The Society’s roots can be traced back to the first scientific organisation in Southport called the Southport Society of Natural Science that later became the Southport Scientific Society, which 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 & observatory history page for more background information about Joseph Baxendell and his observatory.
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 an astronomical group was formed that became the forerunner of today’s Astronomical Society, which currently has about 40 members. Our Society includes members of all ages, ranging from beginners to those with observing experience, and several who have undertaken distance learning modules in astronomy at the University of Central Lancashire’s Jeremiah Horrocks Institute.
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. Following a presentation & Q & A session that ends around 9.00-9.30 pm, members (and guests) are encouraged to bring their own telescopes along to discuss their use, and depending on the weather some outside observing may be possible.
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 regular 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 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.