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Past Events - 2018

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.


Members Dark Skies event (19th Jan)

For the first event of the year CAG members Paul Clement talked about his interest in stargazing and his STEM Ambassador activities including using a Raspberry Pi setup to allow user input to control a laser and "paint" onto a wall or screen.


CAG Helping Thurso Beavers get their Space Badge


CAG Stargazing Session at Castletown Primary School


Learning About "Space" at Pennyland Primary School

CAG chairman and local STEM Ambassador Gordon Mackie spent several afternoons with a P5 class at Pennyland Primary School covering the "Space" curriculum topic.

The pupils were enthusiastic in learning about the Sun, Planets and moons in our Solar System, and how the movement of the Earth & Moon around the Sun is linked to day, night, seasons and tides on the Earth.


Members Dark Skies event (9th Feb)


CAG Annual General Meeting 

The AGM was held on Saturday 10th March in Caithness Horizons, Thurso. The annual statement of accounts were accepted and the following office bearers and committee members were elected/re-elected as part of the proceedings:

Chairperson: Gordon Mackie
Secretary: Keith Nicholson
Treasurer: Alan Gerrard

Other committee members: John Hilton, Dina Hilton, Angela Nicholson, Christian Wilhelm, Carole Whittaker & Mark Gibson
Membership for 2018 was set at £15 for adults and £25 for family membership (the same as last year).


"Lochaber to the Cosmos" (15th March)

In a joint talk hosted by CAG & the Caithness Science Festival Dr Alec MacKinnon, Senior Lecturer from the University of Glasgow gave a talk about the Ben Nevis Observatory, it's link to Physicist CTR Wilson and his studies of cosmic rays.

The talk then talked about some of the recent discoveries in relation to these high energy cosmic particles.......

......including a particle observed to arrive at Earth travelling at almost the speed of light, dubbed the "Oh My God" Particle.

Above image shows a few CAG members alongside Dr MacKinnon after his talk.

The following day Dr MacKinnon visited a couple of local schools to speak to pupils there....

The above photo shows Dr MacKinnon with Science Festival Organiser Elena Baikie and Wick High School Physics teacher Perter Darmady.

Above photo shows Dr MacKinnon discussing the Solar System with pupils at Newton Park Primary School on Wick.

After the school visits there was time for Dr MacKinnon to sample the Caithness spring weather......

.....one of the reasons Old Pulteney is so popular amongst locals.....


CAG at the Caithness Science Festival Fun Day (17th March Wick School Campus)

It was a busy day with around 1700 people of all ages attending......


"To Pluto and Beyond" (20th April)

CAG member Mike Lunan took attendees on a guided tour of the distant world Pluto and it's ensemble of moons thanks to some stunning imagery obtained by the New Horzons spacecraft.

After the event there was time to do a spot of observing as the Moon was well placed in the twilight skies...

Unfortunately it doesn't get dark until quite late in the evening in Caithness in late April, so only those who stayed up late were treated to a nice display of aurora in the moonlight.....



CAG Observing and Imaging Equipment Evening (18th May)


CAG Observing and Imaging Equipment Evening - Part 2 (1st June)


CAG Members Perseid Meteor Observing (mid August)


CAG at the Orkney International Science Festival (7-10 Sept)

As well as supporting the usual Family Day Event.......

CAG members Maciej Winiarczyk, Christian Wilhelm and Gordon Mackie also visited local primary schools to cover aspects of the Space school curriculum topic......

The above 2 images and the next one below were taken by Maciej Winiarczyk.

There was also time to fit in a brief visit to the remote island of North Ronaldsay to do stargazing workshops for the community who are working towards achieving Dark Skies designation status.....

As usual there was time to check out other festival events.....

....and also carry out a bit of sightseeing.


"Confessions of An Astronomer" (11th Sept)

Royal Observatory of Edinburgh Fellow and Assistant General Secretary for the International Astronomical Union, Prof Ian Robson gave an informative and light hearted look back at the many adventures he has had during half a century as an astronomer, and how astronomy and our understanding of the Universe has advanced greatly over the years.

It was particularly special being able to invite Prof Robson to join CAG in its 10th year doing astronomy events in the north of Scotland as our Group formed 10 years ago for the International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009), and he was the UK Lead for that year of celebrations.

The above photo of Prof Robson and a few of CAG Founder Members was taken by Maciej Winiarczyk.


"Recent Curiosities From Mars" (5th Oct)

Popular return guest speaker Pauline Macrae from the Highlands Astronomical Society, gave her 3rd planetary themed talk for CAG. This time the topic covered was the Curiosity Rover (Mars Science Laboratory) that is currently exploring Gale Crater on Mars looking for evidence of past habitable environments.

As a special thank you for visiting us once again and giving a fascinating talk, CAG obtained some specially made chocolates from Caithness Chocolates to give to Pauline. These hand made treats were made to resemble the Sun & planets in our Solar System.....

Chocolates and photos are courtesy of Ruth Falconer, chocolatier and planetary artist :-)


Forsinard Dark Skies Event (2nd Nov)

Despite poor weather a healthy audience assembled at the RSPB Field Centre at Forsinard to hear a few short talks from CAG members.

Chairman Gordon Mackie looked at the journey of the Curiosity Rover on the surface of Mars and how many areas and geological features were named after places in Scotland. This was due to similar rock types in Scotland and on Mars, and the importance of the study of rocks in Scotland for human understanding of rocks and geological processes.

Mike Lunan then gave a comprehensive guide to stargazing without optical aid, and navigating the star filled skies that dark clear nights in Forsinard provide...

Then finally, as the weather did not allow a trip to the Observation Tower, reknowned astrophotographer Maciej Winiarczyk gave hints and tips for budding night sky photographers......


CAG 10th Anniversary Event (7th Dec)

CAG welcomed back Prof Martin Hendry MBE for a special 10th anniversary event, where he gave a fascinating update on the developments and latest discoveries in gravitational wave astronomy.

After the talk there was the obligatory celebratory cake (a delicious gravitational waves themed cake provided by Neil and Jay McLean).

The evening also saw Gordon Mackie, Chairman for the full 10 years since the Group was formed, being presented with a gift from members for all his efforts over the years.

Above image taken by Maciej Winiarczyk

During his visit Prof Hendry was also able to fit in visits to Thurso and Wick High Schools to talk to pupils studying physics there....



Members Meteors & Mince Pies Event (14th Dec)

To accompany the normal collection of festive edible delights, Christian Wilhelm gave a talk on the challenges faced on any lengthy manned space mission, such as a trip to Mars......

Unfortunately the weather was poor for the final members get together of 2018, but as the last members got ready to leave the venue after some short members talks, the clouds cleared briefly allowing Comet Wirtanen and numerous Geminid meteors to be observed.


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