About

The function of the Sheffield Astronomical Society is to bring astronomy education to the general public and to provide a regular meeting place for those interested in astronomy, physics and space sciences. Alongside the three scheduled meetings we hold each month, our outreach work includes dedicated observing events and talks to schools, youth groups, adult groups and any other group or organisation with an interest in astronomy, physics and space sciences.
All ages and abilities are welcome!

2016/2017 Committee

The Sheffield Astronomical Society committee is composed of a maximum of 11 willing victims members. The executive consists of a President, a Vice President, a Secretary and a Treasurer. The committee is responsible for the events calendar, the outreach programme, equipment and resources, and the proper management of the finances of the society. All committee members are trustees of the Sheffield Astronomical Society charity registered in England and Wales number 1106012.

President:  Mike Mills
Vice President:  Darren Swindells
Secretary:  Andrew Gilhooley
Treasurer:  Russell Atkin
Committee Members:  Geoff Charlton, Carl Davies, Ken Eastburn, Mike Gover, Andrew Noble, Robin Winstanley

2015/2016 Committee
President:  Mike Mills
Vice President:  Darren Swindells
Secretary:  Andrew Gilhooley
Treasurer:  Ken Eastburn
Committee Members:  Russell Atkin, Geoff Charlton, Carl Davies, Mike Gover, Andrew Noble, Robin Winstanley

2014/2015 Committee
President:  Steve Adams
Vice President:  Mike Mills
Secretary:  Darren Swindells
Treasurer:  Ken Eastburn
Committee Members:  Callum Bellhouse, Geoff Charlton, Carl Davies, Andrew Gilhooley, Andrew Noble, Paul Tracey, Chris Walker

2013/2014 Committee
President:  Steve Adams
Vice President:  Mike Mills
Secretary:  Darren Swindells
Treasurer:  Ken Eastburn
Committee Members:  Callum Bellhouse, Geoff Charlton, Carl Davies, Gillian Finnerty, Andrew Gilhooley, Paul Tracey, Chris Walker

2012/2013 Committee
President:  Steve Adams
Vice President:  Mike Mills
Secretary:  Darren Swindells
Treasurer:  Ken Eastburn
Committee Members:  Callum Bellhouse, Geoff Charlton, Carl Davies, Gillian Finnerty, Andrew Gilhooley, Paul Tracey

2011/2012 Committee
President:  Steve Adams
Vice President:  Mike Mills
Secretary:  Darren Swindells
Treasurer:  Ken Eastburn
Committee Members:  Callum Bellhouse, Geoff Charlton, Steve Margerison, James O’Neill, Lewis Sadler, Craig Toulson

2010/2011 Committee
President:  Steve Adams
Vice President:  James O’Neill
Secretary:  Darren Swindells
Treasurer:  Ken Eastburn
Committee Members:  Geoff Charlton, Steve Margerison, Mike Mills, Lewis Sadler, Craig Toulson

2009/2010 Committee
President:  Steve Adams
Vice President:  James O’Neill
Secretary:  Darren Swindells
Treasurer:  Ken Eastburn
Committee Members:  Geoff Charlton, Carl Davies, Steve Margerison, Mike Mills, Craig Toulson, Paul Tracey

2008/2009 Committee
President:  Steve Adams
Vice President:  James O’Neill
Secretary:  Darren Swindells
Treasurer:  Ken Eastburn
Committee Members:  Geoff Charlton, Carl Davies, Steve Margerison, Craig Toulson, Paul Tracey

2007/2008 Committee
President:  Steve Adams
Vice President:  James O’Neill
Secretary:  Darren Swindells
Treasurer:  Ken Eastburn
Committee Members:  Geoff Charlton, Carl Davies, Steve Margerison, Adam Sutcliffe, Paul Tracey

2006/2007 Committee
President:  Steve Adams
Vice President:  James O’Neill
Secretary:  Darren Swindells
Treasurer:  Ken Eastburn
Committee Members:  Geoff Charlton, Carl Davies, Derek Liddell, Adam Sutcliffe, Paul Tracey

2005/2006 Committee
President:  Steve Adams
Vice President:  Kevin Deakes
Secretary:  Darren Swindells
Treasurer:  Ken Eastburn
Committee Members:  Geoff Charlton, Carl Davies, Derek Liddell, James O’Neill, Adam Sutcliffe

2004/2005 Committee
President:  Steve Adams
Vice President:  Kevin Deakes
Secretary:  Darren Swindells
Treasurer:  Ken Eastburn
Committee Members:  Geoff Charlton, Ian Knowles, Derek Liddell, James O’Neill, Adam Sutcliffe

2003/2004 Committee
President:  Steve Adams
Vice President:  Kevin Deakes
Secretary:  Darren Swindells
Treasurer:  Ken Eastburn
Committee Members:  Geoff Charlton, Ian Knowles, Derek Liddell, James O’Neill

2002/2003 Committee
President:  Steve Adams
Vice President:  Kevin Deakes
Secretary:  Darren Swindells
Treasurer:  Ken Eastburn
Committee Members:  Geoff Charlton, Ian Knowles, Derek Liddell, James O’Neill

2001/2002 Committee
President:  Steve Adams
Vice President:  Kevin Deakes
Secretary:  Darren Swindells
Treasurer:  Ken Eastburn
Committee Members:  Geoff Charlton, Jo Flower, Derek Liddell, Robert Northern, James O’Neill

2000/2001 Committee
President:  Steve Adams
Vice President:  George Benedik
Secretary:  Darren Swindells
Treasurer:  Ken Eastburn
Committee Members:  Sue Benedik, Edwin Colton, Kevin Deakes, Derek Liddell, Louise Rogers

1999/2000 Committee
President:  Steve Adams
Vice President:  George Benedik
Secretary:  Darren Swindells
Treasurer:  Ken Eastburn
Committee Members:  Edwin Colton, Anne-Marie Harrison, Adam Sutcliffe, Derek Liddell (added at Special General Meeting 12/07/1999)


A history of the Sheffield Astronomical Society

The following is a potted history of the Sheffield Astronomical Society, the ups and downs, the bad weather and the clear skies, and most importantly the people involved. The Society was started in April 1934, and the events are recorded to the best of our knowledge below. It is fairly lengthy, and so has been broken down by each decade starting in 1934.

1934 - 1944

The first meeting of the Society was held on the 24th April 1934 at what was the WEA House, Western Bank, Sheffield. This was arranged by Mr Reginald Cox, a Physics Lecturer at Sheffield University. It was attended by fifteen people, four of whom were women. Mr Cox was elected as President, a Mr Bagguely became Secretary, Mr Elliston was Treasurer, along with four other committee members. The subscription was fixed at 2/6d (12.5p) annually and it was decided that the Society would meet once each month except for June, July and August.

At the next meeting in May, the Society received it’s first instrument – a 5″ reflecting telescope donated by a Dr Vincent. The first committee meeting took place at the home of Mr Cox in June when the 1934-35 programme was planned with proposed invitations to three outside speakers and society members providing talks on other evenings. They agreed to have a printed syllabus, purchase a rubber name stamp and start a voluntary telescope fund for purchasing additional eyepieces and other accessories. For such a newly-formed group, they appear to have a very business-like approach to the running of the Society.

May 18th 1935 saw the Society’s first visit which was to the Stoneyhurst Observatory and Meteorological Station. During 1935, Mr Cox wrote an article about the Society which appeared in the local newspapers and attracted several new members. In 1936, it was decided to increase the subscription to 3/6d annually, due in September and paid by December. The purchase was made of a Norton Star Atlas.

The following years followed a similar patters until 1938, when evening rambled were introduced as observing evenings. A total lunar eclipse was observed on the evening of 7th November 1938 reaching it’s maximum at 22:38. Interestingly enough, the meeting of February 1940 was cancelled due to bad weather – some things do not change!

In Setpember 1940, it was decided to start meetings at 18:30 due to the war-time blackouts and difficult travelling conditions. A cup of tea was made available to members to save travelling to and from home before the meeting. Many members left to join the war effort, but always visited when returning on leave. At this time, the first donation of books was received and these formed the nucleus of a proposed library. Due to air-raids on the city, meetings were cancelled over the Winter months and resumed again in June 1941. Reference is made to a letter received from a Society member serving with Montgomery’s forces in Egypt. The letter contains information on observations, and how different the constellations appeared from that latitude. It is also noted that during this time, the absence of street lighting made it possible to conduct observations from the city centre. Once again, no meetings were held over the Winter months. A 4″ refractor with an equatorial mount and wooden stand was donated in 1942, and a 3″ refractor with stand in 1943. The subscription was raised to 5/- (25p) annually, and the first suggestion was made that the Society should operate it’s own Observatory. At this time, membership varied between eight and twelve members.


1944 - 1954

After 1944, members began to return from the War, and the treasurer recorded subscriptions from twenty seven members. A lantern was purchased in 1946 for the use of members giving talks to the Society. A voluntary fund towards the building of an Observatory was started and a 3¾” telescope was donated. Thirty-two guests attended the first annual dinner which was voted a great success. A 4″ clock-driven equatorially mounted telescope was received in 1949. During this time, interested members had been searching for a site and Cowmouth Farm on Hemworth Road opposite Graves Park seemed the most suitable. Later in the year, a 2″ lightweight telescope was presented to the Society by a Mr Portass.

July 1950 saw the retirement of Mr Bagguley who has served as Secretary from the start of the Society fifteen years previously. Plans were being drawn up for the proposed Observatory and presented to the council. This was a very difficult time for any sort of building work, owing to the shortage of materials after the end of the war and any plans were surrounded by red tape and limitations of how much was allowed be spent within a certain time. Eventually, the plans were passed and the construction took place at a cost of £150. This was a substantial sum in those days and was raised entirely by regular donations of 5p and 10p from Society members. A deed for the lease of the land at Cowmouth Farm was signed and included the stipulation that the Society provide a fence to prevent the cattle getting too near the Observatory.

The membership had now reached thirty five and regular use was being made of the Society’s instruments being loaned to members. The Observatory, after much hard work by a small group of dedicated members was opened officially on 27th October 1952 housing the 4″ Hadfield Telescope. All through these years Mr Cox, now an Honorary President continued to give the monthly notes and speak on matters of interest. He always carried a series of slides so if a speaker failed to attend a meeting he was ready to step in and give a talk. There was a regular programme of speakers and outside visits.


1954 - 1964

The Society moved to the Weston Park Museum in 1954 and a Junior section was formed under the Chairmanship of Mr Watson. This met on the 4th Friday of the month and Mr Watson was the chair for the next thirteen years during which time the group flourished, running their own meetings, outings and annual dinners. Including the juniors, the society membership was now seventy and the subscription was 50p annually. This was also the year that a few enthusiastic members decided to construct at 12½” telescope which was installed in the Observatory in time for an official opening by Mr W Brown OBE in September 1956. The regular pattern of meetings and visits continued with the first visit to Greenwich Observatory in May 1958 and a special guest addressing a meeting in 1960. This was Patrick Moore who gave a non-stop lecture about his favourite astronomical object, the Moon. He also autographed two books for the library, but somehow these seem to have disappeared over the years. Perhaps the librarian was not so keen on keeping track of the records!


1964 - 1974

Dr Heinz Muller was elected Society President in May 1967 and served four years after which he was made Honorary President. A very successful symposium attended by fifty three people representing six societies was held at the Friends Meeting House in Sheffield in 1968.

Mr Cox passed away suddenly in January 1969 and this was a great loss to the Society. Not only was he a very skilled lecturer, but he had infinite patience with his students, and a boundless enthusiasm for passing on his own absorbing interest in astronomy to others. His death left a large gap in the Society and he was sadly missed.

As with most Societies, there are quiet periods with not a great deal of new activity, and then an influx of new members bringing fresh ideas. With the election of a new Society President in 1971, a monthly Journal was produced for several months and an observing group started for the study of variable stars, but by the beginning of 1973, interest had dissipated and there was no further mention of them. At this time, the Society moved into a flat period. There was dissension within the Junior Society among the older members who wanted to introduce more modern concepts, but unfortunately there were some very stick-in-the-mud senior members who would not give way. Consequently, there was a loss of interest amongst the junior members and the numbers dwindled. Membership also fell at the senior meetings. Sometimes there were as few as eight visitors, and during 1974 the average attendance was only thirteen.


1974 - 1984

Nora Betts was first elected to the committee at this time and at the AGM, host of the attendees were committee members so the situation was somewhat desperate at this time. Over the next two years, membership began to grow again until there were 20-25 regular attendees, but there was no suggestion of visits or other activities.

The Secretary, Mr Reid passed away suddenly in March 1977 at a comparatively early age. As Nora was already a committee member and was in possession of both a telephone and a typewriter, she was asked to serve as Society Secretary. For some time, the Society had been managed in a haphazard fashion with only one committee meeting each year, poor financial record-keeping and no structure on which to build. Somehow, the Society plodded on and gradually more active younger members joined. Stuart Lonsdale became curator of the Observatory and began the long task of refurbishing the telescope and Observatory. Various members were interviewed on local radio and Mark Ashforth won the Astro-Mind trophy at the event in Pontefract with a lead of nine points. More regular committee meetings were held which enabled the Society to plan more events and activities. The first sponsored meteor watch was held at Norton and raised £50 over two evenings. Public Liability Insurance was taken out to cover members while at the Observatory or on outings. At this time, the Society could not afford to insure the Observatory or equipment. The Society funds stood at £36 in January 1978 and this would not meet expected expenses. The Junior members maintained their own accounts and donated £5 to assist. At the AGM in May 1978, it was proposed that the subscription be raised to £3 for seniors and 50p for Juniors. The Junior meetings on the 4th Friday of each month were to be retitled “Junior and Informal Meeting” to encourage senior members to chat and mix more – something there was no time for at senior lecture meetings.

Stuart Lonsdale was now giving a monthly talk on Radio Sheffield and efforts were made to publicise the Society. Four members visited the 75th Anniversary of the Manchester Astronomical Society on 7th October 1978. Almost as enjoyable as the very interesting programme during the day was the stop at the top of Woodhead Pass to view a beautiful dark, clear sky full of stars. Mark Ashforth had to be dragged away even though he had no telescope with him! The same month, a friendly quiz took place at Chesterfield with Sheffield being the winners and in November, Mark once again claimed the Astro-Mind trophy after a very competitive competition.

The start of 1979 was noteable for the severe weather which caused the cancellation of meetings in January, February and March. Each of these weekends were followed by a thaw which allowed the Junior and Informal meetings to take place and helped to maintain continuity. The 1979 AGM held in May marked an important moment for the Society as Stuart Lonsdale became President – one of the youngest Society Presidents to hold office. From the very first committee meeting, decisions were made to move the Society from just ticking over into top gear. In future, the Treasurer would sit in an obvious position at the door at all meetings so members would know who was responsible for collecting subscriptions and recording attendance. It was decided to run a monthly raffle, and have a donation box for visitors. An auction was planned for the Christmas meeting before the showing of the film. The holding of meetings during June, July and August was considered, as it had been noted that after this bread, some members did not return, especially the Juniors. It was agreed to conduct a valuation of all Society instruments with a view to selling the little used items to enable to Society to purchase more useful ones.

At the next committee meeting the Secretary was able to confirm that the museum authorities had agreed to the meetings during the Summer months. A discussion took place on the valuation received for the surplus equipment. This led to a very acrimonious exchange on the part of the of the older committee members, the same ones who had opposed the changed the Juniors hoped to make in the past. They rarely attended meetings and this did not help with the running of the Society. The Secretary remarked that these items had been stored in the Museum for a number of years unused, and were is a disgraceful state of neglect. Stuart Lonsdale had methodically traced these items and spent a great deal of time and effort cleaning and repairing those it was possible to improve. Eventually it was agreed that another valuation would be obtained. The fact that 1984 would be the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Society was mentioned and that the committee should start to think of a suitable celebration to mark the occasion.

At the monthly meetings, Kim Lindley started to give talks on the monthly notes, copies of which he produced himself. Questionnaires were circulated at the September meeting on 1979 to research what members preferred on the programmes. In October, a very enjoyable visit was made to Greenwich Observatory. The journey was memorable as the driver had never visited London before. Without the guidance of a knowledgeable member, the visit would have been delayed by more than an hour for the meeting with Heather Couper. In her usual lively manner, she gave us a tour of the Observatory and a programme in the Planetarium.

The Vice-President, Frank Cooper introduced a monthly newsletter at the October meeting asking members to submit articles for future copied. This meeting took place at the Physics Department of Sheffield University where David Cotterill gave us a very interesting lecture on telescopes. He also showed us some impressive slides of the latest Jupiter fly-past. A tour of the laboratory and an inspection of the re-assembled 24″ telescope given by Edinburgh University and transported from Italy followed. Sheffield University installed this telescope at the Bole Hill Observatory. Bad weather spoiled the December meteor watch, but the auction was a success raising £60. The membership had risen to 33 by January 1980, while sales of surplus equipment raised a further £150. Society funds were £300 at this time. A competition was organised for the design of a logo for the Society. Unfortunately, there was no response to this. Kim Lindley submitted his own effort which was unanimously approved. Later in the year, letterheads carrying this logo were purchased from a local printer. For a lecture by Dr Heinz Muller in March 1980, there were 42 members present. At this time, discussion was taking place about acquiring a meeting room for the Soceity so activities could be held each evening such as building telescopes, photographic work and so longer meetings could take place. Members were on the look-out for land in which to build, or for existing premises to renovate and many approaches to different people were made. A superb set of plans for the proposed building was drawn up by an architect friend of Stuart Lonsdale. Unfortunately, in spite of visits to various sites and continual badgering of local authorities, nothing suitable was found. During these years, building costs escalated tremendously, as did the cost of heating, lighting and power. Eventually it was decided to concentrate on running the Society as well as possible under the existing conditions until such time as better opportunities present themselves. David Hughes gave at talk to the Society on the preparations that were taking place in the hope of launching a European spacecraft to Halley’s Comet in 1985, a project with which he was closely involved. As usual, he gave a fascinating talk, but little did Society members realise at that time how this project would one day generate such world-wide interest and participation.

At the AGM in May 1980, the finances had grown to £413 thanks to raffles, sponsored meteor watch events and the auction. The subscription was increased to £4 for seniors and £1 for juniors with a 50% reduction is members enrolling after February.

On June 14th members enjoued a very interesting visit to the Cambridge University Observatories and the Mullard Space Research station. Chesterfield Society came to the July meeting and another quiz took place. Sheffield were once again well in the leas this time any everyone agreed it had been a very enjoyable event. September 1980 was a busy month with a visit to Jodrell Bank and a display at the Athersley Community Centre Gala. Stuart Lonsdale and Kim Lindley arranged an impressive display, Walter Wolstenholme demonstrated observing the Sun and Gerry Bower and family ran a ‘Guess the Distance‘ Star competition, which was very popular. The competition along with sales of posters raised £20 and everybody had a lot of fun.

The following Friday was Stuart Lonsdale’s presidential address when he completely carried his audience away with his visual and musical talk entitled ‘Sight and Sounds of the Universe’. This used 204 slides perfectly synchronised with the excerpts of stirring and beautiful music. At the close of his display, the applause was spontaneous and prolonged. This was the first audio-visual production at the meetings and we were all very impressed.

In October, 4 members visited a meeting in Chester of the B.A.A. Inner Planets section. Eighteen members travelled to Chesterfield to take part in another friendly quiz. This
time Chesterfield had their revenge and beat the Sheffield team by 9 points.

The meteor-watch took place at the Telecom sports ground at Loxley over 3 evenings in December. Although it was cloudy at times, members saw meteors on all three evenings. There was a record attendance and the supply of hot drinks, hot pies and sausage rolls served by Shirley Bower encouraged us all in our chilly vigil. Members raised £130. The auction at the following meeting brought in a further £60 and at the March 1981 committee meeting, the Treasurer was able to announce that the bank balance stood at £575, a truly great leap forward from the £21 of
a few years ago. We were now offering T shirts, badges and car-stickers bearing the Society logo for sale. During April, Kim Lindley and Stuart Lonsdale went on holiday to Malta and attended a meeting arranged by the island’s astronomical societies, specially for their visit. This was the first time the societies had got together. The visitors received tremendous hospitality and returned with a list of names of people who wished to correspond with our members.

At the 1981 AGM in May the Treasurer reported a balance of £605. The Secretary said an average of 49 members had attended the very varied lectures and the curator reported the Observatory had now been completely renovated.

Walter Wolstenholm, a long-time member of the Society, past President and Treasurer was made the first Life Member and presented with a framed certificate. After much discussion amongst members, the subscription was raised to £4.50 for seniors and £1.50 for juniors. A report was read of the exhibition that had been mounted in the City during National Astronomy week
which marked the anniversary of Herschel’s discovery of Uranus. A superb effort was put on by Stuart Lonsdale and Kim Lindley at the Midland Bank, Church Street, which roused a lot of interest and for which they were highly commended by the public and the bank officials. A new bookcase was made for the library. There was a visit to the London Planetarium and Science Museum on the 13th June attended by a group of 36 members and friends. This co-incided with the Trooping of the Colour for the Queen’s official birthday parade. On the return journey, the driver gave members a tour past Buckingham Palace, Marble Arch etc. Members had enjoyed their day and gave the organiser a vote of thanks. 22 members to attended the Norton Observatory on the 20th July 1981 to view the extensive renovation which had taken place over the previous three years. A transformation had indeed taken place and the curator was congratulated and thanked most warmly by members who could appreciate the continuous work he had given to this task. At the meetings, a notice board was introduced to carry items of interest and information. We now had 70 paid-up members. After Stuart Lonsdale had given his excellent Presidential address in September, Dennis Ashton in his vote of thanks said that the terms fanatic and extremist were normally considered derogatory, but when applied to Stuart, contained nothing but admiration for his work for the Society and his ambition to make it one of the best in the country. He hoped members would support him in his efforts to achieve this goal.

A very interesting meeting of the B.A.A. Inner Planets Section was held at Sheffield University in October and the Society were asked to mount an exhibition. This was a very well attended meeting with visitors from different parts of the country. The Society was congratulated on the quality of the displays that had been mounted. The December meteor watch was blanketed out by tremendous blizzards, but the auction raised £47.

At the AGM in May 1982, it was decided to make a donation of £10 to the HMS Sheffield fund for relatives of the men killed in this ship in the Falklands War. The President said that Kim Lindley had won the art competition at the Convention of the Federation of Astronomical Societies at Coventry with his painting entitled ‘Space Messenger’. The Secretary reported that meetings had been well-attended and a number of very interesting speakers had addressed the Society. Finances were very satisfactory and an 8″ reflector had been received as a donation and a 3″ Fullerscope refractor had been purchased very economically. The 25th Anniversary of the Cox Telescope had received publicity in the local paper with an article and a photograph.

An interesting visit took place in June to the Finningley Air Station where members were given a comprehensive tour explaining the scientific training in navigation given to air-crews, including the use of computers. We inspected the hangars used for the repair of air-sea rescue helicopters and were able to scramble in and out of various models. We watched from the flight control tower as planes landed and took off. Younger members enjoyed clambering over the fire-fighting foam sprayers and also trying on the firemen’s helmets. The returning coach journey was memorable for the torrential thunder storms.

The monthly notes for June were printed on our newly acquired duplicating machine which had been donated by Alf Greenwood. John Peckett completed building the approach steps to the Observatory, making the access much easier and safer. In the top step he enclosed a capsule containing details about the Society. A quarterly magazine, entitled ‘The Astronomical Observer’, was produced for the September 1982 meeting. Also in September, 21 members were privileged to visit the works of Edward Pryor Son, to see how the wonderful plaques that have been on offer at our Christmas auctions were produced. This was a fascinating visit following the various processes involved in the manufacture of the high-quality signs which are used on motorways, the outside of buildings, on board Navy ships and armaments. These signs are exported all over the world and are guaranteed to last over 20 years. The enthusiasm of the staff, who had all volunteered to stay over, added to the enjoyment of the evening. Everyone joined in the thanks to Phil Baxter, a society member who had so kindly organised the visit, and who had provided the plaques for the auction, for a number of years, thereby raising over £200 for the Society funds. About this time, committee members had visited the Friend’s Meeting House at Hartshead and it was agreed to book this for the 1984 Seminar. Heather Couper had been approached to be our main Speaker and she had accepted. This year, Sheffield Society was host for the Astro-Mind competition held at the Beaver Hill School in October. 57 people attended, 33 from visiting societies. The competition studio, entitled “the torture chamber” by the contestants, was well equipped with ample seating, a small stage and theatrical lighting. Six societies were represented and there was a large display area which was most colourful with photographs, posters,
magazines etc. The atmosphere of the contest was tense and the standard was very high, making it a very close finish. Dr. Muller, our Honorary President presented the cup to the winner, who was the Doncaster representative. The Secretary received many congratulations on behalf of the Society for the efficient manner in which the day had been organised, the superb refreshments
presided over by Shirley Bower, helped by volunteers and the agreeable atmosphere generated by all our willing helpers. After the visitors left, a rather weary group had the job of dismantling all the display boards, clearing up any litter and packing up our exhibits. Wilf Naylor kindly returned the display boards in his van and we felt another milestone had been passed in the
history of the Society and one which had been very successful and worthwhile.

The 1982 meteorwatch was held at the Loxley sports grounds and the Saturday was a good night with 26 members attending. As usual, Shirley was kept busy supplying refreshments. Unfortunately, thick fog descended on the Sunday. There were 59 members at the Auction meeting, a record attendance and £70 was raised.

At the 1983 AGM, the Secretary reported that an average of 45 members had attended the 20 meetings which had been addressed by very interesting speakers on a variety of astronomical subjects. As well at the successful Astro-Mind competition, members had visited the Federation convention at Coventry, the new Sheffield University Observatory at Bole Hill and a friendly quiz meeting with Chesterfield, at Sheffield. Preparations were going ahead for the 1984 Seminar, with notices inserted in relevant publications.

Numerous speakers had been approached and societies all over the country had received details of the proposed programme. The Treasurer reported that the Society funds stood at £500, the Librarian said many new books had been acquired, – some from donations from members and others from the book club membership. An observing group had been started and Steve Drinkall was hoping
to provide literature at meetings, to encourage members’ interests. After much discussion, some rather heated, the annual subscriptions were increased to £5 for seniors and £2.50 for juniors. All the committee members were re-elected. The June and July meetings were informal, were well attended and with the junior members playing their part. Mark Ashforth gave a very interesting talk and Andrew Wild showed his slides. About this time, Kim Lindley and Nora Betts were interviewed on Radio Sheffield by Michael Cook, who showed much interest in the Society. This publicity resulted in recruiting some new members. The first August Open Meeting was a success, with nearly 90 people attending the colourful and varied display achieved by the hard work of
both junior and senior members. The Press attended and an article and photographs appeared in the local paper. As part of the preparations for the anniversary seminar, Nora Betts wrote to the Lord Mayor inviting him to honour us at the event. Nora received a reply from his clerk requesting her to attend an interview at the Town Hall with his Secretary to discuss
the matter. Unfortunately the Lord Mayor had a prior engagement, however after asking Nora about the Society, he asked if the Society would like the Lord Mayor to give them a Civic Reception on the Friday evening before the seminar. Once details were agreed, an announcement was made at the September meeting. At the same meeting, Stuart Lonsdale gave his fifth Presidential address and as usual, had his audience enthralled with his talk and beautiful slides on ‘Astronomy-Window on the Universe’. During this month, 5 members attended the opening of the new Rosse Observatory belonging to the West Yorkshire Society at Pontefract. The event was well attended and the Countess of Rosse, her son, Lord Rosse, Sir Bernard Lovell, his wife and Patrick Moore, were guests of honour at the opening ceremony. Patrick Moore gave one of his usual breezy and informative talks afterwards. This observatory was achieved by the hard work and enthusiasm of just a few members and is well worth a visit. Their President, Derek Hufton, is well known among amateur astronomers and has visited our events and also given talks to the Society.

On behalf of the Huddersfield Society, Beaver Hill Society was again the venue for the Astro-mind competition in October. This means a lot of hard work for our committee, but it was another successful meeting attended by 51 people. As usual, tension was high during the competition and this year, it was won by a Salford member. The Huddersfield President, Mr Heppenstall, gave a vote of thanks for the organising of the event and once again the refreshment ladies received much applause for their efforts.

The November meeting was addressed by our Honorary President, Dr. Heinz Muller and the informal meetings had talks by junior members Janet Bower and Simon Greenwood. The Christmas auction raised over £50.


1984 - 1994

1984 started with a very interesting lecture from Professor Cole of Hull University, followed in March by Alan Heath’s talk on ‘Saturn’. The Huddersfield Secretary gave an interesting description of the building of their Observatory at the March meeting. The informal meetings were addressed by junior members and Vice-President Gerry Bower, with his musically illustrated
talks on various planets.

The evening of the 6th April saw a group of 65 members and partners attending the Civic Reception at the Town Hall. The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress greeted everyone as they arrived. This was a most enjoyable evening with a superb buffet beautifully presented, a background of light music played on a grand piano and members circulating and making the acquaintance of the
wives or husbands who do not usually attend meetings. The Lord Mayor gave a short welcoming address, to which Stuart Lonsdale replied. Kim Lindley then presented the Lord Mayor with his painting of his impression of Halley’s comet which the Lord Mayor was delighted to accept. He said his father had often told him of seeing the comet when he was a boy. Derek Fellows took
photographs and everyone agreed it had been a very happy event.

Very early next morning, the committee members were at the Friends Meeting House preparing for the Anniversary Seminar. The trade stands soon arrived and took their place in the basement. The event was attended by 152 people. The President opened the meeting and welcomed everyone, especially our guest of honour, Mrs Liv Cox, the widow of the founder of the Society, Mr Reginald Cox. She was clearly delighted to be there and was pleased to receive a bouquet of flowers presented by Janet Bower. She had been at the very first meeting of the Society and had also attended the Meeting House as a Quaker member with her husband since it was first built. Mr. Watson, a past President, gave a resume of the history of the Society and then introduced the first speaker, Dr. David Hughes. His talk was followed by a coffee break which enabled members to visit the trade stands and also chat with other visitors. The second speaker was Bob Christie who was introduced by Dr. Lamb. During the lunch break, a superb buffet arranged by Shirley Bower and helpers, was enjoyed by the Speakers, the committee and the trade
stand organisers. Shirley had also baked a Special cake and as she prepared to cut this, the President gave her a vote of thanks and the Secretary presented her with flowers. The afternoon began with Denis Ashton, another past-President, introducing Nigel Henbest as the next speaker. He had already published a book on his subject ‘The New Astronomy’ and members who purchased
this were able to have it autographed. The programmes had been numbered and during the tea break the president announced the winning number which belonged to a member from the Mexborough and Swinton Society. He was delighted to be presented with one of our special plaques showing the front page of the New York Times describing the landing on the Moon. Kim Lindley ran a light-
hearted film at this time. Our friend, Rosemary Naylor then introduced Professor Cole of Hull University, who at very short notice had driven down to take the place of Patrick Moore, who had been taken ill. He gave a comprehensive talk on the ‘Outer Solar System’ and like all the other Speakers through the day, received sustained applause from his audience. Before the meeting closed, the President said he wished to pay tribute to the Secretary for the many years of hard work she had cheerfully undertaken on behalf of the Society, and especially in helping to organise our celebrations of the Anniversary. Heather Couper then presented Nora Betts with a Certificate of Life Membership of the Society. All day the committee, helpers and junior members had been busy. Some selling magazines, posters etc. Kim Lindley had been glued to the slide projector, Derek Fellows taking photographs, the catering section washing up, serving, clearing away and washing up again. We were all glad to have a breather before the evening lecture and while some had time to go home, others enjoyed a quiet meal organised and brought in for us by Alf Greenwood from a local restaurant. At the evening lecture, Stuart Lonsdale introduced Heather Couper, our ‘star’ speaker. She gave her ‘Exploding Galaxies and Cosmic Dragons’ talk with her usual animated manner and was very well received. Before the meeting closed, the Secretary thanked everyone for coming to the seminar and sharing this happy occasion. She also thanked all the helpers and gave special mention of Stuart Lonsdale , without whose vision and hard work, the Society would not have been in the position to hold this event. He received deserved applause from everyone present. A very generous donation of £100 was received from Mrs Cox in memory of her husband. A profit of nearly £200 was made on the Seminar and the sales of the special edition of the ‘Astronomical Observer’. The President wrote to everyone who had helped thanking them personally for their support and the Secretary wrote to all the Speakers, to thank them for attending.

The exhibition at the Museum was very successful and a competition organised for the children received 192 entries, deposited in a special posting box made by Gerry Bower. The 3 winners were presented with a book, a year’s free membership of the Society and a visit to the Observatory. A film show on the Sunday had a good attendance and Darren Swindells made £11 selling posters. All the events at the Museum had entailed a lot of organising on the part of the committee members.

At the May AGM, the Secretary gave her report including an account of the anniversary celebrations. She said that the main drive and direction had come from the President – Stuart Lonsdale, and the Vice-President, Gerry Bower presented him with a model weather satellite barometer on behalf of the Society to show their appreciation. For once, Stuart was almost speechless with
surprise, but was very pleased. Steve Drinkall as Librarian, reported that we now had 112 books in the library. The June and July meetings were informal nights with talks from our own members. The Open meeting in August was most disappointing as only 16 members attended and there were only 11 visitors. However, those present had a very pleasant evening with lots of
discussions amongst themselves.

The September meeting was the 50th Presidential address and it took place on exactly the same monthly date as the very first Presidential address. At this meeting, enrolment forms were introduced so that the Society had a record of member’s addresses, hobbies etc. The President gave another very interesting address, this time entitled ‘The Changing Face of the Moon’.

In a torrential rainstorm, 23 members set off by coach for London on the 29th September. Members attended a performance at the Planetarium, after which, some went off to do their ‘own
thing’ and the rest visited the Science Museum, which absorbed their interest for the rest of the day.

During this year, a duplicating machine and two typewriters had been acquired very cheaply through the good offices of Alf Greenwood and so the monthly notes were able to appear again, produced by Darren Swindells and Andrew Green.

In October, 11 members visited the West Yorkshire Society who were the hosts for the Astro-mind competition. Our contestant was Simon Greenwood and from the first round, it was evident that the battle was between him and the Bradford contestant. The atmosphere was quite tense as first one and then the other drew ahead. At the end, only one point gave Steve Bell the cup and
there were 12 points between Simon and the next competitor. West Yorkshire provided their usual hospitality and everyone agreed it had been an enjoyable afternoon.

The December auction meeting raised £67 and was followed by an interesting NASA documentary about the planet Mercury.

After the very busy year of the 50th Anniversary, we had thought we might have a quieter year in 1985, but January saw the committee already making plans for activities during National Astronomy week, which this year, was to have the return of Halley’s Comet as its theme.

Rosemary Naylor started the year off well for us with a most comprehensive talk on the life of Edmund Halley, which was very well received. The meeting in April was joined by members of the Sheffield Photographic Society to listen to Mike Maunder lecturing on astro-photography. He is well- known as an amateur astronomer and a photographer who has travelled world-wide to study his subject. Having several qualifications in chemistry has enabled him to invent simpler methods of developing and printing films, without a lot of expensive equipment, to a very high standard. His audience of over 80 people gave him their full attention as he showed high quality slides of constellations, eclipses and deep sky objects, some of which had earned him high financial rewards and which appeared regularly in publications around the world. After a busy question and answer session, the President of the Sheffield Photographic Society thanked the hosts and the speaker for such an interesting evening and Derek Fellows gave a vote of thanks to Mike, saying that as a professional photographer, he had now been inspired to go home and
try astro-photography.

The President, Stuart Lonsdale, retired from office at the AGM in May and the Secretary presented him with a Certificate as Honorary President for Life. She stressed the continuous hard work that he had done on behalf of the Society and said whilst they had not always been in complete agreement at committee meetings, this had not affected her opinion of his vision and drive
which had led to such an improvement in the state of the Society. Derek Fellows had to retire as Publicity Officer owing to pressure of work and the President thanked him for his past efforts on behalf of the Society. Kim Lindley was welcomed by the Secretary on his election as President. She said that since becoming a member in 1972, he had continually supported the Society,
both as a member of the junior committee and then as a senior. The good condition of all our instruments both tribute to his continuing care. He had assisted in the production of the monthly magazine which ran successfully for some time as well as the monthly notes and the printing of programmes. His artistic expertise had been used in the mounting of several exhibitions.

During the summer, the Education Resources Centre, who had printed some Society posters for us very cheaply and circulated them around the schools, kindly printed information sheets about our proposed activities during National Astronomy Week. 500 of these were again circulated to schools. This created a lot of interest and resulted in some people visiting the Society even before
the advertised events.

The Open Meeting in August was better attended this year, as it had received publicity and Kim Lindley had spoken on Radio Sheffield. There was an informative display and the Vice-President, Gerry Bower, gave a short description of the Societies activities, followed by an illustrated introduction to the Solar System and Outer Space. Many visitors mentioned to the Secretary how much they had enjoyed the evening. For his Presidential Address entitled ‘Astronomy – it‘s not just a question of looking through a Telescope‘, Kim Lindley gave a comprehensive description of his involvement in Astronomy, through the building of telescopes, regular observing with detailed records, astro-photography, studying books and magazines and visiting various Societies, all illustrated with slides and examples of his work. He received enthusiastic applause and a vote of thanks from Wilf Naylor for his very enlightening approach to Astronomy.

Also in September, a visit was made to the Newton Chapel Observatory buildings at Stoke-on-Trent by a coach-load of members and friends. This small complex built by the Pace Brothers over many years, showed what could be achieved by enthusiastic amateurs. We heard of the future aspirations from one of the brothers including the hope of much further expansion to enable them
to take school parties and more visitors. After thanking our host, we were driven to Jodrell Bank – a somewhat larger astronomical centre. We had a very interesting introductory talk and then were taken on a fascinating tour of research facilities available to Manchester University staff and students. Later, we were able to tour the public displays and as it was a warm, sunny
afternoon, many members took advantage of the picnic site in the attractive arboretum to have refreshments. In the evening twilight, the journey over the Pennines was breathtaking. Once again, Alf Greenwood received our thanks for the organising of the day.

The 26th October saw Gerry Bower chauffeuring his wife, two Society members and Darren Swindells, our representative, to the Astro-Mind competition, hosted by the Leeds Astronomical Society, at the Leeds Polytechnic. We greeted many friends from the 7 other Societies taking part. As usual, the standard was very high and although Darren did not bring back the cup, he had made a very
worthwhile contribution. It was voted a very pleasant meeting.

November 1985 was a busy month with the Observatory open for 7 very, very cold nights, most of which were clear, 2 public lectures and 2 exhibitions in Building Society windows. Approximately 500 people visited the Observatory, most of whom managed to glimpse Halley’s comet, as well as the Milky Way, various nebulae and planets. Members were kept busy directing the parking, helping visitors to use the various telescopes and showing them the Observatory. Although most of the committee worked very hard, special thanks were given to Steve Drinkall, the Curator, who was there every night, very early and very late and who showed infinite patience with the most trying of visitors. Junior members also played their part during these evenings.

The first public lecture, given by Dr. John Dyson of Manchester University, was entitled ‘Blow thou Astrophysical Wind’ and accompanied by a selection of beautiful slides. He explained how these winds helped in the formation of the Universe and their effect on comets. There was an attendance of 100 people and after a lively question and answer session, he was given resounding applause. The following Friday, another audience of 100 heard the Honorary President, Stuart Lonsdale, give a detailed and informative talk on Edmund Halley’. This very gifted scientist’s life provided a wealth of fascinating material, as his interests and capabilities were so diverse. Stuart also talked about the Comet and he received so many interesting questions, the meeting had to draw rather hurriedly to a close, but not before he had received prolonged applause. These lectures, the open observatory nights and the shop-window displays, brought us several new members.

The December auction raised a sum of £92 after much persuasion on the part of the auctioneer and his helpers. Instead of the usual film, the auction was followed by a small buffet of wine and seasonal refreshments provided by members, who had also invited a partner to come along. Members were able to chat and relax and wish each other the usual greetings for Christmas and the
New Year, sentiments which were endorsed by the President before the meeting closed.

1986 started off well with a very lively, up-to-the-minute talk by one of our own members – Tim Naylor – who was doing research at Oxford University. He described the use of satellites and spectroscopy in his work and the visits made at short notice to Germany, South Africa, to view galactic outbursts. This explained the title of his talk – ‘Super Outbursts and Galactic Telephone Calls’.

The February meeting was also a lively event, with the ever-popular Ken Walton giving his talk on ‘Lightning’. His knowledgeable and witty discourse was accompanied by explosive sound effects on his self-invented equipment.

The informal meetings were well attended and Steve Drinkall’s talks on the constellations were very popular and Darren’s monthly notes were helpful to members. The Vice-President, Gerry Bower, (who presided at these meetings) and some junior members, also gave interesting talks.

At the AGM in May, committee members gave reports of the activities over the year. All were satisfactory, including finances. Committee members were re-elected, except for the Treasurer, Alf Greenwood, who had to resign, owing to increased travelling for his work. His efforts for the Society had been much appreciated over the years. Brian Walters volunteered to take on this task and Wilf Naylor agreed to become assistant Curator and projectionist. At the following informal meeting Steve Drinkall described the trials and tribulations of building his own telescope and observatory in his own humorous manner, accompanied by slides which showed what a satisfactory outcome had been achieved.

Brian Walters had disappointing news for us at the next committee meeting, as he had received an unexpected promotion which entailed him moving to London. So, once again, the Society was without a Treasurer.

A visit to Greenwich took place on a bright sunny day in June, during which, members had a conducted tour of the Observatory and a planetarium presentation. The rest of the day they toured the museum and places of local interest. A short tour of the City sights preceded the journey back to Sheffield, where the sun was still shining.

45 people visited the Open Night in August and showed keen interest in the displays of instruments. After a welcome from the President, Kim Lindley, and a short talk about the Society’s activities, Gerry Bower gave an introduction to Astronomy concluding with slides of Jupiter accompanied by the appropriate excerpt from The Planets Suite by Gustav Holst.

For the subject of his Presidential address in September, Kim chose ‘The Outer Planets’. This was prompted by the fact that the following Tuesday was the anniversary of the discovery of Neptune. His description of this and the discoveries of Uranus and Pluto, along with their satellites, was received with great interest by his audience of 52 members. In spite of trouble with the projector, he coped in a very professional manner and members showed their appreciation.

The 35th Anniversary of the opening of the Observatory was celebrated by an open weekend. The event was well patronised by members and the public, though only the Saturday was really good for viewing, but visitors on the Sunday seemed interested in seeing the telescope.

The October meeting, while memorable for a superb eclipse of the Moon, was rather a sad occasion, as the friend driving the speaker from Lancashire, had a heart attack at Glossop and died on the way to hospital. Stuart Lonsdale stepped in and with the use of Society slides, gave an interesting talk on the Sun and Solar flares.

Chris Lamb was our contestant for the Astra-mind competition which was held in October at Bradford. Seven other societies took part and as usual, all contestants were of high calibre and marks were very close. Chris did not come back with the cup, but he represented us very well. It was a very enjoyable occasion.

In November, Millie Naylor, who had volunteered to become Treasurer, was welcomed to the committee, especially by the Secretary who had been endeavouring to cope with both duties since May.

61 people attended the November meeting to hear one of our most popular speakers, Dr David Hughes, of Sheffield University. Having been part of the Giotto project team, David was able to bring us up to date on the latest details of the research on Halley’s Comet. Members showed their appreciation of his expert presentation and superb slides.

Only 40 members attended the December auction meeting, but the sum of £92 was raised. As last year, it was followed by a light buffet of wine and refreshments and lots of good wishes, bringing our 1986 meetings to a pleasant close.

Our January senior meeting in 1987 had to be cancelled because of the Arctic weather, but the informal meeting was a very good evening with Gerry Bower and Steve Drinkall each giving a superb talk with musical accompaniment. Gerry’s talk concerned the MOon and Earth as seen from space with beautiful slides and Steve’s was in ‘memory of the Shuttle launch which ended so
tragically the year before.

The following senior meetings were addressed by our own Society members and the talks given by Ray Ward, Keith Atkin and Stuart Lonsdale were very interesting and informative. The informal meetings were well attended and we had interesting, as well as rather unusual, talks.

During the Winter months, many hours of tedious work had been put in by Steve Drinkall and Wilf Naylor overhauling and building a new telescope drive for the Observatory. This work had been highly praised by all who have since had the opportunity to handle the telescope.

Only 30 members attended the 1987 AGM in May. Subscription increases were discussed owing to the rise in the cost of postage, insurance, stationery, telephone calls etc. It was agreed that Seniors should pay £5.50 per year, Juniors £2.75 and visitors 40p per night, from September. Ted Bailey was given a honorary subscription for the following year, in appreciation of his fundraising efforts over many years. This year alone he raised £70 by his sponsored meteor watch. The Secretary mentioned that he had been a loyal supporter of all Society events during his years of membership. The election of committee members took place and Steve Drinkall, Gerry Bower, Wilf Naylor, Darren Swindells and Andrew Green were re-elected to their previous positions. Lilian Keen was elected as Secretary and Millie Naylor as Treasurer. On the resignation of Kim Lindley as President, Nora Betts was elected and became the first female President of the Society. Kim agreed to carry on as Curator of instruments.


1994 - 2004

TBC


2004 - 2014

TBC


2014 -

TBC

Notes:
Cowmouth Farm / Dairy
The business was sold to Amos Knowles in 1959 who was then living at the farm and this became Express Dairies when Mr Knowles retired and then the Association of Co-Operative Creameries and the Dairy Farmers of Britain until the site was sold and planning permission for a housing development was sought.

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