Elgol was a centre for astronomy on Wednesday of last week, when the hall played host to a series of activities with the Greener Broadford Project Officer and Cosmos Planetarium, funded by the Carbon Clever Fund.
The event was an introduction to Earth Hour, which took place world-wide at 8.30pm on Saturday 24th March. People on Skye are still lucky enough to enjoy clear nights with stars and no light pollution, and the evening at Elgol was designed to highlight how light pollution is robbing us all of seeing the diversity of the night sky and encourage local people to take part in Earth Hour.
The evening began with the smaller entry hall filling with enthusiastic members of the community, who were soon asking questions about the displays. Ironically the large refractor telescope was more for show than for use, as the sky had clouded over, and thick sea fog had moved in. Not deterred Steven Gray of Cosmos Planetarium and Janet Ullman gave an introduction to the planets using a mechanical model of the Solar System and globes of the Earth, Moon and Mars. With the help of volunteers Callum Ullman-Smith and Sean Valleley, they demonstrated the movement of the Moon relative to the Earth through a series of side steps and spins.
Adults and children had fun creating craters with marbles and a tray of sand, where it was found that Hermione Lamond of Elgol Shop and a director of the Broadford and Strath Community Company had the most powerful throw in creating large craters.
The planetarium was so popular Steven Gray did two shows to accommodate everyone. The shows included not only an introduction to the stars and planets, but also a flight on the International Space Station. Steven showed how the stars disappear with light pollution and compared the sky of a city to our own dark skies. It showed how many people are now living without seeing even the brightest constellations and are all paying for electricity pouring out into space rather than lighting their way.
Mr Gray said: “It is wonderful to come to places like Skye and still be able to see some of the more fainter objects, like the Andromeda Galaxy. In cities it is now so hard to even spot bright stars or Venus”. Janet Ullman said “It was interesting to see the red glow above Broadford, the mist that had blown in, captured the fluorescent lights of the streets and you could see the lights of Broadford miles before you could see it. Little by little we are losing the night where we live and yet with better and more shielded lighting we can still have street lights and not be paying to light up space.”