Club History

The Papworth Astronomy Club began life in 1994 as part of the “Individual Development Programme” run by the Papworth Trust, a major disability charity based in the village. We were helped to get the club up and running by Dr Keith Tritton, then of the Royal Greenwich Observatory in Cambridge and more recently with the Open University.

Patrick Moore gives a talk on the inner planets

December 6th, 1995

Club meetings started in the old IDP department, with the first official meeting on December 7th 1994. The speaker that evening was Dr Colin Humphreys from the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy at Cambridge University, who talked about his studies on the Star of Bethlehem – where, when and what it might have been.

Within a year we had to move our meetings to a larger room in Papworth Hall to accommodate our growing membership. We had six meetings in 1995, culminating in one of the highlights of the Club’s history on December 6th – a talk about the inner planets by none other than Sir Patrick Moore (pictured left in a press cutting about the meeting).

Colin Pillinger gives a talk about Beagle 2

A packed audience for Colin Pillinger's talk in 2001 about the Beagle 2 project

Keith Tritton is still a very active member of the club and has found us many other highly distinguished speakers over the years, including Dr David Marlin, Air Commodore Colin Foale, Prof. Colin Pillinger – and in November 1999 our first (but hopefully not last) Nobel Laureate, Prof. Antony Hewish – to name but a few.

But of course the most exciting aspect of astronomy is observing the night sky. In the early days we accepted the generous donation of a reflector telescope from a gentleman in Peterborough. Since 1999 we have held regular observing evenings, to which members bring along their own telescopes and the staff of Green Witch in Dry Drayton have brought along the latest equipment to demonstrate. In 2007, David Roberts kindly donated 2 hours of remote observing time on the Faulkes (North) Observatory in Hawaii, which the Club used over several sessions run from the Village Library.

The Faulkes telescope

Faulkes Telescope on Haleakala, Hawaii

You can now find a complete list of all the speakers that have ever addressed the Club in the Meetings Archive, as well as articles about some of the more memorable talks and events.