Glen Lyon Astronomy Weekend 2001

By Malcolm Gibb

Meggernie Scout Outdoor Centre, Glen Lyon.

Meggernie Scout Outdoor Centre
Glen Lyon

No SAG Weekend this year but the Association of Falkirk Astronomers held their second astronomy weekend on the 19th/21st October at the Meggernie Scout Centre in Glen Lyon, Perthshire. It was attended by 16 adults and 2 children. The attendees came from our own Falkirk club, Stirling AS and AS of Edinburgh. Due to the inclement weather which seems to dog most outdoor astronomy events, the weekend turned into a cloudwatch, the highlight of which was when the cloudbase went up to 2000 ft.

Indoors however, it was a very different story. After dinner, which  on the Friday was a buffet, Bill Ward from Glasgow gave a talk about telescopes and optics. This was a fascinating subject and he covered everything, the F/number, field angle, resolution, optimum magnification, exit pupil, the effect of the atmosphere, our eyesight and the different types of eyepieces to name but a few. Some of it was quite technical but with no limit on time it could all be explained. Bill also exploded a few of the myths concerning telescopes With the friendly atmosphere and nobody rushing to get home, the questions/answers and discussions just flowed. Every so often someone had a look outside but the clouds would not part and about one o'clock bed seemed to be the sensible thing to do!

Highland cattle

Highland cattle

Saturday was no different as far as the weather was concerned, so it was a lazy day for most, although one or two went hill-walking in the beautiful Perthshire countryside. Unfortunately, Ian Glen was unable to attend due to family illness so we missed his excellent talk and slide show featuring his visits to Nepal and Mount Everest. (Next year Ian) After lunch about a dozen sat in the recreation room and discussed astronomy, philosophy, science technology and dreams. Yes dreams! We all want to try out the flying one, it sounds great, but it's the landing that worried me. Bill Ward brought in a light box and large negatives of the night sky, so the Norton Star Atlases came out along with the magnifying glasses and identification became the order of the day for a while. Neil Grubb meanwhile, was busy giving mini workshops on image processing on his laptop using Adobe Photoshop. There was a great ambience about the place and I'm sure we all learned something new.

No. See it's that one!

No. See it's that one!

After an excellent three course dinner with coffee, the speaker was Dr. Neil Grubb from Edinburgh. Neil's subject was Webcams, CCDs and image processing. He first showed images taken by a CCD camera then ones taken with a webcam, not much difference until you compare prices with a webcam on sale for between £40 and £60 and CCD cameras running into hundreds. Of course webcams have their limitations but for planetary work they seem like great value. The image processing after you have captured the images was an eye-opener for me, I really must have another look at Adobe Photoshop.

Dr. Neil Grubb being introduced by Walter Scott.

Dr. Neil Grubb

Needless to say the sky did not clear, even if the rain did stop, so Bill Ward gave us a slide show of his visit to the Siding Spring Mountain Observatory in Australia with magnificent shots of the Galactic Plane from South of the Equator and Dr. Russell Cockman a show of various slides, including some of the Solar eclipse this year and many of his outstanding aurora images.

Sunday morning and even although we hadn't seen a star, it was voted a most enjoyable weekend and everybody vowed to come back next year.

A special mention must be given to Susan Scott for her organisational skills in the kitchen.

A few more images from the weekend, click on them to enlarge.


The obligatory group photograph!

A mini workshop on image processing. Good club integration here, three Falkirk, two Stirling and one Edinburgh.
'and that's my CCD camera'. Neil Grubb and Douglas Cooper.
The birthday boy. Callum Scott.
The other birthday boy with grandson Callum.
The Meggernie Scottish Scout Outdoor Centre.
'Who are you looking at?'