Step-by-step: stargazing guide
Want an event that's truly out of this world? The BBC's
Stargazing LIVE team are eager to encourage more schools to join in
with their annual programme. For an extra-stellar evening, get
their 'Event Pack' for some great activities and
Thousands of stargazing events have taken place as part
of Stargazing LIVE, bringing together schools,
astronomical societies, museums and discovery centres - all
contributing to a national stargazing celebration! A stargazing
evening makes a great event for the whole family, and it's
reassuringly educational too! BBC Learning have some fabulous resources
including activity cards - such as make your own mini planetarium -
and teacher packs with worksheets. These will be invaluable if the
weather's against you and you're driven indoors!
Most importantly you'll need an expert! If you don't have a
suitable volunteer, then contact the Federation of Astronomical
Societies, who have details of groups across the UK. Visit fedastro.org.uk/fas/.
Work with your expert to understand what equipment is required
and who will provide it. Check your PTA insurance summary to see
what is covered. Where other organisations (paid or otherwise) are
bringing equipment, they must have their own insurance cover in
place.Ask them to provide a copy of this prior to the event.
Send out letters promoting your event (and to sell tickets).
Provide a list of items which your guests need to bring - torches,
folding chairs etc. Make it clear that anyone bringing their own
telescopes or binoculars does so at their own risk. Have some red
cellophane on hand to stick over torches, minimising light
Start inside with some facts and figures about the Solar System.
Download a Stargazing LIVE event pack which includes some great
content and safety instructions. Other activity packs are
also available to download on their website.
Use the BBC learning guides to set up indoor activities for
children - little ones won't stare at the sky in the cold for too
Decide what refreshments to offer - tea, coffee and soft drinks.
Or you may want to offer mulled wine, but remember that a licence
will be required if selling alcohol.
Do you want to provide food? This could be something as simple
as hotdogs, or continue your astronomical theme and offer
Events using BBC resources must be free to attend. You can
charge to cover costs, eg. guest speakers, but not to
Raffles and prize draws are a good way to make money.
Hot drinks (including mulled wine) will help keep your guests
warm and will boost revenue.
You'll need a few volunteers to check tickets on arrival, help
set up and clear away, and to organise activities for the
If providing food and refreshments, you'll need a few people to
help serve these.
Make it clear to parents that they're responsible for their
children and that they shouldn't be left unattended.
Publicise the event on posters, notice boards, newletters
If your event is open to the wider community then promote it on
the BBC's 'Things To Do' website - bbc.co.uk/thingstodo.
CASE STUDY: STARGAZING EVENING
Lynne McFarlane, chair, Loseley Fields Primary School,
Surrey (274 pupils) told us about her fantastic
stargazing evening: 'In September, classes in our 274-strong
primary were renamed after constellations. What better way to
launch this than to blast off with an astronomical event? A parent
friend introduced me to local organisation, Astronomy 4 Everyone,
who really made the idea fly. They supplied telescopes, knowledge
and enthusiasm, leaving the Friends to organise a BBQ,
refreshments, raffle and junk-modelling (extending the event for
younger children). We piggy-backed the BBC's Stargazing LIVE
programme, listing the event on their website beforehand and
accessing free resources. We created an event on Facebook, put
posters up locally and one of the astronomers ran a school
assembly. The main concerns were weather and overcrowding. The risk
assessment boiled down to having a good parking plan (we used our
local football club) and helpers at the gates monitoring numbers.
On the night, Jupiter and its moons appeared from behind the cloud.
We had a good turnout from the local community and the head
received many positive comments from staff and parents. We made
about £380 and followed up by sending details to the local paper.
We found new friends in the stargazing community and hope to do it
The above is intended as guidance only. We
recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific
reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child
protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held
responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on
the guidance provided.
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