Spend a night with the real stars at the Dearne’s gateway to the galaxy

The dome of Mexborough and Swinton Astronomical Society's observatory at Hoober.
The dome of Mexborough and Swinton Astronomical Society's observatory at Hoober.

STARGAZING and interest in astronomy is on the up these days following the recent BBC series Stargazing Live, with Professor Brian Cox.

The Dearne has its own award-winning observatory – the Mexborough and Swinton Astronomical Society’s Hoober based project has been praised by no less then Sir Patrick Moore in recent years. Tomorrow and Saturday, (January 14-15), the society is opening its doors to the public for a chance to see the wonders of the solar system and beyond for themselves.

The society’s Les Marsden told the Times: “They will be two of our normal evenings and people will be able to look at the Moon, the planets and deep space objects, providing there is a good clear sky of course. All being well, Jupiter and Saturn will be visible and there will be a four day old moon which is a heck of a sight for first timers”.

There will be room for 20 people on each night for observing time on the telescopes and an astronomy slide show.

Said Les: “Our new telescopes are fantastic, we have upgraded them over the last couple of years. There are loads of things to see through them and we have had some amazing photographic results as well.

“We are constantly upgrading our instruments and promoting the knowledge of astronomy throughout the area.

“Our old 18-inch telescope served us well for 14 years but we had to merge its use a bit for viewing the whole range of objects. Now we can specialise a bit more.”

The observatory is in the middle of the viewing season – which runs from September to around April, when the nights draw out again.

So if the sessions are over subscribed there will be more opportunities to have a go.

The sessions run from 7.45-10pm and there is a charge of £3.50 per person.

You can keep up with the society’s latest news and events on its website: www.msas.org.uk