News and events

The society will have a stand at the NW Astronomy Festival on Saturday 7th July that will be held at The Heath Business Park Conference Centre, Runcorn, WA7 4QX, between 10.00 am and 5.00 pm. Please support this event and circulate details among family and friends. For more information visit their website at

Patrick who has responsibility for our Outreach activities recently organised the preparation of four educational astronomy leaflets about the Sun, Moon, Solar System’s Planets, and Milky Way. They have now been printed using money from a grant of £250 provided by the company Andy Cowan works for. These information sheets are suitable for schoolchildren and adults with limited knowledge about these celestial objects.

The society is now on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, so a big thank you to Patrick for setting them up.

One of our members, Bob Mount, has set up a Southport U3A Astronomy Group, and is its group leader. If any SAS members want details speak to Bob at one of our meetings. Website visitors can visit our external links page for details.

Following the award of our 2016 Skipton Building Society Grassroots grant, the noticeboard has now been installed near the observatory in Hesketh Park. The Society for the History of Astronomy has included the left hand photograph and a short write up about the noticeboard and observatory history in its spring 2018 e-newsletter, and on p 9 have provided a readable image of the information panel.

On Wednesday, 26th April 2017  the observatory was handed back to Sefton MBC by the contractor Maysand. These photographs confirm the observatory is probably now in the best condition since installed in Hesketh Park in 1901.

Regrettably on the night of April 9th 2018, vandals broke into the ground floor and stole two small telescopes belonging to FOHG, and caused damage to one of the two new custom made doors.

A number of members have completed the introduction phase of telescope training, and further practical training will be arranged by Mike. Repairs to the telescope have been completed and the  programme of telescope user training will recommence.

Sefton wish to see the ground floor area developed to incorporate the historical meteorological work carried out by Joseph Baxendell and his son. By the same token given our historic relationship and astronomical expertise, they now  accepts we can maximise the educational value and interest this subject has to offer. To improve our focus on using the Cooke telescope for observing and educational outreach, we have increased our management committee to include Bob Mount as  Observatory manager, and Patrick Kiernan to develop Publicity and Outreach. Further, an Observatory sub-group chaired by Bob has been established that currently included Mike Dow and Ray Bennion.

This sub group will be responsible for ensuring only those individuals who have undergone training on how to use the telescope effectively for observing without causing damage will be approved to use it, a requirement Sefton have stipulated. This Group will also be responsible for developing an observing programme and recommending any specialised purchases that enhance the observing scope of the Cooke telescope. This will help develop its educational outreach, a requirement by Joseph Baxendell Jnr  when he donated the telescope to the former Southport Corporation in 1901.

The FAS has also notified us that they intend to develop a set of legally vetted “generic” documents to help improve the professionalism of its member societies. These documents would be customised by its members to suit local circumstances, and we shall undertake this exercise as and when the FAS begins rolling out its generic documentation, to ensure we meet all mandatory and best practice recommendations.

The society will endeavor to support weekend open days organised by the  Fernley Observatory Heritage Group that are scheduled to take place on the either last Sunday or Saturday in the month between 10.30 am and 4.00 pm.  Planned dates this year are Sunday 29th April, Saturday 26th May, Sunday 24th June, Saturday 28th July, Sunday 26th August, and Saturday 29th September. In addition we will be opening the observatory on a number of days during the week and at weekends when the sun is visible. Later in the year during evenings when it’s dark enough to observe the moon and any planets that are visible, the observatory will be opened on an ad hoc basis whenever the skies are clear.

For more information about the history of the observatory visit our Joseph Baxendell & his observatory page, and for information about buying and using telescopes visit our Introduction to astronomy page.