There are a number of groups in the area, offering a wealth of experience and advice and hands-on observing.
MAD (Mendip and Dorset) Viewers is an informal astronomy observing group which gets together throughout the winter (September to March) in a local pub near a dark site (Whitesheet Hill nr Kilmington). Newcomers are always welcome. They meet at The Red Lion, Kilmington and observe from White Sheet Hill nearby. There is no charge for MAD Viewers and no pre-booking; you just turn up on the night if you feel like it. There are always telescopes or binoculars on hand, so there will be something for you to look through. If you want to bring your own, please do; and if you need a hand to use it, someone will be available to help.
To get in touch with MADViewers contact Charles at MC2 Telescope.
Wiltshire Astronomical Society
The Wiltshire Astronomical Society (WAS) is a thriving club catering for all aspects of astronomy, from visual to imaging, radio to armchair. They have a varied membership from absolute beginner to experienced observer and aim to cater for everyone’s level of interest; but above all the emphasis is on fun and enjoyment. They meet monthly in the Pavilion Hall at Seend. They also arrange occasional excursions during the year to places of interest to amateur astronomers and hold events in the local community to popularise astronomy. Their speaker lineup is always varied and caters for a wide range of interests.
Beckington Astronomical Society
The Beckington Astronomical Society is aimed at anyone with an interest in astronomy and space sciences. They meet once a month for a beginners talk and a main item which explores a topic in more depth.
Astronomy around Swindon and district, meeting at Lawn Community Centre, Swindon for talks, and also in and around Avebury for practical observing.
Salisbury Astronomical Society
Salisbury Astronomical Society welcome anyone with an interest in astronomy. You do not need to own a telescope or binoculars, the society has a wide selection for you to have a hands on try before you invest any money in purchasing equipment.
Bath Astronomers is a community of amateur astronomers who live in Bath and its environs. Through its meetings and website local observers can get together for discussion and meet for observing. It is the observing section of the William Herschel Society; as such, it provides a forum and meeting place for local observers. It also advises and provides guidance to anyone with an active interest in observational astronomy.
Preseli Astronomy Group
Although not a local group, Pembrokeshire has some very dark skies and is a favourite part of the world for me (Jon G). And we did borrow some stone for Stonehenge. The Preseli Astronomy Group is a group of people interested in all aspects of astronomy. They’re based in the far reaches of West Wales and open to anyone who is interested in or wants to get involved in astronomy, whether you be a complete novice or expert astrophotographer.