For our November lecture, Trinity College space weather scientist Dr Sophie Murray looked at solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and auroras. All this is called space weather, and she discussed its impact on the Earth’s upper atmosphere, and potentially on human civilisation. Dr Murray referred to the 1859 Carrington Event, which gave us the first alert that solar flares can interfere with our electronics. Since then solar flares have disrupted electricity grids, but no event of similar magnitude has yet occurred. Dr Murray and her colleagues are often called upon by industry and government to advise on how to protect today’s delicate electronics from the potentially catastrophic effects of solar flares. It is now a routine duty of Met Eireann and other meteorological services to forecast space weather.
From September to May (but not December) we meet on the 2nd Monday of the month at 8pm in UCC Civil Engineering building. This building is near the College Road entrance to the campus. See Getting there.
The centre piece of each meeting is a lecture by a club member or invited guest. Also a briefing on what to look for in the sky that month and club announcements. The formal part of the meeting finishes at 9:40 pm, and you can slip away then if you need to; or join us for tea and biscuits and a chat.
Here are the forthcoming season’s lectures up to November. Further speakers and topics will be announced.
Mon 9th Sept 2019 “ET Where Are You?”─ Terry Moseley, Ireland’s foremost amateur astronomer. Report of ET lecture
Mon 14th Oct 2019 “Space law: Weapons, property rights and mining in Space” ─ Laura Keogh, space lawyer. Report of space law lecture
Mon 11th Nov 2019 – Dr Sophie Murray on space weather – report
December 2019 – no lecture
Mon 13th Jan 2020 – “Back to the Future: Celestial Navigation for Ocean Positioning” – report of lecture by Bill Kavanagh
Mon 10th Feb 2020 –Black holes large and small – report of lecture by Prof Paul Callanan
Mon 9th Mar 2020 – “V1 – The star that changed the Universe” – Tony O’Hanlon – cancelled (Covid-19)
Mon 6th April 2020 – “Ireland’s Place in Space” – Con McCarthy – cancelled (Covid-19)
We celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing
On Saturday 20th July, Cork Astronomy Club celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing at Tory Top Library, Ballyphehane. Members and the public attended, memorabilia were on display and Tony Jackson who remembered the event, gave a highly praised talk and showed a video. Authentic 1969-recorded footage of Apollo 11’s mission as well as memorabilia from the time, such as a model of the Saturn V rocket, and much more.
Club members met Papal Astronomer Bro Guy Consolmagno, author of Turn Left at Orion, at Blackrock Castle Observatory on Saturday 10 August, from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. Bro Guy will gave a talk “Discarded Worlds: Astronomical ideas that were almost correct …”. You can read his abstract below. As well as astronomers who were wrong he cited those who were right but for the wrong reasons – Galileo being a prime example.
The event was fully subscribed. Bro Guy is an incisive and entertaining speaker, and the author of numerous books on astronomy including Turn Left at Orion – Hundreds of Night Sky Objects to See in a Home Telescope – and How to Find Them.
You can find more about Bro Guy at his page on the Vatican Observatory website. He provided the following abstract for his lecture:
Astronomy is more than just observing; it’s making sense of those observations. A good theorist needs to blend a knowledge of what’s been observed, with a good imagination … and no fear of being wrong. Ptolemy in ancient Rome, the medieval bishops Oresme and Cusa, the 19th century astronomers Schiaparelli and Pickering, all rose to the challenge; and they were all almost correct. Which is to say, they were wrong … sometimes hilariously, sometimes heartbreakingly so. What lessons can 21st century astronomers take from these discarded images of the universe?
Leading Irish amateur astronomer Terry Moseley opened the Club’s new season in September by asking “ET where are you?”. The date was Mon 9th Sept 2019, and as usual the venue was UCC. Several new members joined.
Noting that despite scientists’ best efforts no evidence of life elsewhere in the universe has so far come to light, Terry asked what we can deduce from this. He referred to the Fermi Paradox – the apparent mismatch between the lack of evidence, in spite of extensive search, for extra-terrestrial intelligence, and various estimates suggesting it’s highly probable extra-terrestrial civilizations should exist elsewhere in our galaxy. Have alien civilisations destroyed themselves, as some fear we might, before being able to reach out? Are they too far away? Or don’t care?
And what might the psychological effect on us be of contact with a civilisation as far ahead of us as we are to hedgehogs? Terry entertained us with these and other speculations, giving rise to a lively Q&A session.
All are welcome at Cork Astronomy Club’s lectures, free admittance and no obligation to join. We start at 8pm but we recommend arriving 10 minutes early if you can. Here’s how to get to the venue.
Tom Bonner is again running his popular astronomy evening class at Ballincollig Community School. Ten Wednesdays, started 25th September, cost €70. This is a course designed to give an overview of the important basics that any person who wants to pursue an interest in Astronomy will need. Tom is a prominent member of Cork Astronomy Club, and we are happy to recommend this course. Click for enrollment details – this takes you to the school’s website, where you’ll find the astronomy course under Wednesdays.
You’ll also find a link which enables you to enroll online, and the astronomy course is W2.