Bolton Astronomical Society


The Bolton Astronomical Society is a local group of enthusiasts, spanning a wide range of ages and experience.

The Society hosts a series of Tuesday evening meetings throughout year, including presentations by Society members or visiting guest speakers (often from local Universities). We also hold extra observing sessions and group events throughout the year.

Membership is open to all, and costs £20; annually (£10; for concessions). Non-members are welcome to attend our meetings at £2; per visit.

You can email the BAS Committee for more details.
Or if you have any feedback on this website, please email


Our Society meetings take place at:
Ladybridge Community Centre, Beaumont Drive, Bolton BL3 4RZ.

This is close to the A58 Beaumont Road, and not far from junction 5 of the M61. See the maps below or, to help plan your route use

We’re also close to the 715 bus route between Bolton and Wigan (10 mins from Bolton, and 45 mins from Wigan).The nearest stop is The Beaumont Arms, Armadale Road: Start planning your route on your smartphone by scanning the barcode below.

Calendar of Events

Meetings are held each month on Tuesday evenings, commencing at 7:30pm and concluding around 9pm. Our main meeting programme runs from September to May, usually on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, and over the summer we also get together on the first Tuesdays of June, July and August.

Admission is free to members, and visitors are welcome at £2; per visit.

Our meetings include talks from Members and Guest Speakers, plus more informal interactive “Activity Nights”.

The programme of our future meetings is shown below, but may occasionally be subject to late changes, so if you’re travelling from some distance, please contact the BAS Commitee by email to to confirm before making your journey.

Date Subject Presenter and Venue
2nd April Guest Speaker:- “Anglo-Saxon Astronomy.” Martin Lunn / Ladybridge Community Centre
16th April Workshop:- “Observing Night / Telescope and Mounts” If the skies are clear we’ll be observing the night sky, if not we shall be indoors helping people with their setup. BAS Members / Ladybridge Community Centre
7th May Members Talk:- “Twenty years of the Caldwell Objects” It is 20 years since the first book describing Patrick Moore’s Caldwell Catalogue was written. David brings us up date with images and descriptions of all 109 objects. David Ratledge / Ladybridge Community Centre
21st May TBC
4th June 2016 Quiz Night:-Laura will be our master of ceremonies for our annual quiz night. Laura Carroll /Ladybridge Community Centre


The Society caters for many different aspects of astronomy throughout the year, including:

We have also held outreach events at the following locations:

Most talks are given by our own Members, but we also host distinguished guests such as The Sky At Night’s Dr. Chris North in 2013, Jodrell Bank’s Prof. Ian Morison (who gave a brilliant talk on “Proving Einstein Right”) in 2012 and Prof. Colin Pillinger who visited in 2008.

In addition to our regular programme of Tuesday evening meetings, Society members can also take part in our group workshops which are hosted by our more experienced members.

And as a fully paid-up BAS member you will receive access to our Forums, Members Area and Gallery where you can ask questions freely and publish your latest astro-images for the public to see.
But most of all, we like to observe and image the skies from our home observatories.
The chart below forecasts the local weather and sky conditions for the next few nights.

And even when the clouds do roll in, our Members do their best to entertain, educate and go the extra mile (or 1500ft above sea-level) for that spectacular view, as a dedicated few did (at dawn!) during the Venus transit of June 2012.

Happily they all returned safely from the Winter Hill expedition that misty morning, however one Member was nearly sacrificed when food rations ran out!

Collaboration with Sharples School

Since spring 2012 we have been working with Sharples School - a Science Specialist College (on the North side of Bolton, see map below), who are running Astronomy classes for a group of their GCSE students.

We helped them to put together an array of observing and imaging equipment, including two Maksutov telescopes on GoTo mounts, a hydrogen-alpha solar scope, a webcam imager, a Dobsonian and a small refractor. Theyve also bought a set of ten small Newtonians for their students to use at home.

During the Schools Science Week in March 2012 we had a very successful session for the pupils to view the Sun in both broadband (white-light) and narrowband (hydrogen-alpha) wavelengths.

And then later that month we held our first evening observing session at the School, with more than a dozen ‘scopes set up (the School’s and BAS members’). We had marvellous views of the Moon, Jupiter, Venus and Mars, plus the Orion Nebula - and we even glimpsed the Andromeda galaxy!
As well as giving newcomers their first views of the sky, these sessions are also the perfect opportunity for our newer members to bring along their own kit and get some advice on using it.

In September 2013, the School hosted a special joint meeting, where Dr. Chris North from BBC TV’s The Sky At Night came along (flying in specially from a conference in Berlin!) to talk to us about his research work:

See also this report from The Bolton News.

We have more events planned in coming months - see our Members’ Area for details of how to get to the site, and watch our Forum for details of forthcoming events.

Ressources & Links

Member Webpages

The Holden Telescope of 1894

While researching the history of astronomy in Bolton, BAS founder member, Peter Miskiw was able to track down the Holden telescope to the Bolton Museum store room. He presented the following research to our society members in October 2011.

The 4-inch refractor was manufactured by W. Wray Opticians of London and was supplied by William Banks of Corporation Street Bolton. William Banks was a local astronomer of some note being a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and having his own observatory in the Bolton area. The telescope was donated to the Bolton Corporation in 1894 by Councillor T.W. Holden, hence the telescope’s name. The Bolton Chadwick Museum housed the telescope inside a wooden structure surmounted by a revolving dome on top of the pavilion building, which was located at Chorley New Road Park, later to be known as Queens Park after Queen Victorias Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

The dome, in reality a cone, can just be made out on the roof of the pavilion.A decline in interest in astronomy in 1907 forced the museum to dismantle the 4-inch refractor but the newly formed astronomy section of the Bolton Field Naturalists society in 1911 applied for it to be re-instated. It was agreed by Bolton Parks Committee that access to the wooden observatory was to be made via the main gate on Chorley New Road. Access to the observatory was given by permission of the Bolton Parks authority.

In January 1913, after a disagreement between the committee of the Bolton Field Naturalists Society and the curators of the museum regarding how a key had been obtained for the gate and then as to why the park gate was left open, the society agreed to pay the cost of moving the wooden observatory to its new location at the Markland Hill nursery. This time the wooden observatory was maintained by the astronomy section of the Bolton Field Naturalists Society and the Chadwick museum agreed to loan the telescope to them.

Attempts were made in 1923 to obtain an equatorial mount as the original mounting was deemed to be unreliable regarding keeping an astronomical object in its field of view. However, Bolton Corporation considered that such a mount would be much too expensive and the purchase appears to have been abandoned.

Bolton Astronomical Society members inspect the remnants of the Holden Telescope, 2011.In 1930 a letter was sent by Bolton Field Naturalists Society proposing that the telescope be returned to the museum citing The chief reason for our decision is the fact that those of our members interested in astronomy now have instruments of their own better equipped than Markland observatory telescope. Upon its return in 1932 it was noted for its bad condition resulting from poor maintenance. The Bolton Field Naturalists Society attempted to make some repairs to the telescope itself but several missing lenses (eyepieces) were not replaced.

The fate of the original wooden observatory is unknown but believed to have been abandoned in 1932 as attempts in 1935 by the Bolton Field Naturalists Society to relocate the telescope to Moss Bank Park were deemed unsuitable by the corporation. The telescope would remain locked away perhaps until 1963.

The Holden Telescope and observatory at Markland Hill, c. 1920s.The current curator of the Bolton central museum suggested that the telescope may have been used by an astronomy class at the civic centre in 1963. However, given the extremely poor condition of the Holden telescope it is much more likely that it was the second telescope in the keeping of Bolton Museums (see video) that was actually loaned out. Evidence also suggests that a telescope was used in 1966 by the WEA at the Technical Teaching Training College, which was located near the University of Bolton, Chadwick Campus but now derelict. Again it is more likely that it was the second telescope that was used. In relation to this, it should be noted that the training college once had an observatory dome located on its roof.

From this point, it is unknown as to when the telescope (whichever one it was) was finally returned back to the museum’s care. In October 2011 members of the Bolton Astronomical Society visited the museum storeroom to examine both telescopes.Click On Me to play

Bolton Astronomical Society claim no official ownership of the Holden telescope but we do consider it to be a vital part part of our local heritage. Any further information regarding the telescopes or the history of astronomy in Bolton would be gratefully received.

Research:- Peter Miskiw | Video:- Filmed by Dave Southworth | Website:- Carl Stone