On Saturday 21st February 2015, Crayford Manor House Astronomical Society Dartford hosted a fun filled activity day & evening for all ages at The Orchards Shopping Centre in Dartford.

Below is the ebulletin release by Trustee & Publicity Officer Honor Wheeler who was instrumental in ensuring that the event took place & run as smoothly as possible along with the help of fellow trustee Rita Whiting and members Debra Holton & Observatory guardian Andy Barber.

Honor did a fantastic job especially as it was her first time organising such an event for the Society.

Thank you Honor and Rita, Debra & Andy – for all your hard work and effort. A super, fun filled day was had by all who attended and helped on the day.

CMHASD would also like to say a big Thank you to Face/Off who helped organise & host the day and to Astro Media Shop for donating the prizes for the two quizzes.

”Well, how do I begin the eBulletin this week? For a start I would like to say an extremely ‘BIG THANK YOU’ to everyone who helped to make Stargazing at the Orchards such a huge success!

The day didn’t start off so well with the weather providing us with a snow shower as the early birds started to off-load. As you may be aware Ashford, Mid-Kent and South East Kent astronomical societies agreed to attend and duly arrived to start setting up as well.

The addition of the Dartford Photographic Society, Barry Kellett RAL, Image Space, Betty and Domi from Face/Off and Astro Media Shop saw us ready for the long day ahead.

After an early 7:30am start we began the main proceedings at 10am and closed the day at 4pm, then held the evening observing on the roof car park from 7-9pm.

The talks organised to go on for the whole day, held in the Meeting Place’, included talks from Rita Whiting, Simon Dawes, Martin Crow, Andy Barber, Neil Webster, Honor Wheeler and make a Comet demonstrations from Debra Holton and quiz master for the 2 quizzes John Archer. The general quiz was compiled by Debra Holton and the children’s quiz was compiled by Sonia Rubie, Sonia also provided over 35 space themed crossword, word searches and maze puzzles for children and adults to have a go at completing. Thank you both of you for your hard work. Thanks must also go to Astro Media Shop www.astromediashop.co.uk for providing the prizes for the quizzes.

As Dartford’s Market runs on a Saturday we hoped a reasonable number of people would visit the Orchards during the day and we were not disappointed. During most of the day the societies were kept busy talking about all kinds of astronomy based topics from Constellation finding to buying Telescopes etc. Others helped individuals who had brought their own telescopes along looking for help in setting them up and getting them working properly. Crayford’s Janet Dray provided biscuits for children to decorate with their favoured constellation or sign of the zodiac and the ‘Do you know your Solar System’ game kept many entertained. Janet also provided a centre piece for the table made with marzipan representing the planets, Thank you Janet for a fine and unique display!

Unfortunately the Solar observing was abandoned as the weather was not clear enough but after those staying for the evening session had had something to eat, we were lucky enough to have clear skies for the 2 hour session. Not only was the the Moon lying close to Mars and Venus but the International Space Station passed very close to the Moon just as we began our observing. Jupiter was also up which proved to be a big hit with the public. Over 40 members of the public and 1 Mayor turned up for the session and were not disappointed with 10 Crayford telescopes taking in the clear skies. Thanks to everyone who braved the really cold weather and brought and shared their Telescopes.

Ashford AS has commended Crayford on our photographic display boards and while I had a hand in putting it together I couldn’t have done it if many of you hadn’t taken the time to take the photographs in the first place! Thanks and Keep them coming PLEASE 😉

Phil Young from South East Kent sends his regards and thanks to everyone for a great day.

Ian Hargraves from Mid-Kent has also sent his compliments about the day.”
Honor Wheeler, CMHASD Trustee & Publicity Officer.

1. Photos of the day

Below is a slideshow of a selection of photos taken by CMHASD members Honor Wheeler, Terry Miles & Amy Tomsett of the day. Thank you – They are a great set of images depicting the day & evening event of the 21st February 2015 – CMHASD Stargazing 2015 show.

2. CMHASD Stargazing 2015 in the press – News Shopper – 24th February 2015

Click here to view the press article about Stargazing 2015 at The Orchards Shopping Centre.


3. Traders & Societies who were there on the day

Name   Details
Face/Off   Face painting.  Face/Off helped us host the day.
Astro Media Shop   http://www.astromediashop.co.uk/
Ashford Astronomical Society   http://www.ashfordastro.org.uk/
Mid Kent Astronomical Society   http://www.midkentastro.org.uk/
South East Kent Astronomical Society   http://www.sekas.co.uk/SEKAS/Home.html
Dartford and District Photographic Society   Camera Club.  http://www.dartphoto.org.uk/
Constellation Cookies   Decorate you own constellation cookie or cookies 🙂


4. Events throughout the day

Name of event   Speaker/Host   Details
Ask a Professional Astronomer   Barry Kellet   Mr Barry Kellet, is a professional astronomer from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories and attended with his ‘Space Rocks’. Barry was also available to answer as many astronomical questions as he could that day too!
Barry is a long time friend of our Society & regularly visits CMHASD to give lectures.
Campaign for Dark Skies – CfDS   Sorry this was cancelled.    
Solar Observing   CMHASD members,
Mid Kent Astronomical Society,
South East Kent Astronomical Society & Ashford Astronomical Society
  Solar Observing on the roof of the Orchards Shopping Centre car park was planned but due to the poor weather this did not take place.

All four astronomical societies brought along their Solar Telescopes and Telescopes which had been adapted for Solar viewing to show members of the public how to view the Sun SAFELY if the weather had allowed & to answer any questions the public had about observing the Sun.

Help & Advice on all things Astronomical   CMHASD members   Members of the Society were available throughout the day & evening to answer any questions the public had about astronomy & observing.

There were many different telescopes on show to the public.

It was also a great opportunity for the public, if not sure how to use their telescope, camera, binoculars and/or astronomy software – to ask for help.

Photographic displays   CMHASD members    
Astrophotography displays   CMHASD members    
Games & Competitions   CMHASD members    


5. Programme of talks, demonstrations & quizzes during the day

Held in the Meeting Room.
( T= 10 minute talk, D= Demonstration & Q= Quiz )

Time   Event     Details   CMHASD Speaker
10:00-10:10   Start          
10:20-10:30   Astronomy for free T   Things you can do without buying equipment – the Sun, the Moon, planets, meteors, the stars and other objects can all be investigated.   Rita Whiting
10:40-10:50   Constellations T   What they are, how to find them, some of their stories and what’s in some of them.   Rita Whiting
11:00-11:10   Equipment: Binoculars/Telescopes T   What to use and how to choose.   Martin Crow
11:20-11:30   What to look for T   Details of some good targets for beginners, such as the Moon, planets, Messier objects, variable stars and where & when to look for them.   Martin Crow
11:40-12:10   Making a Comet (demonstration) D   See a (small) comet being made.(practical demonstration)   Debra Holton
12:10-12:30   Quiz (Children – Primary School age)* Q   Sit down astronomical quiz for primary school age children, with prizes. Children must be accompanied by an adult.   John Archer
12:40-12:50   Basic Astrophotography T   From a camera phone to a compact digital camera, how to get the best from these simple tools.   Honor Wheeler
13:00-13:10   Solar/Atmospheric Phenomena T   Astronomy during the day – how to see atmospheric phenomenon from rainbows to halos.   Honor Wheeler
13:20-13:30   The Eclipse of March 20th T   What to expect during the Solar eclipse on the 20th March 2015.   Andy Barber
13:40-13:50   Space Missions T   Learn more about Rosetta and other space missions.   Andy Barber
14:00-14:30   Making a Comet (demonstration) D   See a (small) comet being made.(practical demonstration)   Debra Holton
14:30-14:50   Quiz (Open)* Q   Sit down astronomical quiz for all individuals, with prizes.* (please note – no members of the astronomical societies will be participating in the quiz. The quiz is for members of the general public only)   John Archer
15:00-15:10   Radio Astronomy T   Visual astronomy isn’t the only option, even for amateurs.   Simon Dawes
15:20-15:30   Light Pollution T   How to overcome light pollution, a personal view.   Neil Webster
15:40-15:50   Tonight’s sky T   What will be out there this evening.   Andy Barber

*Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

6. Evening events

Time Event Host
19.00-21.00 Observing from the roof of the Orchards Shopping Centre car park.

Helping members of the public with their telescopes & equipment they brought along.*
CMHASD were only too happy to help!

A warm room & warm drinks were available.

*Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

CMHASD members, Barry Kellet &
the Mayor of Dartford, Cllr. Avtar Sandhu MBE.