The milky way from the grounds of the Arkinglas Estate, Loch Fyne
I had another great time hosting outdoor astronomy and stargazing workshops at this years Scapa festival, held on 3-5th May near the shores of Loch Fyne at the Arkinglas Estate.
It was very busy, especially Friday evening when clear skies brought many folk streaming down into the gardens in anticipation of stargazing close to the shoreline.
As it happened we hit some cloud just as I was about to kick off, prompting a quick jump over to my backup projector and screen. I was then able to deliver a 30 minute talk with Q&A, discussing things like the colour, temperature, distance of stars, the Milky Way, other galaxies, shooting stars and large impactors. As ever the questions were fascinating.
A passing satellite
Just as the talk wrapped up skies cleared and we were stargazing from the estate grounds. Plenty of constellations and bright stars began appearing, and conditions improved further when a second group arrived to join in.
Similar conditions prevailed on the Saturday, when skies once again cleared up after my talk, allowing us to observe with the large case of binoculars I always bring to star parties.
Later on I was able to photograph some lovely shots of the Milky Way from the estate grounds, with the band of our galaxy sitting low and clear on the northern horizon.
Feedback has been great on the guiding so far, and I’m looking forward to getting involved again next year.
I had a fun two days of astronomy guiding at the newly launched Scapa yoga festival near Loch Fyne. One of the perks for the job was a family ticket for the festival so I decided to take the camper van and family along too.
The drive from Inverness was pretty arduous, but when we arrived it was a lovely setting and ended up being one of the most peaceful and chilled out festivals we’ve been to. Numbers were kept at reasonable levels so that toilets and open spaces were jostle free and relaxing.
The astronomy work ran for two days late in the evening and was in partnership with the Wild Things! group. The original plan was for a late night constellation walk to the beach but as the clouds rolled in we instead elected for an atmospheric campfire, with a general discussion about the stars.
This format worked out very well with lots of interested folk dropping in to participate in what became a very vibrant Q & A, covering topics as far reaching as star navigation, astrology, shooting stars, black holes and stellar evolution. On the Saturday evening some people stayed for the whole two hours, transfixed by the discussions. Astronomy is a subject with the power to transport people back into a state of childhood wonder! It’s undoubtably the most accessible and mind-blowing of all the sciences.
By all accounts the festival was a great success and I wish the organisers lots of luck with Scapa 2019.