It has been an eventful and interesting few months since I became President of the Society. I feel that I am still only beginning to establish exactly what the job entails and so should start by thanking the other Council members for all their support so far.
We have had some superb main speakers recently. In the last couple of months we have seen Dr Jardine's presentation on Planetary Formation and Gerry Taylor's on Planetary Rings. Both of these presentations show the value of the computer projector the Society has recently purchased and I will long remember Gerry's graphic illustration of the difficulty of defining an average particle size by the use of a smashed house brick.
I am also pleased to report that we have been doing some observational astronomy at Calton Hill recently. The Messier / Imaging groups met on 7th April and (unusually) it was a clear night. The members present were able to use the Cooke, the Wray telescope (recently acquired from Jewel and Esk College), the 11 X 80 binoculars and one of the Dobsonian telescopes to observe a variety of objects, including Jupiter, Saturn and a waxing crescent Moon. This also gave us an opportunity to try out the Brandon eyepieces the Society purchased in March. The optical quality really does appear to be very high and I hope that the Society members will make good use of them.
May saw a number of astronomical events, notably the Solar transit of Mercury, the Lunar eclipse and the annular Solar eclipse. For the Mercury transit, several Society members viewed the event from Calton Hill using the Society's dedicated Solar telescope and my own little 90mm Maksutov. It really was a remarkable sight through the Solar telescope - Mercury a small hard dot against a solar disk showing a lot of activity and some impressive prominences. Again, I would encourage all Society members to try out the Solar telescope sometime - you really do see the Sun in a whole new light. Unfortunately the eclipses were clouded out for me.
One of the main areas of activity within the Society right now is the "Mars Project" - a range of activities designed to coincide with the upcoming opposition of Mars late this summer. Planning for this is now well underway and I am sure that it will be a huge success. A lot of work has already gone in to developing observing guides, as well as display material and presentations about Mars. You can expect to see this material on display at Calton Hill in the next few months. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank those Society members who have contributed to this project. It is only by the involvement of members that the Society can undertake this sort of activity.
Coming up in August is the Scottish Astronomers' Weekend. This is always a great opportunity to meet other astronomers and hear some excellent presentations, so if you can make it then do come along.
Finally, if you would like to get involved in the Messier or Imaging Groups or any of the Society's other activities then just come along to the meetings and join in - you never know, the sky might just be clear.