Moon, Fox and Fire at Abriachan Forest!

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.

November Star Stories at Abriachan Forest

Waxing crescent Moon at Abriachan Forest

Join us up at Abriachan Forest on November 4th for our first event of the 2022 Stargazing season – ‘Moon, Planets and Fox & Fire!’

To kick off the winter series our first event will be a Moon and Planet special with the waxing gibbous Moon, Jupiter and Saturn on display for live binoculor and telescope observing guided by astronomer Stephen Mackintosh. If skies are poor Stephen will instead present an indoor talk in the forest classroom on the history of lunar and planetary observing, going back to the earliest ideas our ancestors had about the Moon and Wandering Stars.

In addition the Abriachan team will present ‘Fox and Fire’ storytelling around the campfire with refreshments provided.

Due to site and classroom capacity, booking via Eventbrite is essential. Admission is free for under 16s with accompanying adults but please inform Abriachan of any large booking requests.

Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite HERE.

Guide to September Skies

What’s Up in September 2022 Night Sky Guide.

I hope you enjoy my short guide to September skies. Everything in this guide is calibrated to views around 11pm. Highlights include:

– Jupiter, Saturn and Mars

The Pleiades and Hyades open star clusters

– The Winter Triangle

– The Milky Way

– Lyra with the double double and ring nebula

– The Plough and its famous double star

Clear skies.

Stargazing at the End of Night

Sunset over Glen Docherty

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.

The spring star Arcturus ‘Bear Watcher’ was bright enough to see in early twilight during our Moon gazing session.

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.

Tales of the Moon with Catherine Heymans

Stargazing and Moon Observing with Scotland’s Astronomer Royal Catherine Heymans.

Join me up at Abriachan Forest (a Dark Sky Discovery site) for an evening of stargazing, Moon observing and astronomy with our special guest Scotland’s astronomer royal Catherine Heymans.

If skies are clear Catherine and local astronomer Stephen Mackintosh will host an outdoor Moon observing session with binoculars and telescope. Following this Catherine will present her indoor guest talk titled “Do Look up! Space Rocks and Killer Asteroids”

Refreshments provided plus binoculars for stargazing. Under 16s with accompanying adults go free. 

Catherine Heymans is the Astronomer Royal for Scotland and Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh. She’s also director of the German Centre for Cosmological Lensing at the Ruhr-University Bochum. She is an experienced science communicator, visiting schools across Scotland, in addition to art, music, comedy, philosophy and science festivals.

Tickets are available via Eventbrite or my Facebook page.

Moon Formation

Modelling suggests the Earth came very close to having a pair of smaller Moons.

According to simulations by Canup and Ida (2014) the Earth came very close to hosting two smaller Moon’s (right) rather than the large single Moon we ended up with (left).

This fascinating ‘what if’ modelling is based on the giant impact hypothesis. A faster rate of rotation of the post impact disk is the main requirement for a two Moon system to take hold.

Of course multiple moon system are very common. Saturn for example has an abundance of them, with the most recent count totalling 82 orbiting bodies.

Colour Image: Artist’s impression of an alien world with two moons by Angela Harburn.

June 10th Solar Eclipse

Re-sharing some of the wonderful solar eclipse images posted to the community section of my Facebook page today.

Thank you so much for sharing and joining the marathon livestream earlier today, which had a reach of over a quarter of a million on Facebook.

Inverness turned out to be one of the best places to see today’s partial solar eclipse.

You can watch the livestream again here: https://fb.watch/61U_F2KS9d/