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Keen amateur astronomer Peter Struve

Well, you've got to start somewhere, and Peter Struve, the club founder decided to splash his idea about starting a club for Swindon Astronomers all over the local newspaper (well nearly!).

On Thursday, 8th January 2009, at the start of the International Year of Astronomy, readers of the Swindon Advertiser were not only treated to a picture of this fine young man, but were informed that Peter comes from a long line of distinguish-ed astrophysicists, and he wants to start a new astronomy club.
"As long as man has walked the planet he has looked towards the stars," said Peter. "We have a need to see starry skies. It is beautiful and part of nature. It is also almost a spiritual experience.

"At the end of the day we are all made of star dust."

The aim of the new group - which already has a good nucleus of members - is to host star gazing parties around Swindon in places such as Barbury Castle and Lydiard Park away from light pollution. Lecturers will also talk to the group.

Peter said: "Most amateurs start with a cheap pair of binoculars but you can start looking with your naked eyes. It is about learning how to use your eyes."

"Nowadays amateurs use the same imaging equipment scientists had in the 1960s."

"We have so many people interested that the town is big enough to have its own astronomy club," he added. "My first view of Saturn's rings was the ultimate,, `wow' factor. It was absolutely stunning."

The first meeting of the club was held at the Lawn Community Centre on the 20 February 2009, and not really to anyone's suprise the meeting room was filled with amatuer astronomers from all over Swindon, along with special guests from First Light Optics in Exeter, who along with Peter, had brought some telescopes to show-off to the packed room.

Peter served as Club Chairman for 10 years and stood down on the 15th March, 2019. He was awarded Life Membership for his services to the club and as club founder.

(The notes above are largely by Sarah Hilley, from the article that appeared in the Swindon Advertiser)

Club Meeting: A Telescope Evening 23 October 2009

Photos by club member Rob Slack

A typical club meeting, this one being our first 'telescope' evening where members are invited to bring their telescopes and discuss with others.

Pete Struve, our chairman, gave demonstrations on how to set up a telescope, discussed alignment and balancing to both new and experienced members. Mike Deegan also showed some of his amazing astro photographs on the 'big screen' and this attracted much interest.

A great social evening, it was amazing to see the variety of scopes!

Background:Star-Forming Region LH 95 in the Large Magellanic Cloud
December 19, 2006: From NASA's Hubble Space Telescope
Michael Partridge (left) with new club members from Wootton Bassett. The telescope is a 90mm f13.3 Maksutov-Cassegrain (Mak for short!) on a alt-azimouth mount I believe
Hilary Wilkey with 90mm 'GoTo' refractor
Bernie, with 150mm Skywatcher reflector & EQ3-2 Equatorial Mount
Ed Tucker (left) chatting to Mike Deegan - an accomplished astro-photographer
Mike again (centre), and new visitors to our meeting in background
Rob Slack's fine 200mm Skywatcher reflector in foreground and a similar scope behind it