|Info||The Society was founded in 1999, a special interest group within the membership organisation of the National Maritime Museum (formerly the Friends of the NMM). There is a close association with the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and the NMM where our meetings are held on the first Monday of each month between September and April. We feel it a privilege to be able to hold our meetings on a site of such astronomical significance, and to have access to the ROG professional staff and other eminent guest speakers. As well as the history of the subject, lectures are arranged on all aspects of astronomy including cosmology and space flight.
One of the Society’s objectives is to help the ROG by making donations of equipment to enhance the educational work. A Hydrogen-alpha solar telescope was donated and has enabled visitors to the Observatory to see prominences and sunspots. Members participated very successfully with the solar telescope at ROG events for the public to watch the 2004 Transit of Venus and the 2005 & 2006 partial solar eclipses. Some members of the Society also work as volunteers at the ROG, as demonstrators and tour guides.
We have access to the ROG Peter Harrison Planetarium, the most modern in Europe, and we arrange briefings about the night sky presented by the ROG astronomers. About twice a year we stage telescope workshops at the ROG to help beginners choose and use starter telescopes, or to assist more experienced observers with planning an upgrade or using advanced techniques.
The Society regularly holds observing evenings using members’ own telescopes as well as the Society’s 10-inch Newtonian, made by members. Observing sessions have been held on Blackheath SE3, at Cudham in Kent, and at Romney where a member has a permanently-mounted 14-inch SCT telescope. In addition the Society stages viewing sessions with the ROG’s 28-inch Great Equatorial refractor, the largest of its kind in the UK, and seventh largest in the world.
Excursions and visits are arranged during the Summer, along with some social activities. In recent times we have visited Jodrell Bank, Rutherford Appleton Labs near Didcot, the Herschel Museum in Bath, the Orwell Park Observatory near Ipswich, and the Paris Observatory. Pre-Christmas meetings have been held in the famous Octagon Room at the Royal Observatory. A major annual event is the Star Lecture. Speakers have included: Sir Arnold Wolfendale, 14th Astronomer Royal; John Brown, Astronomer Royal for Scotland; Heather Couper; Prof. Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell; and Lembit Opik MP.