Salford Astronomical Society

Members of a stargazing society in Salford celebrated the 50th anniversary of their observatory with the unveiling of a newly refurbished 18-inch telescope.

The Salford Astronomical Society celebrated 50 years since the opening of their observatory with guest speakers, face paintings and more.

Pride of place was the Newtonian Telescope that has recently been revamped and updated.

Gary Yule, the chair of the society, said: “We wanted to upgrade our telescope as it only tracked in one direction.

“So, we have now installed another motor drive which is all rigged up to a smaller computer box, this computer basically has catalogues of the night sky in it, and once this telescope is aligned, we will be able to see all the corners of the sky.

“This then means we will be able to tell the scope where we want it to go.

“If we wanted to see Saturn, all we would need to do is click a button and the telescope will then move to that target.”

Lorraine Paterson

Located on Chasesly Field, the observatory officially opened back in 1971.

One of the directors of the society, Gareth Leaver, said: “Salford Astronomical Society was formed back in the 60’s, the group used to meet at Chasesly House, they didn’t have an observatory and they didn’t even have a telescope.

“Then in 1970, Jodrell Bank approached the society and asked if they would like an 18-inch Newtonian telescope and of course they said yes.

“They soon realised that they didn’t actually have anywhere to put it, so Salford City Council approached them and basically built the observatory, it then opened in 1971, 50 years ago.”

The 18″ Newtonian Telescope

Tony O’Sullivan (68), a long-serving member of the society, added: “The telescope has now come into the 21st century, and hopefully it’s going to be used by the people of Salford for many years to come.

“I find it fascinating that we are able to look at something that is billions of light-years away.

“That fact that we are able to look at the night sky with our own eyes and see these things for ourselves, that’s simply amazing.”

Despite being open for five decades, those in the society have said that there are still a lot of Salfordians who don’t know about the group.

Lorraine Paterson, who is a new member of the society, said: “We’re very privileged to have an observatory here in Salford and that is why we are celebrating 50 years of the society being in place.

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“I am very new to the group but they have been so welcoming, and it’s great to share a similar passion with so many people, especially here tonight.

“Every week I look forward to coming down to the observatory, and I am even more excited to see the refurbished telescope.”

Lorraine continued: “I have lived in Salford all of my life and I had no idea there was an observatory here until my friend had told me about it.

“I think it’s important that we see more people get involved in the society, the directors here are especially eager about opening up to others.

“It would be great to see schools and younger people come to our observatories, it’s really educational and there’s so much more to discover out there in our universe.”

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