South Downs Planetarium, Chichester

A PDF version of the minutes is available here.

Chair: Phil Alner

Hosting Chair: James Fradgley Wessex AS


Brighton & Hove AS John Bush
Brighton & Hove AS Barry Moppett
Brighton & Hove AS John Wade
Cody AS Phil Alner
Crawley AS Jim Swift
Crawley AS Neil Morrison
Croydon AS Alan Drummond
Croydon AS John Murrell
Edenbridge & District Astronomers Clive Cook
Farnham AS Danny Thomas
Farnham AS Peter Campbell-Burns
Foredown Tower Astronomers Ann Moore
Foredown Tower Astronomers George Hurrion
Guildford AS John Axtell
Guildford AS Tony Questa
Hampshire AG Graham Bryant
Hantsastro David Woods
Horsham AG John Bartlett
South Downs AS John Whittington
South Downs AS Jan Whittington
Wessex AS James Fradgley
Wessex AS Alan Jefferis
Worthing Astronomers Janet Young
Worthing Astronomers Brian Halls


Jason Hall Ashford AS
Richard Flux Vectis AS
Keith Brackenborough  Eastbourne AS
 Phil Berry  Wadhurst AS
Graham Jeever Edenbridge & District Observing group



Phil opened the meeting and welcomed everybody. Phil then introduced James Fradgley as hosting Chairman and Alan Jefferis taking the minutes. He handed the Chair to James.

Minutes of the October Meeting and Matters Arising

A question from George Hurrion sought explanation of the reasons behind the resignations reported in the minutes and raised doubts about the constitutional position of the Committee following those resignations. In the discussion that followed explanations were given by some of those involved about the process by which interim appointments had been made and the reasons given by some of those who had resigned. However it was put to the meeting that the matters were not appropriate to be pursued by the current meeting. Accordingly it was agreed on a show of hands by 10 in favour and 4 against that we proceed with the rest of the agenda.

The minutes of the previous meeting were then approved on a show of hands with none against.

SAGAS Committee

Phil reported on the Committee meeting just held as follows:-

The SAGAS Financial Policy Document had been ratified and is now on the website.

Nominations for the vacant and temporarily filled positions in the Committee are needed so they can be elected at the AGM. Phil confirmed that a reference from the home Society should accompany nominations. If more than one nomination is received for the same position then the AGM will take the decision by vote.

Edenbridge and District Observing Group were welcomed as a new member to SAGAS [welcoming Applause].

There was no feedback from FAS due to Keith Brackenborough’s absence. John Axtell offered to take any feedback from this meeting. He was also able to report that FAS Members will be able to renew membership on line but payment will still need to be by cheque.

Society Reports

The Chairman requested that matters raised from reports be confined to matters of interest or relevance to other societies. This led to the initial discussion being about the function and purpose of the reports in general. Several suggestions were made regarding the kind of information that had been found particularly useful in the recent past. These included sharing novel ideas, speakers, health-and-safety experiences,. However it was concluded that to attempt to compile a definitive list might constrain contributors. Instead it was agreed that more general guidelines would be issued with the call for reports, stating that reports should include matters likely to be of interest and use to other Societies rather than routine internal activities, and that they normally contain a maximum of 300 words. It was noted that substantive items relevant to other societies could always be circulated separately from the reports. Action John Murrell

A suggestion was made that the SAGAS website show the programmes of events of all member societies. It was pointed out the site does have an events calendar which members are encouraged to enter their event details. There are also links to all members websites.

The suggestion was made that SAGAS have its own list of speakers available to give talks within the area. Phil said such a list exists. Only the names of the speakers and titles of their talks could be made generally available. Members could be sent a particular speaker’s contact details by e-mail.

The Chairman returned to the matter of any specific points from the current reports.

Danny Thomas said Farnham, of which he is now Chairman, was undergoing something of a transformation at the present. They are keen to do things with neighbouring societies.

John Axtell said the results of a survey among Guildford’s members (asking what members want from their society) could be made available to other Societies if required.

Experiences from BBC’s Stargazing Live Events

Danny Thomas gave a short presentation on Protection (of children and vulnerable adults) issues, based on his assessment of the conditions in the BBC’s collaboration agreement for Stargazing Live.

After discussion it was agreed on a show of hands (13 in favour, none against) that it would be helpful for SAGAS to press FAS to issue guidelines for societies. Danny agreed to put some proposals together and put a suggested set of guidelines to Keith Brackenborough for consideration by FAS. Action Danny Thomas.

Alan Jefferis put forward some suggested points that could usefully be put to the BBC in the feedback process. In discussion further points were added resulting in the following list

– The events were successful in attracting a considerable number of interested members of the public to learn more about opportunities for astronomy in their areas.

– We strongly urge the BBC to do something similar next year, preferably at dates that would be likely to promise somewhat better weather conditions.

– More notice would be helpful especially if it covers a peak holiday period (as this time).

– The BBC are to be complemented on the excellence of the materials supplied for use at the events.

– The involvement of BBC regional TV and Local Radio in publicizing the events taking place in their areas is extremely important for success.

It was agreed that SAGAS could also submit comments on behalf of all the members but this shouldn’t be in place of reports by the individual societies that had taken part. Members should send any additional points to Tony Questa.

SAGAS / Vectis Star Party 3rd – 7th March 2011

No Vectis member was present. The event was noted.

SAGAS Summer meeting

The summer meeting is normally a conference and not a business meeting. No member had so far offered to host it and no offer was forthcoming from those present at the meeting. Hants Astro however is considering whether they might host it. Other possibilities for the nature of the meeting were put forward such as having presentations by four societies, having a Planetarium show and sharing the event between two neighbouring societies. It was decided to invite members to send suggestions or offers within the next couple of weeks.

Responding to a question about funding Phil said this was normally through the subscriptions of attendees. The host society however needs to underwrite it. A suggestion to use some of the £470 in SAGAS funds did not receive support; neither did the suggestion of a contribution from each member society.

Other miscellaneous items

Any Other Business

Tony Questa, as Acting Treasurer, said the handover has been extremely smooth. Only four transactions had since taken place and the funds stand at £470. He proposed a vote of thanks to Brian Halls, the previous Treasurer, which was expressed as applause by those present.

Similar applause resulted from a proposed vote of thanks to Janet Halls for her work as the former Newsletter Editor.

Phil asked for suggestions as to who should purchase the Sky Quality Meter and where to get it. With no clear suggestions and with time running short the matter was left in abeyance.

John Axtel asked if the SAGAS globe was still missing. Phil said its whereabouts are not known. It had last been seen at the SD Planetarium.

Next Meeting

This will be on Saturday 16th April.

The Host Chairman thanked everybody for their participation and closed the formal meeting. After a short break for tea and coffee there was a presentation by Alan Jefferis on “Three-Body Simulation programming”. There followed a short presentation by James Fradgley on “Thinking outside the box” which provoked lively discussion. The meeting closed at 5pm.

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