Practical Astronomy

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 night sky. You’ll get hands-on in this 6-week course, both with astronomical kit and the resources you’ll need to get stargazing.

COST:

£90


TUTOR:

Melanie Davies FRAS


LEVEL:

Beginner


START DATE:

TBC


FINISH DATE:

TBC


TIME:

7 – 9PM


DAY OF WEEK:

Tuesday


LOCATION:

White Rock Hotel OR Live Online


DURATION:

6 Weeks


COURSE CODE:

PAE/2011/EVE


Once enrolment is complete, full instructions for joining the course will be sent to you by your tutor.

Course Overview

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 classroom-based course (or online if we can’t get back in the classroom), 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.

How will I be taught?

FACE-TO-FACE: You will be in a classroom with a maximum of nine fellow students. If COVID-19 restrictions are still in place, we will be socially distanced in a large classroom and will all need to wear facemasks when coming closer than 1m to each other, for example for a telescope demo. All learning styles are catered for: visual (seeing), auditory (listening) and kinaesthetic (doing). Which means… plenty of presentations, including images and video; lecture-style talks with Q&As; plus hand-outs, quizzes and hands-on activities. You’ll have access to the online course page once you’re fully enrolled, where you can download resources and catch up on presentations if you miss any.

ONLINE: If it’s not possible to get back to classroom learning by January 2021, or if new restrictions come in half way through, the course will be offered online and delivered via Zoom. You’ll join the virtual classroom from home and will interact with your tutor and fellow students in real time through live presentations and Q&As. The course material will be delivered through live discussions, video, short PowerPoints, downloads and quizzes. Handouts will be available on the course page – you’ll have access to this once you’re fully enrolled.

What will I need?

• A copy of Sky At Night or Astronomy Now magazine
• Philip’s Planisphere (if you have one)
• A4 notepad and pen
• Folder or ring binder for printable downloads
• Warm clothing and sensible footwear for observing on the beach

FOR ONLINE DELIVERY:
• Computer/iPad with built-in camera and microphone
• Strong internet connection
• Zoom download (https://zoom.us)

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!

What if I’m uncomfortable with online learning?

We would all much rather be in a classroom. But until the Rule of Six is relaxed, this won’t be possible. We’re hoping that by January 2021, things will be back to something a little more like normal. If this is the case, we’ll be running all of our astronomy courses at the White Rock Hotel, opposite the pier on Hastings seafront. If we are still in the grips of this coronavirus pandemic by then, we’ll adapt the courses to run online. We appreciate that this is not for everyone, so if you’ve already enrolled and paid, we’ll offer you a full refund or a re-scheduled course date.

How does online learning work?

To access the virtual classroom online, you’ll need a computer or tablet equipped with a camera and microphone. If your computer doesn’t have these, Amazon sell a range of headsets that you can plug in. Then you’ll need to download the Zoom app (it’s free, secure, and easy to use).
Shortly before the start date, your tutor will email an invitation link plus a meeting code and password; clicking the link will take you to the Zoom website, where you can opt to open the application. Click to open Zoom and pop in the code and password, then wait just a few moments to be let into the virtual classroom. You’ll need the code to access the class each week. You can watch a tutorial on how to join a Zoom meeting here: https://youtu.be/hIkCmbvAHQQ.

If you have any questions, or need more info, get in touch…

“It’s amazing… I’m actually looking forward to using my telescope and am more confident about what I’m looking at!”

Student, Practical Astronomy

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