Course length: 4 weeks
Start date: TBC
Time: Fridays 8pm – 10pm

Venue: White Rock Hotel, Hastings
Cost: £75

Understanding the Night Sky is a short course about the wonders of the night sky. You’ll be guided through the stars, naming the prominent ones and placing them among the constellations; you’ll even learn how to pick out the visible planets. You’ll be in a classroom or out on the beach on clear nights.

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Have you ever wondered why the stars change position through the year? Do you want to have a better understanding of the stars and the patterns they make? If you can relate to these questions, well this is the course for you!During the 4 weeks you’ll learn about the constellations and some of the stories and legends they tell. You’ll learn how to pick them out in light-polluted skies, and use bright star patters to help you navigate the sky. It never gets really dark in Hastings, but out on the beach it’s about as dark as it gets, so if the weather is kind, we’ll head out to the shoreline with red light torches in hand to observe the wonders of the night. You won’t be looking through telescopes, but you will get the chance to learn how to properly use binoculars to look at far away things. For astronomy, you always need a contingency plan, so if it’s raining or cloudy when we want to observe, we’ll stay indoors and enjoy the night’s offering on a big screen. No previous knowledge of astronomy is required.


After studying this course you should be able to:

  • Identify and name several prominent stars
  • Describe why some stars are different colours and why they seem to slowly move across the sky
  • Recognise visible planets and be able to explain the fundamental differences between stars and planets
  • Pinpoint and name several constellations and relate some of the myths and legends associated with them
  • Share with confidence your newfound knowledge of the sky at night


  • Notepad and pen
  • Warm clothes and sensible shoes (for venturing onto the beach)
  • A red light torch (see how to make your own here)
  • 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 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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