Science and Magic of Light, the Universe and Everything on 28th March 2015 was billed as a warp speed tour of our amazing universe led by world leading scientists and magicians. The day of free talks, demos and discussions took place at Edinburgh University Debating Hall in Bristo Square, and was intended to be suitable for all ages. This is, I believe, the third such day of astronomy talks organised by Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Professor John Brown, Lorna McCalman and Charlie Gleed which the ASE have been involved in, and was a great success in celebrating the International Year of Light 2015.
During the course of the day there were talks by astronomers Prof. John Brown, Prof. Colin McInnes, Prof. Martin Hendry and Prof. Chris Lintott, while magicians Euan Callison, Kevin McMahon and, of course, our Astronomer Royal John Brown injected some magic into the event. The talks were brilliant and the magic engaging. I noted a number of serious astronomers cracking a smile at various points, not least when poor Chris Lintott was attacked by Zurg the naughty Alien!
Alongside the event, there were planetarium shows being run throughout the day by Cosmos Planetarium, Jamie Shepherd had again come along with his impressive collection of meteorites, and the ASE were out in force with a display set up in the foyer outside the Debating Hall. We had the usual information and hand-outs available, as well as a couple of telescopes on show and a number of members available to talk to interested parties. We had a great turn out which meant that there was always someone available to look after the telescopes and display while other members listened in to the various talks, or took the solar telescope outside to attempt some solar observing during breaks in the clouds.
The good turn-out of members not only meant that we were all able to take breaks from engaging with the public to listen in to the talks or go for lunch, but it also meant that we had a great group of like-minded people to discuss the content of the talks with, as well as any other topics which came up. I very much enjoy doing outreach and sharing my love of astronomy with others, but it is always better with friends. Being in the ASE has a lot of benefits, but the friendship with others who share your passion is one of the best things for me, as I know that I will always have a great time when there are other members involved.
Science and Magic of Light the Universe and Everything was a great day of talks, an excellent chance to spend the day with other astronomers from all over the country, and to round it off, the ASE contingent even managed to get a group photo with Chris Lintott!