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Caithness Astronomy Group - December 2012 Update

26th December 2012

Photograph of Caithness Astronomy Group - December 2012 Update

Public and Schools Solar Observing Activities 2012
During the International Year of Astronomy, Caithness Astronomy Group held numerous public and school events, engaging the local population with the varied science and technology associated with Space and Astronomy.

Thanks to funding from the IoP in Scotland and the Dounreay Communities Fund in 2010,
Caithness Astronomy Group (CAG) were able to purchase solar observing equipment that provided a new avenue for engaging with the local population that would complement our night time observing events. In 2012 these two organisations again generously provided funding to further enhance the solar observing educational capabilities available to our Group.

The funding this year was primarily used as follows:

* purchase of sunspotter scopes

* purchase of educational materials that could be used to enhance educational activities particularly aimed at providing a better understanding our Sun and its interaction with the Earth

* travel and accommodation expenses for a visiting speaker and venue hire for some of our public events

Receipt of the 2012 funding, has supported CAG in undertaking the following related activities which involved hundreds of people of all ages:

* Public solar observing events held at Castletown and Thurso during the summer months

* A solar observing session held with a local Scout group as part of activities allowing them to obtain their Astronomers Badge

* Solar observing and activities relating to the science of the Sun and the Sun-Earth interaction were a significant part of what CAG did at family day activities at the Caihness Science Fair (March) and the Orkney International Science Festival (September)
* The slar observing equipment and educational materials were loaned out to 2 local high schools for extended periods to use during class time at their convenience.

* A public event focussing on the aurora was hosted with guest speaker Ken Kenned (BAA Section Director) giving a talk on the topic and its link to the Sun. The northern lights is a phenomenon that has a lot of local interest with the general public and the funding supported a display of locally taken aurora photographs that was shown at this and 2 other public events later in the year.

When not being used for the above, the new equipment was utilised for solar observing by CAG members. CAG intend to continue to make use of the equipment in this way and for any other suitable public and school engagement activities that may arise.

We hope that the unusual opportunities made possible by the funding will have been memorable to all and may have sparked or re-kindled an interest in STEM subjects and the universe in which we live.

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lGordon Mackie
Caithness Astronomy Group
Dec 2012


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