The North Essex Astronomical Society welcomes everyone with an interest in astronomy, whatever their level of expertise. From novice to expert, we aim to be a society for all amateur astronomers. Members’ interests range from observing and astrophotography, from telescopes to astrophysics. Our common love is a passion for astronomy. We try to build a greater appreciation of the dark night sky and help people enjoy it.
“The friendly astronomy society”
Starting out life in 1980, the Braintree Astronomical Society was a small group of enthusiasts wanting a place to gather and talk about their hobby. Gradually this developed into regular meetings and telescope observing.
Over the course of thirty years, the Society has evolved and progressed and greatly expanded in numbers, currently peaking at around 200 members, the largest the Society has ever been.
Due to the increased geographical area that our membership covers, our name was changed to the North Essex Astronomical Society in 2000. The use of an observatory and dark site makes our society somewhat unique and our members enjoy use of the site and its facilities.
The society’s constitution may be found here.
We hold a public meeting once a month with a guest speaker. The subjects at meetings range from cosmology, planetary science, and life on other worlds, to astrophotography and more. You can find out more information on our Events page.
Since 2010 the Society has been actively engaged with public observing and we run monthly stargazing events (and solar observing in the summer) at Great Notley Country Park and Abberton Reservoir, details of which can be found on the Events page.
Since 2011 the Society has run its own one-day convention, STARFEST, which features renowned speakers from the world of astronomy, plus traders, exhibits, solar observing and, on occasions, a mobile planetarium. This is now a regular feature on our annual calendar. See our Events page.
Our membership continues to grow and currently consists of around 200 members, some more active than others, covering a range of interests and abilities. We welcome anyone into our Society, regardless of their level of knowledge or expertise. For more information about membership benefits and how to join, please see our Membership page.
The Society has its own dark site observatory called The Munday-Sayer Observatory which is located near Wakes Colne.
It is home to a 11-inch Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, a 4-inch William Optics apochromatic refractor, a 16″ GoTo Dobsonian and a 60mm Lunt solarscope.
Originally constructed in the 1980s to observe Comet Halley, the observatory building and facilities have since been extended and upgraded. Further details can be found on the Observatory page.
The Society is very active in the local community, often running public observing events and astronomy evenings for schools and scout/guides etc groups. If you are part of a school or community group which would like to learn more about the night sky, we are more than happy to get involved. Our events are very popular, so much so that we are often booked up months in advance. Please see our Outreach page for more information.
We are fortunate to have a great band of volunteers who keep the society running. They are so great that they have their own page.