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Past Events - 2020

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.


"Nucleosynthesis of the Chemical Elements in Massive Stars" - G Mackie (24th Jan)

Chairman Gordon Mackie presented more in depth details on this topic, as a follow up to the introductory presentation in Nov 2019.


"Mars Colonisation" (C Wilhelm), "Visiting the Royal Observatory Greenwich" (G Mackie) & Night Sky Photos at Loch Calder (J Hilton) - 21st Feb

Three very different and very informative presentations were given to gathered CAG members.


AGM (Sat 22nd Feb at 10.30am Pentland Hotel, Thurso)

The AGM was held on Saturday 22nd February in The Pentland Hotel, Thurso. 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: Keith Nicholson
Treasurer: Alan Gerrard

Other committee members: John Hilton, Dina Hilton, Angela Nicholson, Christian Wilhelm, Iain Darby.

Outgoing committee members Carole Whittaker & Mark Gibson were thanked for their time and input, and continuing support to the club.

Membership for 2020 was set at £15 for adults and £25 for family membership (the same as last year).


Caithness Science Festival Event

"What has space ever done for us? A guide to astronomy and space exploration in 8 technologies” - M Vidmar (ROE) - 13th March

One of the few Caithness Science Festival events to take place in 2019, due to Covid-19 restrictions coming into place shortly after this date. For the first time, the CAG guest speaker gave his presentation remotely via Zoom, to the assembled audience in the Castlehill Heritage Centre.


Dark Skies at Loch Calder (March)

A few socially distanced CAG Members got to enjoy some stunning views just before the country went under strict restrictions to deal with the coronavirus epidemic.....


“Observing and Imaging Venus” - G Mackie (8th May - online session via Zoom)

In this online session accessed by CAG and other astronomical societies across the north of Scotland, CAG Chairman talked through the practical aspects of observing and imaging the planet Venus, which had been prominent in the evening sky throughout the first half of 2020.....


"Use of Polemaster Equipment for Polar Alignment of Mounts" - Neil McLean & "Touring the Universe in 10 minutes this Autumn" - Gordon Mackie

(28th Aug - Online session via Zoom)

The autumn is a great time of year to do stargazing in the north of Scotland. The weather isn't too cold, and there are lots of interesting things to see with the naked eye, binoculars or a small scope. Chairman Gordon Mackie described how in 10 minutes on an autumn evening you can tour quite a range of interesting objects in the universe eg...


CAG Members Meeting (Oct - Online session via Zoom)



“Two Notable Female Scottish Astronomers” - Carole Whitaker

“Astronomic! - An Extremely Subjective History of Practical Astronomy (Part 1)” - Mark Gibson

plus  Night Sky Observations Live Streamed from Thurso (courtesy of Gordon Mackie)

(13th Nov - online session via Zoom)


CAG Provision of Space Learning Activities for the Thurso Guides (27th Nov)

A Riverside Tour of the Solar System

CAG Chairman Gordon Mackie recently joined the Thurso Guides on a suitably socially distanced walking tour of our Solar System. The tour was based on a scale model with the Sun represented by the size of a melon, meaning our planet Earth was about the size of a grain of sand…….

The Sun was the starting point of the tour and was chosen to be represented by the green harbour light at Thurso river mouth. Setting off along the Riverside using this scale model, each large step equated to 7 million miles …...

[click on the above image to see a larger version]

When the relative distance that each planet orbits the Sun was reached, the group paused to view images of the planet and discuss what it was like……

By the time the position of Uranus was reached (at the Riverside lorry park), the melon sized Sun (green harbour light) was a faint object in the distance…..

It was clear that the size of the solar system was extremely big compared to the distances we are used to travelling on the Earth. With large expanses of emptiness between the planets, asteroids and comets, it’s no coincidence that it’s referred to as “Space”. 

Want to appreciate for yourself how big the distances to the other planets are? Why not also take a walking tour of the solar system for yourself using the above scale model map. Note that you might be tempted to walk as far a minor planet Pluto which is part way along Janet Street on this scale. However I wouldn’t recommend pacing out the distance to the nearest star – Proxima Centauri would be about the distance of Chicago, USA!

Want to learn more about the solar system? Check out these weblinks….
NASA Websites - https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/menu/solar-system/  & https://solarsystem.nasa.gov 
Explore The Solar System: 360 Degree Interactive Tour! – https://youtu.be/0ytyMKa8aps 
BBC Bitesize - www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/zdrrd2p 



CAG Support for Thurso Cubs Astronomers Badge Activities (Winter 20/21 - online sessions via Zoom)



"Far Side of the Moon” – Prof Keith Nicholson (11th Dec)


Saturn-Jupiter Conjunction (Dec 2020)

CAG members (and skywatchers across the world) enjoyed views of the two largest planets in our solar system side-by-side after sunset.....

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