At Mexborough & Swinton Astronomical Society we provide a range of services to the public.
Our Community Access Programme opens up the J.A.Jones Hoober Observatory for supervised public use. The programme is made up of winter viewing evenings and summer solar viewing days which are open to the general public. In addition we offer private bookings of the observatory for schools, youth, and community organisations.
Winter Viewing Evenings
Our winter evening events, sometimes called Public Viewing Evenings, typically run from September to March to make the most of the darker nights. You can find currently scheduled dates in Our Programme and soon be able book your places online.
These evenings include a narrated slideshow presentation and, weather permitting, time to use the telescope.
If you run a school club or community organisation such as Scouts and you wish to arrange a visit please Contact Us, we are always happy to support these groups and will try to customise the content and level of the evening to your group's needs.
Summer Solar Viewing
Astronomy doesn't stop just because the dark nights of winter have gone. During the summer months we open the observatory during the day (typically a Sunday afternoon) and invite members of the public to come along and view the Sun, our nearest star, using a dedicated and totally safe Solar telescope with hydrogen alpha filter. Dates can be found in our programme though these events are obviously subject to weather conditions. These events do not require pre-booking; simply drop in and see us.
We are always keen to support national and international events such as National Astronomy Week, National Science and Engineering Week, the International Year of Astronomy or BBC Stargazing Live. During these events it is highly likely we'll run supporting themed events at the observatory.
Of course, sometimes the skies are kind and there is an unusual event or discovery, such as the Transit of Venus or appearance of comet Hale-Bopp; again you'll probably find we have events to make these heaven sent opportunities available to the public.
Keep an eye on our Programme and News pages for details.
We recognise that not everyone will want, or be able, to get to our observatory so we are also very happy to take astronomy to the public as part of our Outreach Programme.
You'll often see the Society represented at local fetes, galas, and shows where we’ll be on hand to offer advice and information and often have solar telescopes available for supervised use.
We have also arranged events with partner organisations such as Thrybergh Country Park, the Forestry Commission, the RSPB, and the Friends of Clifton Park.
We are also happy to give astronomical presentations to schools or meetings of community groups such as Round Table. If you would like to discuss an outreach event for your group or school please Contact Us.
We often receive requests for information and advice from individuals, perhaps someone thinking of buying a telescope for a child or taking their own first steps into the hobby of astronomy. Maybe someone is struggling to set up that telescope and needs some support?
We'll always try to offer a "Helping Hand" in these cases although we cannot make specific product recommendations.
The best way to get a "Helping Hand" is to come along to a meeting or event and chat to members of the Society, however we'll also try to offer support if you Contact Us.
Our Programme is at the heart of our activities. We normally meet on the Thursday of every week although we occasionally move meetings to accommodate the travel arrangements and availability of our speakers. Meetings begin at 19:45.
Speakers are drawn from our own members, other Societies, and professional astronomers and scientists. Details of forthcoming subjects and speakers can be found in our programme.
Meetings are often followed by informal chat and sharing ideas and advice.
Our meetings are open to the public, a visitors fee is payable but there is no obligation to join
If however you're interested in astronomy and its associated sciences we very much hope you'll consider joining us – it is through the support of our members that we can deliver the services and benefits . Our members are the foundation on which the Society is built.
As a member you can, subject to the Rules of Membership, use the observatory unsupervised (after initial training), make use of the library, borrow equipment, receive our newsletter, and access on-line groups such as our imaging group.