Waddesdon Star Gazing Event

A massive thank you to those that helped out at our Waddesdon event on Saturday 19th August....Richard & Carol, Mark C, Simmo, Paul, Pat, the two Adrian's and Alex. Although our numbers were few we had an excellent evenings viewing showing Waddesdon's 80 guests the night sky. Although Saturn was low down the views were good enough to generate the usual wows and "that's incredible you can see the rings". One lady told me that seeing it made her heart soar! There were long queues at each scope with people waiting to see M13, Alberio, The double cluster etc and everyone seemed interested in what they were looking at. The guests stayed around for a good hour or so going backwards and forwards between the scopes. Also, a huge thank you to Sandy who delivered another excellent lecture on the Moon. This was well received by the guests in the Power House.

Its always a pleasure helping out at Waddesdon's Stargazing evenings, they are good fun to do and a beautiful setting to do them in.



Courtesey of Trevor Hunter

Courtesy of Trevor Hunter

Stargazing at Waddesdon Manor

Over 60 guests at Waddesdon Manor enjoyed a rewarding stargazing evening in the company of members of Wycombe Astronomical Society. Following a leisurely dinner (while waiting for the clouds to disappear!) the guests listened to a short talk in the Powerhouse by Sandy Giles entitled “Celestial Signposts” – all about using constellations and stars to locate astronomical objects in the night sky. Then, thankfully, the skies cleared and the guests joined about fifteen WAS members on the parterre to see a wide range of objects through telescopes – Jupiter, M42, M3, M45 to name a few. Mark Cullen’s cumulative image stacking setup was particularly popular, showing spectacular views of the Leo Triplet, M81/M82, M51 and M101. All the guests were very appreciative of this now regular outreach event and as an indication of just how lucky we were with the weather, the roads all the way home were wet indicating that rain had fallen  - everywhere else but Waddesdon!


Perseid Meter Watching

Members of Wycombe Astronomical Society have had two lovely evenings of watching the Perseids recently and both with clear skies.

The first event, on Thursday 11th August, was held at Waddesdon Manor. Waddesdon arranged an evening meal and lecture followed by Perseid observing for their paying guests. Sandy delivered another excellent lecture titled “The Restless Universe” which was well received and afterwards they joined members of WAS on the Parterre. Although not perfectly clear it was good enough to enable the guests to see some bright Perseids as well as other objects through the telescopes. About 20 members of WAS assisted and had a very enjoyable evening.

Then on Friday 12th August we had our annual Perseid BBQ. The day had been beautifully sunny and this continued well into the evening.

This year the society borrowed two BBQ’s from members Mark C and Sarah W and these were lighted at 7pm with the view that they would be ready to cook on by 8pm when members would start to arrive. Unfortunately Sarah was a little over zealous with the charcoal and it took a while for them to really get going, helped with some frantic fanning by Sandy. Once ready to cook on though they were far better than the disposable BBQ’s that we have used in the past and some excellent BBQ food was cooked (and cremated).

As in previous years the society also provided the drinks for the evening and these went down well with only a couple of bottles remaining at the end of the evening.  

About 40 members and guests enjoyed the evening and we all saw at least one Perseid! We also saw a nice pass of the ISS low in the southeast. Several members took cameras in the hope of catching a Perseid on “film”.  A couple of telescopes were set up and two Ioptron sky trackers had their first airing too.

All in all, two excellent evenings’, viewing the Perseid meteor shower.




On Saturday March 5th, around 20 of our Wycombe Astronomical Society members went to Waddesdon Manor to help with our 5th joint Stargazing event for their National Trust members.

The first part of the day from 10am -4pm was designed for families and 4 of our members helped with a variety of projects set by the Waddesdon Educational team and Wycombe Astronomical Society.  The WAS projects included using microscopes (kindly lent by Tring Astronomy) to see in detail bits of meteorites, Mars and bugs etc.  They also made Planispheres and checked using an I-Pad what was up in the sky and where the ISS (and Tim Peake) were at that moment.  The whole thing was very busy and successful with a succession of families filling the education room throughout the day.

Despite the atrocious weather of that day – snow showers, rain and a persistent cold north wind, our members were not to be deterred and came along in the early evening to set up their telescopes on the Parterre at the rear of the Manor.

For the guests of Waddesdon Manor the evening commenced with an excellent two course dinner. After which they were ushered to the Powerhouse, where they received a very informative and interesting talk by Dr Sandy Giles of the Wycombe Astronomical Society on the topic of our Universe and beyond which included a lot of interesting information about Charles Messier, the man and his catalogue of deep sky objects.

Charles Messier lived in the 1700’s and like all the astronomers of the day – sought fame by discovering a comet. However, after finding so many fuzzy blobs (which were not comets), Charles Messier decided to catalogue them all to avoid future confusion. His catalogue was printed in 1781 and it is this which earned his fame and recognition that we know of today. In the years after, he did discover a comet -not one, but several.

During the time of Dr Giles’ talk, outside the heavens opened and it looked like the final part of the evening was not going to take place. However, around ten minutes before the close of Dr Giles’ talk, the strong north wind turned in our favour and blew the rain and clouds away to leave a brilliant dark sky.

For the members of the Wycombe Astronomical Society (astronomers), it was absolutely ideal as they were set up on the Parterre which gave them an excellent horizon from the east, through the south and off to the west. The astronomers quickly trained their telescopes to pick out the interesting objects up in the sky, many of which Dr Giles had mentioned to his audience.

Soon afterwards, the staff of Waddesdon Manor ushered their guests to the Parterre, where they were to experience the excitement of seeing these objects through the wide variety of telescopes for themselves, as well as being able to talk face to face with the astronomers and ask questions.

In addition, the prime target for all the telescopes being the planet Jupiter. A marvelous sight through any instrument, along with its four moons – the Galilean satellites.

It was generally felt by the astronomers that the guests of Waddesdon Manor for that evening had enormous interest in the subject, due to the nature of questions being asked and the enthusiasm of looking through a telescope and seeing these objects for themselves.

The clear bright sky of this evening made the venture a success for all the Wycombe Astronomical Society members and no doubt, made it possible to leave a lasting impression to the guests of Waddesdon Manor.