All Society Gatherings At Wetlands Centre Suspended Until Further Notice

Important please read
Coronavirus issues update.


A committee meeting was held tonight 18th March and we took the decision to suspend, until further notice.

All Thursday and Sunday gatherings at the Washington wetlands centre.

We didn’t come to the decision lightly but the clear statement from the government and medical advisers is that all non essential gatherings are to stop.

A lot of our members who keep the society going by opening and closing and running the nights are in the high risk group and it will be irresponsible for us to put people at risk.

To do nothing at this time risks the reputation of our society.

We will still keep going in the virtual world so please continue to post your fantastic pictures and astronomy related articles on here. There may be possibilities of small outdoor only stargazing sessions in future so stay on the lookout.

I will post regular updates and news.

Take care and stay safe.

To to be clear.


The Sunderland Astronomical society Committee.


15th March Lecture: Meteorites 101 – Up Close and personal (Postponed due to Corona Virus)

This sunday’s Lecture is Cancelled and postponed for a later date due to the Corona virus outbreak.

In view of the the present Corona Virus situation we regrettably need to take sensible measures and it necessary to cancel the SAS lecture this Sunday. 
As members will be in very close together and there is risk of spreading is at its highest in this sort of situation.
Additionally, it is recommend that our vulnerable members (we have quite a few with various ailments, age and other high risk factors) are recommended from attending the meeting or at the least point out the risk.
We will also conduct a risk assessment on our future meetings.
Also see our link to SAS Corona Virus Advise.

Get up close and personal with some 4.5 billion year old space rocks. 

Everything you wanted to know about Meteors, Meteoroids and Meteorites a journey back in time.

  • What they are?
  • Where do there come from?
  • What types are there?
  • How are the formed, composition?
  • What have meteorites ever done for us?
  • Etc.

In this interactive lecture  Michael Tweedy (our previous SAS Chairman)  gives some background information and shows his impressive & inspirational  meteorite collection.


21st March: Stargazing Event (Gibside – National Trust ) – Cancelled

UPDATE – We have just heard from Gibside.
Due to the Coranavirus outbreak, the National Trust are closing most of their sites from today this includes Gibside.

Therefore, our event on the 21st March is cancelled.
Hopefully to be rescheduled in the autumn.

In view of the the present Corona Virus situation we regrettably need to take sensible measures and it necessary to cancel this event. 

The Gibside National Trust are host an event with Sunderland Astronomical Society.

  • Date: Cancelled and postponed (possibly Autumn)..
  • Time: from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm.
  • Entry: Ticket Price TBD.

The SAS are returning to Gibside, previously attended Gibside BBC Stargazing Live 2012 event.  

We need as many SAS members astronomers & volunteers to participate in this event as possible with & without telescopes to support this event.

Possible turnout at this event 300+. 

So 15 – 20 telescopes + volunteers will be required. 


Kielder Camp Site

18th – 22nd March: Kielder Forest Star Camp

The Kielder Forest Star Camp runs from Wednesday 18th March 2020 from 12:00 pm to Sunday 22nd March 2020 12:00pm.


Notice: As of 13th March 2020

Organisers  have had a query about the present virus emergency in relation to the Starcamp.As an open air event we will go ahead with our get together, but needless to say we should all follow the Government’s public health message, namely:

Bring plenty of soap and wash your hands thoroughly and often.

If you have recently developed cold symptoms you should self-isolate and not attend.

They’ll keep the main day under review with the possibility we may cancel to avoid you being cooped up in a smallish room together for a few hours. The warm room will be open.

They think this is a balanced response in what is a fast moving situation. .On the positive side the weather is forecast to improve.

Clear skies,


The Kielder Forest Star Camps are run twice a year, in the spring (usually in Feb/March) and in the autumn(usually in October).

Originally setup and organised by members of Sunderland Astronomical Society(SAS), and now organised by the Kielder Forest Camp Site.

All activities on the main day Saturday are free to attend.


19th April: SAS Lecture – The Plumes of Enceladus

In this talk Dr Chris Aldridge will explore the discovery of plumes erupting from the south polar region of Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

Chris will talk about:

  • The discovery itself,
  • How the Cassini mission studied the plumes,
  • And what we’ve learned about them and Enceladus.

Please support  your society if you can make it.

When Who Where

  • Date:  19th April 2020,
  • Time: 7pm.
  • Speaker: Dr Chris Aldridge FRAS, Lancaster University.
  • Venue: Will take place at the Cygnus Observatory (WWC Discovery Room).

SAS trip to the National Space Centre (Leicester) – Summer 2020 – Poll

Sunderland Astronomical Society is planning another day trip for the forthcoming summer season (possibly July, August 2020 –  Date TBD). 

We are planning a trip for our SAS members to visit the National Space Centre in Leicester (
We are hiring a coach for the day, leaving from and returning to Washington Wetlands Centre.

We’ve created this survey to ascertain numbers of people interested in joining us on this trip.
If you are interested in coming along for this trip, please complete the  questions below.

Go to poll 

This poll will close 26th January 2020.


28th February: Stargazing Event (Northumberland Park)

Back by popular demand, Sunderland Astronomical Society are will visiting Northumberland Park).

  • Date: Friday 28th February 2020.
  • Time: from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm.
  • Entry: Free (Contributions to SAS fundraising nonetheless welcomed).

SAS have been asked by the Northumberland Park (the park in North Shields) to hold a Stargazing event on Friday 19th October 2018 from 7.00pm till late.


16th February Lecture: A guide to Messier 42 “M42” – incl. mind-blowing phenomena, etc

Messier 42 or M42 is one of the brightest, most widely known and easily observed objects in the Winter Sky.

And yet this stunning object is home to some utterly mind-blowing phenomena, many of which we have only just been discovered.

There’s also a darker side – M42 hides a deeper secret about it’s past.

Digging deeper yields a truly astonishing history, which may have serious consequences for life here on Earth!


1st February: 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: Saturday 1st February 2020.

Times: from 7:00 pm – 10:00pm.

Price: Free Entry (Ticket Booking required)


19th January Lecture: SALT-HRS spectrograph

The SALT-HRS spectrograph has been developed and assembled between 2008 and 2013, with the main integration happening at the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation (CfAI) of Durham University.

Jurgen, himself member of the CfAI SALT-HRS team (and of Sunderland AS) provides an overview about astronomy in South Africa, the technical novelties of the 11m SALT telescope and some intimate details of how to assemble a large high resolution spectrograph that can be used to find extrasolar planets or to study stellar atmospheres.

At the end, Jurgen also presents some self-made images of the southern skies using a tracked camera at the observatory.