2012 Programme

Meetings are held on the first Friday of every month at Birnie Village Hall near Elgin.

Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start.

Non-members are always welcome and refreshments are provided (for a small donation).

SIGMA regularly holds public observing sessions at its dark site outside Elgin. Visit our Public Events page to see what we have planned.

Friday 6th January
Space Flight, the first 50 years
Chris Stradling, SIGMA
SIGMA member Chris Stradling will be looking back at significant events during the first 50 years of manned spaceflight and discussing possibilities for the future of manned exploration.

Friday 3rd February
Seeing the Quantum World Through a Telescope
Maarten de Vries, Highlands Astronomical Society
Maarten asks “is it possible to see what’s happening at subatomic level by looking through a telescope, and if so, how can we make sense out of it all”? This thought provoking talk will take you through the bewildering and counter intuitive world of quantum physics, highlighting some of the biggest questions that are still unanswered, including how this links in to what we can observe in the universe today.

Friday 2nd March
How Hubble measured the age of the Universe
Bill Leslie, SIGMA
SIGMA member Bill Leslie will tell the story of the discovery of the expanding universe and its implications, and attempt to use Hubble’s original data to find the age of the universe.

Friday 6th April
Our Place In The Universe
Andy Lawrence, ROE
Professor Lawrence will look at the scale of the Universe, its incredible violence and complexity, and examine how we feel as humans in the face of all of this.

Friday 4th May
The Forbidden Planet
David Paterson, Dundee AS
David will relate how Mars has long fascinated astronomers and scientists, although it has proven to be a difficult planet to visit and study, and will look at the history of its exploration, from early telescopic observation to the latest results from orbiters/rovers.

Friday 1st June
Annual General Meeting
A chance to catch up with what has been happening within SIGMA over the last 12 months and to elect new committee members. There will also be the usual free members raffle where you may win a bottle of Single Malt (for attendees and postal voters only).

Friday 6th July
Solar Outdoor Astronomical Kitchen Event
SIGMA will be holding another Solar Observing evening, this time at Nethy Bridge. There will be a range of telescopes at your disposal to observe our nearest star, whilst munching on delicious burgers and hot dogs. An indoor bad weather back up presentation is planned in the event of poor observing conditions.

Friday 3rd August
Equipment Night
A chance to see what equipment is available to the amateur astronomer and to ask any questions you may have about astronomy and observing the skies.

Friday 7th September
Science with the SDO
Lyndsay Fletcher, Glasgow University
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory is a billion-dollar satellite mission which launched in February 2010.

It is returning a flood of observations from our nearest star, producing images of the whole solar disk in multiple wavelengths, every ten seconds.

The level of detail and complete coverage of the Sun is allowing us to observe processes never seen before, such as magnetic connections extending half-way round the Sun, new kinds of eruptions and waves, and also the interaction of comets with the solar corona.

This talk will describe the mission and overview some of its science highlights.

Friday 5th October
The Aurora Borealis
Ken Kennedy, BAA
One of SIGMA’s favourite speakers, Ken will discuss some early historical facts and sightings. He will also show how the aurora is linked to solar activity and the Earth’s magnetic field, which determines when a display may occur. With photos taken from various sources, Ken will explain the aurora as seen from space and aurora on other planets.

Friday 2nd November
Why Stars Shine
Mike Lulan, Caithness AS
Mike will give us a layman’s guide to the fascinating subject of nucleosynthesis, the process by which heavier elements are synthesized in the interiors of stars from hydrogen nuclei and other synthesized elements.

Friday 7th December
A chance to bring along family and friends for a night of fun, questions and mince pies to end the year. There will also be the usual Christmas raffle.