Congratulations to Prof. Catherine Heymans, who’s been appointed Scotland’s 11th Astronomer Royal.
She replaces John Brown who sadly passed away in 2019.
An expert on dark energy and dark matter, Catherine is also director of the German Centre for Cosmological Lensing at Ruhr-University Bochum.
One of Catherine’s most exciting early initiatives in the role will be to install telescopes in all of Scotland’s remote outdoor learning centres, that are visited by school pupils.
She’s passionate about the cathartic experience of live observing, and how this can drive a lifelong passion for science:
“I don’t think anyone forgets the first time they saw the rings of Saturn through a telescope, but too many people never have the chance.“
“My hope is that once that spark and connection with the universe is made, children will carry that excitement home with them and develop a life-long passion for astronomy or, even better, science as a whole,”.
I couldn’t agree more.
The position of Astronomer Royal for Scotland was created in 1834 and originally held by the director of the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh.
Jocelyn Bell Burnell, president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, said: “The Astronomer Royal for Scotland has always been a distinguished and respected astronomer, and Professor Heymans is exactly that.”
I have some very sad news to share with regular followers of my blog and facebook page. Graham Bell, a prolific skywatcher and incredibly talented night sky photographer, passed away on Wednesday the 21st of April. He was only 35 years old and leaves behind a deeply saddened family including two young boys.
Graham posted so many images to my page and frequently messaged me with follow up pictures, time lapses and general chat about the night sky. He generously let me use many of his compositions during astronomy presentations and I suspect he inspired many people who follow this blog and page with his wonderful pictures.
He was latterly living in Inverurie but always reminded me that he was a proud Ross-shire boy, having been raised in Muir of Ord in the Scottish Highlands.
I’ve put together a medley of some of Graham’s images as a mark of respect, and I’d like to thank Graham’s dad David for calling me yesterday to share the sad news.
There’s definitely something timeless about looking up at the night sky and I’d like to think that some part of Graham will always be looking up, camera at the ready. RIP Graham.
The Torridon is a location with exceptional darkness in the remote western Highlands of Scotland. You can see a preview of my stargazing experience on the BBC’s Amazing Hotels. Near the end I take Giles and Monica out for an excursion under the stars.
Fingers crossed both my community based stargazing programmes will be up and running again by October (at Abriachan Forest and the Merkinch Nature Reserve).
I’ll once again be collaborating with Abriachan Forest (a dark sky discover site) to bring you another online Star Stories in February. This month we have two guest speakers fulfilling the astronomy and storytelling segments.
Eric Walker from the Highlands Astronomical Society joins us to speak about his passion for night sky and deep sky photography. He’ll be sharing some great tips to help you capture the wonders of the night sky yourself and many of the breathtaking pictures he’s captured over the years. (http://www.spacegazer.com)
Afterwards we’ll be joined by Daniel Allison – an acclaimed oral storyteller who performs everywhere from schools and prisons to global festivals. Daniel hosts the House of Legends Podcast and is the author of The Bone Flute, Silverborn, Scottish Myths & Legends and Finn & The Fianna. (https://www.houseoflegends.me)
Plus a What’s Up guide to the night sky from your truly. Due to current circumstances this event is free and open to everyone however we would kindly ask you to donate to the speakers directly via links which will go up during the sessions.Many thanks for your support in advance.