Frequently Asked Questions:


Where does the society meet?

We meet at the Bristol Photographic Society, Unit 13, Montpelier Central, Station Road, Montpelier, Bristol, BS6 5EE. This is at the top of Station Road, just opposite Montpelier railway station. See Contact us for directions.


When does the society meet?

We meet every Friday at 7pm during term times. Between June and September (inclusive) we meet every fortnight. The talks start at 7:15pm, so ensure you give yourselves plenty of time to arrive. The talks can finish anywhere between 8:30pm and 9pm.


I want to view the night sky, do you have an observatory?

Yes, we have two permanent telescopes set up on a site in Failand. We do not publish the exact location. The observatory is open every clear Saturday. There is a notice on the home page of our website to let the public know whether it will be open that Saturday. A decision is usually made on the day.

If you would like to attend or would like more information, please email Saturday.observing(at)


I would like to join your society, what do I do?

There are two ways to join:

  1. On the home page of the website, click “The society”. On this page, click “Membership” on the left-hand bar. At the bottom of this page is a link to the membership form. Simply print this off and send it to the address on the form, along with your payment.
  2. Come along to any of our Friday meetings and let a member of the committee know that you would like to join. Membership forms are available to fill in on the night.

Our joining form can be found here


 What does joining give me?

 If you join the society you will have full access to the following:


·         All our talk nights free

·      Access to our Failand observatory and the ability to learn how to use the telescopes there

·         Access to several loaner telescopes

·         Access to a comprehensive library

·         Access to the Yahoo emailing group for discussions and help around astronomy


I don’t want to join but I still want to come to talks every now and again.

Members of the public are more than welcome to come along to our talks whenever they like. The first talk is always free. We ask that non-members pay a small fee of £2 for subsequent talks.


I am a cub/scout master, can you help me?

We are able to help local cubs/scouts/brownies with their astronomy badges. Firstly, special nights can be arranged at the Failand observatory. These will need to be booked in advance and are, as always, weather dependant. All children must be accompanied by their parents or group leader at all times. Please email Saturday.observing(at) for more help.

Some of our members are also willing to come and talk to a small group of children. Please be aware that this can take a little time to organise. Again, all children must be accompanied by their parents or group leader. Please email secretary (at) for more assistance on this.


I have a telescope and I don’t know how to use it, help!

First of all, be patient. Telescopes can be tricky to set up the first time and it can be frustrating getting it right. Go through the manual carefully and set it up inside to start with, before moving it outside.

Members of the public can bring their own telescope to the Saturday observing sessions. Please let the Saturday Observing team know in advance if this is your plan and what type of telescope it is.

The society organise regular telescope workshops on club nights (non professional speaker nights). If you would like to come along to this with your telescope, please email secretary (at)

Unfortunately we don’t have the resource to visit individual people. If you are still struggling, feel free to bring the telescope along to any Friday night talk and ask for help.


I saw an object moving in the night sky, what could it be?

Celestial bodies and artificial satellites don't usually flash, but are a constant white point. The ISS for instance is a constant white dot that moves quite swiftly across the sky. There are also satellites that cause iridium flares, these appear suddenly bright, then dim and disappear as they move across the night sky. This is caused by the sun suddenly reflecting off their solar panels.

Planes have lights on them of differing colours that sometimes flash and sometimes stay constant. Helicopters also have an array of lights. It could be difficult to see the outline of it at night.

You can find out more about what’s moving above us by visiting

It will tell you exactly what satellite can be seen and when. They you can watch them go over and compare the light to what you have seen in the past.