The SAG met in Stirling on Saturday 27th November and was well attended by representatives of astronomical societies from around Scotland (and beyond).
The first talk was by Bill Ward (who spoke to our Society recently) on "Mr Schmidt and His Wonderful Telescope". This was a most interesting introduction to the optics of the Schmidt Telescope which is capable of taking wide-field photographs and has been described as being as great a development as the telescope itself. Bill showed us photographs of some of the large Schmidt telescopes that he has used around the world. We also heard a bit about the rather eccentric Mr Schmidt himself. I have asked Bill if he might be able to give his talk to the ASE at some time so I won't go into more detail here.
The second talk was by Rob McNaught on "The Dust Trail Theory of Leonid Meteors". Rob is a professional astronomer from Scotland who now works in Australia carrying out sky surveys - he might help us avoid an 'Armageddon' situation if he finds an incoming asteroid early enough. His talk gave a clear explanation (without maths!) on how the orbits of dust thrown out of comet P/Temple-Tuttle have joined the comet in orbit around the Sun. When the earth passes through these sheets of dust we see meteor storms. He explained the development of the model to a stage where it can show where these dust particles are in space and how this can be matched up in detail with historical Leonid storms. It is even possible to predict these storms to within a few minutes - so accurately that different parts of the world see the peak at different times!
Following a tea break I'm sure I wasn't the only one there who was happy that the main business of the SAG's AGM was cut short to allow Rob to continue with some photographs, videos and recordings of his observing session on the night of this year's Leonid storm. He was in a slightly better observing site than most of us in that he was in the desert of Jordan following an international conference on meteor astronomy.
Other observing reports were given by members including some good photographs and videos of August's eclipse. There was a short discussion about the Scottish Astronomy Weekend and the finances of the SAG.
Membership of the SAG is open to anyone interested and as it is only £5 each year it is well worth it. But as the ASE is a group member of the SAG we have it's "SAGMag" in the library and any ASE member (not just Council members) may attend the meetings. They are well worth going to as the standard of talks is always very good and it is interesting to meet with other amateur astronomers from around the country. The next meeting will be held at the City Observatory in May (probably on Saturday 20th) and more details will be announced at a meeting nearer then.