Find us on Facebook & Twitter

About us

Hanwell Community Observatory comprises a group of volunteers based in Hanwell (near Banbury, North Oxfordshire) promoting astronomy in the community. Whether you have private or educational interests in the subject, our aim is to make astronomy accessible to you. We welcome public and school groups to star parties and other events that will open up the Heavens and share with you the wonders of the cosmos. If you are a student or teacher at a local school or university, please see the Education section for details of our current activities and how you can get involved. more...


Stars and Snowdrops 2019

Saturday 9 February 2019 from noon - 5.00 pm
Sunday 10 February 2019 from 10:30 am - 5.00 pm

Enjoy a woodland walk amongst our ancient castle grounds, talk to the astronomers and have an opportunity to look through astronomical telescopes, and then enjoy tea and cake by a roaring log fire. Find out more...




Get ideas of things to see in the night sky, and find out what what HCO members have been observing, with Skynotes - excerpts from HCO member's own observing notes.

IC 2948 - Lambda Centauri Cluster

This Ha image primarily of IC 2948 is a combination of just 2 x 600 seconds taken using the T12 telescope of the iTelescope facility in Sliding Springs Australia. IC 2948 is the region of nebulosity surrounding the star Lambda Centauri and lies between the Southern Cross and the rich Carina region. Even with this short exposure you can see a small group of dark clouds known as “Bok globules” more...


Virgo Galaxy Cluster

Finally I managed to point the telescope to the skies again. This time at the core of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster, in particular at the centre at M86 (NGC 4406) around which are a feast of Galaxies to be seen. At the LH side of the image are NGC 4435 & NGC 4438 (The Eyes Galaxies). To the right of M86 is M84 (NGC 4374). All of these Galaxies lie in a string of Galaxies known as the Markarian's Chain. Some of the larger Galaxies also visible are more...


Mare Imbrium

The Mare Imbrium (Sea of Showers) is estimated to be around 4 billion years old. It can be seen with small telescopes and binoculars towards the northern edge of the Moon. This massive lunar feature is one of the largest craters in the Solar System (757 x 757 miles). It was formed when a very large object hit the Moon then it filled with lava. Mountain ranges can be seen on its rim - Montes Alpes – north-east,  Montes Apenninus – south-east. more...


See more Skynotes »


Would you like to join HCO?

Do you enjoy sharing the fascination of astronomy with others? Or feel you would like to?? In that case, the Hanwell Community Observatory team would love to welcome you as a member!
Find out how to get involved with HCO »


History at Hanwell

Archaeologist Stephen Wass embarked on a five year project to uncover the lost gardens of Hanwell Castle in January 2013. There have been substantial diggings all over the grounds and significant artefacts have been found.  Emerging is a picture of a very carfeully constructed and elaborate layout of walled walks and terraces. The gardens were visited in the seventeenth century by King James I and Charles I. The scientific interests of Sir Anthony Cope (d.1675) provide an interesting historic link for HCO. There is a sense of continuing in the spirit of a man, described by the Oxford Chemist, Sir Robert Plot,  as a 'great virtuoso', for his boring of cannons, polishing of stones and grinding of corn in these grounds which Plot called 'A New Atlantis'.
To find out more about the project, click here to visit the Polyolbion website »


Click here to see an album of astrophotography by HCO members on our facebook page (you can view the photos without a facebook account).

M65 and M66 Double Star

Stars & Snowdrops 2019, 9th & 10th February. Click for more information.