Future of Astronomical Society to be discussed

THE future of The Galloway Forest Astronomical Society could be in jeopardy thanks to the pressure placed on it from the Dark Sky Park status awarded to Galloway Forest Park in 2010.

Membership of the society has fallen recently so chariman Robin Bellerby has arranged an open meeting to discuss its activities and future next week.

He said: “The Society was not prepared for the huge demand which followed the awarding of International Dark Sky status to the park. The application was made by Forestry, not by the Society, but thanks to the internet, we became a major point of contact.

“Literally hundreds of people, mostly from the UK but also from other countries, have asked for individual viewing facilities, and even the keenest of members have been overwhelmed with the calls upon their time.”

The Society, founded in 1998 as the Wigtownshire Astronomical Society, owns and operates an Observatory, but membership has fallen.

Registered as a Charity, the Society exists to provide service to members and also a more general educational purpose, and visits are made to schools, Scouts and adult groups on a regular basis, and group visits hosted at the Observatory.

Robin added: “But the Society now needs to decide upon its future role - non members will be welcome at the meeting, and if demand exists, a further series of classes in basic astronomy will be held for beginners.”

The meeting will take place next Saturday, 10 March in the McMillan Hall, Newton Stewart.

Further information may be obtained from Robin on 01671 404387.