Next Meetup

Join "Baker Street Irregulars" (other group)
The Baker Street Irregular Astronomers is another (much larger) London group, not associated with us, who have monthly-ish meetings in Regent's Park. They have a "launch window" most months, but this event is a fixed date due to other users of the hub cafe.. Whether its a warm day or not, if its clear it will get pretty cold after the sun goes down, so do dress warmly with layers and warm footwear + hat. If you're new to this, now add yet another layer (probably two actually) everywhere - you'll be grateful you did! The BSIA group 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 - depends how clear the skies are). For their future meetings, see the facebook group or website (links below)/mailing list. Find out more about getting there (public transport/driving), Getting there The Hub, Regents Park, is a cafe on a raised earth mound in the middle of the park's biggest space nearer the North side (nearest Monkey gate next to the Zoo). A good description and map is on the BSIA website via this link ( http://www.bakerstreetastro.org/meetings/directions/ ). My extra help and tips follow... Public Transport/Walking The nearest tube stops are Baker Street/St. Johns Wood, or Regents Park if you want a longer walk across the park in summer when its open later (til 9pm for April). From Baker St. its a fair walk; nearest bus stop is Primrose Hill on the 274 route (every 10mins, 2 stops 'Q' & 'R' on Gloucester Place are ~5mins at a fast walk from Baker Street tube). Or get off at Wells Rise stop if coming the other direction/heading back to Baker St. tube. [If using 274, at Primrose Hill stop, coming from Baker St. direction, cross the zebra-crossing behind you, and take the path almost-aligned with the crossing, away from the road towards the Outer Circle road; then cross that road to the park gate and keep almost-straight-on into the park. One path heads off almost immediately nearer the fence to the far left, ignore it; you want to take the left of the other two paths that fork inside the park, walking at right-angles to the road]. Driving? PLEASE Do not drive into the Park. This is not allowed and risks losing their permit to continue meeting there; officials will notice (wardens office is just down the road and they patrol/can join us). Parking outside Monkey Gate is allowed and free on the Outer Circle after 6.30pm. Notes for All All park gates are only open til sunset; 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). From the gate (iron, but plain & at chest-height fence level) on the "Outer Circle" road, often with a small sign on it about the event, its about 150m walk to The Hub along a path with a low-lit section further in (knee-height wooden posts with low-level lamps on, though not always lit). Turn up when light/leave with a small group from the meet if you're nervous in the dark, people will be coming and going through the evening. Please only use open gates and never try to climb the fences, for safety/security/their continued use of the park. If the Monkey Gate is accidentally locked by a warden early, check you have the right entrance (very occasionally, events might switch gates for post-sunset entry/exit), then call/message the BSIA "unofficial force" organisers to fix it. To expect once there Central London still allows many fascinating and amazing views of planets (surface detail on some), their moons, and stuff outside our solar system like stars, nebulae, galaxies and clusters. Many colours to see (not just white!). Wondering what some of those are? We'll explain - no such thing as a stupid question! Saturn or Jupiter (and its moons) are always big highlights when they're visible. In good weather, you can expect lots of telescopes of many shapes and sizes set up around the outside of the cafe, all with owners keen to share views with you and to learn from each other and teach you how to use them and what to expect or what they're best for. There'll be some binoculars, astro-photography too, and 'scopes from beginner level all the way up to some very impressive and some custom-built well over 12" aperture 'scopes or very high quality smaller ones (just as useful), depending on the crowd (and weather a bit) each month. Ask nicely and join queues where they form (tend to form around the largest scopes for Saturn/Jupiter/special event watching if those planets are up). If unfamiliar, ask for advice to get the best use (eg. firstly: don't touch the scope at all, just hold your eye next to the eyepiece; ask/find owner if view empty/out of focus). In summer, there's more sun-observing early in the evening with proper filters for safety (V.dangerous otherwise) - sunspots, prominences/filaments in hydrogen-alpha wavelengths (depending on equipment people bring) showing even more colours. Even on cloudier nights, the social aspect makes for a (if-slightly-geeky) fun night and chance to chat for longer in the warmer cafe; but there might only be a handful of telescopes instead of 20 or 30-odd. The Organisers I (your meetup group organiser, John) usually attend their meetings too (from 7-8pm onwards depending on my work schedule), and sometimes their pub socials; but you should not rely on finding me there; though you will find some of the BSIA hosts (not connected with our group) Eric, Carl, Simon, Mike or others. There can also be other meetup.com groups there too. Simon is from the Widescreen center around the corner from the park, where you can buy telescopes, binoculars and find much more knowledge and advice about equipment and astronomy. Our members have recommended them. Date Shifting 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! Further Details For further details see their facebook group ( http://en-gb.facebook.com/BakerStAstro ) (posts HERE ( http://www.facebook.com/groups/132196206819659/ )) or its own website ( http://www.bakerstreetastro.org.uk/ ). There's a podcast ( http://www.facebook.com/groups/197643350345054/ ) too, Awesome Astronomy, produced by some of the current/previous organisers and regulars. Why Go? 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). Please do check their website for last-minute changes due to the weather as it can be as late as the evening before in the worst case.

The Hub, Regents Park.

The Hub, Outer Circle, Regents Park, NW1 4RU · London

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What we're about

Public Group

Instead of going out all lonely to see the stars and other things in space, let's share stargazing time and views for safer and more social, better experiences (and learn more)!

How

We do this locally in South West London (with occasional events elsewhere) and as often as the organiser's schedule/weather permits. Events may be at short notice (~2 days or less) sometimes if the skies suddenly clear. Hence our calendar can be somewhat random, but we try for at least one event per month, including: star-parties (in a public common/park), socials (pub/cafe), and occasional trips to exhibitions / observatories / other places of interest to astronomers. But no need to be an astronomer already - everyone welcome, from absolute novices to professionals and experts! (we're mostly amateurs and you won't be left out as a beginner).

We continue to meet in summer. For stargazing, we mostly start by meeting in lit public venues (such as pubs) near a darker location to gather and introduce ourselves; before walking to the darker location for viewing together. I aim to make events reasonably accessible via public transport too. This reduces worries for new members. Its much better than expecting new members to find a small group of unknown people at night in hard to find dark places. Feel free to suggest new events/locations too! (always on the hunt for alternatives in new areas, might you have somewhere to share with us?)

We enjoy sharing views through different telescopes/binoculars, or even with just your eyes; and knowledge about the planets/constellations/galaxies/deep sky objects and how to find them. Several members have telescopes and bring them to some meets, but you don't need anything to come along, just show up. Late evenings are much easier in Winter of course with earlier nights.

Its easy to find talks to go to around/near London to learn and the web always has plenty of news and info, so this meetup group is primarily for meeting up in the evenings to see the stars, the moon, planets or deep sky objects (if there are suitable telescopes around).

When

Note: due to the weather, meetings may come up at relatively short notice or be cancelled if its terrible, but I plan on both weekdays and weekends, and try to set up at least one or two meets per month. I also copy over and post the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers group monthly (but irregular) events in Regents Park to publicise those as they are great events and usually very well attended (can be more than 100). Everyone from novices/beginners to experienced astronomers go, there can be 20-odd telescopes/binoculars on a good (clear) night brought by members, so they are a great way to learn more and see different equipment and accessories at work.

Some meets will fallback to a social evening inside if skies fail us. If a meeting is described (in title or main description) as tentative or unsure, then please check with the organiser whether it is still on, close to the day of the meet (by phone/text/email, allowing at least a couple of hours ideally in case of delayed response). Otherwise you take a slight risk going.

Use the message board to make random invites if you're planning a session a night or two ahead. It feels much safer and more fun sharing the wonders of the night sky with others.

Where

Common meeting grounds might be Tooting Common, Streatham Common, sometimes Wimbledon Common or Blackheath, but we try others too occasionally. Commons/parks mean less streets and lights nearby, we choose the ones publicly accessible at night, and are generally the best places in London for stargazing. I'll try to keep public transport in mind as obviously dark skies tend to be further from public transport. You'd be surprised what you can see on a good night when away from immediate streetlights though, especially through any enhancing equipment (regular binoculars or even a pair of opera glasses will do, telescope even better).

For more about our regular locations, see the locations page I wrote about that (http://www.meetup.com/swl-stargazers/pages/Locations/) (in the "Pages" section on meetup website, not in the app).

Equipment

As I say, you don't need anything but your eyes to enjoy the night skies; there will almost always be at least some binoculars and a telescope brought along by others that will be happy to share views with you (the organiser has some good binoculars, often on a tripod, and a small telescope). But if you do have something you can bring - from as little as a red light torch (which doesn't ruin your natural night-vision so easily), to binoculars (any pair will do!), a camera (better if you can control the exposure manually eg. DSLR/bridge camera), or telescope, then we'd appreciate that and hope you can share views it gives. Even the star-map apps on phones are useful (eg. Google sky map, Stellarium) for finding targets to view. If you can provide transport for others to better viewing locations then thats also very much appreciated.

If you're interested in buying some equipment, do check out my buying advice (http://www.meetup.com/swl-stargazers/pages/Buying_advice_for_beginners_%28viewing_equipment%29/) in the page I wrote about that - but I very highly and strongly recommend you come to an event first (whether ours or another) and see other people's gear and ask questions first because it can easily be an expensive mistake if you don't know what you want, and even put you off for good. Or at least talk to someone in a proper astronomy shop (eg. Widescreen Centre in London, Astronomia in Godalming, or Tring, to name a few near/in London), and read a few reviews so you have a better idea what to expect. Things to consider: time to setup each night, weight/size to carry and put away, what you'll be looking at (planets/the moon? the sun? deep sky objects? everything? daytime use too?), ease of use (type of scope+finder, type/quality of mount, whether computerised/motorised), accessories you'll need/want (and cost of), and how well you know the sky or are willing to learn by hand all play a part - not just the cost and scope power!

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