Glen Lyon Astronomy Weekend 2003

By Louise Scott (aged 9)


Before we left for Glen Lyon my dad Walter Scott Jnr and my brother Calum went to see Concorde land at Edinburgh Airport for the very last time. So off we set on our one and a half hour journey to the Meggernie outdoor centre in Glen Lyon. When we got there we settled into our room and made ourselves comfortable and got unpacked. A total of eighteen adults and two children attended the 4th AFA astronomy weekend. Before the welcome buffet we watched an audiovisual presentation narrated by Heather Couper titled Changing View of Mars, which was very interesting. Once the buffet was over and Diane Cherry had welcomed everyone along to the weekend we went outdoors to have a look at the sky.

The sky on the Friday night at times was nice and clear with the starry highway of the Milky Way overhead, there was a pale greenish glow in the north of the Aurora Borealis which kept brightening and fading during the evening. Through Martin Russell's 16" Dobsonian telescope the views of M31 Andromeda Galaxy, M13 the Globular cluster in Hercules and M57 the Ring Nebula in Lyra were absolutely stunning. There were quite a lot of meteors observed over the course of the evening.

Indoors Neil Grubb and Horst Meyerdierks were showing off images of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the recent transit of Mercury that had been taken by using a webcam. I went to bed but most people stayed up much longer to make the most of the clear skies.

We had a lovely breakfast to start the day off. Everyone had a free choice of what to do. Some people went to the Brig 'o' Balgy Post Office/tea room like me, which serves the loveliest chocolate cake. We all came back to have a lie down, have a little snack, some people were working on their laptops. The Sun came out and a couple of telescopes were set up to have a look at the large sunspots that were visible.

The afternoon finished with Douglas Cooper and Alan Cayless showing us some of his pictures of Auroras, sunspots, moon etc. People went out again, the rest of us watched Toy Story 2 (which made Bill Ward cry with laughter!). While we waited for dinner we watched a spectacular slide presentation complete with backing music that AFA members had to work very hard on to produce. So well done to Malcolm Gibb, Martin Russell, Walter Scott Jnr, Douglas Cooper and Russell Cockman.

We had a lovely tea with the choice of steak pie or chicken pie. Afterwards, Neil Grubb gave an interesting talk about the Americans experimental X15 hypersonic aircraft which in 1963 reached a height of 354200ft, a record that still stands today for a winged vehicle. As it contributed to later space projects including the space shuttle, the question was asked, could the X15 be classed as the first space shuttle? During Neil's talk there was a short break allowing us time to watch a -7 iridium flare through Pegasus.

Finally quiz time! Names were picked out of a hat and put into teams of 3 or 4. Diane Cherry was the quizmaster and asked us a mixture of astronomy and general knowledge questions. The winners of the quiz were Susan Scott, Calum Scott, Neil Grubb and Russell Cockman. So who would take the cup home? Well since it was Russell's last time at Glen Lyon, because he is moving back to Australia next year, we decided to give the cup to him. Unfortunately the sky condition was quite poor, although a couple of bright meteors which left a trail were observed.

I went to bed leaving the adults to watch the film Apollo 13. On the last day of our weekend we had our usual team photo, had a look at sunspots through Douglas's telescope, tided up and everyone went home.Well I have to say it was one of our best weekends ever!!!!!