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.

“The mysteries of Black Holes, large and small” – Mon 10 Feb 2020, 8pm

For our February lecture, UCC Professor of Physics and Astronomy Dr Paul Callanan will talk about those mysterious objects so fundamental to astronomy, black holes.    The date is Mon 10th Feb 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.

Understanding the nature of black holes remains one of the great challenges of modern astronomy.

More than 100 years ago, Einstein produced a remarkable theory which could be used predict the basic properties of black holes, but it was only this year, in 2019,  when we finally got a glimpse of what a black hole really looks like. In this talk Paul will explore what we know about black holes, and what the most recent observations tell us about them. We will also see how Irish astronomers, 100 years ago this year, made observations which helped to show that Einstein’s theory of gravity was correct; an important milestone in the application of his theory to black holes and the universe at large.

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Prof Paul Callanan, UCC
Prof Paul Callanan, UCC

“Back to the Future: Celestial Navigation for Ocean Positioning” – Mon 13 Jan 2020, 8pm

For our January lecture, Master Mariner and nautical science lecturer Bill Kavanagh will explain how traditional methods were used to obtain a ship’s position by observing astronomical objects, and how such methods are being used again today in an era of global navigation satellite systems.  The date is Mon 13th Jan 2020 at 8pm, and the venue is UCC.   Please arrive 10 minutes early, or if you wish to join, then ideally at 7.40 if you can.

Bill is a committee member of Cork Astronomy Club. Captain Bill Kavanagh MA, FNI to give him his full title, lectures in the National Maritime College of Ireland at Ringskiddy. After a 20-year career at sea including 8 years in command, he moved ashore to start a new career in education and training. He currently lectures and co-ordinates the award year of the BSc honours degree in nautical science, and is an adjunct lecturer in research methods with Jade University of Applied Sciences, Oldenberg, Germany. While at sea, he navigated the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans using celestial navigation techniques. 

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Bill Kavanagh
Bill Kavanagh

“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