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MC2 Telescope Shop has now gone mobile

A much commented-on local landmark, Maggy and Charles Daniell of MC2 opened their first shop on Catherine Hill in 2001. 

This rapidly attracted a group of aspiring locals to become amateur astronomers.  The newly invented ‘Go-To’ telescopes were extremely popular.

Shortly afterwards they started the observing group ‘MAD Viewers’, with a couple of keen friends, Gaz and Rach Hutchinson.  This now meets on the first Wednesday of the month over the winter.

Originally based at The Griffin Pub, telescopes were used in the courtyard or on the street, with everyone encouraged to have a look.  On one memorable occasion, they all looked through binoculars at a comet, perched precariously on a stack of beer crates and leaning against the back wall – the only place it could be seen from!

After a couple of years at the Waggon and Horses on the old Frome Road, they changed to their current site, The Red Lion at Kilmington, where they meet in the pub and later view from White Sheet Hill.

After five happy years on the Hill, they moved 50 yards further up and into a much bigger shop in Catherine Street.  Originally called just ‘MC2’, they added the ‘Telescope Shop’ bit when Charles discovered the website domain was available; it was what the locals called it anyway.

Maggy started writing the ‘Skywatch’ column for the Frome Times in the early years.  After explaining the same things to customers again and again, they realised the need for more information and began teaching ‘Astronomy for Beginners’.  This ran firstly as evening classes at Frome College, then less formally at The Griffin, moving on to Charterhouse on the Mendips, and eventually back to the shop where all the ‘props’ were to hand.

This educational side is continuing, adding to the hundreds of people who have already attended these or the Saturday workshops and ‘Mini-MAD’ sessions Maggy and Rach ran in previous years.  Those interested in the next classes, in the autumn, should contact MC2 on 07598 136655 or via their website www.telescopeshop.co.uk

The popularity of Brian Cox’s TV series ‘Stargazing Live’ brought new wannabes into astronomy, as did significant events like the recent solar eclipse, a transit of Mercury in 2002 and the even rarer transit of Venus in 2004 – when MC2 held a safe-viewing public session in the Market Yard.

However retail has moved increasingly on line and the shop was being used too much as just a showroom.  Maggy and Charles decided they needed to do things differently and have just moved their base home. The business is continuing on-line, with customer contact and support – which both feel is an important part – provided in a different way, especially through workshops and beginners’ classes. Some of these will be in Frome, others in fairly local venues around the region, so check the website and the Frome Times for When and Where!

Maggy explained, “As a family-run shop, we always felt a bit tied, unable to do the shows and events we wanted to cover.

“Last Saturday we were invited to set up our stall at the British Astronomical Association’s event near Winchester, and this was an exciting opportunity which would have been difficult before.”

They are pleased with the way things are going.  Charles said, “It is better than I expected, running things remotely. It is quite a job keeping on top of the different demands now being made, but we always liked a new challenge.  Watch this space!”

 

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