Durham Astronomical Society History

The society was the idea of the late George Bell along with the help of Dr David Hyde and Dr Julia Lee of Durham University. They produced posters and sent them out to libraries and factories. The first meeting would be held on the fourth Wednesday of February 1989 at the Durham Adult education centre Old Elvet.

The meeting was attended by over 20 people to listen to a talk given by Arnold Wolfendale (later to become Astronomer Royal 1991 to 1995). George Bell was elected as Chairman Dr David Hyde secretary and Ida Bell as Treasurer Dr Richard Stephenson who also helped out was named honorary chairman. When Julia Lee and David Hyde left through work commitments we lost the use of the room at the adult education centre and had to move to the Shakespeare Hall in Durham Main Street, our membership dropped because of poor parking facilities, after 3 years we moved to our next meeting room at St Oswald's church hall in Durham. After 2 years we had to move again to a venue at Redwood Lodge and after a long stay at this venue we now find ourselves at Durham University Botanic Gardens, which we hope to make our permanent home, building an new observatory (housing 3 telescopes) to augment our meetings in the visitor centre.

During our time we have had many interesting trips such as Edinburgh Observatory, Jodrell bank, Cambridge observatories, Liverpool Astronomical Society, some members travelled to Turkey for the total eclipse of the Sun after failing to see totality in 1999. Members also go to star parties at Dalby forest and Keilder forest. The society has at this time about 20 members but hopefully with our new venue and better parking we will attract more future members and therefore be able to hire speakers from further afield and possibly arrange more trips of astronomical interest.


Prof F Richard Stephenson

(Physics Dept. Durham University)


Sir Arnold Whittaker Wolfendale FRS

(served as Astronomer Royal from 1991 to 1995)