Astronomer sets sail for star-gazing Hebrides

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THE dark skies of the Hebridean islands are beckoning Professor Martin Hendry who is set to hold a series of public lectures and star-gazing events next month.

Martin, from the University of Glasgow’s School of Physics and Astronomy will be undertaking a tour of the islands as part of National Science and Engineering Week (March 9th to 18th) and will also visit a number of secondary schools during his travels.

Anticipating the tour, Martin said “The islands of Scotland are among the darkest sites in Europe from which to view the heavens, so hopefully we will have some clear nights for star-gazing.

“Deep questions about our cosmos continue to fascinate mankind and really grab the public’s attention,” he continued. “In the last few years we have been making great advances in understanding our universe – although many puzzles still remain – and I want to bring these exciting developments to people across Scotland in a fun and engaging way.”

During the tour Martin will deliver a series of presentations on the subject of ‘Our Runaway Universe’, taking audiences on a journey through nearly 14 billion years of cosmic history.

He will discuss the current best theories for the origins and evolution of our cosmos, including the bizarre ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ which are believed to make up 95% of the universe.

Martin holds a Science in Society Fellowship from the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and under this fellowship is leading an international programme of events entitled ‘Exploring the Dark Side of the Universe’.

This programme aims to bring schools and public audiences a flavour or the very latest discoveries at the cutting edge of cosmology and address some of the biggest questions in science: how did the universe begin, how will it end, why are we here?

The ‘Island Universe’ tour – funded by the University of Glasgow, the British Science Association, the STFC and Royal Society of Edinburgh – will take Martin to Lewis, Harris, Benbecula, Barra, Skye, Tiree, Islay and Mull as well as Oban and Arran.

Professor Martin Hendry will visit Lewis on Monday, March 12th with talks in the Nicolson Institute in the morning and a public talk in An Lanntair, Stornoway, from 7.30pm to 9pm, followed by a public stargazing event.

On Tuesday, March 13th, he will visit Sir E Scott Secondary in Harris to speak with pupils before heading to Skye and then returning to the Western Isles on Thursday, March 15th when he will talk to pupils of Liniclate School, Benbecula, in the morning and hold a public talk and star-gazing event in Castlebay Community Hall, Barra, in the evening from 7.30pm to 10pm.