Help make our skies darker

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Societies might like to invite their members to sign this online petition to request a reduction in the spending by local councils on lighting, and so reduce light pollution in the UK.

Phil Flint writes:

Can you please help make our skies darker by signing the petition below. It takes less than a minute. If you could also pass the message on to the members of your society then that would be fantastic.

My thinking is that government doesn’t listen when people ask for dark skies as its not seen as a sexy vote winner but this government is concerned about their green credentials and also reducing taxes if only to spend the money on something else. So, if the government mandates that councils reduce spending on lighting the ways in which to do it are very few:

1) switch lights off after a certain time
2) only have some of the lights switched on
3) don’t power them so high
4) put in new lights that are more efficient and, hence, don’t shine upwards

I’m basically saying to them, you can save money, you can reduce your greenhouse emissions, you look good to your friends in Brussels and we all benefit from lower taxes and a better view of the night sky. As there’s something in it for them then, you never know, they may then do something. The reason for giving until Jan 2012 is two-fold:

a) these things take time to implement
b) there’s an additional benefit with the Olympics by showing what a green country we are

I think there must be at least an outside chance that someone may read the petition and, at the end of the day “you never know”.

As you can see, there is something in this proposal for everyone, not just astronomers so, please, please, please sign the petition, ask your friends to sign and ask them to ask their friends to sign. If enough people do then this issue may move up the list on the agenda and we may get some air time and something may be done.

Many thanks and that link once again is


Astrofest 2009

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The Federation of Astronomical Societies will be having a stand at this years Astrofest, which is being held at Kensington Town Hall, London, on Friday 6 and Saturday 7 February 2009.

If you would like any of your Society information (leaflets, fliers, posters – A4 max) to be available for browsing on the stand, please post these to

Eric Hutton
29 Paternoster Close
Waltham Abbey

To arrive by Wednesday 4th February at the latest.

Or, if you are attending Astrofest please just drop these of at the stand, which will be in the Lower Floor, in the area marked “Additional Exhibits” at:

New Publications

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observesky_cover.jpg The 2008/9 Astrocalendar, and the new FAS Booklet Observing the Night Sky will be available for purchase at the convention. If you would like to make a bulk order for collection at the convention please pre-order by contacting Eric Hutton (for contact details see the order form on the Publications | Ordering  page). astrocal_20089.jpg

FAS Convention 2008 – Update

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The 2008 FAS Convention will be held at the Institute of Astronomy , Madingley Road,
Cambridge, CB3 0HA, on September 20th. Click here for a map and directions .
Tickets are £8.00 on the door.

Tea and coffee will be available over lunch, but there will be no meals or sandwiches available at the IoA. You may wish to bring a packed lunch. Details of local places to eat will be available on the day.

A top line up of speakers; Prof. Barrie Jones, Nik Szymanek, Prof. Andy Fabian, Dr. Somak Raychaudhury

+ Trade stands and society displays
+ Tours of the telescopes
+ The legendary FAS Raffle
+ Astro-Imaging Competition

Plus, IYA Breakout Session with IYA Coordinator Steve Owens.

For traders & displayers – please note the venue will now be open from 8.00 a.m. for setup.

For full details see the Convention page .

New Member Society – Adur Astronomical Society

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The FAS would like to welcome the newly formed Adur Astronomical Society, which will serve the Brighton area.

They are holding an introductory meeting on the 22nd of May, and will meet every 3rd Thursday in the Month at the Southwick Community Centre, Southwick Street, Southwick, Sussex at 7.30pm

Isle of Wight Star Party

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Thu 6th – Mon 10th March, 2008

The dark skies on the south coast of the Isle of Wight provided a brilliant backdrop for the inaugural Isle of Wight Star Party organised by the island’s Vectis Astronomical Society (VAS) in association with the Southern Area Group of Astronomical Societies (SAGAS). About forty five astronomers travelled from as far as Devon and Cambridge for the event, which was held at the Brighstone Holiday Centre, between Thursday 6th March and Monday 11th March, 2008.

The location offered almost 180-degree southerly views across the Channel, and many astronomers commented on seeing stars, such as the lower half of Canis Major, that were so near the horizon that they are not normally visible from other sites. Unfortunately, the worst storms of the winter made imaging all but the brightest objects very difficult, but visual observing was good on the Friday and Sunday evenings. M42 and M43 were obvious early targets, but later Sirius’ ‘Pup’ was seen, as was NGC 3242 in Hydra – one of the deep south objects visible from the site. M65 and M66 were clear in an 80 mm refractor which was pleasing for at least one attendee, as these are normally swamped by light pollution even in bigger scopes. The equipment used during the event ranged from small binoculars, refractors and Schmidt Cassegrains, to a 14 inch Celestron on a modified mount and a 20 inch Dobsonian.

Daytime activities included visits to Vectis AS’s Isle of Wight Observatory, and the National Trust’s Needles New Battery (Ex-rocket testing site), with a talk by someone who used to work on the secret rocket testing programme there.

The Saturday evening was completely clouded out, but with a very high level of audience participation, John Murrell, Owen Brazell, Richie Jarvis and David Rayner, kindly gave fascinating talks which between them covered rocket testing, deep sky objects, digital image manipulation and eclipse photos.

The holiday centre provided some excellent camping facilities, and there were also heated en-suite chalets for those who didn’t want to brave the elements. A kitchen/tea/coffee room allowed for free hot drinks to be available all night long and lockable rooms were available for the safe storage of equipment and the trade stands. A large dining area provided accommodation, not only for a wonderful cooked breakfast, but also doubled up as a wet weather location and meeting/reception room.

There was a great raffle – with a star prize of a Lanthanum eyepiece donated by Orion Optics. (Thanks also to Springer books, Astronomy Now, David Hinds and BC&F for providing other raffle prizes). Thanks are also due to the ferry company Wightlink, who provided a very good deal on the ferries.

The event was run by the island’s Vectis Astronomical Society (VAS) in association with the Southern Area Group of Astronomical Societies (SAGAS). Information about next year’s Isle of Wight Star Party (around 26th March 2009 (New Moon) tbc) is available on If you would like to be contacted about future events, please email

Fedastro Discussion Forum

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Societies that have recently joined the Federation or new Society Officers may be unaware that the Federation operates a discussion forum using a Yahoo Group. Officers of member societies are encouraged to join up to this egroup to participate in discussions, and share information. It is also used to notify members about up-coming events of general interest.

To join visit the website

Please note your society name and your position in the society when joining, to speed the approval process.