Latest News Articles

Click here to see an index of all News articles.

12 September 2020Observing For Absolute Beginners - OISF 2020 Online

The Orkney Night Sky For Beginners

“May Your Constellations Ever Glitter”  - (Howie Firth MBE to Eric Walker on 9th September 2020)


This is a series of short talks and a one hour-long interactive presentation given to the 2020 Orkney International Science Festival Online in September.

The aim of the talks is to show absolute beginners how to find their way around the night sky and pick out a few well known, and beautiful, objects to observe.

It is designed so that no telescope is needed – naked eye observing and a pair of standard binoculars is all that is required.

My virtual observatory for the Science Festival was located on the small island of North Ronaldsay and all the talks are relevant for anyone observing in the Northern Hemisphere.  If you live further south, all the objects will be higher in the sky.  If you live further east or west then objects will be visible earlier or later respectively.

Don’t be too concerned if you are viewing these talks a few weeks or months later – most of these objects are observable throughout the autumn and early winter.  They will be located in different positions and rise & set at different times from those given in the talks but the techniques shown will enable you to account for that.

For the short talks, I have a 5- to 7-minute slot and I was always the last person to be presenting, so, if you slide the viewing bar to about 8 or 9 minutes from the end you should be close to the start of the astronomy segment.

The short talks contain more detail than the single long talk, but the long talk has everything in one place and there’s no other topics to distract you.

Hope you enjoy them and that they encourage you to get out, look up, and start observing the beautiful night sky.


Clear Skies!


Eric Walker

Highlands Astronomical Society - Chair


The Orkney Night Sky For Beginners (55m07s)



Peedie Kirk Lunch – Selene’s Chariot (The Moon) (17m28s)



Peedie Kirk Lunch – The Triangle & The Plough (Constellations & Asterisms) (15m24s)



Peedie Kirk Lunch – A’m An Orcadian … Get Me Oot O’ Here (Navigation Stars) (14m00s)



Peedie Kirk Lunch – The Wanderers (Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, & Venus) (19m28s)



Peedie Kirk Lunch – The Ash Of Yggdrasill (The Milky Way) (16m22s)



Peedie Kirk Lunch – Clusters & Clouds (Seven Sisters, The Double Cluster, & The Andromeda Galaxy) (18m25s)







10 July 2020HAS Observer's Bingo Card - July & August 2020

Please click on this link to download our Observer's Bingo Card for July & August 2020.  The card is in .pdf format.

We would like to know how you're getting on prior to our August and September Club Meetings so email us with your progress and we'll ensure appropriate recognition is given!

Eric (HAS Chairman)

10 July 2020July Club Meeting & News


Note - HAS Members & Associated Astronomy Clubs have been e-mailed the YouTube link to view the recorded June Meeting

(if you want to be notified of our Club Activities and be able to access our recorded Club Meetings then please consider joining HAS or one of the associated clubs/groups)



1st Intro


  • Firstly, thanks to you all for joining us on Zoom Webinar this evening.  Most of you will know me but, for those that don’t, I’m Eric Walker – Chairman of Highlands Astronomical Society


  • I want to thank Paul Jenkins for organising and coordinating tonight’s Monthly Club Meeting


  • And also, thanks to Pete Sherman – Chairman of Moray Astronomy Group (SIGMA) who has shared his club’s Zoom Webinar facilities with several local organisations and enabled us to keep contact with our members, and others.


  • Pete is going continue with his help by giving you a short brief on how to get the best out of your Zoom experience tonight so I’ll hand over to Pete right now and he’ll explain the various bits & pieces


Chairman’s Chat


  • Welcome to HAS members and also to visitors from our north of Scotland sister astronomy clubs – Aberdeen Astronomical Society, Caithness Astronomy Group, Moray’s Astronomy Club SIGMA, and North Ronaldsay Astronomy Group.  I’m not sure if there are any visitors here who are not affiliated to any of these clubs but if you are here then you’re most welcome!
  • Tonight’s Timings
    • 1930 Welcome & Notices (Eric)
    • 1935 Main Talk (Dr Anthony Luke) followed by Q&As (moderated by Paul)
    • 2030 Club News, Astropics, and Targets for the Month – including a decent comet that is visible very early in the morning! (Gael Hillyard)
    • 2045 Club Member Q&As takes us to Meeting Close

NOTE there won’t be any breaks during the meeting so if you need a cup of tea or “comfort break” just get up and go and keep yourself connected to the meeting so you don’t have to go through the palaver of re-connecting when you re-join!

  • Finances
    • Our Treasurer Andy Brough has successfully negotiated a much improved insurance cover for us.
      • He obtained a quote from another insurance company and the best he could get was £345 per year.  Zurich, our existing provider, have agreed to price match (down from their original renewal quote of £515) so that’s saving of £170 AND the new policy will cover £3,000 worth of equipment away from the observatory.
    • As I said last month our financial position is manageable – but we could do with more members being willing to pay their annual subscriptions. Our Membership Secretary, Gael Hillyard, has recently been getting in touch with people regarding this.


  • Keeping in Touch
    • Again, we hope our members have been enjoying the emailed, Facebook, and Instagram links to various astronomy-related articles and events over the past month
    • We haven’t yet got round to running an Zoom-based ClubHub yet - a wee get-together every so often for like-minded Club Members to have a chat - but hopefully we can have a go over this month.


  • Observatory
    • We have been unable to use our Observatory since the lockdown but we’ve been up there checking that it’s still ok and in good working order – It is!  
    • The weather for the last few weeks has been against us attempting to webcast live solar observing sessions from our own home observatories which members can participate in – but hopefully things will improve sometime soon – it is July after all


  • For Your Diaries
    • Our Next Meeting is on Tue 4th August and will again be hosted via Zoom Webinar. 
    • As I said last month our next few speakers have all confirmed they are happy to talk using Zoom Webinar so that will take us through the September meeting  when, hopefully, circumstances may have changed!
  • That’s enough from me, I’m now going to introduce our main speaker for tonight, Dr. Anthony Luke


Main Talk – Speaker:  Dr. Anthony Luke

Anthony is a lecturer in Chemistry at Inverness College. He is from Middlesbrough, and first caught the science bug when he was very young, watching Apollos 15, 16, and 17 on television.

His parents helped him along the way by giving him a small telescope for a birthday present, and he would look at the craters of the moon for hours. Then his dad came home from the school where he worked with a large refracting telescope which the physics teacher had lent him. That weekend Anthony and his dad saw the rings of Saturn, the red spot of Jupiter and, best of all, using the sun filter, they watched a display of solar prominences.

 At school there were fewer opportunities for astronomy, so his attention turned to chemistry, and he graduated from Newcastle University in 1988, moving just down the road to Durham to do his PhD – he was trying to make magnets which contained no metals. He didn’t manage it, but he made some weird and wonderful new compounds along the way – Anthony’s idea of heaven is a huge cupboard full of chemicals, a bench of apparatus, and a PhD supervisor who told him to “have some fun and see what comes out”.

 After gaining his PhD he left academia and went into local government, intending to work for a year to clear his student debts and then return to university to start research again. 25 years later, having done everything from air pollution monitoring to catching &  prosecuting fly tippers (as well as meeting Mrs. Luke) Anthony finally got out and became a chemistry teacher, and here he is today.

 It is with great pleasure that I welcome Anthony tonight and here he is to talk about –

“The Origin of the Elements - the Big Bang, Stars and Supernovae”.


…. Over to you Anthony



Vote of Thanks

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Anthony for a most interesting & inspiring talk.  Normally, Anthony, you would would be receiving a token of our appreciation and a thankyou card designed & printed by Pauline …..   and you still will receive these things except that they will be sent by email now.  Thanks very much, once again, Anthony.


Introduction to Club News (Gael)

And now, to the Club News, Astropics, and Targets for the Month.  Pauline is unable to be with us this month and Gael Hillyard, our newest Committee Member, has enthusiastically volunteered for the slot!  I am very much looking forward to it

….. Over to you Gael


HAS Members Q&A Session

View All Stories

Click for Map

Upcoming Meetings & Events

Dark Sky Observing

STATUS: All Observatory Events Cancelled For The Forseeable Future

However ..... see front page for alternative Zoom webinar hosted online sessions!

site map | cookie policy | privacy policy | accessibility statement