Residential courses at Preston Montford
Preston Montford is owned by the Field Studies Council, who run courses at a number of centres around the country, but this course is run by the SPA and not the FSC, who provide the accommodation and facilities. There are no age restrictions on attendees, but while we will keep a particular eye on young persons attending by themselves, parents are advised that we cannot take responsibility for supervising them.
Preston Montford is about five miles from Shrewsbury, in open countryside. This gives skies which are much darker than in most suburbs, though of course they are affected to a certain extent by the lights of Shrewsbury. However, they are good enough to show us a wide range of astronomical objects, and if it is clear there are enough objects on view to keep people busy for hours.
The autumn skies contain a huge range of objects. The summer Milky Way is still visible in the west, with objects such as the Dumbbell Nebula, M27, and the Veil Nebula in Cygnus (visible using filters). During the evening the winter constellations rise, such as Taurus and the famous Pleiades cluster, Orion and its nebula, and Gemini. And many attendees at Preston Montford get their first glimpse of the Andromeda Galaxy, M31, which is high in the evening sky.
Attendees are encouraged to bring telescopes, and several different instruments will be provided. There is plenty of room to set up telescopes, either immediately outside the classroom where there is shelter from the elements, in the car park where there is hardstanding, or in the extensive grounds. The outside lights of the Centre are switched off for our benefit, though there is usually a moth trap in the grounds which is left on.
About the accommodation
Most attendees are accommodated either in the new Darwin block, which provides twin-bedded en-suite rooms of good quality, or the adjacent recently refurbished Wenlock Block. The talks are held in a classroom in the Darwin Block, which has a comfortable lounge with tea and coffee facilities as well as a bar in the evenings.
All linen and towels are provided. The food provided is good and plentiful, and those with dietary specialities can be catered for.
How to get to Preston Montford
Preston Montford is on a lane, the B4473, running between the B4380 at Montford Bridge and the A458. Leave the A5 which runs around Shrewsbury at the A458 to Welshpool. The turning is just over a mile on your right, then the entrance to Preston Montford itself is on a bend, so take it easy at this stage.
The postcode, for your satnav, is SY4 1DX.
There is a good service to most parts of the country to Shrewsbury, and taxis are available at the station.
Some people have difficulty in arriving in time for supper (6.30) on Friday evening. If you know you will be late, please let us know in advance and food will be kept for you.