SIGMA Events Programme for 2018

Meetings are held on the first Friday* of every month at Birnie Village Hall near Elgin. (unless otherwise stated.)
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.
* Please note that the January meeting is held at Lhanbryde Community Centre and held later in the month.

Friday 12th January 2018
Venue: Lhanbryde Community Centre
SIGMA Stargazing and Equipment Night
SIGMA’s annual Stargazing meeting – a joint club night and public observing session.
Held at Lhanbryde, this event will give members and visitors a chance to see many of the wonders of the local night sky (weather permitting), talk with local amateur astronomers and see SIGMA members’ astronomical equipment.

Friday 2nd February 2018
Variable Stars
Maarten de Vries, SIGMA
Most stars, even our own Sun, do not always shine with the same brightness all the time. Some indeed appear to change in brightness quite dramatically over short periods of time. So what causes this? In this talk Maarten will explain the various mechanisms that cause stars to vary in brightness and how observations of some of these stars have helped shape our understanding of the entire universe.

Friday 2nd March 2018
Galactic Archaeology
Dr. Oscar Gonzales, Royal Observatory, Edinburgh
How do galaxies form and evolve? Chilean astronomer Oscar Gonzales will show how understanding the formation history of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is a critical piece of this puzzle. This talk will introduce you to the exciting world of Galactic Archaeology, what clues the astronomers look for, and how they are used to reconstruct the Milky Way’s past.

Friday 6th April 2018
The Quest for Dark Matter
Dr. Anne-Marie Weijmans, St Andrews University
Anne-Marie will be discussing how astronomers detect dark matter in the Universe. What we think it’s doing there, what we know about it so far and, more importantly, what we don’t know.

Friday 4th May 2018
Strange Clouds in the Northern Sky
Ken Kennedy – Mill’s Observatory, Dundee
One of SIGMA’s longstanding friends and speaker returns this month to share with us his knowledge of the strange phenomenon of Noctilucent clouds.

Friday 1st June 2018
Annual General Meeting/Solar Observing/ Equipment Night/Social
Venue: TBA
Another chance to catch up with events within SIGMA over the last year and to elect the new committee.

Friday 6th July 2018
Confessions of an Astronomer
Prof. Ian Robson, Royal Observatory, Edinburgh
This is a light-hearted and personal look at the life of a professional astronomer. In addition to the research and teaching, perhaps surprisingly, it can be packed with ‘interest’ in the widest sense of the word. The talk contains many amusing and exciting anecdotes; from being marooned with a steaming helium dewar in a cable car in the Pyrenees, flying in an RAF Comet above the North Sea at 45,000ft and many exploits in Hawaii. The talk covers a wide range of astronomy, is lavishly illustrated and contains not a single equation!

Friday 3rd August 2018
From Standing Stones to Blasting Rockets
Matjaz Vidmar, Royal Observatory, Edinburgh
Global Space Industry is in a time of a radical transformation and is no longer the exclusive business of global superpowers or multi-national corporations. Matjaz will link the rich history of astronomy and space science in Scotland to exciting new developments in our ambition to follow these trends and expand our Space Sector. However, building a space industry ecosystem is not trivial – after all, who said it was not rocket science?

Friday 7th September 2018
Cassini : 20 Years of Discovery
David Paterson, Dundee Astronomical Society
The Cassini – Huygens mission to Saturn was launched in October 1997 took 7 years to reach the ringed planet, carrying out some interesting science on the way. Over the next 13 years Cassini made incredibly detailed observations of this mysterious gas giant, its multitude of moons, and the enigmatic rings, while the Huygens lander gave us our first glimpse of the strange, yet somehow familiar looking, surface of Titan. This talk will look at the engineering challenges of designing the Cassini probe and Huygens lander, the complexity of getting to Saturn, and the wealth of scientific data which has been returned over the 20 year mission.

Friday 12th October 2018
Please note change of date and talk
Mapping the Universe
Rita Tojeiro, St Andrews University
The structure of the Universe on the largest scales tells us a great deal about its composition, geometry, expansion and ultimate fate.
Rita will review the progress on mapping the large-scale structure of the Universe over the last few decades, show some of the most complete and largest maps that have ever made, and discuss the mysterious cosmological model that these maps have revealed.

Friday 2nd November 2018
Lochaber to the Cosmos
Dr Alec MacKinnon, University of Glasgow
Alec will talk about the Ben Nevis Observatory, the Scots Nobel Prize winner CTR Wilson, and the origins of cosmic ray science with some modern stories on cosmic rays. This promises to be an interesting presentation with a mix of subjects from, high-energy astrophysics, particle physics to Scottish scientific history.

Friday 7th December 2018
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 Xmas raffle and an update on future planned events for SIGMA in 2018.