Sidewalk Astronomy starts here...
HantsAstro is for anyone who has any interest in astronomy who wishes to use this as a stepping stone into something more active across Hampshire or beyond.
As part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, we put together a small roadshow of moon observing events, called 'MoonFest'. They have been so successful we now plan several a year.
The events are open to the public and are offered free of charge to encourage more people, young and old, into this amazing hobby of ours. The plan for the events is very simple - we arrive, set up our telescopes in the allocated space and the public come along for a free look through one of the telescopes and invariably ask lots of questions.
If there is space and provision to, we can organise short talks about any number of astronomical topics, but mainly about the Moon, given the focus of the events!
Our first event took place on 5th April 2009 on the Butts Green in Alton with 2 talks being held at the skittle alley at the French Horn pub.
This will be a continued theme for years to come. HantsAstro was built around IYA 2009 so if you want us to visit your town/city get in touch and we'll see what we can do.
We have picked several venues across Hampshire/Dorset, with good views of the sky, where we will be able to set up 7 or so telescopes. HantsAstro CoreTeam members will be coming along to share their knowledge of the Moon and astronomy in general. The 2010-11 season offers more dates for people to see the night sky through a telescope. Astronomia will be with some of the latest telescopes on demonstration and advice. You will also be able to bring along your own telescope and we'd be happy to show you how to get the best out out it!
NEXT MOONFEST IS?
tba Feb 2012 Alton - The Butts Green, Hampshire 19.00pm
Current Status: TBA
View HantsAstro MoonFest Roadshow in a larger map
Approaching Alton from either north or south along the A31 turn off onto the A 339 turn off onto Selbourne Road. There is a duoble set of roundabouts, and you need o simply head towards Alton Town Centre on Butts Road. As you pass underneath the bridge you will see The Butts Green on your left and our banners will show the HantsAstro Public MoonFest area is on the Green. Carry along Butts Road and turn 1st left for parking.
The Butts Green, Alton- Postcode: GU34 1 RT
Opposite The French Horn Public House ( Food served until 9pm)
We will be able to observe the Moon and other celestial objects between 19:00hrs and 22:00hrs.
Preferred minimum age of 8 and all under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.
PRESS REPORT - Alton MoonFest 5th April 2009
The evening of Sunday 5th April was almost cloudless as Hampshire based astronomy group HantsAstro launched it?s MoonFest roadshow on The Butts Green and French Horn Pub.
The Moon was clear and bright in the sky from early on in the evening when people started arriving to have a look through 10 of the Group's telescopes from as early as 7 o'clock.
Each of the telescopes was manned by one of HantsAstro's members and specially prepared Moon maps were available for people to use to see where they were looking through the telescopes. Several members of the public, including our own town Mayor, brought along their own telescopes to do some observing of their own!
'Across the course of the evening, we had about 160 people, young and old, come along to have a look through our 'scopes and I think they were all impressed with what they saw.' Said Martin Saban-Smith, HantsAstro's media officer. 'The best features of the Moon to look at were the Apollo 11 landing site in the Sea of Tranquillity from 40 years ago this year, the Bay of Rainbows, the Sea of Rains along with the craters of Plato, Copernicus, Magnus and Clavius. We were also showing many other interesting surface features as well as explaining about the relationship between the Earth and the Moon. Not to mention showing visitors how the 'scopes work and the different types available. There was a really good, fun vibe and a great air of expectation, I throroughly enjoyed it!'
The event was also supported by astronomy shop, Astronomia in Dorking. Managing Director, Neil Phillipson commented on what a success the evening had been and showed an interest in holding a similar event around the Dorking area.
An astrophotography talk by Martin Saban-Smith in the skittle alley at the French Horn drew its own crowd of 30 or so people and saw Martin talking about how to capture images from objects in the sky invisible to the naked eye with and without a telescope. There were also many of his recent images to see.
As the sun sank below the horizon, the views of the Moon just got better and better. When it was completely dark, some of the telescopes turned their attention to Saturn and wowed visitors with views of the ringed planet and the moons Enceladus, Titan, Dione plus others. Interested people braved the chilly evening and kept coming out of the dark from all directions after folk already there made phone calls to friends to come and see. One of the telescopes was connected to a webcam and laptop computer to allow for group observing, such was the popularity of the event.
'Saturn just looks like a star normally, but through the telescopes I could clearly see the rings and some of its moons, which was really interesting. Our Moon looked magnificent too. There were lots of people there and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.' said Alton resident, Mike Abbott.
The curious nature of the event carried on at the French Horn during the evening with chilly first-time astronomers warming themselves by the fire with a pint and discussing what they had seen with their friends and learning more by talking to members of the HantsAstro team.
Dave Woods, founder of HantsAstro said afterwards, 'The whole idea of the MoonFest was to show as many people as possible our Moon and celebrate the International Year of Astronomy. I think we managed that. Everyone enjoyed themselves and was really wowed by what they saw. Hopefully some of the people that came along have been inspired to get outside and look up at the fascinating night sky more often than they did before, and who knows, one of the younger visitors may become an eminent scientist and help move space exploration further and further along.'
The HantsAstro observing group exists to actively promote the practical side of astronomy by getting outside and observing the sky. New members are always welcome and help is always on hand to assist 'newbies' in getting to know their telescopes and the sky at one of the sites the group regularly observes from. These sites have been carefully chosen for their darkness and accessibility by everyone in Hampshire.