9 Nov 2018
Families in the Highlands caught sight of a meteor during this year’s first Star Stories stargazing session.
The Star Stories programme is a season of stargazing events in the Abriachan Community Forest, a designated Dark Sky Discovery site, which are designed to teach people of all ages about astronomy through storytelling.
The project was launched as a pilot last year, and was such a success that this year it was awarded funding from STFC’s Spark Awards. This year’s star-watching season started in earnest at the Abriachan Forest recently, where families listened to Celtic tales around an open fire, and were shown the visible constellations in the night sky.
The visitors were treated to a fine view of the Milky Way, spotting constellations including Ursa Major and Pleiades – and the stargazers also got a spectacular view of a burning meteor, which lit up the entire sky.
Astronomer Stephen Mackintosh organises the events, and said: “These wild astronomy events have been a huge draw, attracting local families and groups from Inverness and the surroundings. There’s an obvious unmet thirst for knowledge about the night sky in the Highlands, and a dark sky location like Abriachan is the perfect backdrop for engaging people’s imaginations whilst also delivering core science learning from the forest classroom.”
The STFC grant has been invested in two large pairs of mounted binoculars as well as lots of smaller hand-held sets, and some has also been able to put aside free transport for families who might lack access to vehicles.
The grant will help to deliver around twelve events over the observing season and into the brighter months, including special guest speakers and workshops.