Sky’s the limit at Rogate

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AN innovative project to set up a community sky centre in Rogate has been given a £1,300 start up boost.

The project is the brainchild of parish councillor Sarah O’Brien-Twohig whose vision is to create facilities to help people learn about the constellations.

She said the grant from Chichester District Council would enable Rogate Community Sky Centre (RCSC) to buy essential equipment and pay for the telescope training of the first group of volunteers.

“Both Rogate Parish Council and the RCSC working party are immensely grateful for CDC’s vision in backing such an unusual community project,” she said.

“Provided enough volunteers come forward, we’ll be able to start regular free observing sessions early in 2015.”

And to celebrate, the community sky centre is hosting its first free Rogate Family Moonwatch on Sunday, November 2, from 6pm-8pm at Rogate Recreation Ground.

“In addition to an illustrated presentation about the moon, we will be doing lots of observing using the small portable telescope kindly given to us by the Hampshire Astronomical Group and the larger scopes being brought by our generous astronomy friends from Clanfield Observatory.”

There will also be guided tours – with a green laser torch – of the constellations and warming hot chocolate.

Sarah said the project was making great progress: “The working party of councillors and parishioners have met to discuss the project’s objectives and explore ideas about its future as a volunteer-led group.”

The project is being advised by South Downs National Park Dark Skies officer Dan Oakley.

It also had the backing of Dan Sanders, Rogate’s principal community officer from West Sussex County Council, and Jo Cooke, WSCC’s volunteer co-ordinator.

Voluntary Action Arun and Chichester is providing advice and training.