Stargazing at the Orchards Shopping Centre, Dartford - Saturday 21st February 2015

Stargazing Poster 6 jpg.JPG

On Saturday 21st February 2015, Crayford Manor House Astronomical Society Dartford hosted a fun filled activity day & evening for all ages at The Orchards Shopping Centre in Dartford.

Below is the ebulletin release by Trustee & Publicity Officer Honor Wheeler who was instrumental in ensuring that the event took place & run as smoothly as possible along with the help of fellow trustee Rita Whiting and members Debra Holton & Observatory guardian Andy Barber.

Honor did a fantastic job especially as it was her first time organising such an event for the Society.

Thank you Honor and Rita, Debra & Andy - for all your hard work and effort. A super, fun filled day was had by all who attended and helped on the day.

CMHASD would also like to say a big Thank you to Face/Off who helped organise & host the day and to Astro Media Shop for donating the prizes for the two quizzes.

''Well, how do I begin the eBulletin this week? For a start I would like to say an extremely 'BIG THANK YOU' to everyone who helped to make Stargazing at the Orchards such a huge success!

The day didn't start off so well with the weather providing us with a snow shower as the early birds started to off-load. As you may be aware Ashford, Mid-Kent and South East Kent astronomical societies agreed to attend and duly arrived to start setting up as well.

The addition of the Dartford Photographic Society, Barry Kellett RAL, Image Space, Betty and Domi from Face/Off and Astro Media Shop saw us ready for the long day ahead.

After an early 7:30am start we began the main proceedings at 10am and closed the day at 4pm, then held the evening observing on the roof car park from 7-9pm.

The talks organised to go on for the whole day, held in the Meeting Place', included talks from Rita Whiting, Simon Dawes, Martin Crow, Andy Barber, Neil Webster, Honor Wheeler and make a Comet demonstrations from Debra Holton and quiz master for the 2 quizzes John Archer. The general quiz was compiled by Debra Holton and the children's quiz was compiled by Sonia Rubie, Sonia also provided over 35 space themed crossword, word searches and maze puzzles for children and adults to have a go at completing. Thank you both of you for your hard work. Thanks must also go to Astro Media Shop www.astromediashop.co.uk for providing the prizes for the quizzes.

As Dartford's Market runs on a Saturday we hoped a reasonable number of people would visit the Orchards during the day and we were not disappointed. During most of the day the societies were kept busy talking about all kinds of astronomy based topics from Constellation finding to buying Telescopes etc. Others helped individuals who had brought their own telescopes along looking for help in setting them up and getting them working properly. Crayford's Janet Dray provided biscuits for children to decorate with their favoured constellation or sign of the zodiac and the 'Do you know your Solar System' game kept many entertained. Janet also provided a centre piece for the table made with marzipan representing the planets, Thank you Janet for a fine and unique display!

Unfortunately the Solar observing was abandoned as the weather was not clear enough but after those staying for the evening session had had something to eat, we were lucky enough to have clear skies for the 2 hour session. Not only was the the Moon lying close to Mars and Venus but the International Space Station passed very close to the Moon just as we began our observing. Jupiter was also up which proved to be a big hit with the public. Over 40 members of the public and 1 Mayor turned up for the session and were not disappointed with 10 Crayford telescopes taking in the clear skies. Thanks to everyone who braved the really cold weather and brought and shared their Telescopes.

Ashford AS has commended Crayford on our photographic display boards and while I had a hand in putting it together I couldn't have done it if many of you hadn't taken the time to take the photographs in the first place! Thanks and Keep them coming PLEASE ;)

Phil Young from South East Kent sends his regards and thanks to everyone for a great day.

Ian Hargraves from Mid-Kent has also sent his compliments about the day.''
Honor Wheeler, CMHASD Trustee & Publicity Officer.

1. Photos of the day

To see our photos of the day - please click here or on the images below. Also - see our Twitter page too.
Stargazing 2015 in full swing.....Click on image to see more photos.

Stargazing 2015 evening observing session from The Orchards Shopping Centre car park......Click on image to see more photos.

2. CMHASD Stargazing 2015 in the press - News Shopper - 24th February 2015

Click here to view the press article about Stargazing 2015 at The Orchards Shopping Centre.

Below is the programme of what happened on the day...

3. Traders & Societies who were there on the day




Face painting.
Check out their event page on Facebook by clicking here and their website www.faceoffpainters.net/ as Face/Off helped us host the day.
Astro Media Shop

Ashford Astronomical Society

Mid Kent Astronomical Society

South East Kent Astronomical Society

Dartford and District Photographic Society

Camera Club.
Constellation Cookies

Decorate you own constellation cookie or cookies :)

4. Events throughout the day

Name of event



Ask a Professional Astronomer

Barry Kellet

Mr Barry Kellet, is a professional astronomer from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories and attended with his 'Space Rocks'. Barry was also available to answer as many astronomical questions as he could that day too!
Barry is a long time friend of our Society & regularly visits CMHASD to give lectures.
Campaign for Dark Skies - CfDS
Sorry this was cancelled.

Solar Observing

CMHASD members,
Mid Kent Astronomical Society,
South East Kent Astronomical Society & Ashford Astronomical Society

Solar Observing on the roof of the Orchards Shopping Centre car park was planned but due to the poor weather this did not take place.

All four astronomical societies brought along their Solar Telescopes and Telescopes which had been adapted for Solar viewing to show members of the public how to view the Sun SAFELY if the weather had allowed & to answer any questions the public had about observing the Sun.
Help & Advice on all things Astronomical

CMHASD members

Members of the Society were available throughout the day & evening to answer any questions the public had about astronomy & observing.

There were many different telescopes on show to the public.

It was also a great opportunity for the public, if not sure how to use their telescope, camera, binoculars and/or astronomy software - to ask for help.
Photographic displays

CMHASD members

Astrophotography displays

CMHASD members

Games & Competitions

CMHASD members

5. Programme of talks, demonstrations & quizzes during the day

Held in the Meeting Room.
( T= 10 minute talk, D= Demonstration & Q= Quiz )




CMHASD Speaker




Astronomy for free

Things you can do without buying equipment - the Sun, the Moon, planets, meteors, the stars and other objects can all be investigated.

Rita Whiting


What they are, how to find them, some of their stories and what’s in some of them.

Rita Whiting

Equipment: Binoculars/Telescopes

What to use and how to choose.

Martin Crow

What to look for

Details of some good targets for beginners, such as the Moon, planets, Messier objects, variable stars and where & when to look for them.

Martin Crow

Making a Comet (demonstration)

See a (small) comet being made.(practical demonstration)

Debra Holton

Quiz (Children - Primary School age)*

Sit down astronomical quiz for primary school age children, with prizes. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

John Archer

Basic Astrophotography

From a camera phone to a compact digital camera, how to get the best from these simple tools.

Honor Wheeler

Solar/Atmospheric Phenomena

Astronomy during the day - how to see atmospheric phenomenon from rainbows to halos.

Honor Wheeler

The Eclipse of March 20th

What to expect during the Solar eclipse on the 20th March 2015.

Andy Barber

Space Missions

Learn more about Rosetta and other space missions.

Andy Barber

Making a Comet (demonstration)

See a (small) comet being made.(practical demonstration)

Debra Holton

Quiz (Open)*

Sit down astronomical quiz for all individuals, with prizes.* (please note - no members of the astronomical societies will be participating in the quiz. The quiz is for members of the general public only)

John Archer

Radio Astronomy

Visual astronomy isn't the only option, even for amateurs.

Simon Dawes

Light Pollution

How to overcome light pollution, a personal view.

Neil Webster

Tonight’s sky

What will be out there this evening.

Andy Barber

*Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

6. Evening events


Observing from the roof of the Orchards Shopping Centre car park.

Helping members of the public with their telescopes & equipment they brought along.*
CMHASD were only too happy to help!

A warm room & warm drinks were available.

*Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
CMHASD members, Barry Kellet &
the Mayor of Dartford, Cllr. Avtar Sandhu MBE.

CMHASD - Stargazing2015