Guildford Astronomical Society

History of the Society

Humble Beginnings

Formed in 1955, Guildford Astronomical Society was originally the Guildford
Branch of the Junior Astronomical Society, (JAS) as recorded in the surviving record book, which is preserved
for posterity and reference as a record of our beginnings. Inside the front cover of the book, in fading ink,
the first entry says, “Nov,1955. 7 Vicarage Gate – Guildford. Mr Noon inaugurates Guildford J.A.S.”.

In these early days the meeting were held in the homes of the various founder members. One of these early
members, Mrs Dorothy Clapson, has been of great assistance in the recording of the Society’s history. In
December 1955, Mr Leslie Ball, the famous pioneer lunar cartographer, astronomer, astronomical artist and
resident of Guildford gave a talk to the Guildford JAS, on the subject of the Moon. This must have been a
success, for the next meeting was held at Warwick bench in February 1956, was again given by Leslie on the same
subject and indeed it transpires that this was a 2-part talk. Other speakers to the society appear in the
inside the front cover of the early record book and are as follows:

  • June 1956 Tangley Cottage, Wonersh – Mr Thorne talks on a Caxton Hall visit and telescopic
    observation.
  • October 1956 Warwick Bench, Guildford – Mr Cowburn talks on aspects of astronomy.
  • December 1956 7 Vicarage Gate, Guildford (CANCELLED)
  • February 1957 Derry Dale,Clandon – Mr Noon talks on forthcoming events in the night sky.
  • April 1957 Tangley Cottage, Wonersh – Mr Patrick Moore gives an illustrated talk on the
    planets.

At the bottom of the inside front cover is the following comment, “2 trips to Mr Noons observatory at
Oxshott also took place 1956-57”.

In 1957, the first minutes from a meeting of the Guildford JAS were recorded in the same book.

“A general meeting of the Junior Astronomical Society, Guildford Branch was held on Tuesday May 7th 1957
at Mr and Mrs Maloy’s house, W. Clandon. Seven members were present. There was a great deal of business on the
agenda – the appointment of officers for the succeeding year and problems involved in the administration,
charities and future policy of the Society. Mrs Maloy resigned form her office as co-Secretary due to pressure
of other activities. Mrs Gregson the former co-Secretary was re-elected. Miss K Harding was elected Treasurer.
It was decided that members pay an annual subscription due in May of 5 shillings to cover postage, possible
expenses incurred in inviting visiting speakers and to form a residual fund for any other expenses that might
crop up. Members also discussed the suggestion made by Patrick Moore when he visited the Guildford group on
April at Wonersh, that the group could expand and invite the interested school age children to join meetings.
This was thought to be impractical on a large scale, mainly owing to the habitual time and place of meetings
which are held in the late evening at private houses. However it was hoped to stimulate interest in the young
by probably arranging a big daytime meeting with a guest speaker, later in the autumn, possibly in
collaboration with the Guide and Scout organisations. Finally members discussed the possibility of tackling
rather more study and developing set topics arranged amongst themselves. It was hoped that this would lead to
more frequent meetings at about 6 week intervals, and thus reduce the difficulties involved in endeavouring to
ask an outside speaker to every meeting. After delicious coffee and cakes had been provided by Mrs Maloy it was
agreed that the next meeting should take place on Tuesday June 18th and that the evenings topic should be the
Moon.

M.Gregson”

…and so the first minutes ever recorded of Guildford Branch of the Junior Astronomical Society were
written.

The first meeting in a venue of another type was held at the Red Cross House in Jenner Road. This venue was
used on several occasions when an ‘open meeting’ was held for members and their friends. In addition to the Red
Cross House, another venue was introduced for the May 6th 1969 meeting, this being the Lantern Cafe in Quarry
Street. The reason given as being ‘due to a shortage of accomodation’.

The following meeting on October 7th was held at Fairlands Community Centre. It was announced at the meeting
on January 14th 1970, that the meetings for the nest three months be held at the Lantern Restaurant, at a
charge of 5 shillings per head for refreshments. In the event, the next 7 meetings were held there, the last
being on Tuesday October 1970. From there the meetings moved to the Corona Cafe in the High Street.

At the AGM on June 3rd 1975 it was decided to move the monthly meetings to the Brew House, at the back of
the Library in North Street, this being due to the fact that the Society had outgrown the Corona Cafe. From
1971 onwards the monthly reports seem to have stopped and only reports of the AGM’s appear in the second book.
The move was made to the Guildford Institute in 1980 due to the rising costs of hiring the Brew House, where we
still hold our regular meetings.

The 80’s

Regular monthly observing sessions were only very occasional up to the
1980’s. In the early 80’s Rory Fenner assumed the mantle of Master of Ceremonies for these events and the
gradully developed into the monthly sessions we still run to this day. During National Astronomy Week in 1985
to celebrate the return of Halley’s Comet, evening observing sessions for the public were held at Pewley Downs
for a week to view the comet. Over 1,000 people arrived over the period. Brian States and David Dyer also
opened their observatory to the public using the 12″ telescope and all who came, (some 100), saw it.

There have always been trips of astronomical nature arranged at least once in most years, such as Jodrell
Bank, Royal Observatory Grenwich and the Herschel Museum in Slough, but the Society trip of 1986 was by far the
most ambitious.

The President, Phillip Beastall arranged a coach trip for a few days to the observatories of Paris and
Meudon in France. The trip went ahead with few problems, the worst being the necessity of persuading people
from outside the Society to make up the numbers required to fill the coach.

In 1987, the President, Brian States negotiated the purchase of an historic 20.5″ telescope for £700. This
instrument was at the time, one of the largest in amateur hands in the south of England. It is now known as the
John Smith Telescope

Twinned with Houston Astronomical Society

Brian States with Larry Wadle from Houston had been instrumental bringing to
fruition the idea of twinning both Societies. Larry had been attending GAS meetings whilst working in Guildford
on secondment. 1987 saw the formal signing of the Twinning charter between GAS and the Houston Astronomical
Society which was signed by him and the President of Houston Astronomical Society, Lee Cain on 5th June,
1987.

Initially, the idea was to co-operate on joint projects of scientific value, such as the observation of
variable stars. The 90 degree difference in the longitude of our 2 Societies allows a longer period of
observing a given object. As we lose an object in the morning sky – Houston being 6 hours behind us can carry
on with the observation. There is also an exchange of magazines and written letters between members of the two
Societies. We also publish a monthly article (‘Pond Talk’), in the Houston Magazine, ‘GUIDESTAR’, thus keeping
them up to date with what is happening over here.

Past Officers

The following list details the Officers and Committee members since the
beginning of the Society.

 

1955 to 1956 No Officers
1956 to 1957 No Officers
1957 to 1958 Secretary – Mrs Maloy
Treasurer – Miss K Harding
1958 to 1967 Secretary – Mr Kenneth Cowburn
Treasurer – Mr John Maloy
1967 to 1968 Chairman – Mr Brian Leighton
Secretary – Mr Kenneth Cowburn
Treasurer – Mr John Maloy
1968 to 1969 Chairman – Mr Brian Leighton
Secretary – Mr K Gilham
Treasurer – Mr John Maloy
1969 to 1970 Chairman – Mr Brian Leighton
Secretary – Mrs Dorothy Clapson
Treasurer – Mr John Maloy
1970 to 1971 President – Mr Charles Field
Secretary – Mrs Dorothy Clapson
Treasurer – Mr John Maloy/Mr Willian Scantlesbury
1971 to 1972 President – Mr Charles Field
Secretary – Mrs Dorothy Clapson
Treasurer – Mr Willian Scantlesbury
Committee – Mr Arthur Croker, Mr G Pascual
1972 to 1973 President – Mr Charles Field
Secretary – Mrs Dorothy Clapson
Treasurer – Mr Willian Scantlesbury
Committee – Mr Michael McOnegal, Mr Edward Masters, Mrs Livock, Miss Sheila Morris
1973 to 1974 President – Mr Charles Field
Secretary – Mrs Dorothy Clapson
Assistant Secretary – Mrs Jean Mickle
Treasurer – Mr Edward Masters
Committee – Mr Anthony Hudson, Mr Anthony Mickle
1974 to 1975 President – Mr John Smith
Secretary – Mrs Dorothy Clapson
Assistant Secretary – Mrs Jean Mickle
Treasurer – Mr Edward Masters/Mrs Shiela Morris
Committee – Mr R McKay, Mrs John Smith
1975 to 1976 President – Mr John Smith
Secretary – Mrs Dorothy Clapson
Assistant Secretary – Mrs Jean Mickle
Treasurer – Mrs Shiela Morris
Committee – Mr John Vines, Mr Brian Shorter
1976 to 1977 President – Mr Anthony Mickle
Secretary – Mrs Dorothy Clapson
Treasurer – Mrs Shiela Morris
Committee – Mr Lawrence Anslow, Mr John Burger
1977 to 1978 President – Mr Anthony Mickle
Secretary – Mrs Joan Prosser
Treasurer – Mrs Shiela Morris
Press – Mr Christopher Hopper
Committee – Mr Arthur Good, Mr Rory Fenner
1978 to 1979 President – Mr Dennis Bradshaw
Secretary – Mrs Joan Prosser
Treasurer – Mrs Shiela Morris
Press – Mr Rory Fenner
Committee – Mr Brian Shorter, Mr Christopher Hopper
1979 to 1980 President – Mr Dennis Bradshaw
Secretary – Mrs Joan Prosser
Treasurer – Mrs Shiela Morris
Committee – Mr Peter Knee, Mr Christopher Hopper
1980 to 1981 President – Mr Peter Knee
Secretary – Mrs Joan Prosser
Treasurer – Mrs Shiela Morris
Committee – Mr Ron Wood, Mr Brian Shorter, Mr John Smith, Mr Dennis Bradshaw, Mr Zachary Moores
1981 to 1982 President – Mr Peter Knee
Secretary – Mrs Joan Prosser
Treasurer – Mrs Shiela Morris
Committee – Mr Ron Wood, Mr Brian Shorter, Mr John Smith, Mrs Olive Bannatyne, Mr Zachary Moores
1982 to 1983 President – Mr Peter Knee
Secretary – Mrs Joan Prosser
Treasurer – Mrs Shiela Morris
Librarian – Mr Brian Shorter
Newsletter Editor – Mr Brian States
Committee – Mr Ron Wood, Mr B Ryan, Mr Anthony Mickle, Mrs Olive Bannatyne, Mr Matthew Stevens
1983 to 1984 President – Mr Ian Howard-Duff
Secretary – Mrs Joan Prosser
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham
Librarian – Mr Brian Shorter
Magazine Editor/Houston Coordinator – Mr Brian States
Deputy Editor – David Dyer
Committee – Mr Ron Wood, Mr John Smith, Mrs Olive Bannatynne
1984 to 1985 President – Mr Ian Howard-Duff
Vice-President – Peter Knee
Secretary – Mrs Joan Prosser
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham
Librarian – Mr Brian Shorter
Magazine Editor/Houston Coordinator – Mr Brian States
Deputy Editor – Mr David Dyer
Committee – Mr Olive Bannatynne, Mr John Smith, Mr Simon Bradshaw, Miss Joy Bunyan
1985 to 1986 President – Mr Phillip Beastall
Vice-President – Mrs Joan Prosser
Secretary – Ian Howard-Duff
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham
Librarian – Mr Brian Shorter
Magazine Committee – Miss Joy Bunyan, Mr Simon Bradshaw, Mr Phillip Griffiths
Houston Coordinator – Mr Brian States
Observational Coordinator – Mr Rory Fenner
Committee – Mr Ron Wood, Mr Peter Knee
1986 to 1987 President – Mr Phillip Beastall
Vice-President – Mrs Joan Prosser
Secretary – Ian Howard-Duff
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham
Librarian – Mr Brian Shorter
Magazine Editor – Miss Joy Bunyan
Assistant Editor – Mr Peter Dean
Houston Coordinator – Mr Brian States
Observational Coordinator – Mr Rory Fenner
1987 to 1988 President – Mr Brian States/Mr Phillip Beastal
Vice-President – Mr Phillip Beastall
Secretary – Mr Peter Dean
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham
Librarian – Mr Brian Shorter
Magazine Editor – Miss Joy Bunyan
Assistant Editor – Mr Peter Dean
Houston Coordinator – Mr Brian States
Observational Coordinator – Mr Rory Fenner
Press Officer – Mr Phillip Beastall
Committee – Mrs Joan Prosser, Mr Peter Knee, Mr Simon Marchant, Mr Ian Howard-Duff, Mr John Smith
1988 to 1989 President – Mr Phillip Beastal
Vice-President – Vacant
Secretary – Mr Peter Dean
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham
Librarian – Mr Brian Shorter
Magazine Editor – Miss Joy Bunyan
Assistant Editor – Mr Peter Dean
Houston Coordinator – Mr Brian States
Observational Coordinator – Mr Rory Fenner
Press Officer – Mr Alan Langmaid
Observatory Director – Mr Phillip Beastall
Committee – Mr Dave Dyer, Mr Richard Mould, Mr Steve Batterson, Mr Simon Marchant
1989 to 1990 President – Mr Robert Sutherland
Vice-President – Mr Peter Dean
Secretary – Miss Joy Bunyan
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham.
1990 to 1991 President – Mr Robert Sutherland
Vice-President – Mr Peter Robertson
Secretary – Mr Alan Langmaid
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham
1991 to 1992 President – Mr Brian Gordon-States
Vice-President – Mr David Dyer
Secretary – Mr Alan Langmaid
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham.
1992 to 1993 President – Mr Peter Dean
Vice-President – Mr Michael Standage
Secretary – Mr Alan Langmaid
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham
1993 to 1994 President – Mr Michael Standage
Vice-President – Mr Peter Dean
Secretary – Mr Alan Langmaid
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham
1994 to 1995 President – Mr Robin Cordell
Vice-President – Mr Michael Standage
Secretary – Mr Alan Langmaid
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham
1995 to 1996 President – Mr Robin Cordell
Vice-President – Mr Martin Jackson
Secretary – Mr Alan Langmaid
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham
1996 to 1997 President – Mr Martin Jackson
Vice-President – Mr Robin Cordell
Secretary – Mr Alan Langmaid
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham
1997 to 1998 President – Mr Martin Jackson
Vice-President – Mr Adrian Orr
Secretary – Mr Alan Langmaid
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham
1998 to 1999 President – Mr Adrian Orr
Vice-President – Mr Peter Ward
Secretary – Mr Alan Langmaid
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham
1999 to 2000 President – Mr Peter Ward
Vice-President – Mr Gavin Stacey
Secretary – Mr Alan Langmaid
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham
2000
to 2001
President – Mr Peter Ward
Vice-President – Mr Gavin Stacey
Secretary – Mr Alan Langmaid
Treasurer – Mr David Sparham
Observatory Director – Mr Brian Shorter
Assitant Observatory Director – Mr Adrian Selby
Observational Co-ordinator – Mr Gavin Stacey
Press & Publicity Officer – Mr Jon Laver
Newsletter Editor – Mr Alan Martin
Librarian – Mr Laurence Hall
Member – Mr Jonathan Silverlight
Member – Mr Grant Privett
Member – Mr Robert Horton
Member – Mr John Banks
2001 to 2002 President – Mr Gavin Stacey
Vice-President – Mr Martin Jackson
Secretary – Mr John Bushell
Treasurer – Mr John Banks
Observatory Director – Mr Brian Shorter
Assitant Observatory Director – Mr Adrian Selby
Observational Co-ordinator – Mr Gavin Stacey
Press & Publicity Officer – Mr James Wilhelm
Newsletter Editor – Mr Alan Martin
Librarian – Mr Laurence Hall
2002 to 2003 President – Gavin Stacey
Vice-President – Martin Jackson
Secretary – John Bushell
Treasurer – Ted Dodman
Observatory Director – Brian Shorter
Assitant Observatory Director – Adrian Selby
Observational Co-ordinator – Gavin Stacey
Website – James Wilhelm
Newsletter Editor – Alan Martin
Librarian – David Reynolds
Committee 1 – Chris Hopper
Committee 2 – Bob Peake
Committee 3 – Anthony Pascual
2003 to 2004 President – Gavin Stacey
Vice-President – Martin Jackson
Secretary – John Bushell
Treasurer – Ted Dodman
Observatory Director – Brian Shorter
Assitant Observatory Director – Adrian Selby
Observational Co-ordinator – Gavin Stacey
Website – James Wilhelm
Newsletter Editor: Alan Martin for the first few months. Tony Marsh took over temporarily. Neil Ross became the official Editor early 2004.
2004 to 2005 President – Gavin Stacey
Vice-President – Peter Wooliams
Secretary – John Bushell
Treasurer – Ted Dodman
Observatory Director – Brian Shorter
Observational Co-ordinator – John Axtell
Website – James Wilhelm
Librarian – David Reynolds
Newsletter Editor: Neil Ross
Committee Members – Tony Marsh, Bob Peake, Anthony Pascual, Matthew Mallianson
Junior Rep. – Ben Chimes.
2005 to 2006 President – Gavin Stacey
Vice-President – Martin Jackson
Secretary – John Bushell
Treasurer – Ted Dodman
Observatory Director – Brian Shorter
Assitant Observatory Director – Adrian Selby
Observational Co-ordinator – Gavin Stacey
Website – James Wilhelm
Newsletter Editor: Neil Ross.
2008 to 2009 President – John Evans
Vice-President – Neil Ross
Secretary – John Axtell
Treasurer – Ted Dodman
Observatory Director – Chris Hopper
Observatory Assitant Director – John Evans
Observational Co-ordinator – John Axtell
Observational Co-ordinator Assistant – Tony Questa
Librarian – Matthew Mallinson
Website – James Wilhelm
Newsletter Editor – Neil Ross
Junior Rep – Ben Chimes
Auditors – Sheilagh Godwin and John Bushell
Committee members – Tony Marsh, Peter Woolliams, Bob Peake, Richard Alder
2009 to 2010 President – John Evans
Secretary – John Axtell
Treasurer – Ted Dodman
Observation Director – Tony Questa
Outreach Officer – Julia Gaudelli
Librarian – Matthew Mallinson
Website – Paul Daniels
Newsletter Editor – Peter Dean
Committee members – Peter Chance, Brian Gordon-States, Tony Marsh, Pam Noon, Bob Peake, Richard Stebbing
2010 to 2011 President – John Evans
Secretary – John Axtell
Treasurer – Ted Dodman
Observation Director – Tony Questa
Outreach Officer – TBA
Librarian – Matthew Mallinson
Website – Paul Daniels
Newsletter Editor – Peter Dean
Committee members – Peter Chance, Brian Gordon-States, Tony Marsh, Pam Noon, Bob Peake, Richard Stebbing, Louise Weller
2011 to 2012 President – Ted Dodman
Secretary – TBA
Treasurer – Tony Questa
Observation Director – Tony Questa
Outreach Officer – TBA
Librarian – Matthew Mallinson
Website – Paul Daniels
Newsletter Editor – Peter Dean
Observatory Management Team – Peter Chance, Richard Stebbing
Committee members – Peter Chance, Chris Franklin, David Jenkinson, Peter Madelaine, Pam Noon, Richard Stebbing, Louise Weller
2012 to 2013 President – Dr Paul A Daniels
Secretary – Tony Questa
Treasurer – Pam Noon
Observation Director – Rob Graham
Outreach Officer –
Librarian – Matthew Mallinson
Website – Chris Franklin
Newsletter Editor –
Observatory Management Team – Peter Chance, Tony Questa, Richard Stebbing
Health & Safety – Dave Jenkinson
Social – Louise Weller
Committee members – Peter Chance, Chris Franklin, David Jenkinson, Pam Noon, Richard Stebbing, Louise Weller, Symon Plant
2013 to 2014 President – Dr Paul A Daniels
Secretary – Tony Questa
Treasurer – Pam Noon
Observation Director – Rob Graham
Outreach Officer – Symon Plant (& Loan Scopes)
Librarian – Matthew Mallinson
Website – Chris Franklin
Publicity – Adrian Lilly
Observatory Management Team – Peter Chance, John Evans, Tony Questa, Richard Stebbing
Health & Safety – Dennis Butcher
Committee members – Peter Chance, Chris Franklin, Pam Noon, Richard Stebbings, Louise Weller, Symon Plant
2014 to 2015 President – Dr Paul A Daniels
Secretary – Tony Questa
Treasurer – Pam Noon
Observation Director – Rob Graham
Outreach Officer – Symon Plant (& Loan Scopes), Ian Atkins (Deputy Outreach)
Librarian – Matthew Mallinson
Website – Paul A Daniels
Publicity – Adrian Lilly
Observatory Management Team – Peter Chance, John Evans, Tony Questa, Richard Stebbing
Health & Safety – Dennis Butcher
Social – Brian Whitehorn (& 60th Anniversary Coordinator)
Committee members – Peter Chance, Chris Franklin, Pam Noon, Richard Stebbing, Louise Weller, Symon Plant
2015 to 2016 President – Dr Paul A Daniels
Secretary – Adrian Lilly
Treasurer – Pam Noon
Observation Director – Rob Graham
Loan Scope Coordinator – Pam Hewwitt
Outreach Officer – Brian Whitehorn
Librarian – Matthew Mallinson
Webmaster – Anthony Ward
Publicity – Adrian Lilly
Observatory Management Team – Peter Chance, John Evans, Tony Questa, Richard Stebbing, Anthony Ward
Social – Brian Whitehorn
New Members & Beginners’ Contact – John Evans
Ask an Astronomer – John Evans
Committee members – Paul Daniels, Peter Chance, Rob Graham, Matthew Mallinson, Adrian Lilly, Pam Noon, Tony Questa, Anthony Ward, Brian Whitehorn
2016 to 2017 President – Dr Paul A Daniels
Secretary – Adrian Lilly
Treasurer – Pam Noon
Observation Director – Rob Graham
Loan Scope Coordinator – Pam Hewwitt
Outreach – John Axtell, Julia Gaudelli, Richard Stebbing
Librarian – Matthew Mallinson
Webmaster – Anthony Ward
Publicity – Adrian Lilly
Observatory Management Team – Peter Chance, John Evans, Tony Questa, Richard Stebbing, Anthony Ward
Social – Emily Robinson
New Members & Beginners’ Contact – John Evans
Ask an Astronomer – John Evans
Committee members – Paul Daniels, Matthew Mallinson, Adrian Lilly, Pam Noon, Stephen Piatkowski, Emily Robinson, Nick Tanton, Tony Questa, Anthony Ward, George Zealey

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