This amazing facility is run entirely by volunteers, in the grounds of Chichester High School www.southdowns.org.uk
It hosts up to 30 presentations a month to schools and youth organisations, in addition to public Star Shows in its full dome planetarium. Our presentation featured the stars we would see on a voyage from Portsmouth to Melbourne, Australia, on the day of our visit, October 4th. Unfortunately a few of us were unable to defeat two major gridlocks on the M27 in time for cast off, but those who did had a friendly welcome and brief introduction and were well-looked-after by volunteer Pete. A history of the founding of the facility was interesting (It was a derelict farmhouse which was renovated and stretched.) He claimed to have a slight knowledge of astronomy, but fielded questions of some complexity including the newsworthy 'gravitational wave' one. Coffee and biscuits kept us occupied and amused, and the program was delayed as long as possible to allow for late arrivals. We thoroughly enjoyed Dr John Mason's lecture, accompanied by incredible visions of the stars and a limitless universe in the stardome. All made very comfortable by reclining seats which had seen a previous life in the First Class cabin of Boeing 747s! We subsequently learnt that this had been facilitated by member Mike Austin's partner Patricia. Lots of deep and profound questions at the end of the talk demonstrated that members had undoubtedly grasped the workings of the universe. We were truly impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication of the volunteers who ran the planetarium. It's well worth looking at their programme of public lectures which include full dome presentations on Distant Worlds: Alien Life, Tim Peake's recent space journey, the Hubble telescope and the Northern Lights.
Ann Arscott & Lindy Chamberlain