Welcome to the

West Yorkshire Astronomical Society

(For Information on Bookings and Costs Please See  The Education & Outreach Link)


Update 02/08/2020

After our committee meeting, we can announce plans are being made for when we can reopen the observatory.  At this time the date and nature of our re-opening are still under discussion as we follow Goverment guidelines and the restricitons imposed by the size of the observatory.  Any anoucements will be published on here, Facebook and via our members emails.

Tomorrow (3rd August) is a Full Sturgeon Moon. It is named after North America's largest fish, which are easiier to catch in the Great lakes due to their increased numbers at this time of year.  Other names include Grain Moon, Green Corn Moon, Fruit Moon, and Barley Moon, which are all based on the crops that are harvested in August.

We are currently in The Perseid meteor shower (17 July to 24 August), with the peak estimated on the 12th August, unfortunatly, during daylight hours (14:00-17:00 BST).  The nights either side of the 12th August should give the best viewing possibilities - weather permitting.  This is one of the best showers of the year with over 100 meteors per hour at it peak.  Tips on how to watch this event and taking pictures can be found on the Sky At Night Website.

Update 16/07/2020

We held first committee meeting last week to discuss plans for the future and, more importantly, when we can reopen.  We are sorry to say we do not have a date for reopening yet but when this changes details will be available on here, WYAS' Facebook and email.   


Memory Lane

It has a year since a number of our members astrophotography images were exhibited at the Science and Media Museum in Bradford.  Detail of the exhibition and some of the images can still be found on their STARGAZERS webpage.  Our members are still busy producing some amazing imaging during this lock down period so there will be more pictures available later.


Update 24/05/2020

It was a new Moon on the 22nd so if you are furloughed or equivalent then it is a good time to get your telescope out - subject to the weather. 

On Wednesday 27th May, there is a launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 from carrying astronauts to the ISS for the first time.  The launch is scheduled at 21:45 (UK time) and can be watched on NASA's youtube channel.  15 minutes after the launch you will be able to see the craft pass over the UK.  See https://www.meteorwatch.org/ for details

The ISS is back overhead this week. 

Date Start and End Times Type
24 May 2020 22:07 - 22:14 Overhead Pass
24 May 2020 23:44 - 23:48 Medium Altitude Pass
25 May 2020 22:56 - 23:01 Medium Altitude Pass
26 May 2020 22:08 - 22:15 Overhead Pass
26 May 2020 23:45 - 23:48 Medium Altitude Pass
27 May 2020 22:57 - 23:02 Medium Altitude Pass
28 May 2020 22:09 - 22:15 Overhead Pass
29 May 2020 22:58 - 23:02 Low Pass
30 May 2020 22:10 - 22:16 Medium Altitude Pass


Update 03/05/2020

This week sees a both a full moon and supermoon (last one of 2020) on the 7th May.  The peak scheduled to occur at 11:45, during the day.  This full moon is named the Flower Moon, but also goes by the names "Milk Moon", "Corn Planting Moon", "Grass Moon" or  "Mother's Moon".  The name relates to the time of the year when wild flowers traditionally come into bloom.  More details can be found here.

Before dawn on the 6th May is the peak of the annual η-Aquariids (Eta-Aquariids) Meteor Shower. The meteor shower runs from the April 19 and concludes on the 26th May. The source point is Aquarius, which will lie just above the southeastern horizon, close to the planet Mars.

 Eta-Aquariids Meteor Shower location


Update 26/04/2020

This week sees the 30th anniversary of the Hubble telescope.  The anniversary picture can be at https://hubblesite.org/contents/news-releases/2020/news-2020-16 with view of the Comic Reef (NGC 2014) in the Large Magellanic Cloud.  

It was a new Moon on the 23rd of April and is predomidally above the horizon during daylight and evening hours.  This should make early morning viewing of the planets good this week subject to the weather - which is not looking too good.


The Moon and planet rise and set times for next week can be found in the table below (note some of the set times are the following day)

Planet Monday 27th  Tuesday 28th  Wednesday 29th Thursday 30th Friday 1st May Saturday 2nd Sunday 3rd
Moon 08:00 - 01:22 08:44 - 02:18 09:41 - 03:02 10:50 - 03:37 12:09 - 04:04 13:33 - 04:26 14:59 - 04:46
Mercury 05:33 - 19:35 05:32 - 19:44 05:31 - 19:53 05:30 - 20:02 05:28 - 20:11 05:27 - 20:20 05:26 - 20:30
Venus 06:37 - 00:54 06:35 - 00:53 06:33 - 00:51 06:30 - 00:49 06:28 - 00:48 06:26 - 00:46 06:23 - 00:43
Mars 03:43 - 12:39 03:40 - 12:39 03:38 - 12:39 03:35 - 12:39 03:33 - 12:40 03:30 - 12:40 03:28 - 12:40
Jupiter 02:40 - 10:37 02:36 - 10:33 02:33 - 10:29 02:29 - 10:26 02:25 - 10:22 02:21 - 10:18 02:17 - 10:14
Saturn 02:53 - 11:05 02:50 - 11:01 02:46 - 10:57 02:42 - 10:54 02:38 - 10:50 02:34 - 10:46 02:30 - 10:42
Uranus 05:41 - 20:18 05:38 - 20:15 05:34 - 20:11 05:30 - 20:08 05:26 - 20:04 05:22 - 20:00 05:18 - 19:57
Neptune 04:31 - 15:44 04:28 - 15:40 04:24 - 15:36 04:20 - 15:33 04:16 - 15:29 04:12 - 15:25 04:08 - 15:21



Update 18/04/2020

While we are closed and social isolating due the Corona-virus it is a perfect time to try some backyard astronomy.  If you do not have access to a telescope or binoculars there are a few items that you can still see. 

Details of the phases of the moon can be found on the time and date website.

The bright object in the North Western sky is the planet Venus.  This is the second planet from the Sun and a mere 101.41 million km (63.38 Million miles) away.  More details of Venus can be found on the NASA's website

Jupiter, Saturn and Mars can be seen in the early morning sky looking South close to the horizon.

Lyrids Meteor Shower 16-25th April 2020.
The peak of the Lyrids meteor shower occurs on the night of  Tuesday 21st April into the early hours of Wednesday 22nd April.
During the peak around 18 meteors (aka shooting stars) may be seen per hour from a dark site. The Moon is favourable this year (Waning Crescent) -- it won't be visible during the night and thus the skies will be dark meaning fainter meteors will be visible as well as brighter ones.
The meteors will appear to radiate from the constellation of Lyra (hence their name), you will need to be facing East to view The Lyra Constellation and the radiant is to the right of the bright Star Vega.
The best way to see them is not to look at this part of the sky rather scan the whole sky with your peripheral vision. It's worth keeping an eye out from now if you're out observing.

Stellerium Lyrids location Ponterfact


International Space Station Sightings.

There are no major sightings in our area for the period of:

Monday Apr 13, 2020 through Wednesday Apr 29, 2020.


Other Events:
23/04/2020 - New Moon

25/04/2020 - Venus reaches 30% phase

27/04/2020 - 20% lit waxing crescent Moon just above Open Cluster M35 in Gemini.

28/04/2020 - Venus will be at its maximum brightness

30/04/2020 - Moon at first quarter phase.



If the situation changes with Corona Virus then we will provide updates both here and on our facebook site. 


Website Administrator.


Update 18/4/2020

Due to the escalating situation with Corona-virus (Covid 19) The West Yorkshire Astronomical Society will be remaining closed until we feel it is safe to re-open.
We have cancelled all our guest speakers and most have agreed to return at a future date and all future outreach such as the young astronomers club is also cancelled.
The decision as to when we will re-open will be made in conjunction with government advice and will be widely advertised at that time.
We are sorry that we are having to take this measure but the safety of all our members and visitors is our primary concern.
Terry Dobson
Acting Chair
West Yorkshire Astronomical Society.



Welcome from the West Yorkshire Astronomical Society, Pontefract.

Conceptualised in 1973 a group of 20 people came together and formed the West Yorkshire Astronomical Society (WYAS).



Set within the grounds of The Carleton Community Centre, Pontefract building started in June 1977 and over a period of 6 years the initial building was completed and opened by Sir Patrick Moore on the 25th September 1983.


An extension specifically built for disabled access housing a computer room, kitchen, toilet and an equipment store were added later, along with two outdoor observing pads making up our current building.


The society aims to promote the science of astronomy to its members and general public, we are keen to promote astronomy to all ages and particularly people with special needs and disabilities.



Whether you are a complete beginner or a veteran astronomer, young or mature, male or female you will be welcomed by the society. 



We are a friendly group of people who all share a common interest in the universe and its many wonders, whatever your interest may be, and whether you are an expert or a complete beginner you will be made most welcome.


The WYAS members have worked tirelessly since its inception to bring astronomy to the wider community, their work is unpaid and together with arranged group visits, the Society regularly attract up to 2,000 people per year.


The society opens every Tuesday and most Friday nights, and the observatory also opens for arranged visits, it regularly host guest speakers from both the amateur and professional astronomical communities who are invited to talk to both Society members and the general public. 


The Society has a range of instruments, including a Celestron 14” Edge, a 14" Meade LX 200, a 10" Meade LX 90, a Televue 4" refractor with solar filters and various accessories. All primary telescopes are available for use by arrangement and smaller telescopes are available for use by members on any night of the year.


A large amount of research grade imaging equipment has been purchased and computer networking installed, we have an automated dome to provide people with disabilities a facility where they can carry out their own projects with the minimum of help by able-bodied people.


Other activities involve talks by Society members, Imaging trips to places like Kielder Forest in Northumberland and practical sessions which may be held either in the clubroom or at a venue suitable for the occasion such as Meteor Shower observing in a darker sky location.


If you are contemplating the purchase of a telescope - we can provide honest advice about the ‘Pros and Cons’ of the various types or seek advice about setting up or buying your first piece of observing equipment or new equipment such as cameras, telescopes, mounts etc. 


You can come along and ask questions about using telescopes, if you have a telescope and want to know how to use it better - we can help. 



How to take pictures of the Moon, Planets or Deep Sky Objects we have members who can help.


The Society members have a wealth of astronomical knowledge and experience, they have gained knowledge by learning and listening from other Professional/Amateur astronomers and are happy sharing this with members and visitors alike.


If you want to know more about what can be seen in the night sky, we have a very active observing/astro-photography section of the society who are always on hand to help out, so don’t just sit back on the sofa of an evening come and experience what we have to offer…


”Astronomy is looking up” 


Terry Dobson

Acting Chair.


Events & News








Come and join us for a friendly evening of chat, Tea, Coffee and Cakes.


 Our esteemed editor has asked that if any member has articles for the Phobos magazine, could they please forward them to him. 


 STELLARIUM - Probably the best free planetarium program around! 




 Image result for stellarium



Do you use Amazon?
You can now ask them to donate to WYAS through their Smile Charity donation scheme.
Just click this link to see more.




Thanks to Eric Wiley for the donation to the

StarGazing Live raffle.


Fancy building a telescope from scratch?

Or how about a cardboard steam engine!

Have a go at a cardboard newtonian.





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