Enjoy a night with the stars

A set of Lancashire astronomers have stars in their eyes as they explore the night skies.

Friday, 3rd June 2016, 2:41 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd June 2016, 5:43 pm
Member of Euxtronomy standing in front of a solar halo (rainbow around the sun)

Euxtronomy (Euxton Astronomy) launched last year, holding monthly meetings at either Euxton Community Centre or The Insty.

During the summer months when it is too light to observe the sky, the group hosts presentations, where members learn more about certain topics of astronomy.

Steve Berry, chairman and co-founder, has been an enthusiast for years and is delighted to have finally formed a club.

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Members of Euxtronomy looking through a telescope

He said: “I was really surprised at the number of people who have joined - we have around 30 regular members attending. It was a great year last year - as we had the solar and lunar eclipses and a meteor shower, so there was lots of things happening.

“I like looking at comets. I had never seen any until last year with Comet Lovejoy, which had come into the solar system and then returned 100 years later. “It was amazing. It was also great seeing Jupiter and Saturn close up. As we set telescopes up at places like Rivington, people always ask us what we are looking at.”

With a mix of beginners and experienced astronomers, the group hosts presentations on a number of subjects.

Amanda Cross, secretary of Euxtronomy, said; “We have enjoyed talks on how to set up a telescope, astrophotography, meteorites, how to photograph the moon and many other topics, but we also plan observing nights during the darker months. We have been to Rivington, Todmorden and local places to view special events like the lunar eclipse, planetary conjunctions and meteor showers.

Members of Euxtronomy looking through a telescope

“We also have a group project to build our very own All-Sky Camera from scratch and locate it within Euxton to monitor the sky constantly for meteorites and things of interest.

“Recently we have held a community observing night at Silvesters Farm, looking at the planet Jupiter and also a night at the Traveller’s Rest looking through our telescopes.”

The group now has ambitious plans to build a large astronomy centre in Euxton, which will house research and create a great space for observation.

Steve added: “Our plan is to build a place where the community can go and we can do scientific research. It will be used by astronomers. This is a long term project. We will take another year recruiting and building a base for ourselves and then we will be looking for a bit of land in Euxton.”

Members are also very active in the community, as they love to share their findings.

Amanda said: “We also hold school workshops and a team of us visit schools with telescopes, activities and an inflatable solar system and we love to see the enthusiasm of the children when they are learning about astronomy.

“So far we have spent a week at Primrose Hill Primary School as part of their science week, visited Parklands High School for the Mercury Transit across the Sun and recently visited St Gregory’s School in Chorley.

“We are a really busy, active group within the community and we love to share our enthusiasm for the night sky.

“Members have even been on the radio doing interviews and we visit Chorley FM monthly to talk about the events we are doing. We love the opportunity to speak about astronomy and the events we are planning for people to come along to.”

And even a cloudy sky can’t deter the group as they enjoy meals out and pub quizzes.

They recently held an 80s fund-raising event at the Insty, to help save up for their astronomy centre.

The group is looking forward to its next meeting, as local astronomer Robert Ince will give an introduction to astronomy talk at Euxton Community Centre, on June 9.

Amanda added: “We welcome anyone interested to come and join us at any of our events, from complete beginners to astronomy to more experienced astronomers. “It’s great to get together, meet new people and make friends. We have lots of exciting things in the pipeline for Euxtronomy and we would love people to come along and get involved in our events.”

For more information visit www.euxtronomy.org.uk or check out their blog: euxtronomy.blogspot.co.uk.