Astronomy Courses

Beginners Courses at the Observatory

Astronomy For Beginners

"Evening class observing with Giant Binoculars"

Next course start date is:
Monday 23rd September 2024

Course fee: £100 *

Astronomy affects our lives in many ways :-

  • The Sun provides our energy to live
  • The Earth's spin gives us day and night
  • The Earth's axial tilt gives us the seasons
  • The Earth's orbit gives us our calendar
  • The Moon causes tides and eclipses
  • The Moon plays a vital role for life on Earth

Astronomy is the oldest science and throughout the ages mankind has had a fascination for the night sky.

This extremely popular course has changed format and will now be run twice a year as a 10-week course. Although the course is shorter the content will be just as comprehensive as previous years.

This is an adult only (18+) course, held on  Monday evenings from 7.15pm to 9.30pm  at Clanfield Observatory,  The course runs twice a year starting each January and September.

The course is intended to introduce a basic understanding of astronomy, looking at the work of professional astronomers and amateurs alike. It is assumed that the participants have no prior astronomical knowledge.

The Observatory is one of the best equipped amateur observatories in the country, comprising 24, 16 and two 12 inch reflecting telescopes; and superb 7 inch Starfire, 5 inch Cooke and 4.5 inch Beck refractors, all housed in five large domes. There are also tripod mounted giant binoculars and specialized solar telescopes. The course will include observing using of some of these telescopes, weather permitting.

Presentations will take place in the Observatory's well-equipped support building which has on-site car parking.

In the event of the weather producing unfavourable conditions at the Observatory the session may be postponed or be given as a Zoom talk by agreement.

* HAG members get a 15% discount to £85.

Course Curriculum

Topics covered include:

  • The Origins and Development of Astronomy
  • Development of Telescopes
  • Observing Techniques
  • The Celestial Sphere - Locating Constellations
  • Measuring the Distance and Brightness
  • The Moon
  • The Sun
  • The Solar System : Inner and Outer Planets
  • The Solar System : Dwarf Planets, Asteroids and Comets
  • Types of Stars, Stellar Evolution
  • Spectroscopy : Principles and Use
  • The Milky Way and types of Galaxies
  • The Universe

Reference will be made to topical astronomical happenings to encourage discussion and/or observation of these events.

When applicable, video clips will be employed to assist with the description of the topic under consideration. Links to download the course notes will be provided.

The course tutor, Steve Broadbent, is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a member of the British Astronomical Association, and was Chairman of the Group from 2018 to 2023. He has been involved in astronomy for over 60 years and gives talks to Astronomical societies and interested groups across Southern England. He also mentors undergraduate students from the University of Portsmouth who are undertaking astronomy projects at the Observatory.

This very popular and successful course has developed over many years to meet the needs of beginners wishing to know more of this fascinating subject. This course typically sells out quickly so do register early to ensure a place.


To enquire about the next course, please email:
or phone Steve Broadbent on 07813 086215.

Page last edited: 17-Mar-2024