I visited the planetarium on a weekend stargazing course. We had talks and stargazing on Friday and Saturday evenings, and talks and sungazing on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Paul and Andrew who run the planetarium are clearly very passionate and committed to what they do, very knowledgeable about their subject and hugely enthusiastic about communicating their knowledge and answering questions.
We were a bit unlucky because the weather was not good so we didn't get much visibility. However, during the brief times when the cloud and rain cleared, the skies were very dark and there was very good visibility. Unfortunately, poor weather and visibility is always a risk you take on any stargazing course in the UK, and is completely out of the control of the organisers. The stargazing course here was different from the other courses which I found, in that when there was bad weather we could at least watch a show in the planetarium. In addition, this stargazing course offered solar viewing with the solar telescope, which other stargazing courses don't. The price of this course was also very reasonable compared to other courses which I found.
The museum next to the planetarium is very small, but the information is well-presented and interesting. The small bookshop has well-chosen books, telescopes and other bits and pieces for beginners.
Overall this is an under-used and under-appreciated resource. If you are looking for a stargazing course and can't make it to Mauna Kea or the Atacama desert, this one on the Isle of Wight is a good one, you just have to keep your fingers crossed for good weather and clear skies.
Karen M says
Well the weather hasn't been kind BUT Paul and Andrew have filled the time with fantastic information around the cosmology of stars, the universe and everything. I've managed to get the hang of some of the physics I've struggled with previously and feel like I've taken a huge step forward. Thank you Paul and Andrew and thank you to my wonderful partner for a brilliant present.
Great place to visit. Really enjoyed our star gazing weekend organised by the planetarium. Paul and Andrew are great and the skies there are fab on a clear night.