Well despite the horrible weather we have been experiencing lately, we had a brilliant clear sky last Friday for our star gazing night at Kailzie.
The night Dr Tom Johnston and I had planned was supposed to be half in and half out depending on the weather. But such clear skies could not be missed and just as everyone had got inside and got a warm drink and cosy we marched them all straight back outside. Dr Tom gave everyone a tour of the sky and the constellations (not literally, we only had 90 minutes and I had not completed a risk assessment for space travel) and then soon everyone was busied round a telescopes of various sizes focussed on far off galaxies and planets. Tom brought along two of his own telescopes, one of which to me looked remarkably like R2D2’s gangly cousin. However it seemed many people had brought along their scopes hidden in jackets, hats and welly boots. I recall commenting on the nice wee box of binoculars that one young girl had brought and she politely smiled at me with the look of one who is humouring an “old fart”. Later she was to bring that small box outside and assemble a magnificent telescope that could see far into the night sky , albeit from the vantage point of a pancake ( us oldies would never have got down that low).
It was great to see a mix of young, old and those who, like myself, are somewhere in between and in a permanent state of confusion. It seemed that here was a science that really does appeal to all and inspire our imaginations.
The night sky had so far been kind allowing us a clear view of all its twinkling stars, but after about 45 minutes it had clearly had enough of these mere earthlings peering into it and decided to cover everything back up with a nice big cloud. So we moved back indoors which was not altogether an unwelcome move as hands were now cold and there was a good plateful of traybake remaining. Traybake it seems is the perfect accompaniment for astronomy. I wonder if Brian Cox knows this. Someone should probably let him know in time for his next TV rating smash.
We may not have had the night sky to look at now but that didn’t stop the astronomy fun. Tom had prepared the ultimate lesson in scaling the planets in our solar system involving a grapefruit, a melon and a giant balloon (all of which my mum had tried to pack up into her bag earlier in the night mistaking it for my dinner. I am not in the custom of eating large fruits for tea or even yellow balloons but I guess after 29 years of watching me eat condensed milk with a spoon nothing would have surprised her). With the help of some eager members of the audience we were soon made to feel very very small (no it wasn’t that girl with her super cool telescope again) as Tom described just how tiny and insignificant our planet and even our galaxy are in the bigger scale of things.
I think everyone left that evening in awe and with an appetite for more. More stars, more glimpses of planets up close, and more traybake. Hopefully everyone will find some way to get all 3 again very soon.
The night was a massive success and I would like to thank everyone for coming out to Kailzie and supporting the KLAWED Project. A huge thank you to Tom for putting on such a great night and keeping the clouds at bay when it mattered most!
I will be putting up more photos from this evening through the course of the next few days so if you were there you might spot yourself falling over, looking puzzled or stuffing some traybake into your mouth. I will try and be selective with the pictures I choose!
Hope to see you all at Kailzie soon!
KLAWED Project Officer and old fart