Special events for stargazers

West Yorkshire Astronomy Society based at The Observatory, Carleton, Pontefract.'p302a234
West Yorkshire Astronomy Society based at The Observatory, Carleton, Pontefract.'p302a234

BUDDING Patrick Moores can find out more about the night skies when West Yorkshire Astronomical Society hosts a series of events in January as part of the BBC’s Stargazing Live.

The society is holding three nights of activities at Carleton Grange Community Centre and the Rosse Observatory as part of the show. It is hosted by Prof Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain from Tuesday January 8 to Thursday January 10.

Among the attractions will be a mobile planetarium from Space Inspired on Tuesday night, and every night there will be hands-on physics experiments, the chance to use the observatory telescopes, along with talks and trade stands.

Kevin Read, treasurer of WYAS, said: “This is the third year we’ve done this, and each year it has gone up by about 100 visitors. Last year we had 400 people across the three nights, so we’re planning for 600 this year – it’s going to be a bigger event and we’ve got more rooms available.”

There will be three shows in the mobile planetarium in the main ballroom on Tuesday night, with 30 tickets available for each show, while there are plans to launch rockets on Wednesday.

Each night, if the skies are clear, there will be a conducted tour of the night sky with planispheres, and the observatory’s five telescopes will be available for visitors to use, including a low-mounted telescope for wheelchair users and children.

There will also be examples of astro-photography by WYAS members on display, and hot food and drinks available.

Stargazing Live follows a different theme each evening, with Mars the focus on January 8, the history of the universe on January 9 and asteroids and comets on January 10.

Kevin added: “Jupiter is in a very good position to be viewed all three nights, and visitors will be able to see the storm clouds and its moons.

“We have an 18ins telescope for looking at deep sky objects, like the crab star nebula, and there will be opportunities to look at galaxies and dying stars. We’re just hoping for a clear night.”

Admission is £3 per adult, children free, although they must be accompanied. The entrance fee includes a resource pack.

Events run from 6pm to 10pm each night.

Visit www.wyas.org.uk for more information.