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Highlands Astronomical Society


We lost our meeting in January due to the appalling weather - snow -  and there were also a couple of last minute changes to the programme due to speakers having to cancel. In addition, our meeting place had to be changed again because of building work at the Smithton-Culloden Free Church, and with touring a variety of venues during the latter half of the year we weren't sure if we were coming or going!

In April we were extremely fortunate to have Jocelyn Bell Burnell speak to us at Culloden Academy on the Discovery of Pulsars and then in June George Abbey, Director of Johnson’s Space centre and Don Williams, a Space Shuttle pilot gave a public talk to which HAS was formally invited.
The Monster Science Festival, organised by Inverness College, took place in June. Numerous science activities, of which astronomy was one, were mainly aimed at children so we prepared a number of things for the children to do; make a sundial or a constellation in a tube; fly a vitamin C powered rocket, experiment with gravity using helium filled balloons and make a paper Ares space-plane which has been designed to fly on Mars. Paul, Pat, Arthur and I gave public talks, and our observatory was open on a Saturday afternoon offering views through the Lunt telescope.
The Lunt was a new acquisition; it is a solar ‘scope able to view the Sun in hydrogen alpha light giving us a chance to see prominences, filaments, plages and large sunspots. By placing a white light filter on our own telescopes it was possible to compare the two views. We organised ‘Solar Saturdays’ throughout the summer months but there were disappointingly few Saturdays where we were able to use it.

Not a good year for weather although there were some really stunning clear nights during the early part of the year. The LX200R telescope itself has required some thought as to its errant behaviour so the mount was changed from equatorial to alt/az and after a reset to the handset, it now points accurately. What will the latter half of the year bring? Once again, around 70 came to the Open Doors event and many wanted to look through the Society telescope. Fingers crossed for clear nights during the winter months.

Gerry Gaitens became Observatory manager. We were given talks by Professor Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, George Abbey of Johnson’s Space Centre and Don Williams, Shuttle pilot, and we took part in a science festival. We watched an occultation of a star by asteroid 196 Philomela in February, and it was recorded by Maarten.

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