Celebrating the delights of the night sky

Sue Silver from the Chesterfield Astronomical Society at the Chesterfield Observatory
Sue Silver from the Chesterfield Astronomical Society at the Chesterfield Observatory
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Derbyshire folk have been flocking to a hidden gem in Chesterfield to experience the wonders of the night sky.

The Barnett Observatory, tucked away at the end of Hastings Close, in Newbold, has been a unique town treasure for more than 50 years.

Sue Silver from the Chesterfield Astronomical Society at the Chesterfield Observatory

Sue Silver from the Chesterfield Astronomical Society at the Chesterfield Observatory

And this week people have had the chance to tour the attraction and take part in special stargazing events to coincide with a hit BBC show.

The observatory is maintained by Chesterfield Astronomical Society, a popular group made up of both novice and expert astronomers keen to celebrate the delights of the universe.

Mark Eustace, of the society, said: “These events are very important because we have a huge opportunity to educate the public about the intriguing wonders of the night sky.

“What’s more, we have a chance to raise the profile of the Barnett Observatory, a hidden jewel in Chesterfield – some people don’t even know it exists.”

Stock pic - Chesterfield Observatory

Stock pic - Chesterfield Observatory

The free events – which culminate tonight with doors opening at 8pm – have been organised as part of the BBC’s Stargazing Live week, presented by physicist Brian Cox.

Mr Eustace said: “Brian Cox is fantastic – he’s a modern communicator with undoubted knowledge and bags of enthusiasm.”

Sue Silver, a member of Chesterfield Astronomical Society, said: “These events are really exciting and it’s nice to promote stargazing and this fantastic group.”

Out of this world facts:-

There are 88 constellations – groups of stars in the sky – which are named after mythological beings

It’s a bone-chilling -240C on parts of the moon

If you could fly at the speed of light, you’d zoom around the earth over seven times every second

Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system

The sun is about four-and-a-half billion years old and by the time it’s seven billion years old it’ll start to change and become bigger and cooler

Five top tips for amateur star gazers:-

1. Buy binoculars and get a tripod but don’t spend a fortune

2. Wrap up nice and warm and go to somewhere high in the Peak District such as Great Longstone – stay safe though – or just head out into to your back garden or look out of your bedroom window

3. Look out for all the important patterns like Orion

4. Get online and download a fantastic free piece of software called Tellurium – a real-time 3D simulation of the night sky enabling you to track stars, constellations, planets and so on

5. Be amazed, sit back and just enjoy it!

To find out more about Chesterfield Astronomical Society, phone Mr Eustace on 07923355786.