All eyes on the skies for amateur astronomers

All eyes on the skies for amateur astronomers

Variety Millett, Tim Jones and Katherine Jones look to the heavens

Jed Dark looks to the heavens

Tony Hickman and Gill Oakley, Hillworth Park café owner and manager

Daniel Jones tries a telescope for size

First published in News

Dozens of local people brought their telescopes and binoculars along to Hillworth Park in Devizes this week to take part in the national Stargazing Live event in conjunction with the BBC TV series.

The town council had organised the event after the success of a one-night pilot last year.

Those without their own equipment were able to take advantage of telescopes provided by the Greenacres solar observatory in Green Lane.

The event was designed to coincide with the three-night TV series presented by Professor Brian Cox and astrophysicist turned comic, Dara O’Briain.

Speaking about the first of the events on Tuesday night, Carole Berry, the town council’s direct services manager, said: “It was very well attended and, although it clouded over slightly, people were able to get really good views of the moon and Jupiter.

“People were also able to watch the TV programme on the big screen in the park centre, so they could feel part of the national event.

“We encouraged them to take as many pictures as possible to upload onto the programme’s website.”

Stargazing began on Tuesday evening and continued last night with the final event this evening (Thursday).

Those attending were able to ask questions of astronomy experts who went along. Each evening had its own theme: galaxies, space exploration and space weather.

Stargazing is called sidewalk astronomy in the United States, where it originated in the 1960s when John Dobson, inventor of the Dobsonian telescope, made it his mission to take telescopes out of oberservatories and onto the streets.

Mrs Berry said: “The emphasis is less on achieving the perfect stargazing conditions and more about reaching a large number of people to give them a taste of stargazing.”

Anyone who would like to take part this evening should go along to the park between 6pm and 9pm.

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