Clear Skies for Stargazers at Blairmount

Admiring the sky: a stargazer takes a look upwards.
Admiring the sky: a stargazer takes a look upwards.

Around 50 stargazers turned out to Newton Stewart’s Blairmount Park on Saturday for the new Galloway Forest Astronomical Society’s first event.

The Street Stargazing event was lucky to have clear skies and good viewing conditions for the telescopes at Blairmount, hosting its first astronomy gathering made possible by the change-over of Newton Stewart’s street lighting from yellow Sodium-vapour lamps to white LED lamps.

People aged from two to 80 years old attended the evening, which was linked to the BBC2 Stargazing Live series of programmes. The night sky was dominated by a bright moon that clearly showed its craters and features to the viewers there. January is the best month this year to view Jupiter, and as it rose in the sky all the telescopes focused on this planet. Good views of Jupiter showed its dark bands, and its four main moons, two on either side of the planet.

With clear conditions came the frost, and people were glad of the opportunity to go into the football pavilion for a slide show and talk about galaxies, and warm up with tea and biscuits.

After the event, GFAS Chairman Antony Berretti said: “This was the re-formed society’s first open event. The members put a lot of work into it and we are delighted with the response from the public, which shows that there is a real interest in astronomy and a desire to learn more about our place in the universe. On behalf of the society I would like to thank all those that came to the event, some travelling from as far off as Dumfries, Carsphairn and Stranraer, and made it such a success. Our grateful thanks are also due to Newton Stewart Football Club for the use of their pavilion and grounds.”

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