Hebridean Dark Skies Festival is launched

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A photo of a mysterious phenomenon known as Steve (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement) has won the first ever Hebridean Dark Skies Festival photography competition, it was announced last week.

‘Meet Steve’, by Berneray photographer Casey McIntyre, captures the rare phenomenon that can be seen during displays of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).

The photo will appear on the cover of the Hebridean Dark Skies Festival print programme, available from this week, and will also be included in an exhibition at An Lanntair that will run throughout the festival in February 2019.

The Hebridean Dark Skies Festival, created and led by An Lanntair, will take place on the Isle of Lewis from February 8-21 next year.

Speakers will include Chris Lintott from BBC’s The Sky at Night, science presenter Heather Couper and Astronomer Royal for Scotland John Brown. There will be live music performances and film screenings including The Rocket Post and the silent movie Wunder Der Schöpfung.

The two-week programme has stargazing, talks, family activities, film screenings, workshops and more, with events at An Lanntair, Gallan Head, and the world famous Calanais standing stones.

The festival is programmed by An Lanntair (part-financed by Outer Hebrides LEADER funding), in partnership with Stornoway Astronomical Society, Calanais Visitor Centre, Gallan Head Community Trust and Lews Castle College, and with support from Outer Hebrides Tourism and Natural
Retreats.

The festival has arts and science events intended to draw more visitors to Lewis and Harris during the winter months. The islands have some of the darkest skies in the UK. Many astronomical sights can be seen with the naked eye including the Orion Nebula (over 1,500 light years away), the
Milky Way galaxy, and one of the Milky Way’s companion galaxies, Great Andromeda.

The festival programme can be viewed online now at  www.lanntair.com/darkskies.