The Blackford Trust - Investing in Talent in Scotland and China

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Please note The Blackford Trust is now closed - this page is retained for purely historic interest

Dark Sky Scotland

Our support

We provided funding towards the winter 2009-2010 activities of the Dark Sky Scotland programme, Scotland's first nationwide programme of astronomy events. This involved support for six community and youth organisations that are working through the John Muir Award (JMA) scheme. This included training workshops for JMA Leaders, which led onto sessions for community groups and for groups visiting outdoor learning centres, so that dark skies become part of their participation in the award.

These events aimed to inspire the public, pupils, teachers and parents through the night sky and astronomy and space science, encourage science education and lifelong learning, encourage careers in science and technology and promote dark sky tourism in rural areas.

As with our support to the University of Edinburgh for a bursary in astronomy (see here), this award was made in honour of the Chairman's father, Dr Gordon Thompson (see this page). It was also relevant to the International Year of Astronomy 2009.

Background to our partner (see also here)

The Dark Sky Scotland programme began in 2006, and is led by the Royal Observatory Edinburgh Visitor Centre, with support from the John Muir Trust (already supported by the Trust, see here) and many other partners including the Forestry Commission Scotland, Careers Scotland, Institute of Physics Scotland, Glasgow Science Centre, the Scottish Government and the professional and amateur astronomy community in Scotland.

Photos courtesy of Dark Sky Scotland

The dark skies of rural Scotland, free from urban light pollution, are among the best in Europe offering stunning views of the stars and planets. The night sky can be enjoyed from our doorsteps as well as from the huge areas of dark sky in Scotland. There are spectacular things to see with just the naked eye or simple binoculars as well as with telescopes. The Dark Sky Scotland family events gave everyone, from children to grandparents, the chance to get out there to spot the constellations, marvel at the Milky Way or count the craters on the Moon. The Dark Sky events also showed how Scotlandís scientists and engineers are at the forefront of exploring the wonders of the Universe such as the search for Dark Matter and life on other planets.

Outcomes and lessons

A total of 25 John Muir Award Leaders, from six organisations across Scotland, were involved in the training. Several successful events were held in Glen Etive and Fife. The training also contributed to ongoing work through winter 2010-2011.

The Observatory's own charity, the Royal Observatory Edinburgh Trust, has recently been revitalised. It aims to protect and showcase the heritage of the Observatory, and to develop projects connected with public interest in Astronomy. For more details, see its website.

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This page was last updated on 18 July 2016.

A charity formerly registered in Scotland, no. SC039658

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