This is a brief history of the Seven Sisters Astronomical Society (SSAS). We hope it’ll help you understand why and how we’re where we are now.
Most of our founder members have been interested in astronomy for years. Having joined other astronomical societies in anticipation of enhancing our limited viewing skills and astro knowledge, we found that other societies didn’t have quite the right fit for us for a number of reasons. What we had was a new astronomical society waiting to happen! So in 2014, SSAS was born.
Once formed, members of SSAS started to talk in detail about their astronomical interests and ambitions. At this point it became apparent that we had a magic mix of diverse interests in space, space travel, astro photography, and deep sky exploring – where science fiction rubs shoulders with science fact! Most of us can’t stop talking when we discover a new piece of astro wonder – even if we’ve seen it before, we’re still keen to share it with anyone that’s interested.
One of our main objectives for forming the new society was to offer outreach – delivering astronomy to a wide and diverse audience in their own environment. As a consequence, the National Trust invited us to partake in some of their Star Gazing Open Evenings around East Sussex, much to our delight. We are also involved with Scouting and Girl Guiding groups, supporting their astronomical evenings, and giving assistance to those wishing to attain relevant badges. Schools have also shown an interest in the various evening programmes we are now able to offer. Using planetarium software, we can ensure that these evenings are not weather dependant. The other very important contact we’ve made is with Melanie Davies, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and Founder of Creative Space, who is a mine of cosmic information and an absolutely brilliant presenter of all things concerning space. We can regularly be found at Melanie’s astronomy-themed public engagement events where we offer a supporting role with our telescopes and passion for astronomy.
Our observing equipment is diverse, as you would expect. Our telescopes have between 3- and 8-inch diameter tubes, making them easy to transport to the various venues without a drama. Most of the scopes also have solar filters, making them safe for observing the sun. Ease of setting up, weight, and robust construction have also been quite big considerations when purchasing our equipment. Until fairly recently, the cost of reasonable equipment has been prohibitive and has limited viewing to the best binoculars we could afford, or just our unaided eyes. Now, thanks to China having entered the market, we’re able to purchase good, sensibly sized telescopes, with reasonable quality optics at an affordable price.
We don’t have reams of rules or constitutions, but all our members are expected to behave as they do with their own family and friends. Our dark observing sites are hugely important to our very existence and are not owned by us. So if you decide to join our friendly and approachable team of members, please treat these sites with respect, we need them as much as we need our telescopes!