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Richie's Blog

Running Your Own Astronomy in the Pub
Written by Richie Jarvis   
Friday, 31 August 2012 17:13


So you want to run your own Astronomy in the Pub event?  GREAT!

I run my events at my local pub, The Horns Lodge in South Chailey.  So far, I have run 2 events, one to coincide with BBC Stargazing Live in February 2012, and one in August 2012.  Both events were very well received, and we were lucky to have clear skies on both occasions.



What do you need to get started?

  • Some Amateur Astronomer volunteers
  • A dark site Pub with a willing publican
  • Some Speakers
  • Some Telescopes of different types/costs/aperatures
  • A projector/large television to show your Speakers presentations on
  • A laptop to show your Speakers presentations on
  • A projector/large television to show a Sky Chart on
  • A laptop to run Stellarium (or other suitably pretty Sky Chart on)
  • A Public Address System

What does your Publican get out of it?

Lots of people in their pub!  Our first event attracted approximately 350 people.  Our second event attracted about 120 people.  The pub did a roaring trade for food and drinks both times, so it is well worth the investment of time and money from the publicans point of view.

How much will it cost your Publican?

It depends on how extravagant you want to be.  If your publican is prepared to fund speakers, and provide free drinks for volunteers, then great!  In my events so far, the publican has provided free drinks and some food for the volunteers.  You might want to agree with your publican beforehand a certain number of drinks per volunteer, and how the volunteers can be identified!

How much will it cost me?

The aim of these events is to put on a free public event to promote Stargazing in your local area.  The only costs you should incur are some printing costs, and some time.  You should ask your publican to cover travel and speaker costs - its them making the money after all, not you!


When should I schedule an Astronomy in the Pub event?

Obviously, the best time will be during the BBC Stargazing Live period, when the BBC are promoting events across the country.  The BBC also run a series of television programmes around the same time which help stimulate the public interest in Astronomy.

You should also try to pick a date when the Moon is up, there is an International Space Station pass or Iridium flare, and ideally at least one bright planet.  You want to aim for targets which make the public go 'Wow!'.  Use CalSky in order to find out when is a good time for your location.

Printing for an Astronomy in the Pub event

  • Event Itinerary and Notes
    • A small leaflet detailing Lecture times and any events which are timed (such as when an object is visible, such as an ISS pass)
    • Remember to make sure that the leaflet instructs the public to be careful around telescopes, and cautions about Solar Observing
  • Volunteer Itinerary and Notes
    • Get a times list from calsky
    • Add any notes about rules for volunteers if appropriate
  • Information Sheets
    • I have produced a series of information sheets which I laminate and place around my pub.  You could do the same as well.

How many volunteers do I need?

You will need at least one willing volunteer per telescope onsite, preferably more to allow for volunteers to take a break and enjoy the event themselves.  A manned telescope will probably attract a queue, so make sure you get someone to take drinks orders directly to your volunteers!

What if its Cloudy/Wet?

Find an area to setup some different size and type of telescopes under cover.  Make sure that at least one knowledgeable person is on hand to explain about the telescopes to the public.  If you want, you can also run a Sky Chart to show what users would have seen if it was not cloudy.

What sort of talks should I have?

Its up to you!  Bear in mind that your audience is going to be non-astronomers though, so keep it simply.  You might want to have some talks aimed at Children earlier on in the event as well.

How do I advertise the event?

  • Publish your event on the BBC Things to Do Website
  • Contact your local radio station about the event
  • Contact your local paper about the event
  • Contact your local STEM group about the event - they will let local schools know
  • Invite the press to create an interest in future Astronomy in the Pub events


Don't Forget!

Enjoy your own event!  This is a hobby - if you don't enjoy promoting Astronomy, then why are you doing it?


Star Trails by Dr Darren Baskill - more images available on his photostream @

Porky's Party - Today!
Written by Richie Jarvis   
Saturday, 28 July 2012 09:41

What Happened?

Each year, Chailey Bonfire Society holds a fund raising event.  This year, we decided to have a hog roast.  The field was prepared, the marquee was up, everything was booked.  Then it rained solidly for a month before the event.

The event had to be postponed because the field was waterlogged, and we ended up incurring costs as a result.  Added to which, plenty of folks dropped out because they were unable to come on the new date.

How can you help?

As the weather has improved significantly over the last 2 weeks, we have got everything ready for a new Hog Roast today.  We are about 30 tickets short of our target though, and so if you are at a loose end tonight, and fancy a good time, please come and join us.

Event Details

Starting Time: 7pm
End Time: Midnight
Price: £20 per person

Please give Richie a call on 07702 705427 to get a ticket allocated which you can pickup on the door.  Each ticket costs £20, and will be held for you on the door.

Included in the ticket price is your meal (Hog Roast, Salad, Pudding) and entrance.  We have a live band (The Highlights) playing as well, and a fully stocked bar with Harveys Best Bitter on tap.

You can find us by heading to South Chailey on the A275.  There are signs on the main road telling you how to find us.  If you are using a Satnav, the postcode BN8 4AS will get you to Swan House, which is opposite the Balneath Manor turning.  Then head for the 'B' on the map below.

South Common Observatory - Phase 4
Written by Richie Jarvis   
Sunday, 15 April 2012 21:36

For a few years now, I have been thinking of ways to improve my observatory.  One of the problems with Astronomy is that everything comes in boxes, and those boxes are needed to transport the equipment.  Typically, my Star Party gear consists of:

  • Power/Wires box
  • Telescope Box
  • Mount Box
  • Camera Box
  • Accessories Box

All these boxes are not needed when my kit is setup, so what to do with it when it is not needed?  Well, a while back now, I raised my pier by 12 inches to see the southern horizon better.  It worked very well, but meant that I now needed a ladder to easily access the scopes.  Hmmm - could I kill two birds with one stone here?

The answer is yes.  I have now put a false floor into the observatory, 12 inches off the concrete.  I now have a virtually clear floor in the observatory, and a great storage space for all the boxes I've accumulated over the last few years.

Whilst I was at it, I also built myself a Mission Control Room in a third of Gini's shed - thanks darling! :)

You can see the latest photos here: Building of the South Common Observatory

Here are a couple of taster images:



Moore's Marathon
Written by Richie Jarvis   
Friday, 16 March 2012 21:59

Moore's Marathon

Sir Patrick Moore has picked his 55 favourite night sky objects and over the month of April would like you to see as many as you can.  The Moore Marathon will help celebrate 55 years of The Sky at Night, which was first broadcast on 24th April 1957.

From the Moon to the star Albrieo, the Moore Marathon has something for everyone.  You can spot some with your eyes, others need binoculars or a telescope, and you can take part on your own or as a group.

On BBC1 May 6th and BBC4 May 10th, The Sky at Night will feature a selection of your observations, from the simple to the most interesting!  You can find the Moore Marathon observing forms by going to our website:

Here you have two choices:


Download, save on your computer, fill in and email back to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . To be included in the programme, this must be emailed by 24th April 2012.



Download, print and fill in by hand. Post back to: The Sky at Night, BBC Birmingham, The Mailbox, Birmingham, B1 1RF.  To be included in the programme, we must receive forms by 24th April 2012.

Message from Sir Patrick:

“I hope you enjoy the objects I have picked out for you to observe in April and I look forward to finding out how you get on. Good luck and thank you for taking part.”


FileDescriptionFile size
Download this file (SkyAtNight55_DetailedForm.pdf)SkyAtNight55_DetailedForm.pdfDetailed Form206 Kb
Download this file (SkyAtNight55_ObservingGuide.pdf)SkyAtNight55_ObservingGuide.pdfObserving Guide1333 Kb
Download this file (SkyAtNight55_QuickForm.xls)SkyAtNight55_QuickForm.xlsQuick Form57 Kb
Astronomy in the Pub
Written by Richie Jarvis   
Saturday, 03 March 2012 00:00

What an amazing night Astronomy in the Pub was!  I've still not quite recovered a week later!

I just wanted to post a public thanks to the wonderful folks from Astronomy 4 Everyone, Hants Astro, East Sussex Astronomical Society, Viva Lewes, Brighton Science Festival and all the others who helped out with keeping 350 people entertained for 6 solid hours of Astro-fun!

Over 350 people of all ages turned up over the course of the night, and looked through our telescopes in the back yard.  The talks inside the pub were well recieved, and lots of people really had a great time by all accounts.  We were also extremely fortunate to have clear skies for the entire 6 hours!

Over the course of the night, we saw the ISS (twice), Venus, Jupiter and the Galilean Moons, the Pleiades, the Great Orion Nebula, and Mars.
Those who stayed with us till the end at midnight also saw Saturn rising.

Especially big thanks to (in no particular order!) Paul Foster, Andy Lee, David Michael Woods, Neil Richardson, Stephen Witcher, Gary Burton, Louise Winters, Darren Baskill, Simon Plant, Linda Lethem, Aaron Durrant, Mike Lethem, Simon Thorne, and the rest of the bar staff.  If I have missed anyone out, I do apologise.

In addition, the Brighton Science Festival and Viva Lewes also helped us publish the event, and I understand it was also mentioned on the local radio stations (not sure which ones though!)

I was too busy last night to take photos, but I do know that some folks were better prepared than myself.  If you happen to have any photos, please pass them on to me - I will be putting a page up with the photos from the event soon.

The good news is that it looks like this might become a regular thing in the South of England.  Watch this space!

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