The stars were out at Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival last weekend. Not those on stage, but the more distant and ancient ones up in the sky. I had loads of fun sky guiding outdoors with all the late night merrymaking around us – a markedly different experience to the stillness of SCAPA festival but none the worse for it. My portable PA came to the rescue and managed to win out against one of the louder music tents across the way and questions and answers were easily fielded.
On both evenings skies started cloudy but partially cleared by about 11.30pm, allowing me to take the show outside for a laser pointer assisted tour of the heavens.
Amidst opening and closing patches of sky we saw red giant Arcturus, Vega, distant Deneb, the stars of Ursa Major, Cassiopeia (both pictured), Cygnus, Lyra and Aquila.
With binoculars folk were able to easily split some well known double stars including Mizar and Alcor in the handle of the dipper and the Double Double next to brilliant Vega.
The highlight, close to midnight, was viewing the Andromeda galaxy, which was just visible despite the very challenging conditions. A few people had never seen another galaxy before and amazed binoculars could produce such excellent views.
Thanks to everyone who came along, a safe homeward journey and clear skies! I look forward to returning next year.