ASE logo The Astronomical Society of Edinburgh


No 64 - December 2010

Society news

At most Ordinary Meetings, Alan Pickup gives a presentation about the sky in the forthcoming month, usually including snippets of recent news in the fields of observational astronomy and spaceflight.

On 2010-07-02, Christiane Helling spoke on the circumstellar regions where interstellar dust is formed. On 2010-09-10, Martin Hendry reported on the hopes and challenges of gravitational wave astronomy. On the members' evening on 2010-10-01, Horst Meyerdierks gave an update on noctilucent clouds after the 2010 season had ended, and David Small showed pictured from the excursion to Kellie Castle. 2010-11-05 was billed as a beginners' evening; David Small gave and introduction to astronomy to a packed house with Society members outnumbered by members of the public.

The Imaging Group held further meetings in October and November; it will meet monthly through the autumn/winter months. The group has a Flickr group at, which is used to share images amongst the group, with Society members and with the public.

The City Observatory on Calton Hill opened up the Playfair Building for Doors Open Day on 2010-09-25. There was great interest in the building and in the two remaining telescopes. The City took care of crowd control, and an estimated 750 visitors were willing to queue for 40 minutes to get into the building. Members of the Society - and also Jim Chalmers from Copenhagen, who had actually come to see the building - were on hand to explain about the Fraunhofer meridian circle and its role in time keeping and navigation, and to show the Cooke refractor in the dome upstairs.

Kellie Castle

Eleven members of the Society joined the excursion to Kellie Castle on 2010-08-07. Built between the 14th and 17th century, this castle near Pittenweem in Fife, in 1878, was leased to the Lorimer family, who set about restoring it. The Lorimers purchased it in 1948, and in 1970 it was sold to the National Trust for Scotland.

The Society's interest in Kellie Castle stems from the Scottish painter John Henry Lorimer, who was Vice-President of the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh from 1930 to 1933. Lorimer bequeathed most of his estate to the Society; and we still own some of his paintings and a number of chairs from his household and possibly designed by his brother Robert. Some of these items are on loan to the National Trust for Scotland. Lorimer's paintings Sunlight in a Scottish Room and The Long Shadows: Woodland Scene at Kellie are on display at Kellie Castle. Alan Pickup, as representative of the legal owner of the paintings, has been allowed to photograph them. He has posted the photographs - among others of Kellie Castle - on Flickr at and 4815520758/

Website, equipment, books

The Society website at has had a gradual revamp, with new pages about the Imaging Group, and now with all (both) Publications of the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh online. The entire Journal, which began in 1980, is also online, although until 1997 only for Society members.

There is now also a separate members-only area where more detailed information for members can be provided. This is hyperlinked from the front page of the public website.

Members may be unaware of the equipment - telescopes, eyepieces, etc. - that the Society has and that can be loaned to members. Details of this can be found on the members-only website. The Council of the Society is also open to suggestions for more equipment purchases.

Iain MacEachran, Danny Gallacher and Peter Mulholland have been working hard looking through the books the Society has. The library had not been used for a long time, and with our withdrawal from the City Observatory, storing these books is a significant financial burden. About a quarter of the books are now for sale, initially to members. Details of this can be found on the members-only website.


Cover page

Just the beginning!

Can't see the universe for the stars

Recent observations

Forthcoming events

Society news

About the ASE Journal

This journal as a single web page

This journal as PDF file (664 kByte)

web: ISSN 1756-5111
print: ISSN 1756-5103

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