If you live in mid northern latitudes there’s an undeniable familiarity to your night skies when facing north. One of the most prominent constellations is Ursa Major with its bright asterism known as The Plough, or Big Dipper. I call this collection of stars the Swiss Army Knife for stargazers, and for good reason. Please watch to find out why.
Music used with permission from Rising Galaxy (Cosmicleaf records, Greece)
My video stargazing guide to the constellation Ursa Major, known to stargazers and astronomers in the northern hemisphere by its famous asterism of the Plough or Big Dipper.
Many thanks to Rising Galaxy of Cosmicleaf Records for gifting the background music to this piece. If you like drone ambient or cosmic chill out music please check out their web stores for more of the same.
Stage all set for my stargazing show Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival. On both evenings sky conditions were good enough for the show to move outdoors under clearing skies,
The stars were out at Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival last weekend. Not those on stage, but the more distant and ancient ones up in the sky. I had loads of fun sky guiding outdoors with all the late night merrymaking around us – a markedly different experience to the stillness of SCAPA festival but none the worse for it. My portable PA came to the rescue and managed to win out against one of the louder music tents across the way and questions and answers were easily fielded.
On both evenings skies started cloudy but partially cleared by about 11.30pm, allowing me to take the show outside for a laser pointer assisted tour of the heavens.
Skies to the north were sufficiently clear to tour the rich pickings around Ursa Major, with its famous double star Mizar and its abundance of celestial pointers, leading to Polaris and many of the other bright stars in the sky
Amidst opening and closing patches of sky we saw red giant Arcturus, Vega, distant Deneb, the stars of Ursa Major, Cassiopeia (both pictured), Cygnus, Lyra and Aquila.
With binoculars folk were able to easily split some well known double stars including Mizar and Alcor in the handle of the dipper and the Double Double next to brilliant Vega.
The highlight, close to midnight, was viewing the Andromeda galaxy, which was just visible despite the very challenging conditions. A few people had never seen another galaxy before and amazed binoculars could produce such excellent views.
Thanks to everyone who came along, a safe homeward journey and clear skies! I look forward to returning next year.