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Darsham: Astronomy society sees sky-rocketing member interest

16:33 20 January 2014

Annaliese Matheron, of Dash Astro astronomical society, stargazes in Darsham.

Annaliese Matheron, of Dash Astro astronomical society, stargazes in Darsham.

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A fledgling east Suffolk astronomy group has reported a surge in membership as part of a trend which has seen stargazing become one of the UK’s fastest growing hobbies.

The Darsham based group DASH Astro welcomed 50% more visitors to its latest session, which founding members have attributed to the increased media attention devoted to the subject.

“It’s very topical at the moment with programmes such as the BBC’s Stargazing Live,” said group secretary Annaliese Matheron. “I’ve also read that astronomy is one of the fastest growing hobbies, with (online retailer) Amazon’s section on astronomy equipment for sale one of its most rapidly expanding.”

Ms Matheron also welcomed recent coverage in this paper which previewed a number of stargazing events held in conjunction with the Quantatids meteor shower in early January.

Although the Star Party held by DASH Astro was unfortunately a “wash out” Ms Matheron said it enjoyed “bumper” attendance at its following meeting thanks to the coverage, which highlighted the exceptional viewing conditions available in Suffolk’s rural areas.

The group, which held its inaugural meeting on the midsummer solstice, will be enlisting experts to increase members’ knowledge.

Its constitution states: “Dash Astro will actively work to promote astronomy as an accessible science and worthy pastime through the education of its members and the community at large.”

Many of the group’s latest recruits are youngsters, which may soon lead to the formation of a spin-off Space Cadets Club.

General meetings are held every other Wednesday from 7pm at All Saints Church, Darsham, with observation sessions hosted at the club secretary’s own private observatory.

Guest speakers are also invited to lead discussions, with Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson, head of astrophysics at Imperial College London, scheduled to attend on March 12.

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