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Learn more about the sky at night

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: February 05, 2014

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ASHBOURNE stargazers are being invited to learn more about the night sky in National Astronomy Week, which runs from March 1 to March 8.

The White Peak Astronomical Observing Group (WPAOG) is holding two events to help people understand more, and maybe even get the chance to spot Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, or the Andromeda galaxy.

Both events are free to attend, and are being held just outside Wirksworth, at the StarDisc in Stoney Wood, on Saturday, March 1 and Saturday, March 8.

The events start at 4pm, with observations of the sun through WPAOG solar telescopes, and after sunset visitors will have the chance to use a variety of telescopes to view Jupiter and deep space objects such as distant galaxies.

WPAOG members will be on hand to help people find their way around the night sky, and there is an additional helpful resource - the StarDisc, a 40 foot granite star chart mirroring the night sky of the northern hemisphere.

It is inscribed with the constellations and an illustration of the Milky Way, and is surrounded by 12 seats representing the months of the year. By night 72 lights illuminate the StarDisc, powered by, of course, the Sun.

On March 1 the night sky will be virtually free of interference from the moon, but on the March 8 the moon will be on view – allowing for good close ups of the surface using the powerful telescopes available.

The WPAOG is based close to Ashbourne (at Hopton Hall), and has close ties with the QEGS astronomy group.

The events are weather dependant, so people are advised to check the group’s website after 12 noon on the dates before making plans.

Further details can be found at www.wpaog.co.uk where there are also directions to the StarDisc.

More information on the StarDisc itself is available online at www.stardiscenterprise.co.uk

For more information on National Astronomy Week, including other events in February and March, go to www.astronomyweek.org.uk

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