Twinkle twinkle little starsBy Lewis Rudd
March 26, 2009
The skies above a country park will become the focus of stargazers this weekend as part of the International Year of Astronomy, which coinicides with the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first peek through a telescope.
Gerry Bond, from Reading Astronomical Society, tells Lewis Rudd why he thinks people should lift their eyes to the heavens above
Staring into space will be the theme at Dinton Pastures Country Park in Davis Street, Hurst, this weekend, as budding astronomers are encouraged to find out more about what goes on in our solar system.
Telescopes, binoculars, computers and cameras will be among the fancy gadgets used to explore the universe, but there is no better tool for observation than the human eye, according to one member of a local astronomy group.
Gerry Bond, who is affiliated to Reading Astronomical Society, is co-ordinating Astronomy Weekend which takes place tomorrow and Saturday.
“The weekend really is all about celebrating the fascination that is astronomy and how the whole population can pretty much look at something in the skies at some point, without the need for a telescope or binoculars,” he says.
Visitors will be praying for clear skies and no rain, but even if the conditions are murky they can enjoy talks, exhibitions – including one about shooting stars – and a gallery of photographs.
“We are hoping for a good weekend, but obviously everything depends on the weather and how many people turn up,” he adds. “Last year’s event was pretty much a wash-out so we are hoping for better things this time.
“This year is the International Year of Astronomy and we plan to mark the occasion with a number of exhibitions and observations.
“The weekend is being run to coincide with a new moon and at a time when the skies will be as dark as they can be.
“The event will include exhibitions of equipment, telescopes and observing methods, while there will also be a display of sensational pictures of objects found above the skies of Berkshire. I will also be giving a talk on light pollution.
“You can see the rings of Saturn quite clearly through a telescope on a good night. But people won’t know about that until they come along and have a look for themselves.”
Mr Bond said the group, which meets monthly at St Peter’s Church Hall in Church Road, Earley, has more than 90 members.
He said: “Our oldest member is now pushing 90 and we have astronomers as young as eight and 10 years old. It’s amazing to think we have a wide range of people, who all share an interest in astrology.”