On Friday January 20th the Vectis Astronomical Society (VAS) are organising a Stargazing Live event at Newchurch Observatory to complement the BBC’s Star Gazing Live event from January 16th to 18th 2012.
Called the’ Isle of Wight Star Count’ the event will see VAS volunteers showing small groups of would-be star gazers how to use a Sky Quality Meter to measure the darkness of the sky. Then using charts in the observatory’s classroom you will be invited to count how many stars you can see in given constellations using the naked eye at different locations around the Observatory.
Participants will be encouraged to take the results home and compare them in their own back garden and the results will be collected and sent to ‘Globe at Night’, which is a campaign to raise awareness of the impact of light pollution.
Other activities include observing the amount of stars that can be seen with the naked eye compared to the number that can be seen through binoculars. You may be astounded by how many more stars you can see with just a normal pair of binoculars!
You will, of course, also be able to look through a telescope or two at the stars. “If it is a clear night there will be ten to fifteen telescopes set up around the Observatory trained on things that are worth looking at in the night sky and there will be a published list of those on the day,” said Observatory Director Brian Curd.
There will also be astro photo and slide show displays, with many of the photos having been taken by members using the telescopes at the Observatory. There will also be tours of the dome and various types of binoculars and telescopes.
There are concrete paths and a ramp for wheelchair access to the Observatory, but no ramp or lift up into the dome for the big telescope. The car park in small but you are able to use the large car park at ‘Thompsons’ garden centre in Watery Lane, opposite the entrance to the Observatory for larger events such as this. The area is dark, so bring a torch (preferably a red one as they do not disturb your night vision). Children under the age of 18 are required to be accompanied by a responsible adult, the event runs from 8pm till 10pm and there is a suggested donation of £1.