On January 16th, about 250 people gathered in Wells for the BBC Stargazing Live event, put on by our astronomy group.

Outside many members brought their own telescopes and set them up on the Cathedral Green. Unfortunately, as often happens with the British weather, the sky was stubbornly cloudy for much of the evening. However, a few clear periods allowed for glimpses of the sky, which made it worthwhile. For many members of the public this was the chance to view the Moon through a telescope for the first time, always a ‘Wow!’ experience.

In the meantime the Wells and Mendip Museum had much to keep our visitors occupied.  The focus of the activities was manned spaceflight, especially Tim Peake's mission to the ISS. They were run by the WMA's Jo Richardson and her 'Space Detectives'; Jo is ESERO-UK Space Ambassador for the south-west of England and is also running events on the mission in primary schools across the region.  ‘Space Detectives’ ran activities for all on the theme of Tim Peake’s spacewalk the day before. Many visitors went away with their own models of the ISS made during the evening.

Peter Richardson had many of his spectacular pictures on display, including those photos currently exhibited in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Ron Westmaas from CADAS brought along his wonderful photo exhibition, too. Also present were the Somerset Levels Stargazers, Bob Mizon and the Campaign for Dark Skies.

At the end of the evening there was a raffle with a variety of prizes, with first prize being a free Space Detectives workshop for a school of the winners’ choice. Other prizes ranged from a year’s free membership of the Wells and Mendip Astronomers, to beautiful books on space, and a pack of glow in the dark stars to stick on your bedroom ceiling.

A great time was had by all!

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Steve Dyer and Ron Westmaas discuss Ron's spectacular display of solar photography.

(Visit our media page here to see and hear the BBC broadcasts of this event in a previous year)