Programme for 2019

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 4th January 2019
Venue: Lhanbryde Community Centre
SIGMA Stargazing and Equipment Night – 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 and talk with local astronomers.

Friday 1st February 2019
Eric Walker – Highlands Astronomical Society

Friday 1st March 2019
New Views of the Sun’s Hot Corona
Dr Iain Hannah – University of Glasgow
Why is the Sun’s outer atmosphere, (corona) hotter than its surface? Also the further away the corona gets the hotter it becomes. This has been a major topic of solar physics research for decades. Iain will cover a brief history of this problem, some of the modern solutions using the latest images and movies from space-based telescopes, and how scientific observations during eclipses are still useful today.

*From April 2019, meetings will be held at Lhanbryde Community Centre*

Friday 5th April 2019
Dr Alexander Scholz – University of St Andrews
Alex will explain the HOYS-CAPS (Hunting Outbursting Young Stars with the Centre of Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences) project aims to work together with amateur astronomers in long-term photometric monitoring of young stellar clusters to find outbursting objects for detailed follow-up study.

Friday 3rd May 2019
Astronomical Alchemy
Gordon Mackie – Caithness Astronomy Group
Celebrating the International Year of the Periodic Table of Elements (IYPT 2019), chemist and amateur astronomer Gordon Mackie gives an overview of how the chemical elements are formed, followed by a brief guided tour of the Periodic Table highlighting the significance of some of the elements from an astronomy perspective.

Friday 7th June 2019
Annual General Meeting
Another chance to catch up with events within SIGMA over the last year and to elect the new committee.

followed by

Eric Walker – Highlands Astronomical Society
Long-time friend of SIGMA, Eric will share his knowledge about imaging the night sky, most of which he has done from his home built Beinn View observatory in the Highlands.

Friday 5th July 2019
Is the Sun Dying?
Lyn Smith – The British Astronomical Association: Solar Section Director
Lyn will talk about the BAA Solar Section and show recent images of our closest star, discuss the current solar cycle and the predictions for the next one. You’ll also be able to ask her any burning questions you may have about the Sun.

Friday 2nd August 2019
The Rise of Astrophysics 1890 – 1930: the story of 4 remarkable women
Neville Brown – Aberdeen Astronomical Society
In the late 19th century the Harvard College Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts was home to a series of remarkable and ground-breaking discoveries that were fundamental to the birth of what we know today as “astrophysics”.

Much of this work was carried out by a team of human “computers”, all women, at a time in history when this was very much not the norm. This talk focuses on the 4 main players in this fascinating, and at times bizarre, story.

Friday 6th September 2019
The Search for Life in the Universe
Prof. Charles Cockell – University of Edinburgh
For the first time, using robots and telescopes we are on the verge of getting some sort of idea about whether we are alone in the Universe. In this talk we’ll take a tour of these distant worlds and new missions and consider the prospects for life elsewhere.

Friday 18th October 2019
The Third George Fraser Memorial Lecture
In 2015 SIGMA, in association with Morayvia, held its first memorial lecture in honour of Prof. George Fraser (22 July 1955 – 18 March 2014).

Born and brought up in Burghead, George was Professor of Detector Physics and Director of the Space Research Centre of the University of Leicester.

Though his work was recognized internationally, his achievements are virtually unknown locally.

Planets, Planets Everywhere – but is the Earth unique?
Prof. Andrew Cameron – University of St Andrews
After 20 years of ground-based planet searches and the completion of NASA’s Kepler/K2 planet-hunting mission, it seems that every star has a planetary system of some sort, but with a bewildering range of different architectures. So to what extent has our homeworld been shaped by the forces that carved out the early solar system? And does that make our Earth commonplace, or a freak of nature?

Friday 1st November 2019
SIGMA Stargazing and Equipment Night – a joint club night and public observing session.
See many of the wonders of the local night sky (weather permitting) and talk with local astronomers.

Friday 6th December 2019
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 2020.

The 2019 leaflet is available to download (pdf).