Course length: 6 weeks
Start date: TBC
Time: Fridays 10am – 12pm

Venue: White Rock Hotel, Hastings
Cost: £90

An introduction to practical astronomy. You’ll learn how to set up and use a telescope, how to recognise constellations and how to star-hop to help you find interesting things in the nighttime sky. You’ll get very hands-on in this classroom-based course, both with astronomical kit and the resources you’ll need to get the most out of it.

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Do you have a telescope at home gathering dust because you can’t get it to work properly? Have you been given a telescope and have no idea what to do with it? Or would you like to take up astronomy as a hobby and don’t know where to start? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions,then this course is perfect for you. We’ll discuss different types of telescope and binoculars and their pros and cons. You’ll learn how to set up a refractor, reflector and a Macsatov Cassegrain (a mixture of the two); how to balance an optical tube on an equatorial mount; and how to align a finder scope. You’ll learn how to polar align a manual telescope and how best to get a fix with a computerised Go-To mount. But to get the most out of using a telescope, we first need to know what to look for! So you will also get lots of practise using star maps, monthly stargazing guides and digital resources. This is a daytime course, so you won’t be doing any actual observing, but you’ll gain the tools and knowledge to start observing at home. No previous knowledge of astronomy is required.


After studying this course you should be able to:

  • Use star charts to recognise and identify shapes made by the stars (asterisms)
  • Use monthly stargazing guides and a Moon calendar to determine the phase of the Moon and locate planets on any night of the year
  • Download and use astronomy apps for mobile devices and planetarium software for your home computer
  • Review different types of telescope and identify which might be best for you
  • Operate a home telescope with confidence and start truly enjoying your hobby!


  • A4 notepad and pen
  • iPad with Stellarium app pre-loaded (optional)
  • You could also bring your own telescope (or photos of it) if you have one
  • Folder or ring binder for hand-outs
  • Home or mobile internet connection for access to Course Page


The White Rock Hotel, White Rock, Hastings TN34 1JU

The venue is situated right on the seafront, almost opposite Hastings Pier. We’ll be in one of the hotel’s meeting rooms (up two short flights of stairs) and on clear nights we’ll pop over the road to the beach to observe the nighttime sky. There is a café bar with amazing sea views, serving hot and cold drinks during break time. The hotel is only accessed via steps.


 By bus: The 23 and 26 from the east and 23A and 26A from the west stop right outside the White Rock Hotel
 By train:
Hastings rail station is a 10 minute walk, with trains from Bexhill, Battle and Rye

 By car: The hotel is on the A259 coast road, next to the White Rock Theatre and opposite the pier


There’s a choice of Pay & Display street parking and public car parks within close proximity of the hotel. Not far away there’s free street parking after 6pm on restricted roads, and unrestricted parking just a little further away, but still in walking distance. Blue Badge holders can park at the front of the hotel in the Pay & Display bays (unlimited) or on the double yellow lines (3 hours).

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