Venue: Hotel Newport, Main St, Newport, Co Mayo

Phone:00353 (0)98 42464


Entry only €5


Nick James: “Observing the Moon: Then and Now”

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Many stargazers find the Moon a nuisance. Its brightness makes it difficult to observe the faint fuzzies, Comets, Meteors, and many other celestial wonders that we love so much. But observing the Moon is an age old tradition and it certainly has its charms, be it a luminous orb that lights up the terrain in front of you or a razor-thin slice with shadows scraping against the crater walls. With a small telescope or pair of binoculars, the view is even more amazing. Dark, flat plains called maria, deep craters and bright rays of ejected material pepper the rugged surface. In 1500 there were no telescopes, but Leonardo da Vinci was able to observe that the dark part of the crescent moon still has a faint glow. He correctly surmised that this was due to reflected light from Earth. Today, the moon has been thoroughly mapped by orbiting satellites and walked upon by human visitors. Nevertheless the view of the Moon from Earth is still a breathtaking sight.

John McKeon: “High Resolution Planetary Imaging”

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Much has changed in the last few years regarding the way in which planetary images are taken.  Planetary imaging used to be one of the most challenging aspects of astronomical imaging, but new technology has now made capturing high-resolution pictures easy and inexpensive.  CCD cameras and inexpensive digital cameras can be used for planetary imaging, but they suffer from some of the same disadvantages that made film photography of the planets extremely difficult.  The current state of the art in planetary imaging is now the webcam–despite its very low cost, this camera is ideal for imaging the planets, and is far and away the most popular method of doing so. On of the main targets for amateur astronomers is Jupiter,  that is hit by an average of 6.5 objects per year that create impacts large enough to be visible from Earth, according to preliminary results from a worldwide campaign by amateur astronomers to observe the giant planet.

Meteors impacting Jupiter’s upper atmosphere are very rare but can create spectacular fireballs, such as the one observed by amateur astronomer  John McKeon on 17th March 2016. This was the fourth in a series of fireballs in Jupiter observed worldwide by amateur astronomers since June 2010.

Dave Grennan: “Building and Operating a Robotic Observatory”

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Building a small observatory is not all that hard. A simple roll-off roof design can be built in a few days with simple tools and materials easily available in your local building supply store. A robotic observatory is much more complicated but still can be done with more careful planning.  A prerequisite for the explosion of amateur robotic telescopes was the availability of relatively inexpensive CCD cameras, which appeared on the commercial market in the early 1990s. The main motive behind the development of amateur robotic observatories has been the making of research-oriented astronomical observations, such as taking endlessly repetitive images of a variable stars and galaxies.

Some of the capabilities of these systems included automatic selection of observing targets, the ability to interrupt observing due to weather or rearrange observing schedules for targets of opportunity, automatic selection of guide stars, and sophisticated error detection and correction algorithms. With this Irish amateur astronomers like Dave has made a significant contributions to the fields of astronomy and space science.

Tony O’Hanlon: “Observing from a Dark Sky site and how to get the most from your Equipment”  


Amateur astronomy can be a rewarding and fascinating hobby. All you really need to explore the universe is a dark sky and a little patience. So when when dedicated stargazers venture outside to enjoy the night sky, they bring their telescopes, binoculars and various well-considered pieces of observing gear away from city lights and into the cool dark of night to catch sight of cosmic objects. But how can the average person get started on their way toward becoming an expert skywatcher? Well Tony’s talk will explain in detail have a great time under the stars. We wish you dark skies.

Professor Lorraine Hanlon (UCD Physics) & Emer O Boyle (UCD Parity Studios): “Dancing with the Stars – A Voyage through the Galaxy

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How do we know what stars are made of? Why do X-rays, rather than visible light, provide tell-tale evidence of black holes? Why is there no single ‘perfect’ telescope that can observe everything?

This talk primarily explores the interaction of light with matter. It is this interaction that has determined the kinds of telescopes we typically use to observe the Universe and the science that can be deduced as a result. Now, more exotic windows on the Universe are also becoming available, heralding an era of ‘multi-messenger’ astronomy, in which light, particles and gravitational waves together may provide a more complete understanding of the processes and interactions that shape our Universe.

Talks finish at 4.00pm