Galway Astronomy Festival - thoughts and feedback

  • cathalferris
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For the first time in my life, I got my act together and actually attended an astronomical get-together, and I'm glad that I did.
On Friday and Saturday last (March 4 and 5), the Galway Astronomy Club held their 8th annual Galway Astronomy Festival.
Friday night consisted of a talk about Irish meteorites. Fascinating, and I got to hold some quite interesting pieces of non-terrestrial metal and rock, as well as a piece of the Moon, and a piece of Mars. Unfortunately there was a lot of low cloud so there was no observing on the Friday night.

Saturday morning was the official registration for attendees, in the Westwood hotel. The tradestands were definitely good to go around and chat with the people manning them, the Irish Rocketry was good to chat with, especially given this country's issues with things that go whoosh or bang..

The talks were all based on the theme os "Life and Death in the Universe".

First up was the chemistry of supernovae, with reference to SN1987A, by Prof. Dick Butler.

Then we had an interesting talk by Prof Chandra Wickramasinghe on the possibility that life arrived on earth instead of evolving in-situ. Personally I'm not so sure, but it's certainly a hypothesis worth studying, and I'm looking forwards to further experimental results.

After lunch, as there was not enough sunshine :-( for Dave Gradwell to do live imaging so we were treated to a demonstration of how to process solar images.

Then Prof Mike Redfern took us through the literature tracing how the concepts of black holes came about and were studied. Given that it appears that a previous UCG president was the first person to describe a modern black hole, this had a great local interest hook.

Dave McDonald took us through the search for asteroids, and the implications for NEOs and us. He also went through other surveys that are going on, and what that means for an amateur asteroid hunter.

My favourite talk was that given by Tom Boles on his supernova hunting as an amateur astronomer, and how this interfaces with the professional observatories. It's a tough niche to be in, but it appears to be hugely rewarding, especially given the ~140 that he has confirmed as the discoverer.

I then took a trip to the UCG observatory with the 16" cassegrain on the massive direct drive german mount, with the huge CCD camera. I quite liked the 6" guidescope. It was great to see some of the images that can be gathered from the outskirts of an Irish town with middling light pollution. I'm looking forwards to seeing this again in the future, at a public day.

As the clouds were not going away, the observing that evening was cancelled. I had to leave at that stage so I missed hearing Dr. Andy Mc Crea describe his hunt for dark sky sites in the US - I was looking forwards to this one as I may be heading stateside at some point in the next few years.

All in all, it was great to put faces to some of the names that I've been reading posts from. It was really good to meet up with a few likeminded people, the are either hugely into the hobby, or those that are just dabbling. It was well worth my attendance anyway, and I'm hoping to go to thie event again next year, and to more events like this in the future.
Last edit: 11 years 11 months ago by cathalferris.
11 years 11 months ago #88487

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  • carlobeirnes
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I want to say a very big well done to all the Galway Astronomy club members on another great event. The lectures where great as was the hotel, the trade stands where outstanding.
I have to say the only disappointment for me was the lack of IFAS club representatives at the event. On the other hand there was a great turn out and from speaking to people at the event they all had a ball.

Well done to all involved see you next year.

Carl O’Beirnes,
Scopes and Space Ltd,
Unit A8 Airside Enterprise Centre,
Swords, Co Dublin,
The following user(s) said Thank You: R Newman
11 years 11 months ago #88497

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Hi Carl and Cathal and thanks for those kind words, yes it was a pity there was not many IFAS heads but you know we had an excellent event and a great turnout in a bad recession and from people who attended they all really enjoyed the day, despite the cloudy skies. The day wound with almost 40 people attending dinner and Andy Mc Crea’s funny lecture about America’s Darkest Skies and a table quiz where Terry Moseley was finally beaten by the Dubs Dave Moore and Dave Grennan.

The variety of stands really created a great buzz around the place which was spread over the 3 rooms, the rockets were very impressive. We really enjoyed the talks, Chandra was brilliant yet controversial with his theory that “Dark Matter” is really “Dark Exoplanets”.

Tom Boles gave us a wonderful insight to his observatory and how he scans 1,000 galaxies p/night. A special thank you to IFAS chairman Dave McDonald for is insight into Near Earth Objects. The highlight of the Friday was 27kg Limerick and the Moon and Mars meteorites which caused a sensation amongst the audience at NUI Galway including . Only hard part is going away now and dreaming it up again for next year, thanks to everyone who came.

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Congrats on a successfull event Ronan,
You know I was working and couldnt make it up, otherwise I would have been there.
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
Last edit: 11 years 10 months ago by dave_lillis.
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