Past Events

Hebridean Science Festival on 15th, 16th & 17th March 2012

Inside the Planetarium The Planetarium Meteors

SAS will be taking part in the Hebridean Science Festival 2012 with a Planetarium Show, Astronomy Lecture, Moon Rocks Display, Telescope Demo, Observing Evening, Solar System in the Castle Grounds, A Telescope Raffle, and a competition to win a book about the solar system as well as a Space Art Exhibition at An Lanntair by Artists and Craft-producers from the Western Isles! It will be a busy and exciting start to 2012, so be there to enjoy the fun! All Welcome.

PLANETARIUM SHOW – See the night sky in the afternoon! Sat 17th March 2012.
The Stornoway Astronomical Society in conjunction with the Science Festival will set up the inflatable planetarium to show the public the night sky on Saturday 17th March 2012. Come and see the stars, constellations and planets projected above your heads and take a tour of the night sky in the middle of the afternoon!

SPACE ART EXHIBITION – Art from local artists and craft workers from the Western Isles! From 5th March to 31st March 2012.
Come and see a fascinating and thought-provoking selection of Space-inspired art from many local artists and craft workers from the Western Isles at An Lanntair art gallery. This is a very rare opportunity and possibly the first time space art has ever been exhibited in the Western Isles.

SCALE SOLAR SYSTEM IN THE CASTLE GROUNDS – See the distances and sizes of the planets to scale! From 12th March to 17th March 2012.
The Stornoway Astronomical Society will create a scale model of our solar system in the castle grounds in Stornoway. The route will follow the main path that runs in front of the castle. Walk from the Sun to Earth, and then beyond to dwarf planet Pluto. See all the other planets on the way. A competition will be run in connection with this event with a mystery prize for the winner.

Firework Night Observing Session

SAS members held an observing session on Saturday 5th November at the Braigh Carpark to follow up on some of the things spoken about at the November lecture about the Moon. It was a good clear night with little wind and the Waxing Gibbous Moon, 80% illuminated, gave a nice chance to observe the surface detail at the terminator.
As well as the Moon, other objects observed during the evening included Jupiter and its Moons, The Andromeda galaxy, Pleiades (Seven sisters) and the Coathanger Asterism.
Many fine details were seen on the Moon, including craters, mountains and mountain ranges, valleys, etc. Craters Plato, Cassini, Aristillus, Autolycus, Archimedes, Copernicus, Tycho and Clavius were well viewed, as were the Mare and highland areas.

November Observing Session

Aurora Show in the Western Isles

On the morning of the 25th October 2011 the Western Isles had a fantastic Auroral spectacle caused by a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the Sun.
The Solar Wind hit the Earths magnetic field and set off a geometric storm that causes the Aurora or Northern Lights. The first signs of activity were seen in the Western Isles at around 21:00 BST on the 24th October and the most intense activity took place at around 02:00 on the 25th.
The show started with filaments of green and at its height there were bright red areas of colour to the Northeast that could clearly be seen with the naked eye.
The show lasted well into the early morning and the following images were taken from Flesherin, looking across the entrance to Broad Bay over Portnaguran.

Aurora 25/10/2011    Aurora 25/10/2011

New Supernova in M101

An announcement on the Society of Popular Astronomy (SPA) website on the 25th August 2011 stated that:
British astronomers have announced the discovery of a supernova in galaxy M101, which they claim is the nearest supernova of its type for more than 40 years. The object was discovered at magnitude 17, but as it appears to be rising in magnitude, the team say that it could become as bright as magnitude 10 within the next few days. This would bring it well within the reach of small telescopes and even large binoculars.
For more details go to the SPA Website.

M101 Location M101 Location, Near the Plough.


Image by B. J. Fulton, LCOGT

First Noctilucent Clouds of 2011

The first Noctilucent (NCL) clouds of the 2011 season were spotted from Lewis on the 1st July at 01:15 BST in the Northern sky.
They were visible again on the 3rd July between 01:30 and 02:15. On clear nights, look to the North and see if you can see very high turquoise coloured clouds that are very well defined.

NCL 3rd July NCL 3rd July

Noctilucent clouds form at an altitude of around 50 miles, in the Earth's Mesosphere. They are mainly ice crystals and can only be seen at this time of year because the Sun needs to be at a specific position below the horizon for the clouds to reflect the Sunlight. For more information see Wikipedia.