Aylesbury Astronomical Society (AAS)
Guidance for visitors to the Upper Winchendon Observing Site
The Winchendon Observatory is on a remote, dark site just outside Upper Winchendon. It is particularly well suited for observing due to its high elevation and absence of light pollution.
The site is divided into two main areas, the first of the two areas contains the Colin Hunt Observatory, which is the large domed building surrounded by an area for car parking. A second area is a distance of 175 meters from the first along a rough footpath adjacent to the hedge. Although the Colin Hunt domed building is an observatory it is the second where the main observing is done, this is also where the AAS Meeting Hut is located.
Please note we have electricity for lighting, and limited heating in the meeting hut, but there is NO RUNNING WATER OR TOILET
Getting to the Observatory
Access to the site by car, especially at night, should be approached with the utmost caution. The entrance will be signposted on visitor nights with a light reflective sign showing the letters AAS and an arrow directing vehicles to the gated entrance. As the entrance is in a dip in the main road this makes turning into it additionally hazardous. Please allow for the possibility of fast moving following vehicles.
What to wear
It is more usual to observe in the winter months; cold frosty nights are often the best and visitors should be aware that this exposed hill-top site, so you will get extremely cold, often made worse by a wind chill factor. Please note there is no heating in the observatories and between telescope viewing opportunities, there is a lot of standing around outside.
Dark conditions the best for observing. We are lucky at Winchendon to have an excellent site in this respect. The best observing is achieved when your eyes have fully adjusted, and this only happens after you have been in complete darkness for about half an hour. However is easily spoilt in a matter seconds, with careless use of bright torchlight and will necessitate another half hour dark adaption period! For this reason we like to minimise the use of torches. You can however use red coloured light which has a minimal effect on your dark-adapted eyesight and this will be used at the observing sites.
Enjoy your visit
Finally, observing is wonderful experience, if you have not had the pleasure of seeing the heavens through a good telescope, first hand, with your own eyes rather than pictures in a book or TV, then you are in for a treat.
Please follow these simple basic rules and recommendations and you should have a memorable evening. Oh, I suggest you go to the loo before setting off!
The Aylesbury Astronomical Society cannot accept responsibility for loss, damage or injury, visitors are reminded they do so at their own risk.
Site Officer Aylesbury Astronomical Society