Pow Hill Dark Sky Site

30th June Summer Lecture: How To Take Deep Sky Photos

Summer Lecture 1: How to take deep sky photos with Chris Duffy from 7.00pm.

Join us for the start of our ‘SAS Summer Lectures’ as our very own Chris Duffy takes you through:

  • How he has his gear set up,
  • How to take amazing astro images,
  • How to polar align using sharpcap,
  • How to set up in APT so that you too can get the amazing astrophotography pics that Chris achieves.

However, this is in no way a guarantee but he’ll try his best :- )


12th July: Apollo 11 50th Anniversary – Lunar – Stargazing Event

Saturday 20th July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing and with it comes a fantastic opportunity to celebrate arguably one of humankind’s greatest achievements.

Visit the Cygnus Observatory based at the Washington Wetlands Centre & join the Sunderland Astronomical Society for a an event dedicated to the Apollo 11 50th anniversary.

See the moon in stunning detail through many telescopes and enjoy a tour of the night skies from this welcoming and friendly group of amateur astronomers.

  • Powerful telescopes will be available to view:
  • The Moon.
  • Plus many other astronomical wonders of the night sky.
  • And possibly other members of our Solar System family.

Date: Friday 12th July 2019.

Times: from 8:00 pm – 10:30 pm.

Price: Free Entry (Ticket Booking required)


21st July Lecture: One Small Step – The legacy of the Apollo programme

21st July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first moonwalk, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on another world.

For a brief period, the Moon became our first outpost in the wider cosmos before the manned missions ceased in December 1972.

In total, only 12 men ever walked on the Moon.

Yet, Armstrong’s ‘small step for a man’ changed our view of the universe, and more, profoundly.

In this talk, Dave Newton reflects upon the Apollo programme, its highs and lows, the scientific discoveries, and Apollo’s impacts on the world that are still being felt today.

SAS Astro Photo Competion

19th May: SAS Astrophotography Competition 2019

The Sunderland Astronomical Society’s Astrophotography Competition will held on Sunday 19th May 2019, 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 2018 Astrophotography Competition winners and runners up , also viewable from the  Astrophotography Competitions drop down menu.

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. 

Also, if contestants would like their astro images shown on the projector during this event (it could even get you a few more votes :-)), please submit your images to the chairman ahead of the event.


21st April Lecture: DESI – the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument.

The expansion history and large-scale structure of the Universe is a key prediction of cosmological models, and DESI observations will permit scientists to probe diverse aspects of cosmology, from dark energy to alternatives to General Relativity to neutrino masses to the early Universe.

DESI will measure the expansion history of the Universe using the baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO) imprinted in the clustering of galaxies, quasars, and the intergalactic medium and will extract cosmological distance information from the clustering of matter and galaxies.


20th April: SAS Starbeque

SAS Starbeque event at Derwent Reservoir Car Park.

  • Date:  Saturday 20th April 2019,
  • 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.


17th March Lecture: Seeing through telescopes large and small.

Images of astronomical objects from ground-based telescopes are blurred by turbulence in the earth’s atmosphere – a phenomenon referred to as “seeing”.

The magnitude of the effect depends on the strength of the turbulence, the size of the telescope and the wavelength at which observations are made.

This talk will discuss how the earth’s atmosphere affects ground-based telescopes of all sizes, how the turbulence strength is measured and some of the methods that can be used to ameliorate its effects.


15th March: Moonwatch & Stargazing Event

Visit the Cygnus Observatory based at the Washington Wetlands Centre for an evening dedicated to our nearest celestial neighbour.

See the moon in stunning detail through many telescopes and enjoy a tour of the night skies from this welcoming and friendly group of amateur astronomers.

  • Powerful telescopes will be available to view:
  • The Moon.
  • Amazing stellar nursery, the Orion Nebula (M42).
  • Andromeda Galaxy (M31).
  • Amazing open star clusters including the spectacular “Seven Sisters”, (M45).
  • Plus many other astronomical wonders of the night sky.

Date: Friday 15th March 2019.

Times: from 7:00 pm – 9:30pm.

Price: Free Entry (Ticket Booking required)


17th February Lecture: The promise of gravitational wave astronomy.

Gravitational waves offer a new way to uncover the universe.

General relativity suggested their existence, but even Einstein wasn’t sure about them. It wasn’t until the 1970s that there was evidence of their existence, but it took 40 years to be able to detect them.

Now we can detect these ripples in space time, what do they tell us about black holes, neutron stars and the fundamental nature of the universe?

There are many wonderful images (public domain) at the LIGO website https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/images