Page last updated at 00:04 GMT, Saturday, 3 January 2009

Twinkle of stars subject of study

Observatory (Pic: HAS)
The society's new observatory is sited on Culloden Moor

Stars that change brightness are to be studied by a member of Highlands Astronomical Society using its new observatory at Culloden Battlefield.

Known as variable stars, there are more than 30,000 that have been catalogued, according to a US association dedicated to observing them.

Meanwhile, the Highlands society will also be holding events to mark 2009 International Year of Astronomy.

These will include a talk on Venus, the nearest planet to Earth.

Highlands Astronomical Society (HAS) members have also been challenged to spot 88 of what are known as the Messier Objects, a catalogue of celestial objects compiled by 18th Century French astronomer Charles Messier.

Maarten de Vries, of HAS, said the study of variable stars was among the many uses of the new observatory near Inverness.

The stars include pulsating variable and eclipsing binary and inspired the launch of the American Association of Variable Star Observers.

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