Things are looking up for stargazers’ club on eve of ‘Back Garden Astronomy Week’
PUBLISHED: 11:06 30 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:41 30 January 2019
From meteor showers to planetary transits and even super blood wolf moons, the night sky is full of wonders.
And Norfolk’s relatively low population density and flat landscapes make it the perfect place for stargazing - as Wiveton’s John Ramm well knows.
As chairman of the North Norfolk Astronomical Society, Mr Ramm, 76, has seen a rising interest in stargazing since the group was formed 20 years ago.
Mr Ramm said: “There is a growing interest, especially at certain times. If you get a good comet or something like that suddenly people start to take a look. A lot of them lose interest again afterwards, but we usually retain a few who get the bug.
“Some people are wary of it because it’s science, but it’s not something to be frightened of and we’re all still learning too.
“You can go in so many different directions - you can explore the chemistry and physics of it, but most people just like to get out here under the stars and enjoy the night sky.”
The society, which has around 35 members, meets on a site at Wiveton Downs where there are two telescopes - their 120-year-old ‘Walter Goodacre’ telescope and a more modern piece of equipment used for taking photos.
Mr Ramm said the older telescope was used over 100 years ago by Mr Goodacre to map the moon, and it could achieve up to 400 times magnification.
He said: “When (visitors) first look through something like this and see the rings of Saturn, that’s when they say ‘wow’. I like searching for ‘faint fuzzies’ -distant galaxies, and the moon is always amazing - you see so much detail.”
Andrew Glossop, a society member, said it was seeing the transit of Mercury about three years ago that sparked his interest in astronomy.
He said: “It was during the day and it was wonderful to see.
“The transit of planets has proved all sorts of things, including the Theory of Relativity.”
Sky at Night magazine has declared next week (February 2-10) to be Back Garden Astronomy Week, hoping to inspire people to get outside and looking up at the night sky.
For more information about the society, and about their astronomy courses and upcoming events visit nnas.org.
Get stars in your eyes: Norfolk and Waveney top spots for stargazing
Wiveton Downs - One of two ‘dark sky’ sites in north Norfolk and home of the North Norfolk Astronomical Society.
Kelling Heath - North Norfolk’s other officially recognised ‘dark sky’ site.
Great Ellingham - The Breckland Astronomical Society, which has a 20-inch reflecting telescope is based here.
Tottenhill - the King’s Lynn and District Astronomy Society is based here.
Seething - Site of the Seething Observatory, home of the Norwich Astronomical Society.
Lowestoft - Loughton and Yarmouth Regional Astronomers meet at the Parkhill Hotel here.
Horsey Mere - Quiet Norfolk Broads location is ideal for stargazing.
Herringfleet Mill - Another peaceful waterside spot to enjoy the night sky.
Reepham - The town’s observatory, on the grounds of Reepham High School, holds regular public events.
Titchwell Marsh - North-east Norfolk beauty spot is a serene place to cast your eyes to the skies.