The Beginners Section of the Newbury Astronomical Society provides an entry level introduction to astronomy. Monthly observing meetings are held at the Stockcross Village Hall (Sutton Hall), Berkshire from September through to June the following year. At these meetings members of the Newbury Astronomical Society are available to provide advice and give simple talks on a wide range of astronomically related topics.
There are no age limits so anyone of any age is invited to come along to join in the meetings and use the society telescopes.
In 1991 the first Junior Section meeting was held at the Bistro Restaurant on Newbury Racecourse. The Bistro had a room which could be used for talks and there was space outside for observing and the meetings thrived. Meetings were held at the Bistro for four years but gradually the number of lights around the venue increased making observing difficult. It also became apparent that many parents and grandparents were coming along with the children until eventually the numbers of adults equalled the children.
In 1998 it was decided to re-launch the Junior Section as the Beginners Section and open it more widely to the local community. The organisers also felt that the experience they had gained over the first years would allow them to expand the programme. More emphasis was to be placed on practical observing so a darker site would be needed. In 1998 the venue was moved to the Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre where the indoor facilities are excellent and the view of the night sky across the lake is as good as anywhere in the Newbury area. The Beginners Section numbers increased to around 35 and on occasions up to 55.
During the major uplift at the Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre in 2005 and 2006 the Beginners Section had to move to St Mary's Church Hall, Greenham. On completion of the work at the Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre the Begnners Section planned to return but the flood of 2006 seriously damaged the new facilities. The Beginners Section was compelled to continue meeting at St Mary's Church Hall. Following a year or so of Zoom meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic the Beginners sessions moved to Stockcross's Village Hall and continues to meet there to date.