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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 @


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