Astronomy – An Introduction

Group Leader: Mark Hardaker

Venue/Time: Verwood Hub. 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Day/Date: Thursdays
October: 3rd / 16th / 31st
November: 21st / 28th
December: 12th
Cost: £12 (payable in advance)

Contact: To email Mark please click here

The Group

Astronomy is looking up. Oh yes it is! And the great thing is, everyone can participate, whatever your age or current knowledge. Here in Verwood, we live on the fringe of the Cranborne Chase international Dark Sky Reserve, so the stars and planets and other objects in the sky are easier to find.
We are a new group starting in January 2024, with an initial programme of six sessions.
In this course we will cover the basics to get you started in the astronomy. Initially, you need nothing more than a general interest in the stars and planets and your own eyes.
As we progress through the course, we will talk about the sun, the moon and the solar system, the stars and the constellations, on to deep sky objects and the formation of the universe. Finally, some tips on the equipment you might buy or borrow, the local clubs you can join to find out more. How to use your own telescope to observe and perhaps even photograph the night sky.

View full Size (opens a new window) (photographed by Mark)
View full Size (opens a new window) (photographed by Mark)

Session 1: Introduction to Astronomy – How the Sky Works
Understand what the various objects in the sky are, how they move and how they relate to each other.
Session 2: The Solar System
The planets one by one. What makes them tick, what do we know about them and where can you find them.
Session 3: The Starry Sky
Build a planisphere and learn to find your way around the sky, using constellations as signposts.

Session 4: Deep Sky Wonders
Finding marvellous objects in the sky such as galaxies, clusters, nebulae and clouds. How to observe them with simple equipment and understanding how they got there.
Session 5: How the Universe Formed
Two hours to explain how it all came about. I will try.
Session 6: Astronomical Equipment
Hands-on time. Get a chance to see binoculars, telescopes and mounts and how they work. Discover where you can use them and who can help you.

View full Size (opens a new window) (photographed by Mark)
The Leader

My name is Mark Hardaker. I was born in Keighley in West Yorkshire. I have been an amateur astronomer since the age of eight. I started with a simple pair of binoculars, progressing to a 3-inch refracting telescope as recommended by Patrick Moore and ending up today with a 12-inch reflecting telescope which I use in my back garden in Verwood.
I am passionate about astronomy as a hobby and enjoy bringing this passion to others. I am a member of both Fordingbridge Astronomers and Wessex Astronomical Society where we regularly use our telescopes to show the public what you can see in the sky. I co-present a monthly magazine called “Starry Skies” on Verwood’s own Forest FM radio station and I’m the Deputy Editor of Popular Astronomy, a magazine specifically targeted at beginners in the hobby.

Verwood u3a Member, Paul Thackeray, took this exceptional photo of the Sun with a very special telescope designed for this. DO NOT try this with a normal telescope. We thank Paul for letting us use this amazing photo.