The SGS Astronomy Club run by Mr Beauchamp is open to all students in Year 9 and above. We discuss current topics in Astronomy and share our excitement and fascination with the night sky. The topics for each week’s meetings are advertised on the Astronomy notice board outside S8 so that any student may ‘drop in’ on any meeting that interests them.
Each week’s Notes contain observation suggestions which can be carried out at home, removing the need for regular evening meetings at school. However, we stay after school around Christmas for ‘guided tours’ of the night sky, and the chance to use the School’s telescopes, weather permitting. We also arrange regular visits to Keele University Observatory and Birmingham Planetarium.
Regular attendance and participation can be used towards part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Especially keen members also have the opportunity to take a GCSE in Astronomy. All the teaching of GCSE Astronomy at SGS takes place during lunchtime Club meetings. The course is covered over two years, usually Years 9 and 10; there is a written examination and two practical (controlled assessment) projects. Textbooks and other resources are available as with any other taught subject, and homework is set every week.
There is no need for students to have their own telescope to enjoy Astronomy; a reasonable pair of eyes is enough, although access to a pair of binoculars at home would be useful.
Access to a computer is rather more important, as students are provided with planetarium software and we are able (via the internet) to use the Liverpool and Bradford robotic telescopes in the Canary Islands and the Faulkes Telescopes in Hawaii and Australia. The SGS Astronomy Blog also acts as a Club notice board, with up-to-date information about observations and other news. Nevertheless, the club is committed to open access and will do everything possible to allow any interested student to participate fully, regardless of their personal circumstances.