Highland Astronomy

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

“Astronomy, Stargazing and Space for Everyone”

Stephen Mackintosh (Highland Astronomy) is a freelance astronomer, astrophotographer and STEM educator based in the Highlands of Scotland. He delivers public outreach astronomy talks, tours, and private stargazing events at select dark sky locations around the Inverness area and wider Highlands.

His professional guiding can include any of the following:

Night and Sky Photography

Please see Stephen’s collection of night and sky images here, photographed in and around the Scottish Highlands.

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The Milky Way and the double cluster – Stephen Mackintosh

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

Evening Stargazing Tours and Vouchers

During the darker months (September – March) Stephen runs bespoke stargazing tours based out of Inverness.

Click here for details on ‘Evening Stargazing Tours’.

Hotel Outreach

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He also offers hotel based stargazing experiences and guiding from several high quality accommodations at dark sky locations across the Highlands of Scotland.  Please see offerings from The Torridon Resort and The Steadings.

Festivals

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He makes frequent appearances at art, science and music festivals, delivering interactive talks and stargazing activities.  Examples:  Scapa Fest (Sustainable Living in Action), Belladrum Tartan Heart (Music and Arts), the Inverness Science Festival (STEM) and The Hebridean Dark Sky Festival (Art, Science and Music).

Astronomy Programmes

 

 

In addition to the above Stephen leads two astronomy programmes operating out of the Abriachan Forest Dark Sky Discovery site and the Inverness Local Nature Reserve. Details of these programmes and other events are listed below:

2019 and 2020 Scheduled Events  (For up to date event details please visit my FB site)

11st – 4th August – Stargazing at Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, Inverness.

October 3rd at 8.30pm – Saturn Special (Inverness).  Opportunities to stargaze and observe Saturn from the local Markinch local nature reserve in Inverness and perhaps the setting Moon next to mighty Jupiter.  Guiding by local astronomer Stephen Mackintosh.  If sky conditions are poor we’ll stay indoors for an indoor presentation on Saturn.  Eventbrite link.

October 4th  – BBC Filming at The Torridon for Amazing Hotels.

Oct 5th at 8pm – Ancient Astronomy (Abriachan).  Kicking off the observing season with a night of stargazing, storytelling and ancient astronomy learning (indoor and outdoor).  In collaboration with the Highland Archaeology Festival.  Astronomy outreach:  Stephen Mackintosh.  Storytelling: Clelland McCallum.  Eventbrite link.

November 7th at 8.30pm – Moon Special (Inverness).  Come and observe the bright waxing gibbous Moon from the grounds of the Merkinch nature reserve.  Indoor Moon talk if skies are poor.  Eventbrite link.

November 15th at 5.30pm – Moon Talk at the Italian Society (Inverness).

Nov 23rd at 7pm – Dark Sky Man and the Multiverse (Abriachan).  The first ‘Dark of the Moon event’ and another chance to let special guest astronomer and author Dark Sky Man (aka Steve Owens) guide you across the night sky.   Guest astronomer  Steve Owens.  Storytelling: Clelland McCallum .  Eventbrite link.

Dec 11th at 7pm – ‘Astronomy from the Moon (Abriachan):  studying the universe from our nearest neighbour’ is a talk delivered by Professor Martin Hendry of Glasgow University, joining us again in the forest classroom.  We’ll have a full Moon this evening allowing us to observe with video telescope and binoculars.  Guest speaker:  Prof. Martin Hendry.   Astronomy outreach:  Stephen Mackintosh

December 19th at 8.30pm – ‘A Telescope isn’t just for Christmas’ (Inverness).  A special Christmas event on getting started with observing, what to buy, what to avoid, where and when to observe.  With local astronomer Stephen Mackintosh.  Outdoor stargazing from the reserve if conditions are clear.

Dec 21st at 7pm – Winter Solstice Special (Abriachan) with guest storyteller and author John Burns.  Celebrate the longest night and the slow return of brighter days with a special dark sky Solstice special with our first ever guest storyteller, author John Burns.  We’ll also have outdoor stargazing and astronomy guiding (weather permitted) or a solstice inspired astronomy talk.  Guest storyteller:  John Burns.  Astronomy Outreach:  Stephen Mackintosh

Jan 10th 7pm – Eclipse Special (Abriachan).  A special night on the astronomy of eclipses with an opportunity to observe a live penumbra eclipse of the Moon via binoculars and video telescope.  Astronomy outreach:  Stephen Mackintosh.  Storytelling: Clelland McCallum

January 16th at 8.30pm – Supernova Special (Inverness) with guest speaker Dr Anthony Luke of UHI talking about the incredible science and chemistry behind exploding stars.  Opportunities for stargazing from the local nature reserve if conditions are clear.

February 7th – 20th – Hebridean Dark Sky Festival (Western Isles).

February 20th at 8.30pm – Aurora Special (Inverness) with guest photographer Graham Bradshaw.  Graham will discuss aurora, how to find it and photograph it.  He’ll also share some of his amazing photographs and videos.  Opportunities to observe from the nature reserve if time and weather permits.

Feb 29th 7pm – KISS Astrophotography (Abriachan)  Talk with guest Eric Walker from the Highland Astronomical Society.  Plus stargazing and astronomy outreach with astronomer Stephen Mackintosh.   Guest speaker: Eric Walker.  Astronomy outreach:  Stephen Mackintosh.  Storytelling: Clelland McCallum

March 12th at 8.30pm – Venus Special (Inverness).  With Venus now a beacon in evening skies we’ll have a special talk on the planet with astronomer Stephen Mackintosh,  Plus opportunities to observe it, and the stars, from the local nature reserve.

March 21st 7pm – Equinox Special (Abriachan) with a talk from local photographer Claire Rehr.  Plus stargazing and storytelling with Stephen And Clelland. Guest speaker: Claire Rehr. Astronomy outreach:  Stephen Mackintosh.  Storytelling: Clelland McCallum

The Glasgow Science Centre crew will also return in May for more hands on workshops.

Previous Events (2017 – 2019)

For a full list of previously hosted events please visit the Event Archive.

 

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

Equipment

  • Handheld binoculars and larger 100mm tripod mounted binoculars
  • 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

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Contact

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.

Testimonials

“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. 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.

“Fantastic evening; fascinating talk and loved being shown the Milky Way, various stars and constellations. Thank you.”Claire Grove

“A great gift- an awakening to our heavenly skies.”Rosie Newman

“Fascinating evening! Stephen is very knowledgeable and patient (given the freezing temp). We were gifted a voucher for his tour and I highly recommend it as a present for amateur star gazers in your life”Jenni Russell

“Beautiful location, whoever knew there were so many stars! Informative, educational, enjoyable. great value. Recommended”Bernice Nott

“Have been to two events now, third tonight. Very good at getting his vast wealth of knowledge across, to both adults and youngsters (group aged 10-15). Sparked an interest in those who were new to stargazing and great question and answer session with those who already had a bit of knowledge.” – Fiona Fraser

“Just got home from an excellent night at Abriachan stargazing with Stephen. Really enjoyed the evening especially as I’m a novice to this subject but Stephen explained it all in an easy to understand manner. And to top the evening off we had a lovely display with the Northern Lights dancing overhead. Thanks again Stephen excellent evening.” –  Sheila Coubrough