In 2015 I’m delighted to be hosting a range of stargazing events, from stargazing weekend breaks under some of the UK’s darkest skies, to a cruise to one of the most remote islands in the world, steeped in astronomy history.
Steve Owens’ contribution was perfect. We liked how he joined in with the guests at meals etc and held the group together. He has a gift of being able to convey his knowledge in terms easy to understand.His lecture with slides was really informative and interesting as was the enthusiasm he put into answering our every question or listening to our accounts of minor brushes with stars!!
Here’s a list of the hotels I run stargazing breaks at:
Glenapp Castle, Ballantrae, Scotland (Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park)
Kirroughtree House Hotel, Newton Stewart, Scotland (Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park)
Selkirk Arms Hotel, Kirkcudbright, Scotland (Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park)
Yarn Market Hotel, Dunster, Exmoor (Exmoor Dark Sky Reserve)
And here’s the cruise I’m hosting:
Stargazing and astronomy cruise, 4-22 May 2015, Cape Town to St Helena. On this stargazing tour you will have the opportunity to stargaze from a truly unique place – St Helena. The island is steeped in astronomical history, and you’ll visit the sites of Halley’s observatory (he of comet fame), as well as those of the other astronomers who have visited St Helena over the centuries. Its location near the equator means that virtually every constellation in the sky is visible at one time or another from St Helena, and visitors from the UK will be amazed to see a whole new collection of stars in the southern hemisphere that simply aren’t visible from Europe: the famous Southern Cross, the Magellanic Clouds, and the galactic centre of the Milky Way.
Here’s a list of the weekends I’m running throughout the year. Click the links for the hotels above to find out more or to book!
Stargazing weekend break, 20-22 February 2015, at the Yarn Market Hotel, Dunster, in Exmoor International Dark Sky Reserve
Stargazing weekend break, 13-15 March 2015, at the Selkirk Arms Hotel, Kirkcudbright, near Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park
Stargazing weekend break and Solar Eclipse Special, 20-22 March 2015, Kirkcudbright, near Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park (this weekend break can be extended to a three night stay to watch the partial eclipse of the sun at sunrise on Friday 20 March!)
Stargazing weekend break, 9-11 October 2015, at the Selkirk Arms Hotel, Kirkcudbright, near Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park
Stargazing weekend break, 4-6 December 2015, at Kirroughtree House Hotel, Newton Stewart, in Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park
Stargazing weekend break, 11-13 December 2015, at Kirroughtree House Hotel, Newton Stewart, in Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park
This weekend is the inaugural event in the Selkirk Arms Hotel’s “Galloway Stargazing Breaks” programme, featuring me as resident astronomer.
Manager Chris Walker, of Galloway Stargazer Ale fame, approached me about this several months ago and I thought it sounded like a great idea – and it was.
The weekend was fully booked quite quickly, with a dozen people joining Chris and I for dinner and stargazing on both Friday and Saturday nights.
Last night was a great success, down in no small part to the clear skies and wonderful dark sky visible next door to Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park, which I helped set up in November 2009.
The guests and I were dined in style before being whisked in landrovers up onto the hills near Gatehouse of Fleet by Duncan and Steve from Laggan Outdoor, where we were treated to a stunning view of Orion rising in the east, the Milky Way stretching overhead, and Jupiter shining like a beacon in the south.
Two hours later a dozen very cold – but very excited – stargazers made their way back to the hotel for hot chocolate.
We’re heading back out tonight, so let’s hope it stays clear.
Pics to follow!
UPDATE: I have just received some pics of the event from Chris Walker:
Down in Dumfries and Galloway today for two meetings; the first with Jim Patterson, the lighting engineer who put together Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park‘s lighting management plan (pdf) to pick his brains about carrying out lighting audits, which I will be doing on Sark in the Channel Islands over the next week. Surprisingly excited; expect lots of geek lighting porn!
Second meeting was in Kirkudbright with Chris Walker of the Selkirk Arms Hotel and Galloway Stargazers Ale fame. Had a swift half of the delicious bitter, and am delighted to hear that it’s arriving in bottles soon, so I should be able to smuggle a crate or two home. The meeting with Chris was very interesting; he’s setting up astronomy weekends at the hotel and I’m going to be his resident astronomer. The first two are planned for 12 November and 03 December 2010, with more to follow if they’re a success.
That’s all for now; got to put the baby to bed and finish packing. To Sark!
I’m heading south tomorrow to visit the Selkirk Arms Hotel in Kirkudbright, and to meet with the manager Chris Walker who’s looking to run some astronomy weekends for his guests. A great idea!
While there I’ll be able to sample some of his Galloway Stargazer Ale, brewed and made especially to celebrate the announcement of Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park last November.I’ll be driving of course, and so won’t be able to have any more than a wee half…
So far the ale is only on tap at the hotel, but let’s hope it might be bottled and sold further afield so that I can buy some and enjoy it in my own home. I’ll report back tomorrow on how it tastes.