Star Gazing Weekend at Airds Hotel, Nr Oban, Argyll on the West Coast of Scotland
New for 2017! The Airds is delighted to offer a unique star gazing weekend. Our location in the peaceful hamlet of Port Appin offers spectacular scenery throughout the year. This however, is not restricted to the hours of daylight. The village and surrounding areas suffer from very little light pollution, making this part of Argyll a great place to view the sky at night.
Our weekend starts on Friday evening when, with a glass of champagne in everyone’s hand, our host, Mike Alexander of the Galloway Astronomy Centre will introduce himself and the subject of astronomy before you enjoy a 5 course dinner in our 3 rosette restaurant. Following dinner Mike will continue his talk in the lounge and weather permitting, will lead a brief walk outside to illustrate some of his points and to whet your appetite for the following evening. On Saturday morning after breakfast you can join Mike for a further talk and slide show.
Take the remainder of Saturday at your leisure and explore the beautiful West Highlands before returning to the hotel for a talk on all things ‘Astronomy’ from Mike and a brief questions and answers session before dinner. After dinner will be a tour out to experience the skies first hand at a nearby dark location with Mike. During the tour of the night sky you will discover how ancient civilizations named the constellations and stars. Using a telescope we will venture into the depths of our galaxy and beyond. Typically we will be observing Star forming regions, Star Clusters and Galaxies and within our own Solar System, Jupiter - king of planets and Comet 41P Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak not seen for 10 years. This is sure to be a unique and rewarding experience for all.
Schedule for the weekend
|Fri 17th November||6.30pm||Introduction to the night sky in the lounge|
|7.15pm||Dinner in the restaurant|
|9.15pm||Walk in Port Appin to observe the skies – approx. 40 mins|
|Sat 18th November
|10.15am||Talk on the history of constellations in the lounge – approx 45 mins|
|6.15pm||Talk and questions and answers on the night skies in the lounge|
|7.15pm||5 Course Dinner in the restaurant|
|9.15pm||Excursion to a local dark sky area to observe skies using telescope|
|Sun 19th November
Rates are per room for the 2 nights and are based on double occupancy, inclusive of dinner, full Scottish breakfast, talks and excursion:
|Small Superior Room||£910|
|Loch View Suite||£1127|
Mike Alexander - our host for the weekend
In early 2003 my wife, Helen, and I purchased a property in an area with minimal light pollution and the Galloway Astronomy Centre opened for business in 2004.
Now in its 12th year, the business has developed year on year as new ideas have been included to meet the interests of our guests. So in addition to our tours of the night sky using our 400mm reflecting telescope, which has been the mainstay of the business, we run 3 beginner astronomy courses and will be adding a fourth on Astrophotography shortly. In addition through the year I run observing nights or give astronomy talks for a variety of groups across Southern Scotland.
For many years we have sold telescopes produced by two of the leading manufacturers in the world and regularly give advice on choosing the right telescope to both beginners and the more advance amateur astronomer. We remain the only telescope supplier outside the Home Counties where you can “try before you buy” an instrument.
The awarding of the Galloway Forest as the UK’s first Dark Sky Park in 2009 certainly put the region on the astronomical map and as the only observatory open to the public in the whole of Dumfries & Galloway it has been very beneficial to us. Now we regularly welcome visitors not only from across the UK, but around the world, who are wanting to experience the beauty of a Galloway night sky. In 2015 I was asked by the the Forestry Commission to train five Dark Sky Rangers in astronomy, so that they could set up their own astronomical events in the Galloway Forest.
I have been interviewed about astronomy on BBC radio several times and I have been interviewed by China Central TV and most recently by BBC Scotland which filmed myself and our guests watching the Total Lunar Eclipse for the series “How Scotland Works”.
Terms and Conditions
Due to the nature of this event and the reliance on clear skies the schedule will need to be flexible in terms of which day the excursion takes place. In the event of complete cloud cover on both evenings the excursion will be replaced by a further talk by our host.
Please note the event requires a minimum number of 8 guests. Should this not be achieved the event will be cancelled and your deposit refunded 14 days prior to arrival. We strongly advise guests to bring good binoculars with them as well as warm weather clothing.