sounds very likely, Gill. The Orionid meteor shower peaked this week, so it could have been one of those, or just a sporadic one.

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