The current society was formed in 1986, the same year Halley’s Comet reappeared in the sky, and our roots can be traced back to the first scientific organisation in Southport called the Southport Society of Natural Science. This organisation later became the Southport Scientific Society that had its first meeting on Thursday, October 23rd, 1890.
Following the death of Joseph Baxendell Snr. his son Joseph Baxendell Jr. donated his father’s Victorian observatory and 1869 six-inch Thomas Cooke telescope to the Education Department of the then Southport Corporation. In 1901 they installed it in Southport’s Hesketh Park. See our Baxendell & his observatory page for more historical information and our public observatory open days, currently cancelled due to Covid.
Baxendell’s observatory 6 inch Cooke refractor
Following this donation, a number of members from the Southport Scientific Society with an interest in astronomy began to use this new facility for private observations of the night sky. Interest grew, and in 1927 when a total solar eclipse was visible in Southport, due to the local interest in astronomy this event caused, the forerunner of Southport Astronomical Society was formed. Its members immediately began to make regular use of the observatory and organise public viewing sessions on behalf of Southport Corporation. The society currently has 43 members and includes members of all ages, ranging from beginners to those with observing experience, and several who have undertaken distance learning in astronomy at the University of Central Lancashire’s Jeremiah Horrocks Institute or possess a degree in Physics and Astronomy.
The society is run by a management committee consisting of the following:
Honorary Chairperson – Michael Dow, Honorary Secretary – Edwin Vanner, Honorary Treasurer – Rick Tyers, Observatory Manager – Bob Mount *, Membership Secretary & Data Protection Officer Pam Rowlson, Patrick Kiernan – Publicity Officer, Ray Bennion, General Member – Alan Town – General Member.
* Bob is responsible for the day to day management of the Astronomical Observatory in Hesketh Park. When required, a subgroup can meet with committee members and any ordinary members being co-opted as required. This group would include as a minimum the Honorary Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer. For details of observatory open days, see the programme at the bottom of our Baxendell and his observatory page.
The society is fortunate to have enjoyed a long association with this Victorian observatory and plans to recommence member observing sessions now that the Cooke telescope has been repaired, see our News & events page for details. In addition, the society owns a 4.5 inch Mead ‘GOTO’ Newtonian reflector and 10 inch Orion Newtonian reflector for use by members, and several members also own their own telescopes.
The Society’s annual programme begins in September when the annual membership fee of £15/ year becomes due, with a reduced rate of £7.50 for junior members under 16, students in full time higher education, the unwaged, or anyone joining after the 1st January.
We meet on the third Thursday in the month at the Scarisbrick Bowling Club, with the exception of November, when we meet on the fourth Thursday. Meetings start at 7.30 pm, and following the presentation & Q & A session, they end around 9.00-9.30 pm. Access to the Scarisbrick Bowling Club is via the footpath between the corner house on Scarisbrick New Road and 1 Falkland Road. Parking is available in Falkland Road, and for SatNav directions use PR8 6LG.
During June, July & August scheduled society meetings are held at Joseph Baxendell’s observatory in Hesketh Park, again on the 3rd Thursday in the month with a start time of 7.30 pm. Parking is available in Albert Road (A 565) & Park Crescent (A 565 & B 5280), and this link to Google maps gives the location of Baxendell’s observatory in the Park, which has observing coordinates of 53° 39′ 25.4″ N & 2° 59′ 13.1″ W for anyone intending to bring their own GOTO telescope. Click on the upper L.H. street view picture, then click exactly on the red dot at the bottom of the tear-shaped observatory pointer in the map insert, then explore the 360° external view of the observatory.
If you would like to find out more about astronomy or are considering joining our society you are welcome to simply turn up at one of our meetings (see Programme page) or to obtain further information by contacting either our chairman, secretary, or membership secretary (see Contact us page). Alternatively, if you have a query about astronomy simply submit it using the “contact form“ on our “Contact us” page. Click social media icons for further details.
Southport Astronomical Society (SAS) is committed to complying with the General Data Protection Regulation that came into force on 25/05/2018. We understand it is important to keep your personal information safe and secure and explain how we collect information from you, and what we do with it.
When you join the SAS we collect the following information.
When joining you will be asked to complete, sign, and date a “one-off” membership application form, which establishes a legal contract with the SAS allowing you to attend meetings, lectures, observing sessions, etc. in return for the payment of your annual subscription. This also means you consent to the SAS processing your personal contact details to create a membership list that includes your name, postal address, e-mail address, home telephone and/or mobile phone number. These membership application forms are retained by our Membership secretary who is also our Data Protection Officer (DPO) until such time as you cease to be a member, when they will be erased (destroyed by shredding).
What we do with your information.
Your contact details will be processed by our DPO to create the SAS’s full membership list, which will be stored on a password-protected computer held by our DPO. This list will be updated annually to confirm you’ve paid your annual membership subscription and issued with a numbered current year’s membership card.
Copies of the DPO’s current membership list are also stored on password-protected computers by the Treasurer and Secretary, and details will only be shared with other committee members to help with arranging and organising relevant SAS events and activities.
In the event of changes to either your contact details or subscription status, please notify our DPO/Membership secretary ASAP, so your records can be updated and other committee members notified.
We use your details to allow the SAS to notify you about regular and/or ad hoc meetings, observing at the Hesketh Park observatory, star parties, any other astronomy events, and to circulate astronomy newsletters & other relevant notifications (e-mails will be sent by BCC). We do not use your details for profiling or marketing and will neither share with nor sell your details to any third party organisation or individual.
How long do we keep your information?
For as long as you remain a paid-up member of the SAS, but if for whatever reason you no longer wish to remain a member, your details will be erased (deleted) with immediate effect upon verbal, or preferably written notification. If you fail to attend meetings and/or remain in arrears for 12 months, all your details will be erased on the assumption you no longer wish to remain a member. If however you notify our Membership secretary/DPO in writing that you intend to re-join following a temporary period of absence due to unforeseen circumstances, and wish to continue receiving details of our activities we will retain your contact details.
You have the right to be informed about your personal details held by the SAS, have access to them, have them corrected or erased, and not have them processed or passed to third parties without your consent.
If you believe your details have been misused you have the right to lodge a complaint with the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), whose details can be found on the ICO website www.ico.org.uk. However, we would prefer that you contact our DPO (Membership secretary) before making a complaint, so we can resolve any issues or concerns you may have.