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IFAS, roads, national astronomy... was Sligo Astronomy Group

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8 years 9 months ago #104726 by albertw
Replied by albertw on topic Sligo Astronomy Group
I don't read the forum for a few days and people start throwing hand grenades around. Can someone at least tell me next time there's an argument going on!

I've been to star parties that were 10 minutes from a motorway, I've been to starparties where my not very high off the ground car nearly got stuck in the grass growing in the middle of the lane, I've driven _into_ light pollution to sidewalk observing sessions, and I've driven hours to dark sites just to meet up with a few friends for observing. The infrastructure and plan depends on what your goals are.

Criticism of IFAS I always find amusing. It's a federation of astronomical societies - there to share information between clubs, offer advice, get insurance, sometimes liaise with professional and national bodies, sometimes coordinate national events, provide a communication forum, that kind of thing. And it operates by consensus of the clubs. Don't get frustrated with IFAS if it's not organising something you think it should be - the committee is comprised of people who are busy running their own groups.

On the occasions where IFAS has ran events they are generally driven by a couple of individuals who will run it under the IFAS umbrella, though they don't always come to fruition. IFAS was the initial starting point for setting up a light pollution sub committee - that's morphed into Dark Skies Ireland today and thanks to work through IFAS we now have scientific measurement and modelling of light pollution though TCD, held a major European conference on light pollution in 2009, etc. One that didn't happen was funnily enough a starparty, some of us were at the announcement of the Dark Sky park early in 2014 the idea of a starparty there was suggested. Over the coming months accommodation and observing locations were checked out (including a public lecture venue and venues that would be able to house talks in the case of bad weather!). A few months later we found out that others were working on what would become the Skelligs Star Party so we didn't proceed any further with our plans, and I've been happy to see that IFAS has actively promoted the SSP here and with clubs.

Now whether you are off to a field down roads that not even a GPS recognises or visiting a well connected town with hotels etc. please take note of the sky quality and register it at globeatnight.org :)

Albert White MSc FRAS
Chairperson, International Dark Sky Association - Irish Section
www.darksky.ie/
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8 years 9 months ago #104730 by Seanie_Morris
Replied by Seanie_Morris on topic Sligo Astronomy Group
Ireland's West is well known for its dark skies, and it would be the best place or any real star party to be hosted. However, as already mentioned, observing always comes secondary due to Ireland's weather. Sometimes, us amateur astronomers get lucky, sometimes not. Some of us here have been to actual star parties where there wasn't even a lecture calendar: Athens, Teneriffe, Australia, Canada, Colorado. That is where the magic really happens, and luck had nothing to do with it! It's just a product of the Irishness of our hobby: Have a lecture night, and if it's not cloudy, scrap it for outdoor astronomy.

If Ronan Newman and his contacts (Mayo), Derek Davey and his contacts (Sligo), Eamonn Ansbro and his contacts (Roscommon), and the SAC gang and their contacts (Clare) are as successful as Julie Ormonde and her contacts (Kerry), then Ireland is in for a TREAT on the world's dark skies map!

(Now the digressing bit)
All the annual star party events claim their right as the 'best', 'biggest', 'most awesome' event in Ireland. Each is unique yet draws on consistency of a programme that has always worked in the past. Anyone who wants to pick on any one star party should look at the wording of the other events before it for the same wording. It's called Pee-Are (PR)

I really adore the fact that there is such competition on individual and club levels to strive to be the best and work towards outdoing each other. I think that it is a testament to the amount of work that is needed - and those willing to take it on - to make a lecture night/observing session/star party happen, and reap the fruits of their labors during the event. The past couple of years have seen more diversity of what's on offer around Ireland. Our little island must have something like the highest number of star parties per capita! :-)

Going to Johns point about an IFAS location. SSP was set up out of pure frustration with the way IFAS is run. All talk no agreement and zero action. To anyone running an event I know how hard it is to do it.

All previous IFAS Chairpersons know the answer to this (and Albert already spoke of it above). IFAS is an OUTLET. It is not a 'club' that has a core committee that can allocate resources and time more easily then if it was an actual 'club' with more local members: members on a committee that sometimes meet face to face, members that have consistent and targeted goals because they are not spread thinly with other work and life duties or other club memberships. To be frustrated at IFAS not taking on a central role is, to me as the current Chairperson, not appreciating the efforts that IFAS does. The IFAS committee is at the mercy of its member club Reps, and if some don't or can't take as active a part that would be better suited to the majority, then that is just the way it goes. The interests of all member club must be taken into consideration.

And as current Chairperson, I am sorry if the efforts of my committee are not good enough to have a nationwide star party to compete against the individual club's efforts. We believe the promotion of astronomy by filling in holes where there are holes is ALSO a good course of action: nationwide press releases, annual calendars, photography competitions (albeit on a hiatus at present), observing aides (in the form of the timeless Observing Challenges), national public awareness of solar eclipse safety WITH 1,500 solar viewers distributed free: Just a few items worth commending.

I applaud the efforts of those of you wanting to take on the challenge of organising a new observing or star party event. And event more so for attempting a new dark sky reserve. Those efforts present big challenges. Challenges that all observers (not astronomical observers, but those on the outside) must appreciate, and that we all should humbly acknowledge - because it is going to make your hobby even better.

Seanie.

Midlands Astronomy Club.
Radio Presenter (Midlands 103), Space Enthusiast, Astronomy Outreach Co-ordinator.
Former IFAS Chairperson and Secretary.
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8 years 9 months ago - 8 years 9 months ago #104731 by manic_dave
Replied by manic_dave on topic Sligo Astronomy Group
Im sorry Seanie but what you just said is the problem with IFAS.

This whole club outlet thing is finished, old news and does not represent what's going on in Irish Astronomy. New clubs and parties are coming along and IFAS does not fit them. What's needed is a national body to represent Irish Astronomy, that's not David Moore.

Pee- Are, again no idea what your talking about.

If IFAS wants to survive then it needs reform. If nothing else a debate that not held behind closed doors. Otherwise you start to sound like the most popular astronomy club in the world.

www.skelligstarparty.com
Europe's Darkest Skies
Top 4 Locations in the world to Stargaze by Paste Magazine.
Last edit: 8 years 9 months ago by manic_dave.

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8 years 9 months ago #104732 by dave_lillis
Replied by dave_lillis on topic Sligo Astronomy Group
to the mods, can this ifas stuff be moved over to a thread for it,
its a debate worth having but not right here.
poor Derek Davey 's head must be spinning lol

Dave L. on facebook , See my images in flickr
Chairman. Shannonside Astronomy Club (Limerick)

Carrying around my 20" obsession is going to kill me,
but what a way to go. :)
+ 12"LX200, MK67, Meade2045, 4"refractor
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8 years 9 months ago #104734 by albertw
Replied by albertw on topic Sligo Astronomy Group

Dave_Lillis wrote: to the mods, can this ifas stuff be moved over to a thread for it,
its a debate worth having but not right here.
poor Derek Davey 's head must be spinning lol


I'm trying to figure out how to do it without accidentally deleting half the posts and then getting accused of censorship ;)

Albert White MSc FRAS
Chairperson, International Dark Sky Association - Irish Section
www.darksky.ie/

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8 years 9 months ago - 8 years 9 months ago #104740 by johnomahony
Wow. I go away for 5 years and come back to this :laugh:
Seanie makes a good comment about having the highest star party ratio per capita in the world - I believe this is very true. :laugh:
Having been in the Australian club scene for a few years I could share a few thoughts of comparison (except for the weather ;) .Firstly, it works extremely well.
There is no blanket organisation for the regional clubs although they all work together and share observing sites and events. New South Wales has only two major star parties a year, one organised by the state society and the other is run by forum members for forum members on boards like this one. It typically attracts around 200 people in a scout camp with basic kitchen and toilet facilities to interact with each other, enjoy the company and do some observing.
Most observing is done informally on new moon weekends on three or four sites which are not club sites (not dark sky sites but not bad and near town, - an equestrian centre-basically a field, an airfield, a golf club...). A post goes out asking anyone who wants to attend to show up (weather permitting). Public outreach was also mainly informal-asking if people could attend say, a local school event in their kids school etc...great fun. I did loads of this stuff and have quite a collection of outreach teeshirts. ;)
I would be happy to share my experiences with anyone who is interested.

The Lord giveth, the Revenue taketh away. (John 1:16)

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Last edit: 8 years 9 months ago by johnomahony.
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