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SAS Return to RAF Cosford

The Cosford Space, Race & Fly (STEM) event over Easter, came and went.  We hosted three Stargazing evenings as well as four days of activities in the ‘Cold War Museum’. The hordes of visitors’ ranged between 3 and 83 and were treated to a wide variety of presentations, demonstrations, displays and craft activities. The feedback, as usual was very positive and we all look forward to being invited back in the future.

Chasing Voyager

The March gathering of the SAS were treated to an enthusiastic and informative presentation by the fervent presenter Paul Money. Paul is an experienced astronomer, BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Reviews Editor and author of the annual stargazing guide Nightscenes. With the cloud heavy and dampness in the air, the 30 plus members and guests were more than happy to hear Paul's reflections on NASA's Voyager mission. The regular muffled giggles at Pauls jokes, interspersed with the clinking of tea cups and cake plates, provided for a delightful evening. Pity those who joined us on Zoom could not enjoy the same. After some interesting questions we resumed chatting and demolishing the refreshment before heading off into the gloom.

SAS Entertain Whixall Moss Visitors

Two dozen stargazers returned to Whixall Moss, in the wilds of north Shropshire to make the most of the dark skies available. As is usual at these events the clouds rolled in, intending to spoil proceedings. Forever prepared, a presentation touring the spring sky whetted the appetite of the eager gathering. Eventually venturing outside, we were treated to clearings in the sky. We could then apply our freshly gained knowledge as we identified many of the northern constellations, together with a range of bright open clusters. The king of the planets (Jupiter) put on a good show while we could observe the near full moon through the handful of telescopes that SAS members had brought along. Needing a warm drink the satisfied visitor disappeared into the increasingly murk evening, inspired to dust off the favorite instruments.

SAS revisit Shrewsbury College Group

Accepting an invitation to return to the London Road campus the SAS outreach team arrived in plenty of time to set-up. Over 150 potential stargazers were treated to two presentations. Andy shared his passion for astronomy by visiting a wide range of objects available in the sky at this time of year, before Steve used the STFC star guide to help individuals navigate and star-hop around the sights of the spring skies. the two speakers were supported by a number of members who were armed with their telescope but unfortunately the inclement weather ensured that they remained unpacked. Being an optimistic band of stargazers we will return with hope and anticipation.

Apollo Re-Visited

The new years observing seamlessly continued from last year with heavy cloud cover being the order of the day. However we were fortunate to have secured the services of Dr Steve Barrett. Three dozen or more members and guest, were treated to a couple of entertaining and enthralling presentations. First up was a personal account of the trials and tribulations that beset NASA's Apollo 13 mission. The tale being depicted on celluloid, a 1995 American space docudrama directed by Ron Howard. However, in true Brit style Steve used his association with Lego to lead us through the events. Following refreshments Steve 'tested' the gathered stargazers on their knowledge of the life cycles of stella objects with a focus on stars and galaxies. The Q&A session raise a number of controversial issues. Enlightened and satisfied we all dispersed into the murky night.

SAS discover the Hills

A member of the SAS outreach team was blessed with a clear skies for most of the evening when visiting the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre. The resident 'Girls Group' were inspired by views of the Moon and Jupiter, with all four Galilean moons observed to one side of the planet viewed through the Society's 5" Mak. After a welcome warm-up back inside the Centre, the group plotted out the planets and looked at the cycle of lunar phases, together with a number of notable lunar features. On returning outside for the second time, the youngsters asked for another look at the Moon with some of them recognised features they had met earlier. There was even time for a look at the Pleiades, Orion, the Orion Nebula and Betelgeuse. An awe inspiring event was had by all.

A Happy New Year

With dense cloud replacing the previous weeks clear, but very cold nights. the first gathering of the year at Rodington VH did not meet expectations. Three dozen or so hardened stargazers turned up suitably prepared only to be disappointed. However as always an alternative activity was on offer. Using the STFC star guide, a society member shared with the group, of mainly experienced astronomers but with an encouraging number of fresh faces keen to explore the skies, what is available for hardy winter observers. The key theme being star hopping to learn our way round the sky. Following a warm drink and the obligatory piece of cake, the room was buzzing with conversation ranging from 'what telescope should I buy?' through to the usefulness of smart-phone apps. With refreshments running out, the enthused gathering dispersed into the murky night hopefully to return next month.

Not Another AGM

2023 concluded with a well attended AGM where the chairman shared some of the years highlights. The chairman oozed contentment that the society, is moving forward in a healthy state, and took the opportunity to thank all those who have helped in whatever way. It is personally pleasing to see so many new and fresh faces visit and contribute to the varied meetings and events. However, it is maintaining this momentum, that should provide the focus for the forthcoming year. Not resting on our laurels, it is the intension to resurrect our application for charitable status and explore in earnest the possibility of acquiring a mobile planetarium. Following an invite to share some festive nibbles the eager crowed dispersed into the murky evening to return, hopefully, in the new year. Wishing all readers seasonal greeting and a happy new year.

SAS Try and Catch a Fireball

November welcomes Dr Ashley King as our guest speaker via Zoom. Ashley is based at the Natural History Museum, his background is in planetary science and he is an expert in meteorites, their identification and analysis. ⁣ ⁣ Following our recent camera installation Ashley shared with us how the FRIPON (Fireball Recovery and Inter-Planetary Observation Network) science project, designed to study interplanetary matter by detecting and characterizing fireballs, is helping to recover freshly fallen meteorites. The study of meteorites is crucial to our understanding of the formation and evolution of the solar system. ⁣ ⁣ Our hope to follow the presentation with observing were thwarted by the inevitable cloud shrouding this area of Shropshire. Never mind there is always next time!

SAS invade COSFORD 'JETS & SPACE' event

October half-term, saw SAS members of all persuasions taking part in the ‘Jet and Space Week’ at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, helping celebrate the RAF’s leading role in aerospace. We attended for 9 days providing a range of family fun activities and presentations, as well as hosting 2 stargazing evenings. Footfall reached over 1500 so we hope everyone took away something of value. It was an excellent opportunity to raise the profile of astronomy in Shropshire, and it is hoped that we will see some new faces at forthcoming events, As always the skies did not clear until we were departing, accompanied by a late view of the partial penumbral lunar eclipse. We hope to return so watch this space
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