Hampshire Astronomical Group

Established 1960, Online since 1998

Observatory Accessibility


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Hampshire Astronomical Group welcome you!

Formed in Portsmouth in 1960 the ‘Hampshire Astronomical Group’ has grown into one of the finest 'amateur astronomical groups' in the UK.

Our extensively equipped Observatory is situated within the South Downs National Park dark skies reserve on the border of Clanfield and Horndean villages in Hampshire.

The Group hold regular Open Evenings at the Observatory from autumn through to spring; giving visitors the opportunity to view the night sky through our very large telescopes or, if cloudy, a tour of the facilities followed by a lecture on an astronomical topic in our modern (heated) clubroom facility.

Furthermore we hold Solar (sun) observing events where visitors can observe our nearest star the 'sun' viewed through our specialist solar viewing equipment  during  daylight hours in the summer months.

We also host group visits and run astronomical courses for the public at the observatory.

We have a long-established association with the University of Portsmouth where their undergraduates and students can avail themselves of our facilities and knowledge base for furthering their studies.

There is a full programme of monthly public lectures, with eminent guest speakers, held at the Clanfield Memorial Hall where non members are more than welcome to attend.

Access and Information to all our activities (which are supported voluntarily by our very active and enthusiastic membership) are shown on this website.  So please feel free to browse, it is constantly up-dated; so why not bookmark us in your browser and visit regularly.

Clear Nights and Dark Skies.

Richard Judd FRAS
President:  Hampshire Astronomical Group - Clanfield Observatory

What's on in the next month...

23rd March
Public Open Evening Sold Out!
- start time 7:15pm

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24th March
Public Open Evening Sold Out!
- start time 7:15pm

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25th March
Public Open Evening Sold Out!
- start time 7:15pm

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13th April
"The Cracking of an Interstellar Mystery"
A talk by Dr Michael McCabe
Clanfield Observatory - start time 7:45pm

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Astronomical Events for March 2018


2 Mar – 00:52 UT – the first Full Moon of the month.

7 Mar – 04:30 UT – The Moon will be 4.75° north of Jupiter, look for them in Libra.

10 Mar – 03:00 UT – The Moon will be 3.5° from Mars where they can be found low in the southeast.

27 Mar – 01:00 BST (00:00 UT) – Try viewing a clair-obscur effect called the Jewelled Handle on the Moon.  To find it locate the Montes Jura around Sinus Iridum and watch the tops of the mountains catch the morning Sun.

31 Mar – Second Full Moon of the month, also known as a Blue Moon.


4 Mar – evening – Mercury will appear to be 1.1° from Venus.

11 Mar – 04:00 UT – Saturn will be approximately 2° below and to the southwest of the crescent Moon.

15 Mar – Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation.

18 Mar – after sunset – Venus, Mercury and a 1% lit Moon will form a straight line.  Look for them low in the west.

19 Mar – 03:30 UT – Mars, which will appear low in the southeast, can be found between M8 (the Lagoon Nebula) and M20 (the Trifid Nebula).


March – Comet 2016 R2 (PanSTARRS) will be visible all this month as it moves from Taurus into Perseus.  Good time to try and image the comet as it may still have a tail.

21 Mar – evening – the asteroid (1981) Midas (2km in diameter), will pass within 13.4 million km of Earth.  Using a large telescope it may be possible to view the asteroid as it move south-west along the Gemini-Auriga boundary region.  Visit www:minorplanetcenter.net/iau/MPEph/MPEph.html to generate a precise hourly ephemeris.

24 Mar – Makemake is at opposition tonight and can be found in north-western Coma, where it may be possible to image it using a 200mm telescope and CCD camera.


1 Mar – 06:06 UT (centre of UK) – the Moon occults Regulus, although it won’t be possible to see the reappearance as Regulus and the Moon will have set.

22 Mar – 23:30 UT – Start of the occultation of Aldebaran in the Hyades, the star will reappear at 00:15 UT on 23 March. As the Moon moves through the Hyades it will occult several stars.  In southern England the Moon will be less than 4° above the horizon.


13 Mar – as there is no Moon, today is a good time to look for the Zodiacal Light, a subtle cone-shaped glow.  Start looking for it in the west 90 minutes after the Sun sets.  On the 22 March the Zodiacal Lights can be found in Pisces and Aries with the tip of the cone pointing towards Gemini.  If you cannot see it, then try imaging it, aiming for a deep but not overexposed sky.  It won’t be possible to see this phenomenon, which occurs over a period of 90 minutes, in light polluted skies.

16 Mar – Good time for deep sky observing as there is no Moon.

20 Mar – 16:15 UT – Vernal equinox when the centre of the Sun crosses the celestial equator.

21 Mar – 01:00 UT – Start of British Summer Time (BST) when the clocks go forward by one hour.

Moon Image Credit: Steve Broadbent
Saturn Image Credit: NASA
Comet Image Credit: Steve Futcher

Sun Live at the Clanfield Observatory

Sun Live Event - See The Sun In All Its Explosive Glory !

Clanfield Observatory offer a rare chance to see the Sun's surface in real time using special Sun Filters.
Depending on the weather conditions and the activity on the Sun this is a chance to see Prominences and Sun Spots using Hydrogen Alpha and other special Filters.
Should the weather prevent views of the Sun we will give a tour of the observatory and an illustrated talk about the Sun.

Entrance is exclusively by pre purchased tickets priced at £5:00 Adults £3 for 16 and under each. (Minimum age 8 years old).

The date for this event is Saturday 26th May 2018. Start time will be 1pm and the event will finish around 3pm
For tickets please fill in a booking form on the Sun Live page of the web site. Please note that tickets will need to be paid within one month of the date you book your places.

Sun Live Booking Form Click Here

Image credit: Phil Reed

What's on between next month and 6 months...

11th May
The Day They Launched a Woodpecker!
A talk by Jerry Stone FBIS FRAS
Clanfield Memorial Hall - start time 7:45pm

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26th May
Public Sun Live Day
- start time 1:00pm

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8th June
Blexit: Exiting the Universe via black hole
A talk by Dr Poshak Gandhi
Clanfield Memorial Hall - start time 7:45pm

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13th July
Optical quality and accepted standards - the relevance of Dawes' and Rayleigh criteria
A talk by John D Timmins FRAS
Clanfield Memorial Hall - start time 7:45pm

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Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium Lecture Series

Adult evening lectures on the second Wednesday's of the Month at 4.30pm and 6.30pm, each follow by a short Planetarium Show about the months sky.

Wednesday 18th April 2018 - Cassini - Talk by Professor Emma Bunce (University of Leicester)

Wednesday 9th May 2018 - Black Holes in the Universe - Talk by Professor Rob Fender (University of Oxford)

Wednesday 13th June 2018 - Space Weather: The Science behind the Forecasts - Talk by Dr. Olugbenga Ogunmodimu (Manchester Metropolitan University)

These events often sell out so pre-book or call to check on (01962) 863791

For more details on the talks and tickets please visit the  Winchester Science Centre.

 Image Credit: © Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium.

Southdowns Planetarium

The South Downs Planetarium is a registered educational charity, which is run by a small team of experienced and dedicated volunteers.
The Planetarium operates throughout the year, but is not open every day.

Members of the public are welcome to visit the Planetarium at the show times listed on this website.

Public Shows and Dates 

Friday 23rd March - 7.30pm - The Northern Lights

Sunday 25th March - 3.30pm - Springtime Stars, Moon and Planets

Friday 30th March - 3.30pm - The Easter Full Moon

Monday 2nd April - 3.30pm - All Aboard - A Tour of the Planets

Tuesday 3rd April - 3.30pm - Springtime Stars, Moon and Planets

Wednesday 4th April - 3.30pm - One Small Step for Major Tim, A Giant Leap Towards Mars FULL DOME SHOW

Thursday 5th April - 3.30pm - Distant Worlds: Alien Life FULL DOME SHOW

Friday 6th April - 3.30pm - Hubble's View of the Universe

Sunday 8th April - 3.30pm - The Northern Lights

As seats sell out fast, it is essential to book your seat.

Admission Prices: £7.00 for adults, or £5.00 for children 6 to 16yrs. Cash or Cheque Only

The South Downs Planetarium Trust is a Registered Educational Charity No. 1096869.

For further information about all South Downs Planetarium activities, contact: 

The South Downs Planetarium and Science Centre
Sir Patrick Moore Building

Chichester High School Campus
Kingsham Farm
Kingsham Road
West Sussex PO19 8RP

For Sat Nav Users:-

Enter PO19 8AE

Tel: 01243 774400
Ticket hotline: 07818 297292

e-mail: sdownsplanet@btconnect.com


What's on after the next 6 months...

12th October
Making a Solar System: A Recipe for Worlds
A talk by Dr Ashley King
Clanfield Memorial Hall - start time 7:45pm

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9th November
Title TBC
A talk by Dr Paul B Rimmer
Clanfield Memorial Hall - start time 7:45pm

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14th December
Title TBA
A talk by Colin Stuart
Clanfield Memorial Hall - start time 7:45pm

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1st January
Adventures in the Outer solar system ** TALK BEING CHANGED **
A talk by Dr Caitriona Jackman
Clanfield Memorial Hall - start time 7:44pm

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1st January
Brave new worlds: the planets in our galaxy
A talk by Professor Giovanna Tinetti - Please note date of this talk is TBA
Clanfield Memorial Hall - start time 7:45pm

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Future Learn Free Astronomy Courses

FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform, enabling digital education through conversation.  FutureLearn offers free and paid for online courses and degrees from world-leading UK and international universities as well as courses from companies, centres of research excellence and specialist education providers.  FutureLearn partners with over a quarter of the world’s top universities and organisations such as Accenture, Microsoft, the British Council, European Space Agency, Houses of Parliament, Raspberry Pi and Cancer Research UK.   

FutureLearn provides a range of free online courses from some of the world's leading educators. Courses are created by UK and international universities, as well as cultural institutions and global centres of excellence in a range of subject areas, like the British Council and the European Space Agency.

A number of Astronomy courses are listed in the website's Science, Engineering and Maths category. Recent titles have included 'Moons' and 'In the Night Sky: Orion', both from The Open University. The lead educator on the Orion course, Professor Monica Grady, CBE, worked as part of the project team that successfully landed the Philae probe on a comet last November.

An added advantage of FutureLearn is its focus on 'social learning', whereby learners from all over the world can have conversations about the topics covered during a course with one another, and with the academics leading the course.

FutureLearn adds courses throughout the year and repeats popular titles, so the easiest way to keep up to date is to register on the website. Details on upcoming Astronomy courses will also be listed here.

Next Free Online Astronomy Courses:

Moons: - Available now for details to book yourself onto this course click here

Monitoring the Oceans from Space: - Date to be announced for details to book yourself onto this course click here

Earth Observation from Space: the Optical View: - Date to be announced for details to book yourself onto this course click here