The Society maintains a membership of around 100 members, which makes Reading AS one of the larger societies in the UK. We run an outreach section which meets monthly on a Friday
Members come from all parts of Berkshire including Bracknell, Basingstoke, Slough and Reading, south Oxfordshire and some from further afield including Wiltshire, Hampshire and London. The society is affiliated to the British Astronomical Association and is a member of the Federation of Astronomical Societies.
Our Local History
Amateur astronomy in Reading started much earlier than 1972. In fact a local resident Gideon T Davis was publishing his observations in the late 19th century. Our member Kenelm England FRAS has details of more local astronomers of the 19th century.
The main focus of the society is the monthly meetings. Speakers are invited from a wide range of backgrounds to give astronomical talks. Professionals and fellow amateurs speak on a variety of subjects. Here is an archive of past meetings.
The society has two sections, a main section and an astrobasics section. You are welcome to attend either or both meetings.
The usual format of the meetings is that we have an invited speaker who gives a one hour talk, followed by a break where you can have a drink, talk to other members and browse the library. This is followed by short talks by members on a variety of subjects e.g. observing techniques, things to observe, images. The meeting closes at 9.45pm.
Library: The Society holds an extensive library of astronomical books and DVDs – many donated by members – available for loan at a very modest fee. The library is kept right up to date with the purchase of new books.
Telescope loans: We have telescopes available for members to loan. Here’s a link to the list with availability
The Friday Club
This is our free outreach section. Membership is not required for these meetings which are to encourage, motivate and generally inform young and old about amateur astronomy.
The meetings consist of a talk on an aspect of astronomy and if clear after the talk, we stay outside with telescopes for observing. Young children are recommended to come for the latter part of the evening from about 8.00 pm when telescopes will be set up if the sky is clear. As these meetings are in an urban area the quality of observation is limited.
Events and Trips
The society organises trips to local observatories and places of astronomical interest. Last We visited the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, Jodrell Bank, The Science Museum, and organised a trip to witness the 1999 solar eclipse from Bulgaria.
Our president is Dr Allan Chapman, the well-known historian and teacher of the history of Science in the Faculty of Modern History, Oxford.
Suitable locations for ad hoc observing by members and friends are rare and becoming rarer in our vicinity. Whenever we can arrangements are made locally, usually on clear evenings near new moon.
Occasionally these evenings are themed, e.g. the Moon or Photography, or timed to coincide with a particular astronomical event e.g. meteor showers or lunar eclipses. Of course you are always free to observe whatever you wish in the company of other members of the society. Owning a telescope is not essential, sharing instruments and observing tips and techniques is an excellent way to increase your astronomical knowledge and skills.
Weekend starcamps to a dark sites have been successful. There are camping, self-catering and B&B options. Bring your own instruments or use those taken by other members.
We also arrange special public observing sessions for astronomical events, in recent years we have observed a lunar eclipse, a Mercury and a Venus transit in the company of the general public.