Croydon Astronomical Society
© Croydon Astronomical Society 2012 Croydon, Surrey, England, UK Registered Charity No. 251560
History of the Croydon Astronomical Society
It was in 1890 that the British Astronomical Association came into being, and over
the years it has become a respected body that caters well for the more advanced amateur.
However, it was felt by many that it failed to cater for an important section of
the astronomical community -
The founders were quick to point out that the word ‘Junior’ was not just to imply the age of the astronomer, but rather the knowledge. However, the organisation was aimed at the schoolchild, and soon meetings were being held that consisted of talks given by well known figures in astronomy, but aimed at the beginner. The idea immediately caught on and the membership increased rapidly. It proved that the concept was a good one, and that the need for the new society was indeed there.
As the meetings were held in London it was difficult for those living further away to attend. To cater for the growing popularity, and for those living further afield, a magazine was soon published and this helped communication between all members, but the obvious solution was to set up local groups.
Following a suggestion from the Croydon Society's own founder -
Formation of the Croydon Astronomical Society
Mr and Mrs Best were instrumental in the formation of the new Group, though they
were ably assisted by John Lytheer, Ken Stocker and Norman Wright. The principal
was sound – the Group would meet at Mr Best's home near East Croydon Station -
Over the lifetime of the Society a large number of expeditions have been organised,
some astronomical and some social. Many visits to sites of astronomical interest
in the UK. Foreign trips have included: the Isle of Skye in 1961 and 1962, Iceland
in 1965 and 1967, Island of La Palma from 1986 -
Visit to Mullard Radio Observatory -
Society Exhibition -
‘Monte Umbe’ Eclipse Expedition -
The Observatory Project:
Out of frustration by many members of not owning a telescope of their own, at a meeting on 28th July 1961 the Society undertook to build a large telescope. The first problem was to find a suitable site, the first site, on a members land in Addington had to be abandoned.
Work at Addington Observatory Site 1962
Working at Kenley Observatory Site summer 1972
CAS Senior Members Reunion -
After an absence of many years Dr John Murray (now at The Open University) returned to the society to speak to us about the latest results from Mars Express. Allan Mason took the opportunity of taking this group photograph of some of the original members of the Society.
From feft to right:
Tony Sizer, Keith Brackenborough, John Murray, Mike Maunder and John Mathers.
Text and photographs kindly provided by Roy Easto from an article in The CAS Journal 'Altair', Number 92.
We are now waiting for a volunteer to write the last 39 years of our history in time for our 60th Anniversary in May 2016..
The second site, the current site at Kenley was acquired in 1965, the Society was given the freehold to a plot of land as a gift. Building started on June 14th 1967 whilst the engineering work was underway. The Society was very fortunate in having a number of very experienced telescope makers, including Norman Fisher, to design the telescope as well as an excellent engineer in Gordon Main. In 197? the telescope was installed at the observatory and on 30th June 1979 the observatory was officially opened.
Kenley Observatory -
Twin worms and work gear for mainshaft drive
on the 18-
In the early days the telescope was used mainly visually. A prolific observer, Steve Pattinson observed on most clear nights. The observatory opened every Saturday night for members and the public. Training sessions were set up to train members in the use of the telescope. By 199?, with deteriorating skies the society purchased a Starlight Express CCD camera and a computer. This allowed the sky background to be subtracted from images. During the lifetime of the observatory a large number of groups from the local community have visited the observatory.
Using a homemade spectroscope at the society’s first astrocamp -