School Nights

Request a school astronomy night and our members will set up a variety of telescopes so school children and their parents can observe and learn about the night sky.

We conduct school telescope nights a few times most months for primary and high schools around Brisbane.  We invite requests from schools in the metropolitan Brisbane region encompassed by Caboolture, Ipswich and Beenleigh.

Primary Schools

For primary school children we recommend selecting dates when the moon is visible in the early evening, preferably in the period extending from about 4 days prior to the lunar first quarter through to about two days before full moon.  We suggest checking moon rise and set times here to find suitable dates each month.

High Schools

High school students may be more interested in deeper space objects and any date beyond three or four days either side of the full moon would be suitable.  However please be aware of the profound impact that city light pollution has on the ability to observe faint and very distant objects from within metropolitan Brisbane.

School Checklist

When contacting BAS to request a school night please provide us with the following information:

  • Your preferred dates.
  • An estimate of the number of students and parents that may attend.
  • The location of your sports field or wide open area where telescopes may be located. We prefer to have direct vehicle access onto these locations due to the weight and bulk of telescope equipment.
  • The location must also be free from automated pop-up sprinklers.
  • The name and contact details of a school contact that will coordinate and promote the event to students.

For schools with large numbers of students, siblings and parents attenting an evening we would also appreciate the assistance of a teacher or school representative in a “crowd control” role at the telescopes.  Speeding kids, dark sports fields and delicate equipment can make for an interesting mix.

Timing

During the cooler months from about mid-April to the end of August the sun sets by 5:30pm or earlier. During this period we typically have our telescopes ready for observing by about 6:00pm and most evenings run for between one and two hours depending upon the number of students and the range of objects visible at that time of year. In the warmer months the start time will be later to accommodate the later sunset and extended summer twilight.

Weather

The winter months are normally more kind to astronomy as skies are more often clear and rain less likely. If you have booked a school night with us you might like to keep an eye on the cloud forecast in the day or two leading up to your booking. We suggest you take a look at the specialist cloud forecasting site designed for astronomy, SkippySky. We will also contact your school organiser on the morning of your booking and jointly make the final Go/NoGo decision on your event.

Cost

Brisbane Astronomical Society offers our outreach service free-of-charge to schools. However, our organization does incur costs in conducting this program.  We pay a substantial public liability insurance fee each year to cover this program and other events.  We also offer a very modest financial compensation to our volunteers to help defray fuel costs – some of our volunteers can travel several hundred kilometres in a busy week of school nights.  As a result, if schools have budget for extracurricular programs we suggest, and would very much appreciate, a modest donation to our society of about $1 per student that attends an outreach evening.  However, we fully understand many schools have no such budget and we seek no donation when this is the case.

The most simple donation mechanism is via direct transfer to our account. Our details are:

Account name: Brisbane Astronomical Society Inc
Bank: Bank of Queensland
BSB: 124030
Account Number: 10168155

Planning Ahead for 2020

The months with the most interesting observing objects in 2020 will be July to October. During these months we will have the planets Saturn and Jupiter visible in the early evening Brisbane sky, plus Mars will also be well placed from October. Weeks when the Moon will be closest to first-quarter will also be the best period of these months as the lunar craters will be most prominent. So, get in early and book dates a few days before or after the first-quarter dates of July 27th, August 26th or September 24th or October 23rd 2020. Schools are also welcome to book nights at any other period of 2020, but just be aware the planets might not be visible and more distant deep-sky objects are badly affected by city light pollution and Moon light.

Useful information for planning school nights

An information page for schools organising telescope nights is – available here.:

To book a school visit, contact the Education Officer at education@bas.asn.au.

Upcoming School Nights

BAS members are encouraged to help out and pass on some of their knowledge and experience. Members can register to help at an event by contacting the education officer at education@bas.asn.au. Please provide your phone number so you can be contacted if the event is postponed. Details of the event will then be emailed to you.

Members who have rented BAS equipment will get their rental fee refunded if they bring the BAS equipment along and help out with at least one school night, or Public Viewing Night, or other outreach events.

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