Hebridean Dark Skies Festival announces day of free events

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Dark Skies Exploration Day, at An Lanntair on Saturday February 9, will feature six hours of free talks, workshops and more.

From 11am to 5pm, An Lanntair will become a laboratory of cosmic activity for all ages, with workshops and talks led by Stornoway Astronomical Society, Lews Castle College UHI, arts and science project Creativity and Curiosity, Astronomer Royal for Scotland John Brown, and An Lanntair’s education team. All events are free but advance booking is recommended.

Festival co-ordinator Andrew Eaton-Lewis said: ‘We’re very keen that everyone gets a chance to experience this exciting new festival, so our opening Saturday An Lanntair will be filled with free events for all ages – from science talks for teenagers and adults to arts and crafts activities for smaller children, and a special Ask the Astronomer session with Astronomer Royal for Scotland John Brown, where you can ask John any question you want about the universe.’

The full programme for the day is as follows. Free tickets can be booked online via www.lanntair.com/darkskies or by phone on 01851 708480

11am-5pm (foyer and forecourt): Arts and crafts drop in, Stornoway Astronomical Society information stall with advice on telescopes and binoculars, and (weather permitting) solar scope demonstrations on the forecourt.

11.30am: An Introduction to the Planets and Moons of the Solar System
(auditorium, 1 hr approx, suitable for ages nine and above).
An insight into our nearest cosmological neighbours, with Donny Mackay of Stornoway Astronomical Society.

Noon: Workshop – Make a solar system mobile
(education room, 1 hr approx, suitable for families, children of all ages, with activities aimed at ages five and over. Families welcome).

1pm: A Hebridean history of space travel
(auditorium, 45 mins approx, suitable for teenagers and adults).

Ahead of the festival’s special screening of The Rocket Post, Christopher Macleod of Lews Castle College UHI explores some of the fascinating Hebridean connections to the development of rocket technology and space travel.

1pm: Workshop – Build a plastic bottle rocket
(education room, 1 hr approx, suitable for families, children of all ages, with activities aimed at ages five and over. Families welcome).

2pm: Creativity and Curiosity: A Collaboration Between Artists And Astronomers
(auditorium, 2 hrs, suitable for teenagers and adults)
What happens when artists collaborate with astronomers, cosmologists and planetary geologists? For the past two years, artists Gillian McFarland, Ione Parkin and Alison Lochhead have been exploring the rich imagery of space, engaging in creative dialogue with space researchers and artists, gaining new insights into the dynamic forces of the universe. Launched at Cambridge Science Festival in March 2017, Creativity and Curiosity now makes its first visit to Lewis with Dr Amuary Triaud, discoverer of more than 100 exoplanets.

2pm: Workshop – Make your own kaleidoscope telescope
(education room, 1 hr approx, suitable for families, children of all ages, with activities aimed at ages five and over. Families welcome).

3pm: Workshop – Paint your own galaxy
(education room, 1 hr approx, suitable for families, children of all ages, with activities aimed at ages five and over. Families welcome).

4pm: Ask the Astronomer, with John Brown
(auditorium, 1 hr approx, suitable for all ages)
What are your most burning questions about astronomy, space and the universe? Throughout the day we will be collecting questions and, for our final session, Astronomer Royal for Scotland John Brown will do his best to answer them (as well as any questions you think of during the session itself).

The Hebridean Dark Skies Festival will run from Friday 8 February to Thursday 21 February 2019. For full programme details, and to book tickets, visit www.lanntair.com/darkskies. Tickets can also be booked via the An Lanntair box office on 01851 708480.