Public Observing PDF Print E-mail
Observing is one of the core activities of any amateur astronomical society, and the NIAAS has an active observing group. Unfortunately, due to the unpredictable nature of the weather, observing sessions usually have to be arranged at very short notice, often only a matter of a couple of hours beforehand.

All observing sessions are announced on the forum, and all members, and indeed, members of the public, are welcome to attend.
Public observing events are arranged to coincide with major astronomical events, for example, lunar eclipses. The society held a very successful lunar eclipse event in 2007 at Ballyearl Leisure Centre, when over one hundred members of the public saw the eclipsed moon through various telescopes. These observing sessions may even be in broad daylight, as happened in 2004 when the planet Venus transited (passed across the face of) the Sun.
Observing sessions may also happen after society meetings. One meeting per season, usually in January, is set aside as a beginner’s night, when beginners can come along with their own equipment for advice, or to examine and try out other peoples equipment, maybe before buying their own. There is usually an observing session after this meeting, weather permitting.

Equipment Used In Club

Most members of the society own one or more telescopes, and these will be brought to observing sessions. The telescopes range in size from small refractors to quite large reflectors and catadioptrics. All society members also own binoculars, and these are used extensively, as some of the most beautiful sights in the sky are best seen with binoculars.

The society owns several telescopes, including a 10inch dobsonian reflector and a 6inch reflector. Spare binoculars are also available.

  • Braithwaite 10" f/6 Dobsonian.
  • The tabletop Skywatcher Maksatov 90mm is on loan to Patrick Watson.
  • 10x50 binoculars are available during observing evenings.
  • Skywatcher Newtonian available for loan.

All the telescopes at observing sessions are shared between everyone at the session, so if some-one should find a particularly interesting object, everyone else will be invited to have a look. This creates a great atmosphere during the sessions, with both serious discussion and banter much in evidence. The occasional barbecue may also be lit.

Observing Sites

The society uses several observing sites, although most observing sessions take place at Killylane Reservoir, near Shanes Hill, on the road between Larne and Ballymena. This is a good dark site, and is fairly accessible for most people. Other sites include Delamont, near Downpatrick, Slieve Croob, and an old disused quarry near Glenarm.


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