About

Observing night sky

The Astronomy Section of La Société Guernesiaise (the local studies society) is the astronomy society of Guernsey. Founded in 1972, it is an active group of about 50 members, and welcomes anyone with an interest in astronomy, whether beginner or experienced.

The Section has a fully equipped Observatory, with advanced instruments, including a computerised 16-inch Meade reflector, and a 5-inch Takahashi refractor. Members have many interests, including: the planets, comets, deep sky objects (e.g. galaxies and nebulae), double stars, celestial mechanics, computers, photography, imaging and astronomical history.

Many are relative beginners, ready to learn from others. If you have the slightest interest in astronomy then the Astronomy Section is for you!

The Section is a member of the British Astronomical Association, and the Federation of Astronomical Societies.

Meetings

Informal meetings are held every Tuesday at the Section's Observatory at Rue du Lorier, St Pierre du Bois, starting at around 8.00 pm. Members observe with the telescopes if it is clear, and if not can talk about astronomical matters, have a cup of coffee or tea, read magazines (all the major popular astronomy magazines are available) or books from the Section's extensive library. Books, magazines and videos may be borrowed by members free of charge.

At 9.00 pm, unless the telescopes are in use, there is usually a round-table discussion on a chosen subject, led by one of the members. Plans for the Section’s various outreach activities are also discussed. Occasionally a more formal meeting may be held with lectures, sometimes by visiting astronomers. Every year, in August, we hold a barbecue on a night when the Perseid meteors are near their peak, followed by a meteor count.

Observing

Observing is carried out during our Tuesday meetings, weather permitting. Qualified members have free use of the telescopes. Observing is sometimes carried out on other nights, when weather permits, and especially when there are significant astronomical events. We also meet on the last Saturday of the month, if clear, for observing and imaging. The Section has a very active imaging group, and equipment specifically designed for astrophotography.

Visitors and educational outreach activities

We are keen to stimulate an interest in astronomy within the community, especially the young. The Observatory is open to the public on certain evenings during the year (see our Events page for details). We ask for a donation (eg £2.00 adults, £1.00 children) to help the Section's running costs and to provide new equipment.

We welcome groups at the Observatory, by prior arrangement. Contact the Activities Coordinator, Elaine Mahy . We also give talks to local schools and groups, and have assisted Scouts and Guides with astronomy badges, as well as those participating in the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Educational materials are available, and we have a collection of publications suitable for research.

We run a six-week “star gazing” course annually (February/March) at the Observatory, as well as Astrophotography courses from time to time; further details can be obtained on the Events page.

Youth group leader:

“Thank you for such an enjoyable visit to the observatory. We were so lucky the clouds cleared just in time for us to see a bit of the universe through the telescope. Both parents and children thoroughly enjoyed themselves as well as learning a lot about our solar system. The island is lucky to have such a fantastic facility manned by volunteers such as yourselves.” Small child: “Thank you for showing us the Moon, Mars and Satan.” Small boy: “I have a star named after me. Its name is Leo!”.

Other activities

The Section has been active in encouraging a reduction in the adverse effects of lighting.

The Section is consulted from time to time on matters such as sundials, and was closely involved in the design of the Guernsey Liberation Monument. In August 1999 the Section was involved in the organisation of the Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting (NAM99), which was held in Guernsey. The Section was also heavily involved in arrangements for observations of the total eclipse of the Sun in Alderney on 11 August 1999.

Section members are happy to advise on the acquisition of telescopes and binoculars for astronomical observing, and to advise on their use. From time to time we have held a telescope clinic, where people can bring telescopes to the Observatory for assistance.

Observatory

The site and buildings

Observatory Site
Sir Patrick Moore

The Section's Observatory is located at Rue du Lorier, St Pierre du Bois, Guernsey, about 100 metres up the road from La Houguette School. It was opened in April 1991 by Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest, and a further roll-off roof building was opened by the late Sir Patrick Moore in 1993.

The main building was constructed in 1943 as part of the German Mirus gun battery complex. It is contains a meeting room suitable for up to 20 people. An adjoining room contains a library and basic kitchen facilities.

11-inch Celestron

The nearby telescope building has a motorised roll-off roof. It houses the 16-inch Meade reflecting telescope and 5-inch refractor. Externally there is a concrete pad with electricity supply, for placing telescopes, especially the 11-inch Celestron. Space for additional telescopes is provided by a couple of patio slabs as well as the grassed area.

Sections Instrumentation

  • 16-inch (40 cm) LX200 Meade computerised catadioptric telescope, permanently mounted on a concrete pier in a building with a roll-off roof.
  • 5-inch (12.5 cm) Takahashi refractor, mounted on the 16-inch telescope.
  • Celestron Nexstar 8SE SCT GoTo telescope.
  • Skywatcher Esprit 80mm triplet refractor with flattener.
  • Skywatcher Startravel 120mm refractor.
  • Skywatcher Startravel 80mm refractor.
  • Celestron Astromaster 130 Newtonian reflector.
  • Heliostat for solar observing: 6-inch (15 cm) diameter, 70-ft (21 m) focal length, producing an image 7 inches (18 cm) diameter.
  • Skywatcher HEQ5 GoTo mount.
  • Skywatcher EQ5 manual mount.
  • 11-inch (28 cm) Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, mounted on a moveable trolley.
  • Variety of eyepieces, field flatteners, etc.

Membership

Members receive an annual Astrocalendar giving monthly star charts and details of planet positions, meteor showers, eclipses, etc. The Section's Newsletter, Sagittarius, containing news and articles on astronomical subjects, is published once a year. Members can use the Section's telescopes, after training. Members can also borrow books, magazines and videos from the Section's astronomical library.

How to join

First, do come to a meeting or two as our guest. Come along whenever the Observatory is open. Or contact one of the officers (see below).

If you decide to become a member you will need to join La Société Guernesiaise (current subscription rates: single £25, double and family £30, students £5). There is an additional small subscription for the Astronomy Section (currently £5).

Click here for a leaflet about us and how to join, including an application form. (1.6 MB pdf file. Print out the two pages back-to-back, and fold it twice. Click here for a pdf reader.)

Astronomy Section contacts

Sections of La Société Guernesiaise are led by Section Secretaries, the Astronomy Section Secretary is supported by a Committee, the Officers of which are:

Position Name Contact
Section Secretary Vacant
Honorary Treasurer Peter Langford
Editor David Le Conte
Activities Coordinator Elaine Mahy
Open Days Jean Dean
Facilities/Maintenance Jim English & George de Carteret
Public Relations David Le Conte  |  264847
Research Jason Hill
Library Jim English & Geoff Falla
Imaging Jean Dean
Information Technology Matt Skillet
Website Owain Catton

The Observatory telephone number is 264252

(The local Guernsey telephone numbers are given. From the UK precede the number by 01481, from other countries precede it by +44 1481)

To contact the Observatory directly by email click here or use the contact form here.

La Société Guernesiaise

The headquarters of La Société Guernesiaise is at:

Candie Gardens,
St Peter Port,
Guernsey,
GY1 1UG,
British Isles.
(01481) 725093 or 724835 (from outside UK: +44 1481 725093 or 724835).
(01481) 726248 (from outside UK: +44 1481 726248)
SocieteGuernesiaise@outlook.com
http://www.societe.org.gg

How to find us

  • The Observatory,
  • Rue du Lorier,
  • St Peter's,
  • Guernsey.
(01481) 264252 astronomy.gg@cwgsy.net