The Nene Valley Astronomical Society was formed in 2009 (The International Year of Astronomy!) following advance publicity on the Stargazers Lounge forum and in the local press. Our first meeting was held at the Friends Meeting House in Wellingborough on 6th April 2009 which was attended by seven people who decided to form the group with the aim of promoting astronomy in the area as well as encouraging and advising each other.
It was decided that the group would meet on a monthly basis on the first Monday of each month at the Friends Meeting House and that the structure would be kept as informal as possible. It was also decided that we would not charge an annual subscription fee and instead a nominal £1 meeting fee was paid to cover our costs. We continue to keep to our founding principal of not charging an annual subscription fee, although we have had to increase our meeting fees to keep pace with the costs of hall hire and external speaker expenses.
Early meetings included presentations by Dave Eagle and Steve Williams and we even managed a successful solar observing evening. Later in 2009 we started to invite guest speakers, our first being Jerry Workman who is well known among many astronomical societies in the South-East and Midlands.
After the first few months, one of our members approached Chelveston Village Hall and we introduced our second monthly meeting at this venue on the third Monday of the month which expanded our program of meetings considerably. Chelveston also had the advantage of a dark sky for stargazing, the meeting venue in Wellingborough being opposite to a car retailer with associated floodlighting.
Representatives from Sudborough Village Hall, hearing about the success of our meetings in Wellingborough and Chelveston, approached us in 2010, asking if we’d be interested in holding another meeting at this venue. With another relatively dark sky on offer, how could we refuse! So, we ended up with another meeting on the second Thursday of the month.
With meetings at three venues, although very popular, it was not sustainable with the very small number of people running the group and so Wellingborough was reluctantly dropped in favour of venues with darker skies.
Meetings continued at both the Sudborough and Chelveston Venues for a few years, until members decided to introduce a meeting on the first Monday of the month at Chelveston. It was thereafter decided to concentrate our meeting and observing sessions solely at Chelveston Village Hall.
Today we continue to meet on the first and third Monday of each month. Chelveston Village Hall has undergone a considerable program of refurbishment since we started to meet there. Facilities include a large screen, professional quality audio-visual facilities and more recently an air purification system post COVID has been installed. All this and an outside area to set telescopes up in an out of town location!