Sidmouth Astronomy Fair embraces Galileo anniversary

PUBLISHED: 13:12 14 August 2009 | UPDATED: 09:57 18 June 2010

IT WAS an appropriate year to hold the fourth Astronomy Fair at Norman Lockyer Observatory, Sidmouth, as 2009 marks the 400th anniversary of the year Galileo turned a telescope on the heavens.

IT WAS an appropriate year to hold the fourth Astronomy Fair at Norman Lockyer Observatory, Sidmouth, as 2009 marks the 400th anniversary of the year Galileo turned a telescope on the heavens.

Dr Petar Goulev from NLO, dressed as Galileo for the occasion, which attracted more than 400 visitors on Saturday.

"We started with a room and one trade stand and lectures," said Kathleen Dollery, a NLO director and fair organiser.

The following year a large marquee was filled with trade stands and this year more than ever booked spaces.

The Institute of Physics put on experiments for adults, as well as children, to enjoy.

"One boy and girl were there from 10am to 4pm and loved it. We want to encourage more youngsters," said Kathleen.

Included in the entry fee were tours of the observatory's domes, with people there to explain the telescopes.

Images of the sun and the sun's spectrum were screened and there were regular shows at the Planetarium as well as four lectures during the day, which were organised by David Strange, chief observer at the observatory.

Speakers, TV personality Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest talked about the Cosmic Quest - the history of astronomy. David Bryant from Spacerocks spoke of meteorites and extinctions, while Will Gater, who writes for Sky at Night magazine, gave a lecture on Cosmic Keyhole.

"The last speaker, Greg Parker, spoke on Imaging from the New Forest Observatory," said Kathleen.

Dr Bob Symes, curator at Sidmouth Museum was at the fair, along with Bob Mizon from Campaign for Dark Skies and local firm First Light Optics.

There were plenty of telescopes to buy, but for one visitor, Brian Ward-Smith, there was no need. He won a 19m Bressar refractor telescope donated by Broadhurst Clarkson & Fuller who support the event.


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