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Skywatcher130

Astronomical societies

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A few things to add to this...

If you are thinking about setting up your own group with some local astronomy friends, I say do it! It can be tough going at times, but we have managed to grow a nice little group which gets out observing whenever we can. We are very informal, although we are affiliated with FAS so we can access their PLI which is useful for events.

Belonging to this group has gained me friends I would otherwise not have had, and observing opportunities away from my garden in a much more sociable environment.

Secondly, don't be too harsh if you don't get a response from committee members. Many will be working full time and it is very easy to miss things. Just keep turning up, they will quickly tell you if they want you to join. Our group doesn't need much cash to run on, so normally the core members pay money into a pot and we are very relaxed about others attending for as long as they want until they feel happy to join.

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5 hours ago, PaulM said:

Its a shame when this happens and clubs are this disorganised\uninviting.

I've always found being involved in a club adds massively to the enjoyment of a hobby

I'm going to try another local(ish) club from the below list, probably one from the Cheshire area;

http://www.astronomyclubs.co.uk/Clubs/Counties.aspx

Chester AS have a meeting tomorrow night. See chesteras.blogspot.com

I hope to get back from grampa duty in London for it.

Regards Andrew 

 

Edited by andrew s
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On 23/09/2019 at 22:54, carastro said:

It's sad to hear that there are these unfriendly Astro groups around.   On-line applications have even fallen down in the past in our very friendly society,  but we have a new Chairman who is very pro-active and replies to all prospective applicants personally via E mail and sends a copy of the letter to the rest of the committee, I went back onto the committee this year so we can all see what he is doing and how many new applicants we get.

Shame other societies don't work this way, but it can be hard when people have jobs as well.  Our Chairman is retired and said he couldn't have taken on the job before he retired.   

Apart from starting one up yourself which is a lot of work, I guess SGL is the only alternative, but such a shame.

Carole 

Sounds like a great club I may have to pop over one day . I'm going to another fairly local club tomorrow 🤞🏻 their a nice bunch ,is their any def no nos that I should be aware of on my first visit ?

 

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On 23/09/2019 at 20:07, Skywatcher130 said:

Thanks for the replies.  I guess I should just try it and see how it goes.  Perhaps I should have just asked if any SGL members are also members of Rosliston Astronomy Group which is my nearest club.  It looks like they are at a science day at the forestry centre where they hold their meetings next month so I might go along and have a chat.  Thing is,  I don't know anyone else with a telescope so it would be great to meet like-minded people and hopefully get to have a look through a bigger set up than mine 😀

Yes I am. There are others on here who are members too and I sure they will reply to this post if they see it. I don’t get along to all the meetings but if you want to come along let me know and I can at least put you in touch with someone who will be there when you come along. We pretty much always get scopes out if the weather permits. We have 2 meetings each month, one mid month for observing and one at the end of the month for a talk and some observing.

Hope that helps

Steve 

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I belong to two local societies, Wessex Astronomical Society (http://www.wessex-astro.org.uk/index.php) and Fordingbridge Astronomers (http://fordingbridgeastro.org.uk/index.php

These two societies are very different. I found that Wessex was quite intimidating as a newbie though not unwelcoming. The talks are in a large hall with approx 70-100 members and a few of the members seem to have had careers that were space/satellite related.  I found things easier and got to know people more once I started helping with outreach events. 

Fordingbridge Astronomers is a much more informal group who gave me a very warm welcome and meet in an ex services club with comfy chairs and more importantly a bar. We are growing steadily and tend to have 25-30 attendees for our talks each month. 

Both societies have talks, outreach and observing sessions and I really  enjoy both though Fordingbridge Astronomers is where I feel most at home. 

I'd recommend attending some groups to see which you like best and persevere as in my experience things get easier when your face gets known especially if you are able to help with outreach etc. 

I would describe myself as a bit of a social introvert and so I find large gatherings really difficult until I know people.

However, I found SGL to be a very welcoming group and though it was a huge leap of faith for me to attend SGL SP in 2017 I had an excellent time and met loads of people. 

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On 24/09/2019 at 14:34, andrew s said:

Chester AS have a meeting tomorrow night. See chesteras.blogspot.com

I hope to get back from grampa duty in London for it.

Regards Andrew 

 

Mid Cheshire have their meeting on the last Friday of the week; so feel free to visit us too. we're at the Forest Explorers cabin behind the Cafe and Bike place in Delamere Forest

If it's clear, we are likely to observe afterwards, but otherwise why not join us at the pub nearby. 

https://www.midcheshireastro.co.uk/

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When I was in the area I was a member of the North Essex Astro Society and have to say it was an extremely positive experience. Helped out with some outreach observing nights at local schools, helped with some public outreach observing events at a local reservoir with Essex Wildlife Trust and various solar viewing days at local events. There is a weekly club night at the society's observatory dome where people are more than welcome to bring own scopes as well, be it beginners or more advanced imagers and to be honest, with the monthly talks etc, there was more being organised than I could attend.

Seems like a bit of research into the local options for societies is in order, and I was one of the lucky ones, but from my experience, a good one is more than worth it.

Edited by MattJenko
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21 minutes ago, Gfamily said:

Mid Cheshire have their meeting on the last Friday of the week; so feel free to visit us too. we're at the Forest Explorers cabin behind the Cafe and Bike place in Delamere Forest

If it's clear, we are likely to observe afterwards, but otherwise why not join us at the pub nearby. 

https://www.midcheshireastro.co.uk/

I assume you mean last Friday of the month not week 😀

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7 hours ago, andrew s said:

I assume you mean last Friday of the month not week 😀

It's been a busy day! 

 

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On 24/09/2019 at 13:34, Stu said:

A few things to add to this...

If you are thinking about setting up your own group with some local astronomy friends, I say do it! It can be tough going at times, but we have managed to grow a nice little group which gets out observing whenever we can. We are very informal, although we are affiliated with FAS so we can access their PLI which is useful for events.

Belonging to this group has gained me friends I would otherwise not have had, and observing opportunities away from my garden in a much more sociable environment.

Secondly, don't be too harsh if you don't get a response from committee members. Many will be working full time and it is very easy to miss things. Just keep turning up, they will quickly tell you if they want you to join. Our group doesn't need much cash to run on, so normally the core members pay money into a pot and we are very relaxed about others attending for as long as they want until they feel happy to join.

That is interesting Stu, I know that you knew already some on here, how else did you widen the group numbers? I don't do face book but if there was a purpose. There has only been one real club / group that I have ever fully gelled with and that was also an informal structured group, Newcastle Outdoors Activities Club, back then responding to a rough hand written note pinned up on the notice board of a local mountaineering shop. 

I had been a member of Sunderland Astronomical Society, very proactive particularly in outreach events / talks, star-camp at Kielder, very welcoming / supportive, regular notification of dark sky trips at their dedicated dark sky site or at their meeting place and observatory based in Washington. Popular with all age groups and at this time of year students. I got into wanting to try new places and when it was more convienet for myself, but you can learn a lot from enthusiast and experienced members, at least to put wind in your sail. 

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If you have a local Astro Society, it would be a shame not to avail yourself of what they have to offer you.  Generally, they are genuine and helpful folks, and often a mix of older, younger, and in many case both male and female members.  You will soon fit in, and likely learn a great great deal of both practical, and theoretical astronomy. You will no  doubt have lectures on various astro topics, and in time, probably giving lectures yourself. You will get outdoor activities involving observational nights, and much dealings with the general public during National Astronomy weeks.   So if you locate a Society near you, just pay them a visit, you will be made welcome for sure.

Ron.

 

 

 

 

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On 20/09/2019 at 20:46, Skywatcher130 said:

How many of you are members of an astronomy club or society, and how welcoming to new members do they tend to be?  I like the idea of joining like-minded people and getting away from my light polluted back garden but I'm a bit nervous about taking the plunge to be honest 😊

My wife & I joined the Leeds Astronomical Society a year ago (http://www.astronomyleeds.org.uk/index.php) and have found them very welcoming. We've had some good advice & attended some excellent talks (though these can be a bit variable!). The public (and informal) observing sessions have also been really useful, being able to compare 'scope views & ask questions / get tips on set up etc.

Sorry to hear not everyone's experience of some of the other societies has been so positive!

Cheers

Ivor

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On 26/09/2019 at 19:06, scarp15 said:

That is interesting Stu, I know that you knew already some on here, how else did you widen the group numbers? I don't do face book but if there was a purpose. There has only been one real club / group that I have ever fully gelled with and that was also an informal structured group, Newcastle Outdoors Activities Club, back then responding to a rough hand written note pinned up on the notice board of a local mountaineering shop. 

I had been a member of Sunderland Astronomical Society, very proactive particularly in outreach events / talks, star-camp at Kielder, very welcoming / supportive, regular notification of dark sky trips at their dedicated dark sky site or at their meeting place and observatory based in Washington. Popular with all age groups and at this time of year students. I got into wanting to try new places and when it was more convienet for myself, but you can learn a lot from enthusiast and experienced members, at least to put wind in your sail. 

My group actually started on Facebook and ran for about 18 months or more before people actually managed to meet up! FB is very handy for allowing new starters to find us and for quickly getting messages around to everyone, but the reality is we have around 150 members and I've probably met only around 20 of those. For security we tend not to arrange anything other than the monthly meets on there.

The reality is that we end up using a range of ways of communicating to get even the small numbers we do in. We have a website, FB page and also a WhatsApp group amongst the regular members to chat and arrange meets and observing sessions. We are slowly increasing in numbers, and with work that will continue hopefully.

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We have a web site , a closed FB page, but it is the Whatsapp group where nearly all the comms are done. One thing though we never add anyone to our stargazing group until we have met them. So after the initial contact we meet them locally for a drink and a chat, after that we add them. The reason for this is we only do stargazing and people want to know who they are going to be out with rather than complete strangers turning up. I have found that the joining members really appreciate someone taking the time to meet them as well, and it pretty much ensures the people are genuine. A lot of requests on FB and even by email are not the real deal so to speak. I don`t think think it will ever be a massive group, it was 18 at one point and has reduced since some fees were required to pay for PLI. As a stargazing group only the core thing required is a safe observing place for the members with parking, and that can be a challenge to find.

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I attempted to join our local group(very big group, they have major manufacturer gather on this place once a year) last year when I was starting to learn astrophotography and to work my telescope. I paid for a 1 yr family subscription via paypal so my wife and son can join in. Waited for the next instructions on what to do after becoming a paid member. after couple of weeks, no reply or an email about my membership so I sent them an email if I am getting some sort of an ID or something, waited for few weeks and nothing. I gave up and just went to youtube and forums and do it myself..After about a year when my subscription expired, I started to get their email newsletter about star parties etc, so I replied about the issue. Someone replied back saying the person that handles this membership stuff was sick blah blah blah. So, he offered me a free renewal which is nice but the fact that the times when I needed some assistance to gain knowledge was no longer needed so I said consider my membership as a donation. :D .  

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6 hours ago, retret66 said:

I attempted to join our local group(very big group, they have major manufacturer gather on this place once a year) last year when I was starting to learn astrophotography and to work my telescope. I paid for a 1 yr family subscription via paypal so my wife and son can join in. Waited for the next instructions on what to do after becoming a paid member. after couple of weeks, no reply or an email about my membership so I sent them an email if I am getting some sort of an ID or something, waited for few weeks and nothing. I gave up and just went to youtube and forums and do it myself..After about a year when my subscription expired, I started to get their email newsletter about star parties etc, so I replied about the issue. Someone replied back saying the person that handles this membership stuff was sick blah blah blah. So, he offered me a free renewal which is nice but the fact that the times when I needed some assistance to gain knowledge was no longer needed so I said consider my membership as a donation. :D .  

Did you try and go along to one of their meetings to ask your question?

most AS allow people to attend at least one meeting before joining.

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Interesting thread and something I might add although slightly off topic I think still relevant. Some time ago I used to be on a fairly active astro forum I think based near Manchester (I won`t mention the name) and became quite friendly with all on there and was informed that they will be going to a star party soon held in the Peaks (I forget the location now) and it happened to be fairly near to where my wife and I were staying. If I went to the star party I was invited to call to pitch whatever it was to meet up with the organiser lets call him `D` for a brew and a chat.

I did go to the star party some 10mins drive from where I was staying and found D who was chatting with a few others. I like to think I`m a friendly sociable type and quietly introduced myself and that was about as far as I got as it was like a scene from one of those old western films where the piano stops playing and the pool balls stop rolling, quite funny now I think back as I had obviously invaded their little clique and needless to say I felt as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit 😀.  I made a quick excuse to leave and it goes without saying never went back both to the pitch or the forum . It did make me think that this friendly little part of cyberspace we inhabit does not always transfer to face to face at least for me on this one occasion.

Steve

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I was about to post on this thread about my own positive experience at my local group when I saw that Rosliston is your local group too!

Like @Trikeflyer I'm a member and manage to get along to most meetings. Back when I was a newbie a few years ago I was made very welcome and the help I received was a catalyst to really getting involved in the hobby. 

It's actually a very exciting time in the club as we've been working for some years towards having our own Observatory at the forestry centre- it's very close now to completion.  

If you make the science day that would be great- there will be plenty of members attending. Alternatively, if you want to go to a meeting I understand it can be daunting going on your own- if you want to pm me prior to it I'll be happy to meet you there and introduce you other members of the group 🙂.

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That's great Bob,  and the club observatory sounds really exciting!  I should be at the science day with my husband and boys so we'll come and say hello 😀

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On 23/09/2019 at 22:54, carastro said:

It's sad to hear that there are these unfriendly Astro groups around.   

Have never been to Orpington AS but I have found other local societies to be a bit “League of Gentlemen” to be honest!  🙉🙈🙊

That probably says a lot more about me than it does them, though...🤪

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8 hours ago, JeremyS said:

Did you try and go along to one of their meetings to ask your question?

most AS allow people to attend at least one meeting before joining.

It might be but I don't want to assume without proper instructions. Remember, I know nothing about these groups and their rules. The fact that they do not put time to manage their new membership sign in already gives me an impression of what kind of group they are. I don't want to go there and find out.

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As a follow up to my original post, I went along to the science day at the forestry centre on Saturday which is where my local astronomy group are based.  They were very proudly showing off their newly-opened observatory, and I met some lovely, friendly members who put my mind at ease as to attending some of their monthly sessions and possibly becoming a member myself in the future. 

I met a very knowledgeable gentleman  (who actually lives in my village!) who was displaying on his laptop some fantastic images he'd taken  from his own back garden observatory. 

I left feeling much less nervous about the whole club issue and excited about the possibility of being able to tap into a wealth of experience and advice as opposed to observing alone.  I may have been grinning and saying 'wow! ' a bit too much though,  but from not knowing anyone else with a telescope to seeing loads and being able to go up into the new observatory was pretty exciting stuff 😀

Deb 

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That's great news Deb.👍

Quote

Have never been to Orpington AS but I have found other local societies to be a bit “League of Gentlemen” to be honest!  🙉🙈🙊

@Hallingskies

There is the Mid Kent AS.   One of our members who moved away is a member there.

Carole 

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