About the Club
Fordingbridge Astronomers was founded in 2012 by Paul, Duncan, Steve and Paula. It was an exciting time for astronomy, with stunning images beamed back to earth from the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA's martian rovers Spirit and Opportunity, and “Pop-astro” presenter Brian Cox engaging new generations of the public through popular TV shows. We started off meeting in a small corner of The Crown pub in Fordingbridge, with the clear goal of engaging the local community and getting science into the parts where it hadn't reached before.
Very early on we started offering stargazing events to local groups, organisations and the local community. We hosted an official Stargazing Live event which was attended by over 200 people, showing the level of excitement and interest the hobby can generate. Our members continue to be involved with stargazing sessions for all sorts of groups and frequently help Scouts achieve their Astronomy badges. We often attend local shows like Frogham Fair, and have participated in “International SUNday”, on the closest Sunday to the summer solstice, showing the public how to safely observe the sun.
Since the beginning the club has grown dramatically and taken on many varied activities to promote science understanding and share the enjoyment of the night sky with the whole local community. Our monthly meetings are an essential part of what we do, with a range of guest speakers from all over the country (and even from abroad). These meetings also give new members an opportunity to meet the club and “put names to faces” in the light (difficult to do at the stargazing sessions!). We have a great depth of knowledge within the club and our mission is to be approachable and friendly. No question is too simple! Our meetings have always been held at meeting rooms in the pub, as we feel the friendly welcoming atmosphere, enjoying a drink with friends, is a fundamental part of what the club is about.
We also regularly organise stargazing meet ups, usually around the moonless weekends each month, at one of our observing locations around the area. We are at the mercy of the British weather, meaning sometimes plans have to be changed at short notice. However, stargazing together as a group is a great way to enhance the enjoyment of the night sky and we do our best to get together as often as we can.
In 2020, when Covid put a stop to face to face meetings, we transformed into an online club. Today, we continue to offer online access to all our meetings capturing a whole new audience who may otherwise have difficulty attending in person.
In addition to our regular monthly meetings, small groups of members will often arrange to meet online to discuss particular topics: for instance, the imagers love to share tips and tricks with the latest processing software, which other club members may not be interested in, and this works best in a small group setting.
Fordingbridge Astronomers members have access to a private Discord server for chat, information resources and posting images. Discord was originally devised for online gamers to share info and chat about the games they play, but it's functionality and adaptability make it ideal for an astronomy club too. Non-members have access to only a few of the channels but once you join there is a wealth of content available - and you can contribute too.
Fordingbridge Astronomers also have a public Instagram and YouTube channel where, as part of our community outreach, we share images and updates with anyone interested in the night sky. Members also have access to our Facebook group and two WhatsApp groups - one for general chat and the other for updates about observation alerts, such as aurora, get-togethers or a new supernova.