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.
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.
Thanks to everyone who came up to Abriachan Forest on Saturday evening for our Moon, Fox & Fire event.
We had lovely clear skies for close up telescopic views of the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn through our big 200m reflector. Plus naked naked eye views of Mars and many bright stars. The clear conditions also allowed me to setup my video telescope for ultra close up views of the lunar surface projected onto an outdoor screen.
Abriachan headed up the campfire storytelling section afterwards, with some stealthy stealing games with the young fire guardians! As every my wife Judith prepared the home bakes with some very popular sticky toffee pudding cakes.
Our next event is ‘Dark Sky December’ on Dec 17th. Eventbrite links will go up soon.
I’m delighted to be hosting my Night Sky Show at the 2022 Belladrum Festival again from 28th – 30th July at 11pm. Learn about galaxies, stars, planets, meteors, satellites and the astonishing history and enormity of our Cosmos.
There’s no Boffinarium this year so my presentation will be located outdoors with laser pointer under twilight skies, with backup projector and screen. Stay tuned for times and festival location.
This was me on the road and heading into the western Highlands last Saturday for my final stargazing gig of the season with the Woodland Trust.
Skies this far north will shortly be too bright to stargaze with only Astronomical Twilight levels of darkness left near midnight and no official ‘night’ again until mid to late August. So do get out while you still can. Of course the further south you are the less impacted you will be by this ‘near’ midnight Sun.
I had an eventful stargazing session with the Woodland Trust who were based at the Torridon for several nights. We first headed outside at about 10.30pm to view the crescent Moon with binoculars during early twilight skies – still too bright to see many stars apart from brilliant Arcturus.
After heading back inside for more projector based astronomy we ventured outside once more after 11pm and were fortunate to see a decent collection of bright stars and constellations despite some hazy cloud overhead.
Vega, Capella, Arcturus and Spica were all visible, in addition to the main stars in the Plough. I’d like to thank the Woodland Trust for inviting me and wish them well in their rewilding endeavours across the Highlands.