Salford Astronomical Society have secured council funding that will open up a universe of opportunities for the local community.

The £3500 grant, along with funding from an affiliate partner, Kids in Space, will allow the society to update their telescope and facilities.

The renovations will allow the telescope to be accessed remotely from a computer. Chairman Gary Yule said: “It’ll be able to be accessed remotely by schools, community groups and our members.

“It’s a tracking telescope so it actually tracks with the rotation of the earth. We can rig it to a planetarium software… and click it to what we want to look at, and the telescope will go to that by itself.”

SAS telescope with Orion in view.
Image credit- Gareth Lever

The society plans on linking with local schools and the University of Salford to provide access for research they may wish to conduct.

Lockdown has provided some much-needed time and space at the observatory to carry out additional renovations.

Director Gareth Lever, a builder, is currently updating the building with the help of other members of the society.

He said: “That’s the great thing about this society, we all have our individual skills and that’s my forte. That’s what I do for a living, renovations.

“The dome is the most important part of the building really. We’ve been stripping back all the layers and layers of paint and repainting it.”

The dome is currently moved by hand when the telescope moves. However, as part of their renovations, the society are fitting a motor to allow it to be controlled remotely.”

Additionally, Salford Astronomical Society have recently joined NASA’s STEAM Innovation Labs network, as one of only 14 outposts worldwide.

“It’s all about taking small spaces and turning them into what they call maker spaces.

“So, we’ve taken out observatory and another premises we have with our affiliates, Kids in Space, and basically filled them out with tech.” , said Gary.

Salford Astronomical Society encourage anyone who’s interested in astronomy and space to get in touch, regardless of prior knowledge.

Gary and Gareth both highlighted the upcoming conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on 21 December as an unmissable event. It has been 800 years since the two planets were so close.

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