Wendover Guides Visit Observatory

On Monday 14th March the 2nd Wendover Guides group visited WAS’s observatory for an  evenings’ observing. Fortunately the weather was clear for the event and about 30 guides and their leaders had the opportunity to use the society’s 10” telescope and our own WAS members telescopes to look at a variety of objects including the Moon, Jupiter, M42 – the Orion Nebula and Sirius, amongst other things. There were lots of wows, cool and epics as the girls looked at these objects for the first time, particularly when looking at the craters of the Moon close up. 

This was an excellent evening and great outreach event to be involved in. 

Thanks go to all of those involved!



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.


St Helen and St Katherine stargazing evening

On Friday 26th February, members from Wycombe Astronomical Society traveled to Abingdon in Oxfordshire to assist with a stargazing evening at St Helen and St Katherine School.

The evening started with drinks and nibbles in the atrium, followed by a lecture by our own Sandy Giles titled “The Solar System, Our Galaxy and beyond”. The facilities at the school are superb and the stage and lecture theatre provided a great platform for Sandy to deliver his lecture. Neil, our chairman, provided three telescopes for Sandy to refer to during the course of the evening. The lecture went down extremely well and was appreciated by the adults and teenage children who attended. 

Following Sandy’s lecture guests were invited outside to look at the stars through a variety of members telescopes. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side for a viewing evening but the members still appreciated looking at the telescopes that we had brought along.

Thanks go to Sandy, Neil, Jackie, Richard and Carol, Jon, Mark, Chris, Peter and Mick for assisting with the event.


Cosmic Kidz

Our first Cosmic Kidz event turned out to be a huge success. We had booked the sports hall from 1pm with the view to setting up and opening the doors at 2pm. Visitors started arriving at 1.30pm whilst we were still setting up and during the course of the afternoon the sports hall filled up with some two hundred plus children and their parents.

There were many things for the children to partake in which included a planetarium show every hour, microscopes for the children to use, telescope displays and comet making displays. The children also had the opportunity to wear a real Sokal space suit; the type that Tim Peake is wearing up on the ISS. The planetarium shows, space suit and comet making turned out to be a real hit with both children and parents enjoying them.

We also had a Cosmic Kidz competition and raffle draw which had some wonderful prizes provided by Tring Astronomy including two telescopes. The smiles on the children who won them was brilliant.

Sadly the weather did not assist us and we were unable to do any solar observing or night time observing but the events during the day more than made up for this.


Moon Watch 2014

On Friday the 5th  and Saturday 6th September WAS held a public event to coincide with “international Observe the Moon Month”. This is a relatively new concept that is growing each year with the idea being to encourage all to get out and observe our Moon.

Unfortunately the weather was not on our side on the Friday evening and was not looking very promising on the Saturday evening with rain at 7pm. However, come 8.30pm the clouds parted and we had some good views of the Moon, along with other objects such as The Double Double.

Many members of WAS helped out with the event and set ‘scopes up for members of the public to use and the WAS observatory was opened up. Both were appreciated by the visitors that had come along.

Tea, coffee and cakes were sold and went down very well with both WAS members and visitors.

Thanks to everyone for their help and participation in this event – a first for WAS.