Big thanks to astronomer Steve Owens and Celtic storyteller Alis Ballance for hosting our astronomy and storytelling streams this evening up at Abriachan Forest.
Cosmosis was realised by a combination of Alis’s captivating Gaelic creation myths and Steve’s tour de scientific of the Solar System.
Although skies started off cloudy we were blessed with decent patches of open sky at the end for a deftly guided laser pointer finale, taking in Orion and other bright constellations. Plus binocular and telescopic views of the crescent Moon
The above montage shows six recent images of ‘potentially’ massive galaxies photographed by the James Webb space telescope, going back to epochs around 600 million years after the universe began.
If the six red dots are confirmed to indeed be large galactic structures, these examples contradict almost all known models of galaxy formation from the early history of the universe and would suggest stellar masses over 100 times greater than previously predicted in this early period. Existing models of galaxy formation predict large galaxies would require several billion years to form, so if true these findings will require extensive revisions to our understanding of the large structure evolution of the universe.
Truth told we still know very little about the formation of galaxies. Their evolution is still shrouded in deep mystery, for example what forms the large bars we see in the centre of most mature spiral galaxies, including our own Milky Way?
And of course their rotational dynamics have lead to the conclusion that clouds of invisible matter must surround them in giant halos (dark matter).
I’ll be sky and star guiding from remote and beautiful Lewis this March, for the 2023 Hebridean Dark Skies Festival, with dates spanning 18-21st March. Tickets and event info below and in the accompanying link. On Thursday 16th March I’ll also be joining the HDS panel for a special facebook live session “Ask the Astronomers”.
Join astronomer Stephen Mackintosh (aka Highland Astronomy) for an evening of fascinating insights into the cosmos and – weather permitting – a walk under the stars at some of our best stargazing spots.
Join us up at Abriachan Forest on March 25th (a Dark Sky Discovery site) for an evening of stargazing and storytelling.
For March we welcome HAS’s Maarten De Vries as our guest astronomer with a talk titled “Comets – Ancient Icy Visitors from the Edge of our Solar System”. Maarten had his first experience with comets when he was 11 years only and has been an ardent observer of the night sky ever since.
Additionally we welcome Fiona Macdonald our guest storyteller for the evening, sharing tales over the campfire.
Plus outdoor naked eye stargazing with astronomer Stephen Mackintosh if conditions are favourable.
Due to site and classroom capacity, booking via Eventbrite is essential. Admission is free for under 16s with accompanying adults but please inform Abriachan of any large booking requests.
Our next stargazing and storytelling session at Abriachan Forest will be on New Moon (Jan 21st) and we welcome back Glasgow Science Centre astronomer Steve Owens to guide us under the stars (or present a backup indoor talk on the planets). Our guest campfire storyteller Fiona Macdonald should also be in attendance.
If you booked for the cancelled December event your tickets will carry over and will be valid for the Jan event.
If you missed out on the last few events we have a February and March events planned so stay tuned. The February tickets links and event details will go up in the next week.
Today the northern hemisphere of the Earth is maximally inclined away from the Sun, producing the shortest day. This is due to the axial tilt of the Earth, driving the seasons as we hurtle around our home star each year.
From here on, imperceptibly at first, our days grow longer in the northern hemisphere and shorter in the southern hemisphere.
This change in daylight is like a trigonometric Sine wave and will accelerate as winter advances, reaching its greatest rate of change near the Spring equinox in March.
The image I’ve shared was taken from inside one of the the passage cairns at Clava a few years ago on Dec 21st, a site with claimed mid winter significance. Sure enough light flooded into the back of the cairn via the south western aligned passage.
The truth is we don’t really know the real significance of these structures, and are left to speculate, sometimes more wildly than the evidence deserves. But it’s fun and captivating to imagine what could well have been ancient connections linking landscape, culture and the heavens above.