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SIGMA Events Programme for 2019

Meetings are held on the first Friday* of every month at Birnie Village Hall near Elgin (unless otherwise stated). Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. Non-members are always welcome and refreshments are provided (for a small donation).

SIGMA regularly holds public observing sessions at its dark site outside Elgin. Visit our Upcoming Events page to see what we have planned.

* Please note that the January meeting is held at Lhanbryde Community Centre and held later in the month.

Friday 4th January 2019 SIGMA Stargazing and Equipment Night - a joint club night and public observing session.
Venue: Lhanbryde Community Centre
Held at Lhanbryde, this event will give members and visitors a chance to see many of the wonders of the local night sky and talk with local astronomers.

Friday 1st February 2019 Astrophotography
Eric Walker - Highlands Astronomical Society
Long-time friend of SIGMA, Eric will share his knowledge about imaging the night sky, most of which he has done from his home built Beinn View observatory in the Highlands.

Friday 1st March 2019 New Views of the Sun’s Hot Corona
Dr Iain Hannah - University of Glasgow
Why is the Sun’s outer atmosphere, (corona) hotter than its surface? Also the further away the corona gets the hotter it becomes. This has been a major topic of solar physics research for decades. Iain will cover a brief history of this problem, some of the modern solutions using the latest images and movies from space-based telescopes, and how scientific observations during eclipses are still useful today.

Friday 5th April 2019 HOYS-CAPS
Dr Alexander Scholz - University of St Andrews
Alex will explain the HOYS-CAPS (Hunting Outbursting Young Stars with the Centre of Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences) project aims to work together with amateur astronomers in long-term photometric monitoring of young stellar clusters to find outbursting objects for detailed follow up study.

Friday 3rd May 2019 Astronomical Alchemy
Gordon Mackie - Caithness Astronomy Group
Celebrating the International Year of the Periodic Table of Elements (IYPT 2019), chemist and amateur astronomer Gordon Mackie gives an overview of how the chemical elements are formed, followed by a brief guided tour of the Periodic Table highlighting the significance of some of the elements from an astronomy perspective.

Friday 7th June 2019 Annual General Meeting/Solar Observing
Venue: TBA
Lyn Smith - The British Astronomical Association
Another chance to catch up with events within SIGMA over the last year and to elect the new committee. Plus there will be a talk about the Sun from the BAA Solar Section Director Lyn Smith. You’ll also be able to ask her any burning question you may have about the Sun during a solar observing session.

Friday 5th July 2019 Beginners Guide to Astronomy
Pete Sherman - SIGMA
Pete will give a light hearted and informative guide to getting started in astronomy. Including how to stay safe and warm when observing, what equipment you may or may not need, and how to traverse the minefield that is choosing a telescope.

Friday 2nd August 2019 The Rise of Astrophysics 1890 - 1930: the story of 4 remarkable women
Neville Brown - Aberdeen Astronomical Society
In the late 19th century the Harvard College Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts was home to a series of remarkable and ground-breaking discoveries that were fundamental to the birth of what we know today as “astrophysics”. Much of this work was carried out by a team of human “computers”, all women, at a time in history when this was very much not the norm. This talk focuses on the 4 main players in this fascinating, and at times bizarre, story.

Friday 6th September 2019 The Search for Life in the Universe
Prof. Charles Cockell - University of Edinburgh
For the first time, using robots and telescopes we are on the verge of getting some sort of idea about whether we are alone in the Universe. In this talk we’ll take a tour of these distant worlds and new missions and consider the prospects for life elsewhere.

Friday 18th October 2019 The Third George Fraser Memorial Lecture
Venue: TBA
In 2015 SIGMA, in association with Morayvia, held its first memorial lecture in honour of Prof. George Fraser (22 July 1955 - 18 March 2014).

Born and brought up in Burghead, George was Professor of Detector Physics and Director of the Space Research Centre of the University of Leicester. Though his work was recognised internationally, his achievements are virtually unknown locally.

Planets, Planets Everywhere - but is the Earth unique?
Prof. Andrew Cameron - University of St Andrews

After 20 years of ground-based planet searches and the completion of NASA’s Kepler/K2 planet-hunting mission, it seems that every star has a planetary system of some sort, but with a bewildering range of different architectures. So to what extent has our homeworld been shaped by the forces that carved out the early solar system? And does that make our Earth commonplace, or a freak of nature?

Friday 1st November 2019 TBC
Prof. Ken Rice - Royal Observatory, Edinburgh
Details of this talk not available at time of publication.

Friday 6th December 2019 Christmas Quiz
SIGMA Members and your Families
Bring along the family for a night of fun, questions and mince pies to end the year. There will also be the usual Xmas raffle and an update on future planned events for SIGMA in 2020.

The 2019 Leaflet is available to download (pdf).