News and events

Our submission to the Skipton Building Society for one of their 2016 Grassroots Giving community grants was accepted and £500 for an observatory information board is in the Societies bank account. A big thank you to everyone who supported us, and our submission can be seen here. The layout for the A0 information panel has been finalised and printed on Dibond, and has been delivered to Hesketh Park for mounting on a suitable stand and installed near the observatory by Sefton MBC.

The society now has a Facebook page that Patrick Kiernan set up, so a big thank you to Patrick.

A major stage in the restoration of the observatory was reached on Wednesday, 26th April, when the observatory was handed back to Sefton MBC by the contractor Maysand. The photographs shows the observatory is probably in the best condition since it was installed in Hesketh Park in 1901.

The sidereal clock has been re-attached, and the equatorial mount bearings have been eased, so the clockwork drive runs smoothly. Later in the year the telescope will be re-aligned to ensure it can accurately locate and track celestial objects of interest.

A number of members have completed the introduction phase and further practical training will be arranged by Mike over the next few months. To help those interested in using the telescope a draft observatory “Operator handbook” has been prepared by Mike Dow, and is currently being finalised.

An Observatory sub-group consisting of members from the SAS, FOHG, and Sefton staff chaired by Mike Pennington (Sefton) has been established. The aims and objectives of this group are to ensure the full potential the observatory can be exploited for the benefits of Sefton MBC’s residents, and both Societies.

Given our historic relationship with the observatory and astronomical expertise, Sefton MBC accepts we can help maximise the educational value and interest this subject has to offer. In the event of inclement weather PowerPoint presentations on a range of existing astronomy topics can be given, together with Q & A sessions.

The society has purchased a full aperture white light solar filter for observing the sun. The Societies “Imaging Source” CCD camera will enable digital astro photography to be undertaken including the sun. In the future, the purchase of a Hydrogen-alpha telescope will be considered when funds become available. This specialised telescope enables many more features in the suns chromosphere to be seen, such as bright active areas called plages, and other features like fibrils, spicules, filaments, and prominence’s.

During 2015 & 2016 the society supported “Sun”day open days organised by the  Fernley Observatory Heritage Group (FOHG) that was set up in 2014. These will occur on the last Sunday in the month, and when sunny safe observation of the sun using the Cooke telescope and/or member’s telescopes will possible. Members from both groups will be on hand to answer questions about Baxendell’s observatory, its history, astronomy, buying & using telescopes/binoculars safely, and what one can realistically expect to see. For further information on its history visit our Joseph Baxendell & his observatory page, or for information on buying and using telescopes visit our Introduction to astronomy page.