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14 February 2020Superb Youth Group Outreach Observing Session

We had a superb Youth Group Outreach evening with the Cradlehall Brownie pack, leaders, and friends on Wednesday 12th February .

It couldn’t have been better as the skies were crystal clear and stable.

The Brownies were guided round a few of the major winter constellations using a special laser pointer - Cassiopeia, Perseus, Orion, Gemini - and shown how to find the Pole Star using the pointer stars in The Plough (Big Dipper).

They made pinhole constellations in the warm room which they took home with them, and, they were especially lucky to be the first local youth group to see the Orion Nebula (where stars are being born) and our nearest galaxy Andromeda (a mere 2.5 million light years away) through our 35cm telescope via our new state-of-the-art astrocam link.

The astrocam link allows objects to be seen in great detail and in colour(!) - no need now to queue up to look through an eyepiece.

The images attached to this post are screen dumps of what the Brownies actually saw live!

If you want to see amazing astronomy objects in our Highland night skies in the comfort of our warm room please look out for details of our Public & Members Observing Sessions on our website, Facebook, and Instagram.

Clear skies

HAS Observing Team

The Orion Nebula (M42)

 

The Core of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31)

 

The Cigar Galaxy (M82)

 

Open Star Cluster in Auriga (M37)

 

Open Star Cluster in Perseus (NGC869)

07 February 2020February Club News

February Club News presented to Members & Visitors at our last Monthly Club Meeting on Tuesday 4th February 2020.

This well-attended meeting had a great atmosphere about it with HAS members, SIGMA members, first-time and returning visitors all participating throughout the evening.  Our excellent Club speaker, Pauline Macrae, and the exciting news about our observatory both contibuted to give the night a real "buzz"!

 

CHAIRMAN'S CHAT

Eric opened the meeting by welcoming members, visitors from SIGMA and, first-time & returning visitors to our Club.

 

The Evening's Timings:

1930 Welcome & Notices (Eric)

1935 Main Talk (Pauline Macrae)

2030 Raffle (Pat E)

  • Thanks to Denis Bucynski for donating copies of the "2020 Guide to the Night Sky" as prizes

2040 Tea/Coffee

2050 Club News (Eric)

2100 Break-Out Groups

  • Discussion Group (Arthur)
  • Practical Group(s) – Astrophotography: Constellations, Clusters, & Aurora.  This session is also suitable for first-time visitors & new members (Eric)

NOTE don’t feel obliged to stay to the end of these groups.  They are intended that people can leave whenever they want.  If you want to stay just 10 minutes or the full hour, it’s up to you

2200 Close

 

Exciting News

We are very proud to announce the most exciting news about our Observatory facilities and the astronomical feast our local Scottish Highlands-based Club can now offer its members and visitors.  This really is a bold, innovative, and ground-breaking adventure for Highlands Astronomical Society!  Read on .......

JSL Observatory Report

  • The weather has been mixed but we have been able to hold a few observing sessions – two of them were absolutely top-notch!
  • We have had many enquiries about our observing sessions via Facebook and our website …. and several of these have turned into actual visits.  It’s great when you see whole families turning up from granny, through mum & dad, to the kids.
  • It’s especially satisfying when we see our own members turning up, and there has been a good turnout of us at the last two Saturday sessions.
  • Did I mention we have some exciting news about the observatory for you?

Highlands Astronomical Society has, since the building of our own Observatory 11 years ago, had the aspiration to be able to provide a video link from the main telescope to the warm room.  We have had several attempts at this over the years, the best only being partially successful and certainly not up to the quality or standard we feel is expected in the 21st century.  This has all changed! 

Project 21C-ObSee is intended to take us to the forefront of members- and public-access astronomy and to future-proof it for years to come.

A small dedicated group from our Observing Team - Eric Walker, Gerry Gaitens, Dave Davidson, and Pauline Macrae - have been working hard over the past couple of weeks and successfully achieved the most wonderful amateur club & public astronomy viewing facility & service in the Highlands of Scotland, let alone the UK itself.

We have attached a high-spec astrocam to our 14" telescope in the dome and hard-wired it via a laptop to our TV flatscreen in the warm room.  The images which can be seen well surpass that which the project team were expecting.  The detail is superb, the objects which can be viewed are some of the finest in our night sky, and, instead of faint-fuzzy grey smudges, the images are in colour.

We have tested out the viewing experience at last weekends Public & Members Observing Sessions and they were immediately a great hit, with people staying to view the images for the entire session.  There are teething troubles of course, for example, it's tricky to find the objects due to the very narrow field of view, but we have already overcome that and look forward to our next sessions.  The feedback obtained from the first observers has been invaluable and is helping us quickly reach a point where we are able to deliver one of the the highest quality amateur astronomy observing experiences in the country.

This has opened up astronomy to those less able to participate in our passion for real-time observing of the night sky.  Those with limited mobility, those who have difficulty with outdoors or cold temperatures are only some examples of the people who can now get practically involved.

We believe this is a game-changer for our Club!

The hi-spec astrocam attached to our 14" telescope

 

Screendump of what observers in the warm room can see - incredible detail of the 50% illuminated Moon

 

The colour & structure of the Orion Nebula (M42) as seen by observers in the warm room

 

Observing & Outreach

  • Eric gave a talk on Astrophotography to Inverness Camera Club the day after our January meeting and it went extremely well.  It was good to be ably supported by long-standing member Donald Boyd who is now trying to persuade him to convert it into an updated astrophotography talk for us here at HAS
  • Pauline has four youth outreach sessions arranged at the observatory and is also going to visit one youth group direct
  • Eric will give you details of this month’s Observing sessions and some more pics from our astrocam-linked observing sessions (see Dave's Monthly Club News below)
  • Because of our "exciting news" we definitely need a few members to take on the Host role at our Observing Sessions which takes the form of meet & greet and chaperone/guide as opposed to a technical observing role.
    • You don’t need to be an experienced astronomer to help us out with this role and we would love to have a few of you volunteer for this.
  • BBC Sky at Night have contacted us via our website & Rhona directly and they want us to submit a short article, with photographs, about who we are, what we do, our observing & outreach sessions, and suchlike.
    • We are going to do photo-shoots at the next two Observing Sessions and would love to see lots of you there to help with us with our publicity drive.  So, if you think you’re able to make it put the dates in your diary!

 

Our Next Meeting is being held on Tuesday 3rd March when Maarten de Vries is giving a talk called “Is the Earth Flat?”  That should be fun and has the potential for stimulating some debate!

 

Feedback Sheets & Pencils are on your tables

Again, please give us comments on the good/bad points of this meeting and the Club in general

This is proving very useful to us and helping us to make small but key changes to our Club and make it fit & sustainable for the 21st century.

 

Dave's Monthly Club News report (presented at the meeting by Eric) is attached as a PowerPoint presentation 

The presentation contains news, updates, and photos of the following

  • Constellation of the Month: Taurus
  • Observatory Activities
  • Project 21C-ObSee
  • Members' Photos
  • Visitors
  • Upcoming Observing Sessions

 

Clear skies

Eric

11 January 2020January Club News

January Club News presented to Members & Visitors at our last Monthly Club Meeting on Tuesday 7th January 2020.

A most enjoyable first meeting of 2020 with new members joining and several first-time visitors who we very much hope to see again.

 

Chairman’s Chat

Eric opened the meeting by welcoming members, visitors from SIGMA and, first-time visitors to our Club.

 

  • The Evening's Timings
    • 1930 Welcome & Notices (Eric)
    • 1935 Presentation (Stephen Mackintosh)
    • 2030 Raffle (Pat E)
    • 2040 Tea/Coffee
    • 2050 Club News (Dave)
    • 2100 Break-Out Groups
      • Discussion Group (Arthur)
      • Practical Group(s) – suitable for first-time visitors & new members (Eric & Dave)

NOTE don’t feel obliged to stay to the end of these groups.  They are intended that people can leave whenever they want.  If you want to stay just 10 minutes or the full hour, it’s up to you

  • 2200 Close

 

  • Sad News
    • We were notified by the BAA that Dr Dave Gavine died on the 2nd January
    • Dave was formerly a Director of the Aurora Section of the BAA and many of us here will remember him talking at our Club Meetings

 

  • Observatory
    • The weather has again been very unkind to us last month and wrecked our observing session programme
    • we planned in many extra sessions over the Festive period but only one of these had perfect viewing conditions – and no visitors or members turned up ..… just the observing team.  It was the weekend before Christmas so we’ve probably been a wee bit ambitious hoping folk would find the time to turn up.  It was a great evening though!
    • we have had several enquiries about our observing sessions via Facebook and our website …. unfortunately, we have been unable to follow through and deliver sessions for these people due to having to cancel due to the poor weather.  We continue to keep in touch however!
    • Here’s hoping for better things throughout the next few weeks, although the current weather & forecast is not good

 

  • Observing & Outreach
    • Eric is giving a talk on Astrophotography to Inverness Camera Club tomorrow evening, and will be inviting their members up to the Observatory over the next few weeks
    • Dave will give you details of this month’s Observing sessions and, just a reminder of our request for our need for a Host role at our Observing Sessions which takes the form of meet & greet and chaperone/guide as opposed to a technical observing role.
    • You don’t need to be an experienced astronomer to help us out with this role and we would love to have a few of you volunteer for this.
    • Contact Dave if you want to learn more about this and think you could help out

 

  • Our Next Meeting is being held on Tue 4th Feb when our very own Pauline Macrae will be giving us an insight into “Weird Stars”.  No …. I can’t work out what that’s about either and I am really looking forward to it!

 

  • Feedback Sheets & Pencils are on your tables
    • Please comment on the good/bad points of this meeting, the Club in general, and we would especially like to receive feedback on the types of talks you would like to hear!
    • We are in the process of planning next year’s programme and want to ensure we get the type & level of talk just as you want it!
    • We received lots of constructive feedback last month and are finding it very useful in reshaping what we do and how we deliver it.  Nothing major, just wee touches here and there.

 

Dave's Monthly Club News report is attached as a PowerPoint presentation 

The presentation contains news, updates, and photos of the following

  • Observatory News
  • Constellation of the Month
  • Members' News & Photos
  • Upcoming Observing Sessions

 

Clear skies

Eric

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STATUS: All Observatory Events Cancelled For The Forseeable Future

However ..... see front page for alternative Zoom webinar hosted online sessions!



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