The Baker Street Irregular Astronomers is another (much larger) London group, not associated with us, who have monthly-ish meetings in Regent's Park. Their meetings are (as in the title), irregular, a bit like ours :) and move date based on moon/planet/star rising times and weather status. These meetings are very well attended (many many more than come from our group, typically somewhere between 50-a bit over 100ish, mostly ~100 at the busiest point).
It doesn't get dark until late, but there's still good reason to turn up: safe solar observing (with proper filters/guidance if needed, hopefully no need to remind you not to look at the sun directly), and once the sun is too low, an astronomy themed talk in the cafe with a birthday cake to celebrate their anniversary and and a £2 raffle to win a new telescope!
If you can stay til it gets dark enough (after 9pm at least), you'll be rewarded with views of Jupiter (disappearing from our evening skies for a while soon), Mars, Saturn and all the other lovely summer constellations. All assuming minimal cloud of course. STILL bring a warmer layer, it will get cooler!
For their future meetings, see the facebook group or website (links below)/mailing list.
Finding the event/parking
Their stargazing meetings are held at the Hub, Regent's Park - a cafe on a raised bump in the middle of the park. All park gates are only open til sunset (later now its spring time); after sunset there is only one park gate open (usually Monkey Gate, near the zoo, the gate to the right of it when looking from outside the park), along a low-lit path (and some parts are not lit). Parking outside Monkey Gate is free on the Outer Circle after 6.30pm and it’s about 150m walk from the road to The Hub. Turn up when light/leave with someone from the meet if you're nervous in the dark.
PLEASE NOTE: * Do not drive into the Park. This is not allowed and risks losing their permit to continue meeting there. * Please sign the visitor’s book upon arrival. * Please only use open gates and never try to climb over the fences, for safety/security/their continued use of the park.
I (your meetup group organiser, John) usually attend their meetings too (from ~7.30-8pm onwards or so); but you should not rely on finding me there; though you will find some of the BSIA hosts (not connected with our group) Carl, Jerry, Mike, Paul, Ralph, Simon or Tom; and several of our other members who are regulars there. Mention us if you get chatting, you might find yourself accidentally in conversation with another member (and publicise our existance)! There can also be other meetup groups there too. Some of the event's organisers are from the Widescreen center around the corner from the park, where you can buy telescopes and mounts for them (just as important for a clear view), binoculars, and find much more knowledge and advice about equipment and astronomy. Several of our members have used and recommended their services and I wholeheartedly agree (while not being connected with them).
Note - the Hub meeting usually has a "launch window" to cater for selecting the best day (of 3) for the weather, and facebook/website will have the final date a day or two before the meeting time-window and I'll update this event when I can. They prefer Wednesdays when possible but last-minute updates are possible; DO check the site to be sure as sometimes it takes me a day to update this event to match!
Hopefully the weather will stay as warm as it has been (but still bring warmer clothing, coat, maybe a hat etc. - plan as though its 5 degrees C cooler, we speak from experience).
For further details see their facebook group (posts HERE) or its own website. There's a podcast too by some of the same people.
In summer, they do more sun observing of sunspots and storms (carefully, with proper filters) and the planet Venus will probably be around (which also goes through phases), so don't think there's nothing to do til late when the sun sets. Depending on the time of year, the beautiful ringworld of Saturn or the massive Jupiter and up to 4 of its moons should be visible in binoculars/scopes too - some of the best sights for beginners though there are many more objects with an array of colours. There will be many and varied scopes to look through, just ask nicely of the members who bring them (might be short queues for the best of them if clear weather).
While for everyone in the South West of London they may be more of a trek than many of our meetings, they are a large and well-attended group (50-100+ depending on weather/time of year) with many members bringing along telescopes that most of the time you are free to view through (or to queue for, on the biggest), even companies sometimes demonstrating their latest products or with competitions. Its a great way to find out what sort of equipment you might be happiest with, to try before you buy, with realistic expectations of what you'll see; and to learn about others' experiences and generally more about astronomy and the universe. Plus of course just hanging out socially with other amateur astronomers. They have pub meets too, to increase the social side.
All in, a great group - so why do I continue to run this one? For more local meetups, potentially at shorter notice and more of them, and generally aiming to be easier to access for those scared of going alone in the dark (at least some of the time).
The event usually runs til somewhere near 11pm, depending on weather. Make sure you allow time to get back for trains, with the walk out of the park/to a stop (the 274 bus runs til around midnight but do check your trains, perhaps allow ~20mins back to Baker Street if you're familiar with the route).
Please do check their website for last-minute changes due to the weather or other unavoidable situations, as I am not part of the team that organises it and it can take a few hours/day or two to update this meetup.com event from any changes they make; I run this group at my own cost and in my own time.