The AstroFair held at the Norman Lockyer Observatory on Salcombe Hill in Sidmouth on Saturday, June 29 was a successful and enjoyable event, offering a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages.

Enthusiastic and well-informed volunteers described the workings of the various historic telescopes on the site, and there were free Planetarium shows. The sunny day provided the opportunity to demonstrate safe solar observing with special Hydrogen Alpha telescopes. At the Lockyer Technology Centre there were various demonstrations, including ones of meteor and lightening detection. Photographer Stephen Raff set up his booth and offered delightful Victorian photography sessions using traditional techniques. There were also trade stalls selling telescopes and other astronomy-related products, and activities for children.

Jenny Cahill from Exeter was there with her family and said: “We found it fascinating to have our photograph taken using techniques dating back to Victorian times, and the children loved the science experiments and scavenger trail.”

There were lectures from leading experts including Mike Foulkes of the British Astronomical Association, who gave a talk on Saturn, and retired NASA scientist Dr Garry Hunt who hosted a question and answer session about his work.

Paul Adamson, Chair of the Somerset Levels Stargazers said: “It's an excellent event and I'm enjoying the camaraderie and connecting with like-minded people.”

Visitor Marni Youens from Seaton attended a lecture by Carolyn Kennett, the Chair of the Society of History of Astronomy, on Archaeoastronomy, which links astronomy with standing stones and sacred sites in Devon and Cornwall. Marni said: “It was a very interesting lecture, and I also enjoyed using the solar telescope.”

David Strange, Chair of the Norman Lockyer Observatory said: “We are delighted by the success of the Astrofair. We had over 280 visitors on the day, and something to offer everyone from experienced astronomers to people who'd just like to broaden their knowledge about this fascinating subject. Many thanks to all our volunteers who made the event such a success.”

Upcoming events at the Observatory include the ever-popular Perseid meteor watching and storytelling session on August 14.

For more details of upcoming events, visit