Blog update 21st August 2018

by Duncan Lunan - 21:36 on 21 August 2018


Blog update 21st August 2018


Life continues very pressured as we continue to reorganise after the dramatic events of last year, on which I reported in February. Linda is still having treatment for her injured shoulder, which is improving slowly but surely. We're well settled now, back in the sheltered housing in Troon where we have been since 2012, but in a much nicer flat.


The monthly version of my astronomy column 'The Sky Above You' continues regularly in Troon's Going Out, has just started in the Orkney News, and is on my website, along with my write-ups of the AOTF meetings for the Troon Times and Ayrshire Post and on the ACTA SCIO website. I'm looking for other outlets to continue the 'Space Notes'. I've also continued book reviewing and have two coming up for publication in Interzone and Shoreline of Infinity, as well as another to write for Interzone.


“The Second Christmas Book of Ghosts”, edited by Michael Collins and containing my fantasy story ‘The Great Australian Vampyre’, published in December as a Kindle edition at £3.99, is now available in print as a paperback for £5.83, both from Other Side Books (www.http://othersidebooks.co.uk/stories/second-christmas-book-of-ghosts). Proceeds go to a charity, Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, so do seek it out and support the good cause.


Shoreline of Infinity reprinted “Starfield, science fiction by Scottish writers”, which I edited for Orkney Press in 1989, in June this year, and reprinted my story from it, ‘The Square Fella’, in Issue 12 of the magazine. The Starfield launch was at the Satellite 6 SF convention in Glasgow at the end of May and we had a celebration in Troon the following weekend, after which Angela Mullane brought Alasdair Gray down to see us the weekend after that.


I gave a talk on ‘The Earth from Space’ to the Astronomers of the Future Club In Troon at the end of February, and Colin Baird and I did a joint presentation on Newgrange in July. My talk on the Hubble Space Telescope to the Skelmorlie Branch of the Workers Educational Association has been postponed to a date to be decided, but I’ll talk about “Incoming Asteroid!” at the Dumfries Astronomical Society in the spring. I’ll be talking about Past Contact (Epsilon Boötis, ancient astronomy and the Green Children of Woolpit) at the annual conference of the society to Research Into Lost Knowledge (RILKO) at Rudolph Steiner House in London on October 6th this year.


After a year of frustration due to bad weather, it has at last been possible to get the photographs I needed and enough actual observations to get to work on the alignments for the reconstruction of my Sighthill stone circle on the east end of the former Sighthill Park, overlooking Pinkston Road. Currently the road is closed due to redevelopment construction work, and the new platform for the stone circle is off-limits for health and safety reasons. Having had a second H & S induction from Morgan Sindall, the contractors now on site, Gerry Cassidy and I have made multiple visits to site, and the contractors have been very helpful in providing surveyors to assist if necessary. Having pinned down the theoretical bearings for the horizon events (with the lunar ones corrected for parallax), and observed sunset close to the summer solstice and moonrise fairly close to the southerly minor standstill declination, I’ve used the Interactive Sky Chart on the Heavens-Above website to plot the true rising and setting paths of all the events photographed over the years at the former stone circle, and having reconciled them with the photographs, I’ve been able to work out what actually happened in each case and what part was played by refraction, if any. The results have been fascinating and generated very different interpretations from those of the ‘Events on Site’ chapter of my book “The Stones and the Stars”. It has then been possible to transfer those plots to the photographs of the horizon at the new site and graphically determine the actual bearings on which the events should occur, much more accurately than before. The stones are also going to be placed this time with much greater precision. At the previous site the events all occurred within the apparent diameters of the stones (with one exception on a particularly misty night), so it won’t make much difference to the events observed, but having learned what there was to be learned as a result of the shortcuts and corner-cuttings that had to be made last time, it will be nice to know that this time it’s as accurate as we can make it. Due to fluctuating atmospheric conditions the events will move about nevertheless, but near the true horizon and over the city, that’s only to be expected. I’ll be explaining it all at the Astronomers of the Future Club on Thursday October 25th (just after my birthday), upstairs at the RSAS Barassie Works Club, 4 Shore Road, Troon, KA10 6AG, 7.15 to 9.00, and afterwards at McKay’s on Portland Street as usual. In June I gave a general talk on it to the 41 Club in Troon, and I’ve been asked to give another to the Prestwick Rotary Club, date to be decided – Linda’s giving them a talk meantime on her new project, ‘Seashore – Access for All’, which aims to get greater access to the seashore for the people with disabilities.


All work and no play would be a bit wearing, so recently we’ve claimed two meals at the Taj restaurant in Prestwick, which we won in the Troon Times crossword competition; we went to see ‘Private Lives’ and ‘Whisky Galore’ at the Ayr Gaiety Theatre, and the excellent one-mad show ‘The Price of a Fish Supper’ at Troon Concert Hall, as well as celebrating our wedding anniversary, the 50th anniversary of my graduation and Linda’s birthday, all three with friends at the Maharani and McKay’s. On Sunday August 26th we’re going with a party from Prestwick to the annual Open Day at the Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre in Eskdalemuir, where we were married in April 2012.


Re-erection of the stone circle is possibly to take place in November, and no doubt by then more will be happening!



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