The Early Days
Eight people sharing the same interest in astronomy began meeting together at the house of Jim Savage-Lowden before moving the meetings to the Spectrum Centre.
Jim later became the Chairperson of the newly formed Inverness Astronomical Society. Meanwhile, along the coast from Inverness, the Moray Astronomical Society was also holding regular meetings which were also attended by Jim.
The two members of the Moray Astronomical Society, Richard Pearce and Mike Reuss-Newlands, decided, with Jim, to amalgamate the two societies, and the Highlands Astronomical Society was formed. Regular meetings were held in Inverness on a monthly basis.
Meetings were largely informal and generally involved discussion and questions. However, it was decided that a formal Constitution should be drawn up and a Committee was formed from the membership.
Astronomy Week took place later in the year and members of the public were invited up to our observing site in Culloden Battlefield car park to view the night sky through Society members’ telescopes. Moray Firth Radio also spent one evening with us.
James Dick, our Secretary at the time, decided to develop a programme to provide a formal structure to the meetings. Most of the speakers were drawn from the members and talks were given on various topics and projects. Occasionally, a guest speaker was invited to give a talk to the Society.
A 12" telescope was donated to the Society by the Abbey at Fort Augustus. However, it was in need of a great deal of refurbishment and wasn’t yet fit for use.
A permanent location for an observatory was identified in Abriachan by Richard Green, our Secretary at the time. He also authored a document called ‘First Light’, which detailed the possible development of an observatory for the Society at the proposed site.
Our Spacegazer website was designed and set up by Maarten de Vries – the message board proving a very popular feature.
Jim Savage-Lowden retired as Chairperson in order to tour schools with a portable planetarium, and I (Pauline Macrae) took over the reins.
A lunar eclipse took place during one of the meetings, allowing Society members, along with the press, to observe the event in its entirety.