Guest post: Ailsa Strachan from Paisley Museum & Observatory on their star-gazing Saturn-day!

With only one day to go till Museums at Night 2011 begins, I’m delighted to share today’s guest post about one of the many astronomy-themed events that’ll be taking place across the UK. When Ailsa Strachan wrote this article she was Duty Officer at Paisley Museum – we wish you all the best in future, Ailsa, and I’m sure the rest of your cosmic team will put on a fantastic Saturn-day night!

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a photo of an enormous telescope

The Grubb Telescope at Coats Observatory (c) Paisley Museum collections, Renfrewshire Council

Paisley Museum and Observatory is holding its first ever Museums at Night event on Saturday 14th May 2011! As well as being a great opportunity to be involved in a nationwide event, one of the most exciting things for us is the amazing publicity Museums at Night gets. As a local authority venue we are limited in our access to social networking sites, and Museums at Night provides us with a great opportunity to say ‘Check it out on Facebook/Twitter/etc’!

We decided we wanted to hold our event in our Observatory. In winter we run two night-time viewings a week for visitors – so we thought that for our first taste of Museums at Night we would stick to what we already know, while adding in loads of extra fun stuff! When John, our science curator, told us Saturday 14th would be the perfect time to see Saturn, we were off: a plan was quickly realised – everything would be Saturn inspired!

An impressive observatory building with a dome, seen at twilight

The Coats Observatory at Paisley Museum (c) Paisley Museum collections, Renfrewshire Council

The Museum and Observatory will close at 4pm, but we will open again from 6pm – 10pm. There was one obvious fall back to our plan – the sky won’t be dark enough see Saturn until about 8.30pm. We won’t let that stop us though! We will celebrate Saturn without it being there – we know it’ll be worth waiting for!

We are still working to finalise our timetable of events for the evening (to see if some of our more adventurous ideas will be possible) – so watch this space! The plan so far is: between 6pm and 8pm we are aiming our event at families with activities for children, a film on Saturn and planetarium shows.  In Paisley, we have a lot of keen astronomers who we see regularly during the winter viewing nights, so we were conscious that we didn’t want this event aimed purely at families. So come 8pm we’ll be opening the dome and getting the telescope set for Saturn! For visitors joining us later at night and those families who aren’t yet ready for bed, we’ll have our big telescope set on Saturn and more telescopes in the garden looking at stars!

So get set for Saturn-day!!

A smiling woman giving two thumbs up

Ailsa Strachan gives two thumbs up for astronomy

Ailsa Strachan is the former Duty Officer from Paisley Museum. You can connect with Paisley Museum and the Coats Observatory through their website: http://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/ilwwcm/publishing.nsf/content/els-jcp-paisleymuseum

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