Stargazers in SOS – can you help Sunderland Astronomical Society buy a new telescope kit?

Sunderland Astronomical Society
Sunderland Astronomical Society
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A CITY society is seeing stars over the cost of new equipment.

Though Sunderland Astronomical Society (SAS) usually provides free events for the public, they are asking for their help with a series of fund-raisers.

Proceeds from the events, the first of which takes place on Saturday, will go towards paying for a new telescope mount and observatory dome at the group’s base at the Washington Wetlands Trust.

Chairman John Lynch said: “The telescope mount moves around the night sky and tracks objects but over the past 10 years the equipment has degraded with wear and tear and it’s come to the end of its life.

“It’s used all the time for our public displays and we’re hoping the public will help us to raise the £2,500 we need to buy a new one.”

The society, a group of local astronomy enthusiasts, run observing nights every Thursday from 7pm to 9pm at their Cygnus Observatory in Washington over the winter months.

They also host workshops in Washington, visits from schools, events at city parks and events at Kielder in Northumberland.

As well as the £2,500 the group, which has around 70 members, hope to raise with an observatory night on Saturday, they are launching a long-term drive to raise £9,000 for a new dome.

John said: “I think people who haven’t been to one of observatory nights before would be surprised by what you can actually see in the night sky here, such as stars, star clusters, nebula and galaxies. With the right equipment you can see the moon in great detail, you can even see the detail of the craters in the moon.

“You can also see Uranus which is one of the furthest planets from Earth.”

*The SAS fund-raising night, which gives members of the public the chance to stargaze and talk to astronomers, takes place from 7pm on Saturday at WWT. The cost is £2 per ticket.