Monmouth Astronomical Research Society (MARS)
MARS is a joint venture between pupils at Monmouth School for Boys and members of the public drawn from a radius of 30 miles. The society membership is from 10 to 80 years of age and includes amateur astronomers, professionals and students following GCSE, A level and Open University courses.
The society meets the first Tuesday of each month, at 7:30pm in the Science Department, with other meetings at irregular intervals. The Society also runs trips to astronomical centres e.g. the Herschel Museum, National Space Centre etc. There are also observing events (called star parties) several times a year. Monthly meetings involve lectures from experts, practical activities and observation work.
There are two specialist groups within the society. The Observatory Team consists of pupils in Monmouth School for Boys and Boys’ Prep. It is led by a year 10 pupils, Harry Baynham. The Observatory team maintain the school’s/society’s ten telescopes, the observatory building and imaging equipment. They also make improvements and modifications to them. The Faulkes Telescope Team operate the Faulkes Robotic Telescope in Hawaii, making observations of their own and carrying out research work for third party astronomers. Recent sessions have included the collection of stellar evolution images, calculating the rotation of asteroids and tracking Near Earth Objects (NEO’s) which present a potential threat in that they could collide with Earth.
The MARS membership exceeds 50 people and, until recently, was chaired by Keith Moseley with Colin Harris as Secretary and Felicity Taylor as Treasurer. Future plans include setting up Monmouth School for Boys and MARS as joint operators of a Faulkes Regional Centre. Our role will be to disseminate astronomy to other schools via a talks service, telescope loans, training to use the Faulkes Telescope and teamwork between the satellite schools in the carrying out off research work.