Astronomers of the Future Club - November 2018 Meeting Report

by Duncan Lunan - 13:38 on 16 December 2018










Astronomers of the Future Club - November 2018 Meeting Report

by Duncan Lunan

Photo credit: Jean Pierre St Martin

supplied by Nick Fuller

​supplied by Nick Fuller


Following the Annual General Meeting of A.C.T.A. SCIO, the parent charity of Astronomers of the Future Club in Troon, on Thursday November 29th 2018, the Club meeting that evening was to hear about completion of one of A.C.T.A. SCIO’s major objectives. As Manager of the Glasgow Parks Astronomy Project in 1978-79, A.C.T.A. SCIO and AOTF Club Treasurer Duncan Lunan designed and built the first astronomically aligned stone circle in the UK for over 3000 years, in Sighthill Park in Glasgow, dedicated among others to the late Prof. Alexander Thom and Dr. Archie Thom of Dunlop. In 2012 it was announced that the circle would be demolished when Sighthill Park was cleared to make way for a new housing development, but after a campaign for its preservation drew over 6500 signatures, the City Council promised that it would be re-erected at a new site on the east end of the old park, its time capsule would be re-buried, and even the topsoil would be kept and restored because so many people had scattered their loved ones’ ashes there.


The stones were removed in April 2016 and a new site for them was prepared by June 2017, but bad weather prevented any astronomical observations there until late June 2018 when Duncan and A.C.T.A. SCIO Chairman Gerry Cassidy made sightings of midsummer sunset and the moonrise soon afterwards. At the meeting Duncan described how he had used the new interactive sky chart of the Heavens-Above.com website to analyse the photographic records of midsummer and midwinter sunrises and sets, moonrises and sets at the old site, to make improved calculations for the new site. Re-erection was planned for November this year, but it’s been necessary to re-identify the stones before the contractors now on site can prepare the foundations. After more delays due to weather, Duncan and Gerry did that on Monday December 10th, and it’s now planned to re-erect the stones in the New Year for a public ceremony at the Spring Equinox of 2019.


The night’s second speaker was Nick Fuller, Chairman of the Glasgow Labyrinth Project, which has been affiliated with A.C.T.A. SCIO since 2013 and has now achieved its objective, with the creation of a labyrinth at North Kelvin Meadow, near the river Kelvin in north Glasgow, as part of the Community Woodlands Project. A labyrinth has a continuous path to be followed, and Nick explained their significance in ancient, mediaeval and modern history, contrasting them with the wrong turns and dead ends of mazes - “you go into a maze to get lost, you go into a labyrinth to find yourself”. At one stage there were thoughts of integrating the proposed Glasgow labyrinth with a new version of the stone circle, but that proved not to be practicable. Instead a labyrinth of Nick’s design was trialled last June at North Kelvin Meadow as part of the National Theatre of Scotland’s open-air production of Naoki Higashida’s ‘The Reason I Jump’. The labyrinth proved successful and popular, and the structure has now been made permanent by flooring it with cobbles from a renovation site nearby in Maryhill.


As usual there will be no meeting of the Astronomers of the Future Club on the last Thursday of December, but meetings will resume on Thursday January31st, from 7.15 to 9 p.m. at the RSAS Barassie Works Club, 4 Shore Road, Troon, KA10 6AG, with a guest speaker still to be announced. For more details contact Duncan Lunan (07986 065437) or see the AOTF Club web page (http://www.actascio.org/aotfclub.asp).


The Stones and the Stars by Duncan Lunan, describing the history of the Sighthill circle to mid-2012, is available from Springer, New York, through Amazon or through bookshops. Details of Duncan’s other recent books can be found on his website, www.duncanlunan.com.









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