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.    Meeting details are here:


What is the programme?

Go here:


When does the society meet?

Every Friday in term-time, October-June (excepting public holidays).  Once per month in July, August and September (details on the website).    Arrive by about 7:00 and get a tea/coffee and a biscuit - 50p.  In an attempt to reduce our single use of plastic cups, many members now bring their own mugs.  This is appreciated, but by no means compulsory.  Rest assured, you will get your coffee!


I have limited mobility.  Can I easily access the venue?

We hold all of our meetings in the ground-floor part of the building.  This is level all the way through.  The door has a small lip, but there are ramps available to allow wheelchair access.


How much does it cost?*

Your first visit is free.  After that we ask for a donation of £3, but we hope that you might join us!


How do I join?

Membership details are here:


What are the benefits?


Can my partner/spouse come to meetings, too?  How about our children?

The same visitor arrangements apply*, if they are not members, but we offer a Family Membership, for all named persons at one address.  It cost a little more, but all can get the same benefits. 


Do you offer concessions to those on low income?

We offer concessions to retired, unemployed and student members, and generous concessions to youths, who are under 18.


Can I look through a society telescope?

There are various opportunities.  Look here for details:

If you are under 18, we ask that you come with a parent or guardian


Do you hold ‘Beginners’ Classes’, for those new to astronomy?

We have experimented with beginners’ courses for young people in the Year 6 -8 age group, and have held several in recent months.  We aim to hold more.  These cost a small amount, but they are held at conveniently early times, and include a visit to our observatory.  We ask that students come with a parent or guardian.  Contact the Secretary for the current situation.


Can I organise a Scout group visit to the observatory, or invite someone to speak to my Guide group?

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 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 send an email to giving details of what you require.   


Can I get advice on buying and using a telescope?

Look here:

Contact the Secretary for advice on specific models.    If necessary, your query will be passed-on to someone with experience of that brand/model.    Look at the programme for ‘Telescope Surgery’. That would be a good evening to come along and get advice.  At this event, you can bring your telescope, if you already have one, and we will show you how to set it up. Contact the Secretary beforehand, so that they might find someone with experience of that brand/model.


Can I give the society my unused telescope?

We have limited storage space, so telescopes can only be accepted if they can be used in our programme of public meetings, or loaned-out to members.    Please contact the Secretary in the first instance.


Can you help me to sell a telescope?

We will do our best to advise, and will canvas our members, to help to find a buyer.    Nothing can, of course, be guaranteed.    Please contact the Secretary in the first instance.


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, from the West, until it enters the Earth’s shadow, in the East, when it vanishes.    There are also satellites that cause iridium flares, these appear quite dim, then 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.  They do not ‘pulse’ or repeat the change of brightness.

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

You can find out more about what’s moving above us, by visiting  It will tell you exactly what satellites can be seen and when.   You can then watch them go over and compare them to what you have seen in the past.


23 May 2018