New members morning – Sat 19 Oct, 11 – 1

Our annual new members morning is at Blackrock Castle from 11 am – 1 pm on Saturday 19th October.  This is a members only event (but you can join at the door). “New member” can be interpreted flexibly. If you would like to know more about how the Club works and chat informally to committee members, then this event is for you.

Drop in, meet the committee and fellow new members.  Find out about the Club’s activities & getting the most from your membership.      Tea & scones from Blackrock Castle’s excellent café.      

Here you can find out about the monthly observers group meetings, how to get on the alert list for weather-dependent observing sessions, and how to get advice on buying a telescope. Find out about the workshop programme and make your own suggestions for topics you would like included. Discover our field trips, the annual outing, and social events, and let us know what you hope to get from your Club membership. We are always open to consider new activities.

Blackrock Castle
Blackrock Castle Observatory. The New members morning is held in the classroom on the left.

“Space Law: Weapons, Property Rights and Mining in Space” – 14 Oct 2019

Barrister Laura Keogh, a specialist in space law, gave an overview of space law and then focused on weaponisation and the legality of owning asteroids.    

LauraShe began by outlining the framework of international space law, starting with the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which forms the basic framework, and then identified three challenges for space law – militarisation, space mining, and colonising Mars.   Space has been militarised since the very start of the space age, but what weapons are allowed? Nukes are definitely banned and so are weapons of mass destruction – but what are those?  A US act of 2015 says citizens can own asteroid resources, but is this legal in international law? 

If Mars is colonised, will it be a state and what are the implications of that?  The meeting broke into groups to discuss how a Mars state would cope with a refugee problem from Earth, giving rise to some daunting proposals.

Laura has campaigned, thus far without success, that Ireland should be represented at the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).  This will become more urgent with the launch next year of Ireland’s first satellite, Eirsat1. She works for MHL- Law dealing with space sector clients and data protection issues.  

Laura Keogh
Laura Keogh, Barrister

“The Active Sun: Solar Eruptions and their Impact on Earth” – Mon 11 Nov 2019

On Monday 11th November we welcome Trinity College space weather scientist Dr Sophie Murray, who will look at solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and auroras. All this is called space weather, and she will discuss its impact on the Earth’s upper atmosphere, and potentially on human civilisation.  All lectures are on Mondays at 8pm, and the venue is UCC.   Please arrive 10 minutes early, or if you wish to join, then ideally at 7.30 if you can.

Dr Murray’s interests include developing operational solar eruption forecast products in weather prediction.   She will no doubt refer to the 1859 Carrington Event, which gave us the first alert that solar flares can interfere with our electronics.

This lecture was originally slated for 14th Oct 2019.

Dr Sophie Murray

Celebrate Apollo day 20th July 2019 at Tory Top Library

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.  

The Pope’s Astronomer at Blackrock Castle on 10 Aug 2019

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.

Bro Guy (third from camera on right) at lunch with Club members at Blackrock Castle Observatory after giving his talk

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? 

“ET where are you?” – 9 Sept, 2019

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.

Terry Moseley
Terry Moseley

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.

Evening class in astronomy started 25 September 2019

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.

 

Winter Solstice 2018 at Drombeg Stone Circle

The weather on Friday 21st December looked unpromising for a visit to Drombeg stone circle–but perseverance was rewarded when about 25 members and their friends briefly witnessed–or almost witnessed–the solstice sunset there. Just about 4 in the afternoon, twenty minutes or so before official sunset, the sun briefly broke through the clouds fractionally to the left of a notch in the hills which really made the day. Club member Michael O’Keeffe gave a tour of the site, telling its history, the excavation of the site which took place in the 1950’s, and the relevance of the winter and summer solstice.

Fri 16 Nov – Blackrock Castle open night

The open night will be hosting workshops, a Gravity Well to show how space is warped by large objects, demonstrations on Stellarium (a free software that helps you to explore the night sky) and observing in the courtyard with telescopes brought by Club members. (weather dependent!)

Schedule of events:

19:00 – 20:00 – Prof Robert Walsh: A talk in the area of solar science and our relationship with the Sun
20:15 – 22:00 – Cork Skeptics host Kevin MitchellDestiny and Chance – How the Wiring of Our Brains Shapes Who We Are
19:00 – 22:00 – Stargazing with Cork Astronomy Club*

Workshops and other activities will run throughout the night from 19:00

 

 

UCC Seminar

Club Members Attended a Seminar at University College Cork

Joint Congress of University Astronomy Societies 2018 was held in February at UCC by astronomy societies of UCC, NUIG and UL. The conference offered an all-day schedule of lectures spanning many different areas of Astrophysics. Chris Lintott, Oxford professor and Sky at night presenter gave an interesting talk about the successes of the project Galaxy Zoo emphasizing the importance of citizens involvement in science projects. Paul Callanan gave a talk on European Southern Observatory which Ireland will soon become a member of.
Other topics were: jet outflows of active galaxies, ejection of matter from black holes, and star formation and destruction.
Photo: Astronomy Club members photographed with Prof. Chris Lintott

oint Congress of University Astronomy Societies 2018 was held in UCC last Saturday by astronomy societies of UCC, NUIG and UL. The conference offered an all-day schedule of lectures spanning many different areas of Astrophysics. Chris Lintott, Oxford professor and Sky at night presenter gave an interesting talk about the successes of the project Galaxy Zoo emphasizing the importance of citizens involvment in science projects. Paul Callanan gave a talk on European Southern Observatory which Ireland will soon become a member of. Other topics were: jet outflows of active galaxies, ejection of matter from black holes, and star formation and destruction. Photo: Astronomy Club members photographed with Prof. Chris Lintott