2024 Programme

Meetings are held on the first Friday of each month* at Lhanbryde Community Centre (Robertson Road, Lhanbryde, Moray, IV30 8QQ). The Centre is ideal for routine observing either during or after meetings, with only minimal light pollution.

*January, February, March and April meetings will be fully online via ZOOM. This is to avoid having to cancel any meetings due to bad weather locally or affecting the Speakers being able to travel to Moray, and/or Speaker’s availabilty.

In the event of any other meeting having to take place over ZOOM this will be communicated to members by email and the website.

Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start.

Non-members are always welcome – please contact us.

Friday, 5 January 2024
Andy Green
Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (FRAS)
In search of the Goddess of the Dawn
The story of the Aurora
Friday, 2 February 2024
Prof. Brad Gibson
University of Hull
How the Universe Will End
One of the most exciting questions in all of science remains “How did the Universe begin?”; less spoken about though is the opposite end of the life-cycle: “how the Universe will end…”.  Over a rollicking and interactive hour, Professor Gibson will walk you through our Universe, from its birth and toddler phase, to the rough teenage years and mid-life crises, and ultimately, its mysterious fate, billions of years from now.
Friday, 1 March 2024
Prof. Ian Robson
Science and Technology Facilities Council, Royal Observatory, Edinburgh
The Pluto Story
This talk is about the erstwhile planet Pluto, how it was discovered and how discovery and observations of Kuiper Belt Objects eventually led the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 2006 to declassify Pluto from being a planet. Although ‘what is a planet?’ might seem to be an easy question to answer, it turns out that the ensuing debate by professional astronomers was both complicated and fractious. The twists and turns of how Pluto finally came to be demoted by the IAU are revisited on a personal basis – astronomical democracy in action – or not, and what was the legacy from the decision and what have we learned from the New Horizons space mission to Pluto and beyond.
Friday, 5 April 2024
Hazel Collett
Friday, 3 May 2024
Dr. Howie Firth MBE
The Bear and the Ship
An old Shetland folktale and a 2,000-year-old Mediterranean voyage lead Howie Firth on an astronomical trail to Siberia and ancient Egypt. We visit the islands of Fetlar and Paxos, and take a journey in the sky with the star Canopus and two constellations.
Friday, 7 June 2024 AGM
Friday, 5 July 2024 Equipment Night/Solar Observing
Friday, 2 August 2024
Dr. Hugh Hudson
University of Glasgow
Friday, 6 September 2024
Pete Sherman
Navigating the Night Sky
Friday, 4 October 2024
Prof. Andrew Cameron
University of St Andrews
Exploring small planets with TESS, HARPS-N and CHEOPS
Extrasolar planetary systems contain both familiar planet types – gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn, ice giants like Uranus and Neptune – and unfamiliar ones such as rocky super-Earths and mini-Neptunes with extended atmospheres. But what about true Earth analogues? In principle these are easy to detect with space photometry from missions like TESS and CHEOPS, but weighing them with ground-based spectrographs like HARPS-North is proving to be a headache – thanks to the stellar equivalents of sunspots and faculae that mottle the faces of their host stars. These mask the stellar orbital reflex motion that reveals a planet’s mass. Andy will talk about some recent successes, and a major new initiative to bring ultra-realistic, large-scale computational models of the physics of stellar photospheres to bear on the problem.
Friday, 1 November 2024
Pauline Macrae
Weird Stars
Not all stars are born equal and this can lead to some real monsters, large and small, out in space looking and behaving in weird ways. This talk looks a little closer at some of these stars but beware, nightmares are made of these…
Friday, 6 December 2024
Christmas Quiz
SIGMA Members and your Families
Bring along the family for a night of fun, questions and mince pies to end the year. There will also be the usual Christmas raffle.