Welcome to Sunderland Astronomical Society

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Sunderland Astronomical Society (SAS) was formed in July 1993 by an enthusiastic group of local amateur astronomers. We are one of most active and largest astronomical society’s in the North East with lots of things going on (for e.g. observing, related projects, astro events, meetings, lectures, visits, and outreach), so come on down and take a look.

Who We Are

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SAS are a dynamic, active, open and friendly group of local amateur astronomers.

Our aim is to promote, inspire, inform, empower & advance the awareness & education of the public in the science of Astronomy and related subjects.

SAS in one of the largest, if not the largest and most active astronomical society in the North East.

We support the whole of Tyne & Wear community and North East region with anything astronomical.

What We Do

Whst We Do
We cater for all levels of Astronomy interest and experience.

We are especially pleased to welcome newcomers into the fascinating study of the heavens.

Regularly provide astronomically themed talks, observing sessions, projects & workshops in schools, at other venues/establishments, within the North East region at  our public observatory at the Washington Wetlands Centre.

We run outreach projects & programs that are recognised by NASA outreach.

Especially interested in  Schools, Cubs, Brownie and Scout groups of all ages to inspire, empower & learn about astronomy and view the night sky.

When We Meet

SAS Workshops at WWT
Our season runs from September to September each year.

See our Events Calendar for all our SAS related events, for e.g. visits, lectures, public outreach, local community engagement events, etc.

We hold meetings on:

  • Every Thursday (open to the public).
  • 1st Sunday (informal get together).
  • 2nd Sunday (Astro workshops & observing.
  • 3rd Sunday of each (Astro related lecture).
  • 4th Sunday (informal get together)

All at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Washington, in the Discovery Centre.

All meetings start from 7 pm.

Meetings are free to attend, so you can come along and see if the Society is for you before you join up.

Also to socialize and join in the craic on all things astronomical.

Meeting Dates each month

Each Thursday of each month

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Every Thursday: Open to the Public, all year round.

Held in the Discovery Room of Wetlands Centre, and in and around our Cygnus Observatory where our members  meet and greet members of the public, potential/new members and show them around and what SAS are all about.

Members also help the those new to the science to get acquainted with their instruments and with finding objects in the night sky.

For more information on SAS activities and other events, see our Society News and/or Events Calendar web pages.

 

Each Sunday of each month

SAS Workshops4
Every Sunday: Originally informal. Now  it’s held all year round.

Held in the Discovery Room of Wetlands Centre, where our more experienced astronomers help the those new to the science to get acquainted with their instruments and with finding objects in the night sky.

For more information on SAS activities and other events, see our Society News and/or Events Calendar web pages.

 

2nd Sunday of each month

SAS Workshops at WWT
On the 2nd Sunday of each month:

Held all year round, Workshop Meetings are held in the Discovery Room of Wetlands Centre, where our more experienced astronomers help the those new to the science to get acquainted with their instruments and with finding objects in the night sky.

For more information on SAS activities and other events, see our Society News and/or Events Calendar web pages.

 

3rd Sunday of each month

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SAS Lecture

On the 3rd Sunday of each month: From September to August each year, lecture meetings are held and feature a talk lasting around 40 to 60+ minutes, either by a visiting professional astronomer or an experienced amateur astronomer.

The Cygnus observatory will be open afterwards for observing if weather is permitting.

For more information on lectures, see our Society News and/or Events Calendar web pages.

Opening Times

Opening Times

The Cygnus Observatory & Society will be open on the following days of each month for observing, workshop meetings. tutorials and lecture meetings.

Date Open times Activities
Thursdays 7 pm - 9 pm Open to the Public.
1st Sunday 7 pm - 9 pm Open to the Public & SAS Members (Informal).
2nd Sunday 7 pm - 9 pm Committee Meeting 6 pm (SAS Members), Workshop open to the Public & SAS Members from 7 pm.
3rd Sunday 7 pm - 9 pm Lecture - Open to the Public & SAS Members from 7 pm.
4th Sunday 7 pm - 9 pm Open to the Public & SAS Members (Informal).
  • All observatory open times & society activities will be dependent upon weather conditions and available volunteers.
  • Close times can be extended on the evening for the observatory and member observing, dependant upon available volunteers and weather conditions.
    • At the discretion of SAS commitee members on the evening.

Latest News

14th July: SAS 25th Anniversary

It is the SAS 25th anniversary in July 2018.

The SAS from humble beginnings to now one of the largest, if not the largest and most dynamic Astronomical Societies’ in the North of England.

So the SAS is having a bit of a Birthday do on the Saturday 14 July 2018 to celebrate. 

The will be a buffet and possible a barbeque outside, SAS history related from some of our founding members.

So it’s your chance to find out how it all began.

Also there may be other possible other talks, and of course good craic and  observing (if the weather is favourable).

We ask participants to bring any suitable food/etc for the buffet (similar to Xmas Benker night) and possibly barbeque.

Details on the Barbeque are TBD.

  • Date:  Saturday 14th July 2018,
  • Time: From 7:30 pm until very late, observing afterwards if weather is favorable.
  • Venue: Will take place at at  our Observatory and base of operations the Washington Wetlands Centre.

The event is free to attend (members,  invited guests & the public) though you will need to supply your own barbeque goodies (for e,g, food, disposable barbies, etc), scopes, etc.

Details

15th July Lecture: TRAPPIST-1 System of Exoplanets

In Natalie Heron’s talk she outlines that we’ve possibly found a new solar system, and it threatens to put our own to shame.

The star Trappist-1, a mere 39 light years away, has been found to host seven Earth-sized, rocky planets.

The discovery has astronomers, alien-hunters, and space enthusiasts abuzz for a good few reasons. Among new solar systems discovered so far, none have had more than seven planets (our system has eight). And none have had all seven that were rocky and also Earth-sized.

What’s more, because the star type is among the most common in our galaxy, such solar systems are likely to be quite common. That makes the Trappist-1 system a prime target to accelerate the search for life beyond our own solar system.

Details

18th August: SAS Starbeque

From humble beginnings and as a pre-season event, the annual SAS Starbeque event has now become the stuff of legend and it was our largest attended Starbeque to date.

Held usually on last Saturday in August, but due to the nearest new moon phase.

  • Date:  Saturday 18th August 2018,
  • Time: From 7 pm until very late, observing afterwards if weather is favorable.
  • Venue: Will take place at at Derwent Reservoir located at our Millshield dark sky site.

This is our traditional celebration of the return of darker nights and, as in previous years, 

The event is free to attend (members,  invited guests & the public) though you will need to supply your own barbeque goodies (for e,g, food, disposable barbies, etc), scopes, etc.

Note: There is now a car parking charge of £1.50 for the night Millfields Car Park.

Details

19th August Lecture: Alternative Skies (The Weather and Storm Chasing)

Next to light pollution, the biggest enemy of the astronomer is the cloud cover. Clouds are annoying for our hobby, for all they play an important role to our eco system.

With the summer just going and before astronomy gets back into full swing, why not talk about the weather?

  • What are clouds,
  • What types are there,
  • Can weather be more exciting than a drizzly and foggy November day?

In this lecture  Dr Jurgen Schmoll gives some background information and shows some exciting footage of storm chasing in the great plains of the USA.

Details

SAS Water Rocket Competition

1st July: Water Rocket Competition 2018

Back by popular demand the SAS’s annual Water Rocket Competition Is being held on Sunday 1st July 2018 from 7:30 pm .

Join Sunderland Astronomical Society for its Water Rocket Competetion 2018.
Come on down to the Wetlands Centre, the prize in right.
Prize criteria subject to panel of judges based upon:

  • Design,
  • Build Quality,
  • Rocket Launch height,
  • Rocket Launch distance

When, Where:

  • Date:  Sunday 1st July 2018,
  • Time: From 7:30 pm until 10:30 pm,
  • Venue: Will take place at at  our Observatory and base of operations the Washington Wetlands Centre.

The event is free to attend (members,  invited guests).

Details

Perseus - Grubb-Parsons Telescope 1985

Back from the brink: Refurbishing the ‘Perseus’ Grubb-Parsons Telescope

For most astronomical societies, refurbishing an historic scope would be a dream come true. David Ettie of Sunderland Astronomical Society reveals how he and his fellow stargazers did just that.

While the north east of England is well known for mining and heavy industry, until 1985 it also had a hand in producing quality telescopes, courtesy of a company called Sir Howard Grubb, Parsons and Co. Ltd.

The roots of this enterprise go back to the famous Victorian telescope maker Howard Grubb, who established the Grubb Telescope Company in Dublin in 1833 before the business was moved across the Irish Sea to Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1925.

Acquired by the British engineer Charles Parsons, the company was renamed and became known colloquially as Grubb Parsons. 

For the Full article – please see the Sky at Night Magazine.

Details

17th June Lecture: How Telescopes are made

For over 400 years now astronomy prospers by the use of it’s most important tool, the telescope.

In this lecture  Dr Jurgen Schmoll will show how these wonderful instruments were once made and how they are made today, focusing on research telescopes as well as on amateur equipment where examples of mass production are shown as well as ways to make your own telescope at home.

Details

SAS Astro Photo Competion

20th May: SAS Astrophotography Competition 2018

The Sunderland Astronomical Society’s Astrophotography Competition will held on Sunday 20th May 2018, from 7:00 pm, where the best of our SAS astrophotographer images will be displayed and voted on at this competition event.
 
Last year’s 2017 Astrophotography Competition winners and runners up , also viewable from the  Astrophotography Competitions drop down menu.
 
Categories

This year there will be 3 main categories:

  1. Solar System.  
  2. Deep Sky.
  3. Smartphone/Tablet.

Skill Level

In each Category (apart from Smartphone) experience Levels:

  1. Less than 12 months experience.
  2. More than 12 months experience.

There will be a winner and runners-up photo will be voted on for each category & skill level.

This year we also have a new Smartphone/Tablet category. This can any image and any experience level. 

Details