All About CAWAS

If you're at all interested in astronomy we are the society is for you! Our members range from people with a casual interest in astronomy to serious amateurs and even professionals. You don't need any specialist knowledge to join, nor do you need to own a telescope etc. You can also be sure of a friendly welcome.

The Society's History

Coventry AS was founded in 1939, as the Coventry Technical College Astronomical and Meteorological Society.  In 1959,  small breakaway group founded the Coventry Astronomical Telescope making society,  which later became the Warwickshire AS.  The two Societies merged to become the CaWAS in 1974.  The society had a long association with the technical college, on top of which we used to have an observatory. However, in 1992 the college could no longer allow us to use the observatory, and so we moved to our current 

location in the south of Coventry.


A brief History Of The Coventry Astronomical society By E,F, Nicholls.

Let me apologise in advance for any inaccuracies that may occur in this brief account of the formation of the Coventry Astronomical Society,  as my knowledge of the earlier years of the society is rather sparse.


The Society was originally formed late in 1939 as the "College Astronomical and Meteorological Society" mainly through the efforts of Mr. J.D.F. Williams and Mr. R.N. Helsdon who at that time were full time member of the college staff.   At the time the intention was to organise a meteorological section which would be able to supply returns to the Air Ministry.   Mr. J.D. Williams is now Vice-President of the Society.   A well-known amateur of the time,  the late Captain G.T. Smith-Clarke,  encouraged the project from its first conception and observational nights were at that time held in his observatory at Gibbet Hill which was equipped with a Cooke 

6 inch refractor.


This was, of course, a rather unfortunate time to start any society but viewing conditions in the blacked out city must have been marvellous compared to those prevailing today.   From the outset membership of the society and lectures arranged by the society were open to the public and one of outstanding interest was that on Monday,  February 19th 1940,  when Mr. Bertrand Peek President of the British Astronomical Association and Director of the Jupiter Observing Section came to address the society.   His subject not unnaturally was "The Planet Jupiter". 


At about this time Captain Smith-Clarke made a generous gift of his complete observatory and 6 inch refractor to the society and this was later removed from Gibbet Hill and re-erected on the college roof.  Due to war time conditions the society's activities were suspended for the duration of the war in 1940,  re-commencing in 1945.


Another of our present Vice-Presidents, Mr.H.G. Miles eventually took over as Secretary and ran the society for many years.  He is now Director of the Artificial Satellite Section, Reporting of Sporadic Celestial Phenomena Section, and Secretary of the Education Committee of the BAA.   He was succeeded by Mr.Chater of the college staff and I took over about 6 years ago when Mr.Chater went to Germany.


During the last few years membership has steadily increased and I am hoping that the new combined society will help to encourage this.