Highland Astronomy

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The Highlands of Scotland host some of the darkest skies in Europe, with stunning views of the Milky Way galaxy accessible from dozens of natural wilderness locations.

Highland Astronomy offers public outreach astronomy talks and tours, and private stargazing events at select dark sky locations around the Inverness area and wider Scottish Highlands.  With professional guiding from astronomer Stephen Mackintosh.

Outreach can include any of the following, tailored to your specific requirements:

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“I had such a wonderful and magical evening with wonderful people”

Evening Stargazing Tours

During the darker months (September – March) I run bespoke evening stargazing tours based out of Inverness.

Click here for details on ‘Evening Stargazing Tours’.

2019 Scheduled Events  (For up to date event dates please visit my FB site)

12th January 2019 – Audience with Dark Sky Man – Observing under a crescent Moon with guest talk from author of Stargazing For Dummies and On Tour Manager of the Glasgow Science Center, Steve Owens.

17th January 2019 – Beginners Observing and Moon Night – Sea Scout Hall Inverness and Merkinch Nature Reserve.

9th February 2019 – Dark sky observing and Photography special – With guest speaker Graham Bradshaw of Graham Bradshaw Photography. Graham is a local photographer who has taken some stunning landscape, aurora and night sky photos. Eventbrite: please check back

16th February 2019 – Torridon Resort Astronomy Outreach

28th February 2019 – 8.30pm Merkinch Nature Reserve Observing night, 44 Kessock Road Inverness.  Details here.

9th March 2019 – 8pm Abriachan Dark Sky Observing (Star Stories).  Event details here.

14th March 2019 – Muirtown Primary Astronomy Outreach.

28th March – Urban Astronomy Inverness – Life of Giant Stars.  4 Kessock Road, Inverness 8.30pm

27th April 2019 – Star Stories special visit with Glasgow Science Centre Outreach Team

9th May – 12th May 2019 Stargazing and astronomy outreach at Scapa Festival.  Details here.

8th May – Talk Inverness Science Festival – Island Universes.  Tickets:  Eventbrite

10th May – Repeat talk Island Universes – Inverness Science Festival

21st June – Solstice at the Sheilings, Abriachan:  Eventbrite

23rd July – Space Camp with Skills Development Scotland and SK Academy:  Eventbrite

1st – 4th August – Stargazing at Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, Inverness.

3rd October – Merkinch Urban Astronomy 2019 Kickoff.

5th October – Star Stories Dark Sky Observing with Highland Archaeology Society

2018 Scheduled Events

January 19th – 21st:  Weekend Special at ‘The Grant Arms Wildlife Hotel’ in Grantown on Spey, Cairngorms.

January 27th:  Lunar Burns Special at Abriachan Forest

February 16th – 18th:  Weekend Special at ‘The Grant Arms Wildlife Hotel’ in Grantown on Spey, Cairngorms.

March 10th:  Star Cluster Special at Abriachan Forest.  Details here.

April 14th:  Solar Special at Abriachan Forest.  Details here.

May 3rd – 5th:  Constellation guiding at Scapa Festival, Loch Fyne.

May 11th:  Wild Astronomy Public Lecture, Inverness Science Festival.

June 21st:  Solstice Special at Abriachan Forest.  Details here.

September 18th:  Moon & Planet Observing, Merkinch Local Nature Reserve.  Details here.

October 11th:  Stargazing, Merkinch Local Nature Reserve.  Details here.

12th October – Neolithic Stargazing  – EVENT SOLD OUT.
Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/neolithic-stargazing-tickets…

16th November – Leonids Meteor Shower Special – With guest speaker Dr Anthony Luke, Lecturer of Natural and Applied Science at UHI, giving a talk on the chemistry of stars, meteors and comets.
Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/stargazing-leonid-meteor-sho…

5th December – Evening with Professor Martin Hendry – A special guest talk from Martin Hendry, Professor of Gravitational Astrophysics and Cosmology at Glasgow University, entitled “Exploring the Dark Side of the Universe”
Eventbrite: please check back

21st December – Winter Solstice Special – Mark the shortest day under a full moon with an evening of moon and bright star observing and a talk on the winter solstice from astronomer Stephen Mackintosh.
Eventbrite: please check back

2017 Scheduled Events

September 22nd – 23rd:  Astronomy evenings at Merkinch Local Nature Reserve, Inverness.

October 13th:  Mesolithic stargazing at Abriachan Forest Trust, Abriachan.

October 14th – 19th:  Merkinch Astronomy Evening (first clear night)

October 20th – 22nd:  Weekend Special at ‘The Steadings at The Grouse & Trout’ near Farr, Loch Ness.

November 10th – 13th:  Weekend Special at ‘The Grant Arms Wildlife Hotel’ in Grantown on Spey, Cairngorms.

November 14th:  Balloch Brownies Stargazing.

November 18th:  Mesolithic stargazing at Abriachan Forest Trust, Abriachan.  Followup event.

November 25th:  Space & Planetary Workshop – 2-4pm at Merkinch Partnership

December 9th:  Merkinch Astronomy Evening, Merkinch Nature Reserve

December 15th:  Abriachan ‘Geminids Special’ Astronomy night


“Stephen is an articulate and nuanced astronomer, with a real flair for communicating complex concepts in a way that people can understand.”


  • A powerful yet portable 8-inch Schmidt-Cassigrain GOTO tracking telescope, with a large compliment of eyepieces and filters
  • A full video astronomy setup including specialist camera and monitor  – ideal for larger group planetary and deep sky observing
  • High quality aluminium solar filters for safe daytime viewing of sunspots or transits on our nearest star
  • A Star Analyser diffraction grating and software for live spectroscopy – permitting real science at the telescope
  • Projector, collapsable screen and presentation props



For more information and bookings please email me or call 07414 964965, and I’ll happily discuss your particular needs.

For peace of mind all my stargazing and astronomy activities are covered under comprehensive public liability insurance.

Scotland’s outstanding dark skies

Click here for a detailed survey of light pollution conditions in the Highlands of Scotland.


“Stephen is an articulate and nuanced astronomer, with a real flair for communicating complex concepts in a way that people can understand. His video telescope work is excellent, revealing details of the cosmos on a computer screen for all to see, allowing audiences to marvel at Jupiter’s moons, faint nebulae, and distant giant galaxies.”Steve Owens, author of “Stargazing for Dummies’ @darkskyman.

“I’d thoroughly recommend Stephen Mackintosh to host an astronomy event. As well as being extremely knowledgeable, he is a good communicator that is well able to hold the attention of a large group. I look forward to working with him again and to what I’ll learn about and see in the night sky” — Caroline Snow, Project Manager, Merkinch Local Nature Reserve, Inverness.

“I have spent many a happy but chilly night alongside Stephen Mackintosh, enjoying a guided tour of the night sky. He has shown me planets, galaxies, clusters and nebulae. Every sighting has been accompanied with informative commentary about their discovery and historical background. Wrap up warm and bring a flask of hot chocolate. You will be in for an unforgettable night.”Gavin Macfie, Writer and Outdoorsman at Living Mountain.

“I had such a wonderful and magical evening with wonderful people. I learned a lot from that tour Stephen. I like it how you explain things in a way that everyone could easily understand it. Like it better when you relate baking with how the universe is expanding, i so like that. Ive seen my favorite star cluster Pleiades and now i am getting interested with the double stars. Thank you very much.” — Chen from London, guest at one of the Cairngorm Stargazing breaks.