Starstruck in Sunderland

My God, it’s full of stars

One of the most heavily used apps on my iPhone recently has been the excellent Star Walk, an interactive star map showing you the objects in the night sky above you. Drawing on the iPhone’s GPS capabilities, the app is sensitive to which direction you’re pointing; turn to face a star in the sky, and the app will follow. Tap on the star on the map and you get it’s name, tap again and the app brings you further details about the object.

I’m no sky at night expert, but the app is fun and informative, and no doubt something for my neighbours to scratch their heads over as I swivel around the back garden in the dark pointing my phone to the sky. However, whilst it points out the constellations in realtime, it gives only a limited insight into what you’re looking at, and once you’re hooked you will want to know more. If you want something more advanced though you’re looking at paying a lot more than the £1.79 I paid for Star Walk.

Friendly sky people

That’s where the friendly folk of the Sunderland Astronomical Society step in, to fill in the gaps for casual stargazing enthusiasts. Their membership ranges from young amateurs to qualified experts, all connected by a love of celestial science and an eagerness to share their knowledge. They have regular sky watching events and this weekend they’re hosting a free talk and presentation on Sunday night at the Washington Wildfowl Park by sky guru Graham Darke on Deep Sky Observing.

You don’t need to be an expert to attend as the Sunderland Astronomical Society welcomes anyone with an interest and enjoys introducing people to the wonders of our solar system and beyond.

The event is free and starts at 7.00pm, all comers are welcome but be sure to wrap up warm just in case it gets chilly.

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