Friday Oct 28th @7pm

Venue:Hotel Newport

The event is free and everyone is welcome

Official opening of the Mayo Dark Sky Festival by Leo Enright

Short introductory talk by Georgia MacMillan  (Project Leader of the Mayo Dark Sky Park):

Mayo has been awarded a glittering new string to its tourism bow – the stars above. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has granted Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Park status to Ballycroy National Park & Wild Nephin Wilderness, to be jointly recognised as Mayo International Dark Sky Park that is State-owned, offering open public access for everyone to enjoy. A Gold-Tier classification is an honour reserved for the most exceptional of dark skies and breathtaking nightscapes. This recognition completes the ‘360 degree experience’ that the north Mayo national park has to offer, boasting pristine beauty underfoot, all around and up above.

                   Talk by Martin Byrne on Irish Megalithic Alignments and Astronomy

Ireland is home to a number of well-known ancient monuments, the most famous being Newgrange, located near the bank of the River Boyne. Newgrange is famous because on the morning of the Winter Solstice each year, sunlight enters the passage and illuminates the chamber within the monument.

The northmost slab of the recess is covered with a complex set of orbiting bodies and seems to be a diagram depicting a cosmic event, such as the eclipse postulated by Paul Griffin. 11703106_10152817381240870_7141624162709563586_n

Other monuments around the country, such as standing stones, are known to be aligned with both with other terrestrial objects and with celestial bodies in the sky. Martin has a special area of interest is the megalithic monuments: their alignments to heavenly bodies, their engraved art and their relationships to the landscape and to other ancient sites For the last 20 years he has been investigating Chambered Cairns – a type of ancient monument with internal chambers found on mountain tops and hills all across Ireland.

Ireland has some of the oldest and best preserved megalithic monuments in Western Europe. The country is covered with the remains of an ancient civilisation, buildings which were erected at the end of the last Ice age in the early neolithic age, nearly 8000 years ago. The oldest Irish sites – indeed some of the oldest buildings in the world – are found along the Atlantic seabord – in the Burren of Co Clare, at Cong and Knockma in Mayo and Galway, and the great sites of Carrowmore and Carrowkeel in County Sligo.

His talk a will cover a series of images of sun rises and sets at Irish chambered
cairns, largely focusing on sites in Counties Mayo, Sligo and Meath. There
will be a discussion of possible Solar and Lunar alignments which illuminate interiors of monuments and a look at the art and mythology. Finally  Martin will shed some light on our early ancestors and their knowledge of Astronomy.