Since time immemorial, man has looked up to the stars.

It was around three years ago, I was asked by Neil Fraser to head up to the dilapidated old site of the old Brisbane Observatory as it approached its 200th anniversary.

The Three Sisters were built on Green Hill to help Sir Thomas Brisbane in the alignment of his telescopes to study other worlds and constellations up above.

The Largs Historical Society have launched a campaign to try and restore the Brisbane Observatory, a prospect which seems imminently under threat by the prospect of a major housing development as alluded to in the pages of the Largs and Millport Weekly News a few weeks ago. The general Largs infrastructure can barely cope as it is, heaven only knows how it would cope with another 260 houses.

Since the days of Sir Thomas Brisbane's famed observatory, one wonders if Largs might be missing out on a colossal own goal.

During recent Tuesday evenings, I have visited the Coats Observatory in Paisley, which is an incredible facility with magnificent telescopes which enlarge some of the intergalactic delights in our solar system and beyond.

I was quite taken aback as I got a glimpse through one of their largest telescopes in the cramped viewtower on a glistening Tuesday night of Jupiter. While we are all used to the computer generated starfields on tv and films, it is something else to view an alien planet up close.

Staring back at me was a shimmering bright moon like structure which had silver and brown layers, and surrounded by three stars, which I was told afterwards were actually moons.

On asking our astronomer guide about his favourite sight in the solar system, he said: "It has to be the rings of Saturn. I have known people who have looked through our telescope and their jaws have just dropped in amazement." Another thing that surprised me was that stars through a telescope do not twinkle as you would expect. Stars appear to twinkle because the light from them must reach us by passing through the atmosphere of the earth. By doing this, the light will experience some "distortion", probably like looking like the back wall behind a radiator.

Altogether it was a fascinating experience, and upon being led out to the back garden, we were handed binoculars while waiting to use the in-demand telescopes. As well as getting a view of the space station flying overhead, there was other thrilling sites including the Orion Nebula, where star clusters are born, to the contrasting Betelgeuse star - a dying red dwarf. If it were at the center of our Solar System, its surface would extend past the asteroid belt possibly to the orbit of Jupiter and beyond, wholly engulfing Mercury, Venus, the Earth and Mars. And it is set to go bang! When the star dies and explodes, causing a supernova, we will see the star in the sky even during daylight for months to come, it could even be like a second sun, some stargazers have speculated.

Our sun is also set to die, but don't have nightmares, and do sleep well, it is not going to happen for at least five billion years.