I’m delighted to announce the schedule of events for both the Star Stories Programme at Abriachan Forest and the Urban Astronomy evenings at the Merkinch Local Nature Reserve. Some of these events may be subject to late change so please check back and keep tabs on my Highland Astronomy Facebook page for more details. I’ll also post Eventbrite links for bookings here and on social media around a month prior to each event.
Star Stories at Abriachan Forest
Now entering its third year, Star Stories returns with another captivating programme of family friendly stargazing and storytelling events. This year will see the erection of a wooden henge and sundial at the Abriachan site to compliment the program’s leaning towards ancient and observational astronomy. Further ahead, and as a result of overwhelming feedback, we’re looking to fund an on-site video telescope to enhance the binocular observing and expand the outreach of the events via live streams. Star Stories is in collaboration with Abriachan Forest Trust and part funded by the STFC’s Spark Award Scheme.
Location: Arbrichan Forest (A Dark Sky Discovery site)
Oct 5th at 8pm – Ancient Astronomy. 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
Nov 23rd at 7pm – Dark Sky Man. 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 .
Dec 11th at 7pm – ‘Astronomy from the Moon: 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
Dec 21st at 7pm – Winter Solstice Special 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. 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
Additional 2020 dates are still being finalised but we’ll have guest talks from Eric Walker of the Highland Astronomical Society in February and local photographer Claire Rehr in March. The Glasgow Science Centre crew will also return in May for more hands on workshops.
Urban Astronomy Evenings at the Merkinch Nature Reserve
Since finding a permanent base of operations at the Sea Cadets Hall in Inverness, the Merkinch Urban Astronomy nights have attracted a growing number of participants. This year we’ll be inviting some guest speakers and continuing our format of indoor astronomy talks with the additional option of walks to the nature reserve for live observing. This programme is delivered in partnership with Caroline Snow and Friends of the Merkinch Local Nature Reserve.
Evening meetings: Sea Cadets Hall, 44 Kessock Rd, Inverness IV3 8AJ.
October 3rd at 8.30pm – Saturn Special. Opportunities to stargaze and observe Saturn from the local nature reserve 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.
November 7th at 8.30pm – Moon Special. Come and observe the bright waxing gibbous Moon from the grounds of the Merkinch nature reserve. Indoor Moon talk if skies are poor.
December 19th at 8.30pm – ‘A Telescope isn’t just for Christmas’. 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.
January 16th at 8.30pm – Supernova Special 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 20th at 8.30pm – Aurora Special 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.
March 12th at 8.30pm – Venus Special. 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.