Login
Get your free website from Spanglefish

 

Past Events - 2013

WORK IN PROGRESS - We're a relatively small Group, but undertake lots of activities, so please bear with us while we try to keep these details up to date.

 

Stargazing Live 2013

SGL event photos were taken by Maciej Winiarczyk (unless otherwise stated).

Friday 11th of January saw CAG hold it's event in conjunction with the BBC Stargazing Live series of TV programmes shown on the three previous evenings. The event was held at the recently designated Dark Sky Discovery Site of Castlehill Heritage Centre. Attendance at the event was incredible, with over 70 people turning up on the night, including a news team from BBC Alba...


Chairman Gordon Mackie kicked off the evening with a brief introduction and the first half of a two-part talk covering the questions he often gets asked by beginners. The initial guidance given was in relation to queries on identifying what objects visible in the night sky were and what interesting objects could be viewed with binoculars or a small telescope.

The weather then kindly changed from rain to cloud free skies allowing the assembled audience to spend some time out under the star filled dark skies.

Naked eye tours of the night sky were given as well as the chance to look through telescopes at objects including the giant planet Jupiter and its 4 largest moons, the Orion Nebula and The Pleiades.

Above photo was taken by G Mackie

After some warming refreshments the indoor activities continued with CAG member Stewart Watt acting as quiz master in a space themed picture quiz....

To finish off the evening the Chairman gave the second part of his talk where advice on telescope buying, highlights to see in the sky during 2013 and how to maximise your chances of seeing the northern lights were all covered.

Unfortunately there was no aurora visible on the night, but it did make an appearance a couple of days later to the delight of several CAG members....

Above photo was taken by G Mackie

See also - www.flickr.com/photos/kasmunro2/8380156901/in/photostream for another pic from the display on the 13th January.

Info related to this event (including useful weblinks mentioned during the talks) can be found in the CAG Library.
 

Stargazing Live 2013 - Stargazing Sessions for Local Groups

Later in the month additional stargazing events were held with the pupils at Melvich Primary School and the Thurso Brownies....

The pupils at Melvich received their free BBC Stargazing Live printed Star Guides after an evening of space activities with CAG members John Keeton and John Hilton....

(Above photo was taken by John Hilton)

The Thurso Brownies with their BBC Stargazing Live printed Star Guides....

The Brownies out under clear skies looking at the Moon and Jupiter....

Notice the Plough and faint green aurora in this photo? Some of the troop headed to the shorefront along with the Chairman after the session - they were treated to a brief but amazing display of the northern lights.......

There were a few other CAG members out enjoying the display. Some of their photos can be found here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/58905291@N03/8389361359/in/photostream http://www.flickr.com/photos/northern_exposures_2009/8390980879/in/photostream http://www.flickr.com/photos/57299237@N05/8392781135/in/photostream  www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5CCejDFSAY

 

Some CAG committee members also attended an awareness session organised by the local Dark Skies Project (led by North Highland Initiative). At it Dave Chalton from Dark Sky Scotland (www.darkskyscotland.org.uk) gave talks to local STEM ambassadors, teachers and hoteliers. Afterwards the CAG Chairman held a short observing session in the centre of Thurso.......

......not the darkest location, but convenient.

What a busy start to the year. Here's looking forward to more clear skies for our future events!

 

Members Workshop - Feb 8th

Beautiful clear skies and no wind made for a delightful session under the stars....

Shining brightly amongst the many bright stars present in the winter sky was the giant planet Jupiter, which was a superb sight with it's largest moons and complex cloud systems clearly visible.....

(image of Jupiter above was captured by Maciej Winiarczyk) 

 

Public Observing Evening - 15th Feb

For the second Friday in a row CAG held an observing session at Castlehill Heritage Centre and once again clear skies allowed superb views of the night sky.

The evening started off with a combined pass by the International Space Station and an Iridium Satellite flare.......

The ISS is bottom right and the iridium flare is top left in the above photo.

See www.heavens-above.com for details on when to see the ISS and iridium flares from your location.

The main objects on view were a thin crescent moon and the giant planet Jupiter.....

The above pics of the Moon and Jupiter were captured by Maciej Winiarczyk.

During the evening attendees were able to observe the heavens through a number of different telescopes and see how Maciej went about capturing the above images......

Another highlight during the evening was the chance to spot asteroid 2012 DA14 which was making a very close fly past of the Earth (http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/28jan_2012da/)

Although it proved somewhat hard to spot visually it was possible to capture it's motion across the sky using a camera and tripod....

The above long exposure photo shows the asteroid as a light trail that is oriented differently to the trails of the stars.

In addition to viewing the above there was time to view a number of favourite objects visible in the sky at that time of year. This included the Pleiades, the Orion Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy....

Only things "missing" from the evening was a display of the northern lights and a comet. Maybe we'll get them during our March events.

[See http://www.skyandtelescope.com/skytel/beyondthepage/Comet-PanSTARRS-Updates-185665152.html for details of the bright comet expected to grace our skies during the latter half of March]

 

Lunar Observing with the Thurso Scouts

Following a solar observing session in 2012, the CAG chairman returned to the Thurso Scouts to carry out some night time observing. Clear skies allowed a look at the moon and prominent constellations in the winter skies.....

 

Caithness Astronomy Group - Annual General Meeting

The AGM was held on 23rd February in Caithness Horizons. The annual statement of accounts were accepted and the following office bearers and committee members were re-elected as part of the proceedings:

Chairperson: Gordon Mackie
Secretary: Alan Kennedy
Treasurer: John Keeton

Other committee members: Mike Lunan, John Hilton, Steven Mcconnach

Membership for 2013 was set at £15 for adults and £25 for family membership (the same as last year).

 

 

Wild Skies Weekend - with Guest Speaker Professor Andy Lawrence

Mid March saw Professor Andy Lawrence of the Edinburgh Royal Observatory visit Caithness for the Wild Skies Weekend of events where he gave public talks on Active Galactic Nuclei.......

and "Our Place in the Universe".......

Whilst here he also gave talks to local primary school children in Wick and Thurso.......

.....somehow he also managed to squeeze in a trip to see some local ancient sights too.......

[Camster Cairns above and the Standing Stones at Achavanich below]

....along with a trip to the Clan Gunn Heritage Centre to learn about some of his ancestors....

To find out more about Prof Lawrence's research you can look at content on the ROE website. You might also want to look at what he said about his visit to Caithness on his blog :-)

 

Caithness Science Festival - www.science03.org

A few members of CAG again participated in the local science festival. At the opening event on the 19th March there was the opportunity to view the Moon and Jupiter through a telescope and Comet PanSTARRS even made a brief appearance.....

Then at the Family Science Fun Day there was the chance for those attending to try some astronaut ice cream, operate a telescope, and find out about all things astronomical...

 

Comet Spotting (Comet C/2011 L4 PanSTARRS)

Mid/late March saw the bright comet PanSTARRS grace our evening skies. CAG members met up on several occasions to take advantage of some clear skies and enjoy views of the comet. Here are a selection of images captured....

Photographing the comet at Castlehill (photo by G Mackie)

The comet at Dunnet Head lighthouse. Faint aurora and iridium satellite flare are also visible (photo by G Mackie)

Shortly afterwards the aurora became much more impressive. Thanks to the location being a really dark place (other than the obvious lighthouse!) the zodiacal light was also on show........

The comet and sunset at Loch More (photo by Stewart Watt)

The comet and the Andromeda Galaxy side by side in the night sky (photo by Maciej Winiarczyk)

Here is some timelapse footage of the comet taken by Maciej Winiarczyk........

Watch out for the rapid burst of aurora near the end of the clip.

 

Moons & Stuff!

April 12th saw CAG member Mike Lunan give a talk on the amazingly varied moons in the solar system. There are a LOT of them and they come in all shapes and sizes...............

After the talk (and the obligatory tea and biscuits!) attendees took advantage of the clear skies to do some observing. Some of the celestial objects viewed included, the moon, Jupiter,  Comet PanSTARRS, the Leo Triplet of galaxies and the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules........

 

The Hubble Space Telescope

Mid May saw guest speaker Chris Stradling from SIGMA - Moray's Astronomy Club give a talk on the Hubble Space Telescope.

Chris told the story of the telescope, what it has achieved and the work required over the years to enable it to produce the amazing results it has.

 

Things That Go Bang in the Night! - Talk by Professor Andy Newsam (31st May)

Thanks to Peter Darmady of Wick High School the county had a visit by Professor Andy Newsam as part of his Astro Tour consisting of school and public talks across the country.....

Andy works at the Liverpool John Moores University as the Professor of Astronomy Education and Engagement. One of his many other roles is as the Director of the National Schools' Observatory, which uses astronomy to enthuse and educate children about science and technology as a whole. One of the assets available to schools to use is the world's largest robotic telescope - The Liverpool Telescope, which is located on La Palma in the Canary Islands.

(Above photo was taken by Maciej Winiarczyk)

His excellent talk looked at some of the extremes in the universe and how they are being studied.

 

CAG Members Workshop (June 2013)

The last CAG event before the summer break saw two CAG members sharing some of their specialised knowledge.

Mike Lunan (above) gave an overview of stellar evolution and how the development of stars is intrinsically linked to their mass. 

That was followed by Maciej Winarczyk giving a run through how he took and processed his recent fabulous image of Comet PanSTARRS alongside the Andromeda Galaxy....

The bright night skies in Caithness during the summer do not permit much observing of celestial objects, but being Noctilucent Cloud observing season, those that stay up late on a clear night can be rewarded with good views of these beautiful clouds...

Above is a view of NLCs seen over Thurso Bay on the 10th June 2013. See www.nlcnet.co.uk for more info on noctilucent clouds.

 

CAG Open Day - August 31st

Our annual drop in event in Caithness Horizons saw the usual display of astonomical information, telescopes, videos and locally taken astrophotos. With the Sun making a guest appearance our solar telescope got plenty of use...

 

Orkney International Science Festival

Once again CAG members (Alan Kennedy and Maciej Winiarczyk) went along to provide some astonomical content for the Family Day event at the festival......

Afterwards there was a bit of time to do some stargazing...

OISF photos taken by Maciej Winiarczyk and Fiona Kennedy

 

Dark Skies Stargazing

With the darker nights returning some CAG members have taken advantage of clear skies to travel to some of the darker parts of the county and do some stargazing and astrophotography....

Loch More looking north to Ursa Major & Ursa Minor (Gordon Mackie)

Milky Way at Broubster Forest (Karen Munro)

Aurora at Loch Calder (Stewart Watt)

 

 

Wild Skies Weekend - Sept 2013

The end of September saw guest speaker Dr Lyndsay Fletcher from Glasgow University visit the area to give talks on our Sun.

Before the scheduled public talks she was good enough to spend a day visiting local High Schools in the area where she talked with older pupils in Wick and Bettyhill about the Sun & the Space Weather it generates, as well potential careers in science....

The first public talk took place at the Dark Sky Discovery Site at Castlehill Heritage Centre. It gave an introduction to the Sun, the Space Weather it generates and how this weather affects the Earth and the modern technology we depend on.....

The following afternoon the venue changed to Caithness Horizons where the event kicked off with a look at the observing opportunities in Caithness.

Dr Fletcher then gave a talk on the science studies being undertaken with the Solar Dynamics Observatory - a telescope in space that continually takes stunningly detailed images of the Sun.

There was lots of discussion after the talk, including how magnetism shapes many of the features observed on the surface of the Sun. To help explain the magnetic effects two essential visual aids were brought into action - a rubber band and magnets with iron filings...

Whilst in the area Lyndsay and husband Hugh did a bit of sightseeing with the CAG chairman. A trip to Forsinard in the Flow Country afforded a chance to experience the wild landscapes there....

Maybe next time they visit the grey skies will be replaced with some dark star filled vistas!

 

Taking Advantage of Clear Skies! - Oct 2013

October saw some clear skies which led to impromptu expeditions by groups of CAG members to dark spots in the county.......

Above image of a moonlit scene at Westerdale was taken by Chris Sinclair.

Dark skies at Dirlot Castle (G Mackie)

Sometimes when you're out you get rewarded by the best type of light pollution - the northern lights dancing across the sky........

The above photo of the spectacular aurora on the 30th October was taken at Castletown Harbour by Stewart Watt. Several CAG members were lucky enough to enjoy the light show that evening.

 

"Getting Lost In the Summer Triangle" - Talk by chairman Gordon Mackie

November 1st saw a good turnout for a an event where CAG chairman Gordon Mackie gave a talk on the objects of interest in the sky near the Summer Triangle.

Above image was taken by Maciej Winiarczyk

The talk highlighted that there were plenty of things to see in this area of the sky with the naked eye or modest observing equipment. There were also many fabulous objects for the budding astrophotographer....

 

The above images are prime examples of this. They show the Dumbbell Nebula and the North American Nebula, both named because of their shape.

Unfortunately the skies were cloudy during the event, only clearing after most people had called it a night. But the few that went out later were treated to some fabulous views of dark starry skies and the chance to photograph some objects that will soon grace our winter evening skies.......

The above images show the Orion Nebula, Rosette Nebula and Horsehead & Flame Nebula.

 

 

All photos above were taken by Gordon Mackie unless otherwise stated.

 

 




Click for Map WikanikoWork from Home