Astronomy Courses

Beginners Courses at the Observatory

Astronomy For Beginners

"Evening class observing with Giant Binoculars"

Next course starts: 7th September 2020

Course fees: £180 Adults, 10% concession for pensioned people and adults in education

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 is a twenty-week Adult course, held on  Monday evenings from 7.15pm to 9.15pm  at Clanfield Observatory,  starting each September and concludes in March of the following year .

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 12 inch Reflecting Telescopes; a 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 involve the use of a number of these large instruments each course evening, weather permitting.

A well-equipped support building is available, as is on-site car parking.

Course Curriculum

Topics covered include:

  • The Origins and Development of Astronomy
  • The Celestial Sphere - Locating Constellations.
  • Instruments for Observing
  • Moon and Eclipses
  • Formation of the Solar System
  • The Inner and Outer Planets
  • Comets, Asteroids and Meteors.
  • The Sun
  • Types of Stars, Variable Stars, Double Stars.
  • Measuring the Universe
  • The Electro-Magnetic Spectrum
  • Star Clusters and Nebulae, Novae and Supernovae.
  • Exo-Planets
  • The Milky Way and types of Galaxies.
  • Black Holes, Pulsars and Quasars.
  • The Universe

Frequent reference will be made to the current week by week astronomical happenings to encourage observation of these events.

When applicable, video/ DVD will be employed to assist with the description of the topic under consideration. Course notes will be provided electronically, please bring memory stick each evening.

The course tutor, Graham Bryant, is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and was Chairman of the Group from 2003 to 2018. He has been involved in astronomy for over 50 years, and lectures across Southern England and presented at National and International Conferences. He is a part time presenter at the South Downs Planetarium in Chichester . He holds qualifications in adult education.

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 by April each year so do register early to ensure a place.



To enquire about the next course, please contact Graham Bryant at and put ‘Astronomy Course' in the e-mail title.

Alternatively you can contact Graham at:

Graham Bryant
20 The Smithy

023 92 241764 or 07585 641741