Salisbury Plain Observing Group (SPOG) is a group of amateur astronomers who meet to observe and image under the dark sky of Salisbury Plain. We started at the Salisbury Star Party when we realised that we live within half an hour or so of each other. We agreed to try and meet up, ideally at new moon or when something interesting is in the sky. Since then we have grown and welcomed some new friends.
At SPOG all are welcome, especially beginners. There are no fees, no agenda, and no committee. The only rule is to enjoy sharing the sky.
Q: Where do you observe?
A: We observe at a variety of sites, including Pewsey Downs, Everleigh, Bratton Camp, Redhorn Hill and Whitesheet Hill. Some of these sites require MOD permission to visit. Our group includes people who have been trained to use the Plain safely and are permitted in restricted areas. If you are a registered user of the site you can view our observing location map [note: link not available unless logged in]. We are always looking for good sites around the edge of the Plain.
Q: Where do you meet?
A: We normally meet at one of the local pubs beforehand – saving the need to hire a hall or room – and we try and meet for a social chat even if the weather is bad. You can get details on our meeting locations map.
Q: Do I join?
A: No. We are not a club. We meet informally, so aside from contacting our friends to give a yes or no to meeting up, that’s it.
Q: I am a beginner – am I welcome?
A: Of course you are – whether you have a telescope, binoculars or just your eyes, there will be someone to observe with. We have a variety of equipment which we are always happy for newcomers to look through.
Q: So I just turn up?
A: Essentially yes, but please drop us a message as parking can be an issue at Whitesheet Hill meeting area or at the pubs.
Q: I am more experienced – what’s in it for me?
A: If you have observing experience we prepare a monthly observing list chosen in rotation by the group. We pick some easy objects, some moderate and some tough ones. If you are experienced, why not share what you know?
Q: Any ground rules for a session?
A: Common sense applies in the group; red light is essential to preserve night vision; we park cars so you can leave when you wish and not disturb others with your headlights. The sites are cold in winter so you will need warm clothing and a flask.