12th November 2014: Star Party at Tyntesfield
Another successful Star Party. The weather forecasts proved accurate, the few clouds at the beginning of the evening soon dispersed to give a clear night with the Milky Way being easily visible. 39 Members of the public attended and were thrilled to be shown Alberio, M57, M31, M45, M81, M13, Uranus, Neptune, Betelgeuse, M42 etc. BAS members taking part were John Bishop, Nigel Kirkland, Allan McCarthy, Ryan Parle, Richard Pring and Garry Wootten.
September 29th 2014: Star Party on the Bristol Downs
The Star Party was organised by the Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project with help from the BAS, Friends of the Downs and Avon Gorge, and Explorer Dome, and took place at the Sea Walls overlooking the Avon Gorge. The sky starter rather cloudy, but gradually cleared. There were about 50 visitors who all thoroughly enjoyed being shown the moon, M13, the ring nebula, Uranus and Neptune, M31, M81 and 82, albireo, the double cluster etc. Allan McC __._,_.___
April 13th 2014 : Solar Observing at Tyntesfield

After a perfect weather forecast, unlike yesterday's forecast of a dull day, which was also spot-on, it was a beautiful day at Tyntesfield. There was an activity day running in the grounds and it was during the Easter holidays, so everything was in our favour. BAS members  showed the Sun to something like 400 people - Hard to be exact, because there were so many that we had to stop counting at one point. 

Thanks  to Roger Steer, Richard Mansfield, Allan McCarthy, Judith Pavey, Mel Rigby and Peter Perrott plus two new members who had a look to see what we do.

April 9th 2014: Star Party on the Bristol Downs

BAS held a successful Star Party on the Downs on 9th April.  The start was hampered by a band of cloud obscuring our view of the moon, Jupiter and most of the GOTO alignment stars, but once it cleared we had a very good view of almost all the sky until about 11 p.m.  About 45 members of the public attended and were shown a variety of objects including the Moon (in particular the Straight Wall, the Alpine Valley and Plato Crater), Jupiter, Mars, M41, M82 and Saturn.  They clearly enjoyed the experience and especially an ISS pass at about 9:50.  Members of the Friends of the Avon Gorge and Downs kept our observing team plied with hot drinks and star shaped biscuits!

Thanks go to Allan McCarthy, John Bishop, Toby Lumber, Neil Robson, Mel Rigby and John Toller for bringing and operating their telescopes and binoculars.

March 11th 2014: Star Party at Trooper's Hill

BAS organised a successful star party with the Friends of Troopers Hill.

After a cloudy day and a cloudy set-up, all the cloud disappeared and left with a clear sky with a little haze.

BAS members gave a detailed introduction to the night sky before letting them loose on a range of telescopes. Objects viewed included the moon, Jupiter, Almach, Castor, M42, the Pleides and M82.

Overall it was a successful evening with many happy visitors.

March 9th 2014: Saturday Night at the Observatory

Last night we had a very good and enjoyable public observing session at Failand with 25 members of the public and 3 additional BAS members attending.  Members set up the 10" plus the Observatory scope (12"- Cyril) and we  had 5 additional telescopes setup from members of the public and BAS members. 

The success our ‘Telescope Surgery’ at the BGS on 7th March was a major factor in the popularity of this Saturday session, with some visitors bringing along their telescopes again to Failand.  It was also good to welcome Robert Massey of the RAS to the observing session, who gave the introductory talk at our ‘Telescope Surgery’ the night before – Robert brought along his astronomical binoculars and joined in discussions of Jupiter’s surface features, binary star properties and M42’s Trapezium / star formation.

The Moon was quite bright but it was a very clear night with low humidity.  We were able to observe M31, M42, M44, M45, Orion (Betelgeuse, Rigel and Mintaka), Castor, Pollux, Jupiter, Mars and the Moon.  We used a Seben zoom lens (8 – 24 mm) with Cyril, which helped all clearly see Jupiter’s surface features and 4 moons, together with good identification of star colours. Orion’s Nebula (M42), the Beehive Cluster (M44) and Jupiter were most popular with members of the public who were first time visitors to Failand.  BAS members also conducted a tour of the constellations, star hopping and telescope operation, with quite a crowd outside the dome joining in the discussion.  3 ‘shooting stars’ were observed during the evening, with 2 being observed within the Orion constellation.

February 15th 2014: Saturday Night at the Observatory

It has been a variable few months at the Open Observing sessions at Failand as good viewing evenings have been hard to come by.

Well BAS had an extremely successful night after Valentine's at at the Failand open public session. 12 visitor attended,  two of which brought scopes with them looking for advice and guidance on setup and operation. The BAS team duly obliged!

One visitor informed us that he had been itching to visit Failand since Christmas 2013. Nice to be wanted!

The forecast was very encouraging but the start was less than promising due to a constant stream of thin cloud or was it thick mist. By 9pm however the skies were clear and the seeing good, the night grew colder, a little damper but clearer  , the only downside being the dominant Moon shine.

So a tour of the constellations, explanations on stars, star colours, binary stars, clusters, nebula, star formation, instruction on navigation and star hopping before we turned our attention to observing ably carried out on the 12" "Cyril" and the 18" NGT.

Jupiter with 3 moons and later 4 was very popular, the bands were clearly visible in the 18".
Orion Nebula was excellent, as was Almaak and NGC2169 otherwise known as the 37 cluster.


The Moon did have the capacity to somewhat wash out and dominate much of the night sky, none the less the public were rather impressed by the clarity of detail.
Pleiades was a fine sight through binoculars and later Mars put its head over horizon.
The team also spotted the M82 "Supernova" using the 18". BAS can tick that off the list now!

Thanks to the team of Toby Lumber, John Wills, Jane Clark and John Bishop and of course our resident site manger Roger Sykes who checked on the state of the ground prior to our arrival.

February 10th 2014: Star Party at Trooper's Hill

Many thanks to the BAS volunteers that made the star party evening at Trooper's Hill both interesting and enjoyable. It is an impressive site in the centre of Bristol and much loved by Bristolian's during the day for it's nature. It was always going to be a challenge to get equipment to this hilltop and see targets above the bright lights but a surprising amount of "astronomy" can be seen from such a site.

The evening started off cloudy (which wasn't forecast!) but cleared up right at the end and several members of the public stayed late to get excellent views of Jupiter, M42, Andromeda, Pleiades and the Moon.



July 20th 2013: Saturday Night at the Observatory

We have been experiencing unprecedented warm evening weather over recent days but this still does not lead to dark sky nights! However observing in short sleeves is always welcome and this Saturday session was a case in point. An 11 day moon meant that our visitors gazed in comparative comfort at craters along the lunar terminator, especially Wargentin, one of the "Lunar 100" targets. This unusual feature with it's raised floor was clearly seen. The ray system around Tycho and "the Apollo sites" were similarly observed. Saturn, even in a low altitude was a "wow" moment (especially with our younger visitors), as were the contrasting colours of Albireo. Interestingly one of our visitors (who had called in to see us en route from Taunton to Cardiff!) explained the nature of image contrasts between targets seen by comparable Newtonian and SCT scopes. Tests with Toby's 10" Newtonian and Chris' 8" SCT confirmed the Newtonian's stronger colour contrast for this fine double star combination. Balmy summer evenings are ideal for double star observing and so several others were duly located and observed. Sadly, at around 11.00 pm, clouds soon put an end to the session, including Chris' lunar sketching.

Thanks to Chris, Toby, Simon and Dave.

April 27th 2013: Saturday Night at the Observatory

Despite isolated rain showers throughout the afternoon, the evening sky became clearer and clearer until late on, when it finished almost cloudless. We were delighted to welcome our visitors: two families and a returning visitor. There were 7 visitors in total.

We started off with all telescopes pointed at Jupiter, the brightest object visible in the light evening sky. Two of the children helped with setting up the alignment stars on the goto scope. You can never start too early to train your future observatory openers! There were definitely four moons visible at the start of the evening but Io disappeared behind Jupiter shortly after 10pm. Also visible in the twilight were M81 and M82 and visitors got to see these before they left. In between all of this, we all saw a handful of brilliant meteors that appeared to radiate from the constellation of Leo.

Openers: Toby Lumber, Roger Sykes and John Bishop.