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© Croydon Astronomical Society 2012 Croydon, Surrey, England, UK Registered Charity No. 251560

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Croydon Astronomical Society
est. 1956

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to most questions. If you can’t find the answer you need then please email the webmaster. If it’s an answer that others will benefit from then it will be added to the list below.

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  1. How do I join the society?
  2. Why do I have to complete a new membership form each year?
  3. I am a member and have moved house/changed my email address; who do I inform?
  4. How much does it cost to join?
  5. How is the society financed?
  6. What is Gift Aid?
  7. How do you inform the members what is occurring?
  8. Do you have a junior section?
  9. Where are the lectures held?
  10. How do I get to the lectures?
  11. What is the date of the next lecture?
  12. I don't know much/any astronomy; will I understand the lectures?
  13. When is the observatory open?
  14. Where is your observatory?
  15. What is the difference between the public and members’ observing evenings?
  16. What facilities are there at the observatory?
  17. Is the observatory open if it is cloudy?
  18. What should I take with me to the observatory?
  19. I want to bring a group to your observatory; how do I arrange it?
  20. How big is your telescope and how far can it see etc?
  21. What do I need to know to use the telescopes at Kenley?
  22. I want to buy a telescope; can you give me any advice?
  23. I have a question that is not in this list ...
  24. Where can I find late breaking information?
  25. My email was not delivered; who should I contact?

If you have any additional questions please email our Membership Secretary, the address can be found on our Contact Us page. If you wish to contact us by telephone please leave a message on our answer telephone service on 020 8668 9642 and we will contact you.

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1. How do I join the society?

All you need to do is to fill in an application form either at the meeting at the Royal Russell School or at the Kenley Observatory. It should then be handed either to the membership secretary or to a Committee Member if he is not there. If you have any questions about our membership please contact our Membership Secretary his email address is on the Contact Us page. There is no obligatory fee for attending our meetings or observatory. The society is funded entirely by donations from our members and visitors and by the sale of raffle tickets at our lectures at the Royal Russell School.

2. Why do I have to complete a new membership form each year?

Our constitution requires that members reaffirm their membership each year - the easiest way to do this is to ask you to fill a new form in. It also allows us to have evidence that any donation you make may be treated as gift aid so we are able to reclaim the tax from the Inland Revenue.

3. I am a member and have moved house/changed my email address; who do I inform?

Please inform the Membership Secretary - the email address is on the Contact Us page - to ensure you receive up to date information.

4. How much does it cost to join?

We have no obligatory fee, even when attending a meeting. Instead we rely on voluntary contributions, raffle tickets etc. The society’s costs are mostly hiring the meeting room, speakers, and costs associated with running the observatory. We are a charitable organisation and rely on members volunteering, and no individual of the society receives any money for any work they undertake.

5. How is the society financed?

The society is funded by donations from both members and visitors. This income is supplemented by the profits from the raffle that we hold at the lecture meetings.

6. What is Gift Aid?

The HM Revenue and Customs allows us to reclaim the basic rate of income tax you have paid on your donations. As a result we can get an extra £2.82 for each £10 you donate. However we need to confirm that you will pay an amount of tax in the relevant tax year at least as great as the tax we will reclaim (the tax you pay can be income tax or capital gains tax at any rate), so there is a tick-box on the membership form to confirm this. For higher rate taxpayers you can also claim additional tax relief via your tax return and get £2.31 back yourself for each £10 you donate.

We can also recover the tax on any donations you have made since April 2000 so the form has boxes for you to confirm that you paid sufficient tax in these years as well. If you have forgotten how much you donated please contact the Membership Secretary, the address is on the Contact Us page. Also contact the Membership Secretary if you are no longer a member but have made donations since April 2000 and wish us to reclaim the tax on these donations.

If you require any additional information on Gift Aid please have a look at the HM Revenue and Customs Gift Aid website. If you are a higher rate taxpayer and require advice on reclaiming your tax on the donations please contact your professional advisor.

7. How do you inform the members what is occurring?

By several means:

- Email notification: about every two weeks usually prior to each school meeting and includes details of the meetings, speakers, observatory openings, astronomical events and society news.

- Forum: named ‘croydonastro’ it serves two main purposes; it allows the committee to announce society news, events and programme changes, and it also allows members to 'chat' to each other on items of astronomical or society interest. To join this you need to subscribe - the instructions for this and more information can be found here on the croydonastro forum page. You can leave at any time by following the instructions sent when you join. If you have any problems joining or leaving please contact the webmaster.

- This website: particularly the News, Meetings, Events and Observatory pages.

8. Do you have a junior section?

We do not have a junior section at present but accompanied young members are very welcome to the lecture meetings and to our observatory. The short lecture is aimed at beginners and should be understood by our younger members. The difficulty of the main lecture very much depends on the subject but often it is at the level of a documentary.

9. Where are the lectures held?

The meetings and lectures are held in classroom G4 below the Great Hall at The Royal Russell School, Coombe Lane, Croydon CR9 5BX. It is towards the further end of the school grounds. More details and maps are on the School Location page.

10. How do I get to the lectures?

There are very good public transport links, and free parking in a large car park on site close to the gate. The best method of public transport is to use Croydon Tramlink, with the Coombe Lane tram stop very near the school entrance. Croydon Tramlink links to East Croydon, West Croydon, Wimbledon, Addington and Beckenham stations for those travelling from further away. More transport details are available here together with some maps.

11. What is the date of the next lecture?

Lectures are held on Friday evenings every two weeks from September to July with a 3 week break at Christmas and Easter. Dates of the lectures meetings can be found here, are on our programme and are published in Astronomy Now.

12. I don't know much/any astronomy - will I understand the lectures?

Our society encompasses membership from beginners to experienced, and so we try to make the lectures interesting across the range. We normally start with an introductory talk aimed at those starting astronomy followed by the main talk after a break that covers a particular topic in more depth, though not necessarily requiring technical knowledge. Ultimately the society’s principle aim is to educate and share in astronomy.

13. When is the observatory open?

Our observatory is open to the public on Saturday evenings from September to May. The actual dates are announced on the Events page of this website, Facebook, forum and the observatory telephone 020 8668 9642 where a message is left each Saturday afternoon confirming what time the observatory will be open, typically at 8 pm in the winter to later during shorter nights.

14. What is the difference between the public and members’ observing evenings?

On public evenings there are people on hand to show you many of the objects that are visible through our telescopes. Members’ evenings are to allow members to use the facilities to carry out their own observations. Anyone wishing to become a member can apply from the Membership page.

15. Where is your observatory and how do I get there?

The observatory is located near Kenley Surrey to the south of London, with good horizons and a surprisingly dark sky especially to the south. Parking is nearby just a few minutes walk away. Unfortunately public transport is not nearby, a consequence of a flat horizon and dark sky site. More details on the observatory location page.

16. What facilities are at the observatory?

We have a small clubhouse, electricity, Wi-Fi, hot water for drinks (please bring your own cups and beverage) and several telescopes. There is a camping style toilet for females located in a private room. The area is surrounded by fields with many secluded areas.

17. Is the observatory open if it rains?

We tend not open on public evenings if it is raining or cloudy, and notification is given in the usual way as mentioned in item 13 above. If you have arranged a group visit and the weather is poor there will be a prior agreement.

18. What should I take with me to the observatory?

The Public Visits page gives suggestions on clothing, footwear, some equipment items and also site etiquette.

19. I want to bring a group to your observatory; how do I arrange that?

We welcome groups of up to about 20 and we are well suited to accommodate visits of this size. Please contact our group visit co-ordinator by email here.

20. How big is the main telescope and how far can it see etc?

Telescopes are classified primarily on aperture and our main telescope is a 14-inch (350 mm) diameter Schmidt Cassegrain. The magnification depends on the eyepiece or camera, but the aperture places an upper limit on this. We have seen all the planets, all the Messier objects except one (M7, too low in the trees) and there are many hundreds of other objects in range visually, and many thousands photographically.

Needless to say the more distant objects are smaller and fainter and most people find the nearer objects more satisfying.

The detail you can see depends on your acquired skill and experience, how well your eyes are dark adapted, the observing conditions and level of light pollution, but it is a reasonably large telescope.

21. What do I need to know to use the telescopes at Kenley?

Some people are content to simply enjoy the views and nothing is required as there are always people happy to assist. We do encourage members to use the equipment, and to get the best out of any it is necessary to learn how to operate them. We are happy to provide tuition and training, not just for the society equipment but we encourage members, guests and the public to bring their own; however please notify us in advance as preparation can go a long way.

22. I want to buy a telescope; can you give me any advice?

Certainly; we have many knowledgeable and experienced members who are happy to help. There is also a guide under the Telescope for Astronomy section on the Astronomy page.

23. I have a question that is not in this list ...

Send an email to our enquiry address listed on the Contact Us page and we will reply with the answer.

24. Where can I find late breaking information?

On this website: particularly the News, Meetings, Events and Observatory pages.

25. My email was not delivered; who should I contact?

First please check that the email address is current, as some have changed recently, by looking on the Contact Us page. Alternatively use the webmaster address from this website (bottom of most pages) as this is always current. There is always the observatory telephone 020 8668 9642 where a message can be left and this is monitored regularly.

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