“Our Future in Space” Martin Rees – Mon 11 Jan 2021, 8pm

British cosmologist and astrophysicist Martin Rees sees space as the realm of robotic exploration, not human colonisation.  A handful of privately funded thrill seeking adventurers will probably settle on Mars but the idea of mass emigration there, proposed by some as the solution to Earth’s problems, he views is a dangerous delusion.   

Baron Rees of Ludlow was President of the Royal Society 2005–10 and has been the UK’s Astronomer Royal since 1995.

Cork Astronomy Club is immensely honoured that Martin Rees has agreed to give our January lockdown lecture.  He is currently writing a book on “When we don’t need astronauts”, and looks forward to the day, perhaps 10 years from now, when the European Southern Observatory’s ELT telescope will get spectra of some exoplanets that would indicate the presence of a biosphere (chlorophyll, oxygen, etc). 

This lecture will be held via Zoom, and is open to all. There will also be a sky report on what’s worth viewing in the sky during the coming month, plus club announcements.

The Zoom link will be posted here nearer the date. Start time 8 pm, and we aim to finish at 9.15. There will be an opportunity to stay and chat for a few minutes after the end of the formal meeting if you want to.

Not familiar with Zoom? If you contact us in good time, we may be able to help. Email us or ring Peter on 089-2004553

Go to Events Calendar

“The Voyager Mission to the Solar System and Beyond”, Prof Emma Bunce – Mon 8 Feb 2021, 8pm

Launched in 1977 the twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft are exploring where nothing from Earth has flown before. Each is three times farther away from the Earth and Sun than Pluto is, and travelling at 10 miles a second. In 2012, Voyager 1 made the historic entry into interstellar space, the region between stars.  Incredibly, these spacecraft are still communicating with NASA and sending usable data. 

A TV programme that featured Voyager 2’s flyby of Neptune when she was a child, inspired Emma Bunce to study the solar system and she has followed the progress of these spacecraft ever since. She will outline what they have told us about the universe, and how, equipped with 1970’s technology, they have accomplished this.   

Prof Emma Bunce in the Physics and Astronomy department at the University of Leicester. She was instrumental in the success of the Jupiter Juno Projects.
Credit: Andrew Fox for the Telegraph

Prof Bunce is current President of the Royal Astronomical Society, and head of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester.

This lecture will be held via Zoom, and is open to all. There will also be a sky report on what’s worth viewing in the sky during the coming month, plus club announcements.

The Zoom link will be posted here nearer the date. Start time 8 pm, and we aim to finish at 9.15. There will be an opportunity to stay and chat for a few minutes after the end of the formal meeting if you want to.

Not familiar with Zoom? If you contact us in good time, we may be able to help. Email us or ring Peter on 089-2004553

Go to Events Calendar

“New Strategies in the Search for E.T.” – Dr Seth Shostak – Mon 7 Dec 2020, 8pm

Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute Seth Shostak will join us by Zoom from California to discuss the failure so far to detect extra-terrestrial intelligence by searching the sky for artificial radio signals, and new initiatives being developed or under consideration.   Seth spends much energy on outreach activities, publishing numerous popular articles on science, giving talks to lay audiences, and hosting the SETI Institute’s weekly science radio show, “Big Picture Science.”  

Dr Seth Shostak

This lecture will be held via Zoom, and is open to all. There will also be a sky report on what’s worth viewing in the sky during the coming month, plus club announcements.

The Zoom link will be posted here nearer the date. Start time 8 pm, and we aim to finish at 9.15. There will be an opportunity to stay and chat for a few minutes after the end of the formal meeting if you want to.

Not familiar with Zoom? If you contact us in good time, we may be able to help. Email us or ring Peter on 089-2004553

Go to Events Calendar

Jocelyn Bell Burnell – “Pulsars, magnetars and fast radio bursts” – Mon 26 Oct 2020, 8pm

Cork Astronomy Club was honoured to welcome Jocelyn Bell Burnell who gave a talk by Zoom on “Pulsars, magnetars and fast radio bursts”. 

An inspiring speaker, it’s a topic she is uniquely qualified to address, since in 1967 as a postgraduate student Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered the first radio pulsars, amongst the most significant scientific achievements of the 20th century.  She is visiting Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford, and past president of the Institute of Physics and of the Royal Astronomical Society. 

Numerous plaudits, a typical one reads “I know little myself and she was able to, explain everything to someone at my level despite the information being so complicated, and yet also engaging those with more knowledge. She’s brilliant! ” Cork Astronomy Club is grateful that amongst all the more pressing calls upon her, Jocelyn took the trouble and made the time to give this talk to our club, a day that we shall long remember.

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Go to Events Calendar

“Galileo to Laudato Si’: Why Astronomy Needs Faith” – Mon 9 Nov 2020

Vatican astronomer Bro Guy Consolmagno, Director of the Vatican  Observatory – Specola Vaticana, joined us by Zoom from Tucson, Arizona to talk on the harmonious relationship between science and religion. 

  Bro Guy argued that logic and reason must always start with assumptions, and the assumptions behind science are, at their root, religious assumptions. Our core beliefs not only determine how we expect the universe to work; they supply the motivation for the science we do, and determine why we choose to look at the stars. How we understand this relationship has changed radically from the time of Galileo, when science was still being invented; and that change continues to this day, as can be seen in the way Pope Francis has blended science and faith in his recent encyclical Laudato Si

Bro Guy Consolmagno, Director of Vatican Observatory

Modern science required three fundamental shifts which were just beginning in Galileo’s day:
> discard the Golden age mentality (the ancients knew more than us, knowledge has faded)
> use of instruments in discovery
> abandon attempt to seek deductive proof of scientific facts, instead accept probable cause, to be improved on by scientists of the future .

Bro Guy was a most attentive host when Cork Astronomy Club members visited the Vatican  Observatory at Castel Gandolfo in 2019.  He has family connections in Cork and we look forward to welcoming him back here in what we hope will be the not too distant future.

Go to Events Calendar

“Mars, a Cosmic Stepping Stone” – Mon 12 Oct 2020, 8pm

To coincide with the Mars opposition Kevin Nolan gave a talk on past, present and near-term future Mars exploration. What have we learnt, what can we hope to learn? Looked at the present and continuing unmanned program for Mars which commenced in 1996 with Pathfinder and will continue into the future at least until a sample return mission in 2031 – and surely beyond. Kevin’s passion for the subject and the ease with which he presented so much technical information drew widespread praise from the 90 people in this Zoom call.

Kevin is the author of Mars, A Cosmic Stepping Stone: Uncovering Humanity’s Cosmic Context (2009), a volunteer for The Planetary Society in Ireland, and lectures in Physics at the Technical University Dublin.

Kevin Nolan, author of “Mars a Cosmic Stepping Stone”

Go to Events Calendar

“Observing and photographing the Moon” – Mon 14 Sep 2020

Opening our new season of public online lectures, Frances McCarthy and Danielle Wilcox of Blackrock Castle Observatory’s outreach team talked about observing and photographing the night sky’s largest and most changeable object, the Moon.

Frances McCarthy (left) and Danielle Wilcox (right) of Blackrock Castle Observatory’s outreach team

We learnt that the word “moon” is connected with words for to measure, reflecting the fact that from earliest times the Moon’s phases have been used as a calendar.  The moon illusion when the moon is near the horizon is well known, and it seems that it’s perceived especially by children.  We heard about the startling difference between the near and far sides of the Moon and possible reasons for this, as well as a hypothesis that the Moon’s tidal lock, which dictates that we always see the same side, may have occurred not over millions of years, but in the course of a single year.

Go to Events Calendar

Lecture Schedule 2020-21

From September 2020 we shall hold public lectures using Zoom, and this will continue until we are able to resume lectures at University College Cork. For the Zoom link, if not published here, you can email info@corkastronomyclub.com.

The Zoom meetings will be on the second Monday of the month, plus occasional extra dates for especially prominent speakers. The centre piece of each meeting is a lecture by an invited guest, sometimes by a club member. Monthly meetings will also include a briefing on what to look for in the sky that month and club announcements.

Start time 8pm. The formal part of each meeting finishes at 9:15 pm, though there will be an opportunity to join the meeting early, or stay for a few extra minutes at the end.

Here are the forthcoming season’s events as arranged so far. Further speakers and topics will be announced.

Mon 14th Sept 2020   “Observing and photographing the Moon”─ Frances McCarthy & Danielle Wilcox,  Blackrock Castle Observatory Outreach Team.

Mon 12th Oct 2020   “Mars, a Cosmic Stepping Stone” ─   Kevin Nolan, Author of Mars, A Cosmic Stepping Stone: Uncovering Humanity’s Cosmic Context (2009).

Mon 26th Oct 2020Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Visiting Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford will give a talk on “Pulsars, magnetars and fast radio bursts” Zoom link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86442149554

Mon 9th Nov 2020  “Galileo to Laudato Si: Why Astronomy Needs Faith”Bro Guy Consolmagno, Director Vatican Observatory

Mon 7th Dec 2020 “New Strategies in the Search for E.T.” by Dr Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer at SETI Institute

Mon 11th Jan 2021  – British cosmologist, astrophysicist, and Astronomer Royal Martin Rees on “Our Future in Space”

Mon 8th Feb 2021 Professor Emma Bunce will give a talk by Zoom on the “The Voyager Mission to the Solar System and Beyond”. Current President of the Royal Astronomical Society, Head of University of Leicester’s Physics and Astronomy School.

Mon 8th Mar 2020  –   

Mon 12th April 2021 

Mon 10th May 2021  

“Ireland’s Place in Space” – Mon 6 Apr 2020, 8pm

Lecture cancelled due to coronavirus. Was scheduled for April 2020. ESA engineer Con McCarthy will describe the parts played by Irish companies ─ especially the local ones ─ in designing systems for and providing services to the European Space Agency.  The date is Mon 6th Apr 2020 at 8 pm, and the venue is UCC.   Please arrive 10 minutes early, or if you wish to join, then ideally at 7.40 if you can.

Con worked as an ESA engineer for more than 30 years,  his jobs there including  –

  • project manager for Mars Express Lander, arrived Mars 2003
  • systems engineer for Huygens, landed on Titan January 2005, which is still the most distant landing of any man made object
  • systems engineer Venus Express, launched 2005

and he also contributed to

  • Spacelab, the first European crewed space vehicle, 22 missions up to 1998
  • Earth Resources Satellite 1, the first earth observation satellite to monitor the surface via radar instead of optics giving it an all weather capability
  • Exomars, due for launch July 2020

Con is a member of our Club.

Go to Events Calendar for map

Photo shows Con (right) with Russian cosmonaut the late Alexi Leonov, the first man to walk in space when in 1965 he exited the Voskhod capsule.  Photo dates from around 2015.

“V1 – The star that changed the Universe” – no date yet

Lecture cancelled due to coronavirus. Was scheduled for March 2020 Coming soon, we hope – prominent amateur astronomer Tony O’Hanlon will tell how observation of single star was to change how we saw the Universe, and relegated our Milky Way to just one of billions of objects. This lecture was originally scheduled for 9th March 2020. Meeting cancelled due to coronavirus situation in Cork while we await HSE guidance.

As recent as the early 1920’s, we believed the entire Universe consisted of what we called the Milky Way.  Some astronomers of the day believed it was much larger, but how to prove it was a huge mathematical and observational problem and much debate ensued.  Edwin Hubble, after whom the Hubble Space Telescope was named, then made a key discovery from his observations of a single star. It changed how we saw the Universe. Our understanding that our Milky Way is just one of billions of objects can be traced back to Hubble’s discovery.  In this talk, Tony will tell its story.

Tony is a member and co-founder of Limerick Astronomy Club, and a former V.P. of the Irish Astronomical Association.  His passions lie in deep sky objects and providing astronomy outreach.    

Go to Events Calendar

Tony O’Hanlon