Stargazing

We hold regular public stargazing sessions at Great Notley Country Park from 6–9pm where we have telescopes set up for you to observe the Moon, any visible planets, and other objects of interest in the night sky. We can teach you about the constellations and how to recognise them, and answer any questions you may have about astronomy or telescopes.

The dates of our 2017 stargazing events are as follows. Unless otherwise stated, the sessions will run from 6pm to 9pm for evening events, and solar observing runs from 12.00 midday until approx 3pm.

  • Saturday 7th January
  • Saturday 11th February
  • Saturday 4th March
  • Saturday 8th April
  • Saturday 6th May (midday solar observing)
  • Saturday 17th June (midday solar observing)
  • Saturday 22nd July (midday solar observing)
  • Saturday 26th August (midday solar observing)
  • Saturday 23rd September
  • Saturday 28th October
  • Saturday 18th November
  • December – No event

The events are free (site parking fee applies), and suitable for all ages (children must be accompanied by an adult). We can be found somewhere in the vicinity of the main building, near the Sky Ropes.

Viewing will be subject to clear weather and may be curtailed or cancelled if the weather is poor. In the event of rain, sessions will be cancelled. If cloudy or part clear, please follow our Facebook and Twitter feeds for information as to whether the event will go ahead, or call the park on 01376 347134. Usually if it is cloudy we will still be on site to answer questions, ever hopeful of a break in the clouds, but viewing may be limited.

For details of how to get to the park, please see the information at the bottom of this page.

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 – on busy nights this is not always possible. Please note that if you do bring your own telescope, it is entirely your own responsibility and you will need to be able to carry your telescope from the public car park. 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.

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 due to Health & Safety reasons.

greatnotleypcWe would like to thank Great Notley Parish Council for their generous support in sponsoring some of our equipment purchases.


…….

  • 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

We also host monthly events at Abberton Reservoir, but pre-booking is essential for these. For more information, go to the Essex Wildlife Trust website here and search the What’s On listing.

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).

EssexAstro_sm 

  1. Paul Blakesley

    If you drive her out of town to any rural location or to the coast it’ll be dark enough for what you want. You can buy filters for cameras to block out street lights too which you might want to look at. CLS filters for dslr cameras can be bought online.
    Paul

  2. David Weller

    Hi can anyone advise a good set up for astrophotography without breaking the bank ?

  3. Paul Blakesley

    That’s not an easy one to answer. Astrophotography comes on so many levels and needs all sorts of equipment for taking different pictures. Taking ‘snaps’ of the moon can be done with any telescope, even one that’s not motorised, and something as basic as a mobile phone camera.
    Taking pics of the planets uses web cameras to video the planet and software to stack all the 1000’s of individual frames to make one really good image. The telescope needs to be motorised and track the night sky to work best.
    Taking deep sky images like galaxies needs a telescope on a motorised mount and essentially a second smaller telescope guiding the larger one which is taking the picture. Precise tracking of the night sky is essential to minimise any star trails in your pictures. The camera that can be used to take deep sky pictures can be something like a dslr camera for a beginner to a dedicated ccd camera but expect to pay anything from £250-£5,000 for these.
    So depending on what you want to take pictures of and what sort of budget you have you could start astrophotography from a cheap dobsonian telescope and a camera phone from £250 + cost of phone or a motorised tracking set up able to image all things from £1000 + costs of a camera, rising to many thousands of pounds for bigger and better kit.

    So depending

  4. Paul

    Thanks for your response

    I suppose I’m looking for a telescope that will allow me to see planets etc that will also accept mirrorless camera like Fuji XT2 to take quality photographs.

    Budget approx £1000 for scope, some kind of equatorial mount and camera adapters ?

    So far research says refractor more likely to produce a better quality image

    Thanks

    David

  5. Paul Blakesley

    For sure refractors are the best quality for everything BUT planets, a good SCT which will have the high magnification you need for planets is what you’d need. A best all rounder would be a Newtonian scope on a firm tracking mount. I’m not aware of anything for Fuji cameras within astronomy to help you out. Mostly everything is geared towards Canon or Nikon.

  6. I have been given a telescope for my birthday. It is a 76700 power telescope. I have never used a telescope before and there are no instructions on where and how to use the lenses. I have put it together and the instructions for that were not so good. I live in Broomfield near Chelmsford can anyone help me with this please. ,

  7. The best advice is for you to bring along your telescope to one of our events. We don’t have any night time stargazing coming up until Sept, but if you bring it to one of our solar viewing days (eg. next at Notley on 17 June) we can help you set it up, and this might even be easier in the daytime. On a reflector the eyepiece goes into the side of the telescope at the top end. The lens with the longest focal length (usually written on the lens in mm, so the one with the biggest number) will be your lowest power and this is what you would use to start with.

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