Galway Astronomy Fest 2015
On February 21st 2015 members of the public are invited to a special event dedicated to unravelling the mysteries of the Universe being held at the Westwood House Hotel.
From its humble beginnings in January 2004 to the present day our Astronomy Festival has become Ireland's favourite annual gathering of amateur astronomers with talks, exhibitions, trade stands, fine food and observing in Connemara under some of the darkest skies in Europe. Everyone is welcome to attend in friendship, to exchange information, successful stargazing and mutual progress.
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February 2nd Public Lecture
As part of our excellent series of monthly public lectures we welcome Dr Ray Butler from the Centre of Astronomy at NUI Galway to give us a talk on February 2nd at the Westwood House Hotel starting at 7.30pm. His field of study is in that of very low mass stars and brown dwarfs, together known as ultracool dwarf stars. These have unexpectedly been detected as variable radio sources - some of them producing intense, periodic pulses of radio emission while others were also found to vary periodically in visible light.
His team investigated whether there is a connection between their radio and optical behaviour. This involved a lengthy campaign of optical monitoring of six radio-detected ultracool dwarfs. With fast rotation periods of around 2 hours, very low brightness, and brightness variations of only about 1%, this very technically challenging work required the speed & sensitivity of a special type of detector in the GUFI (Galway Ultra-Fast Imager) photometer, which they installed on the 1.8m Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope in Arizona - aka "The Pope Scope"!
This talk will show how the results they obtained changed our understanding of these objects, connecting them to auroral processes found on planets; as well as other important results gleaned from GUFI observations of flare stars and a very low mass binary system. For more information on the Vatican Observatory go to http://www.vaticanobservatory.org/
Bright Planets of the January Sky
The start of 2015 brings a new year of planet hunting for amateur astronomers around the world, and plenty of dazzling views of the planets await in January for the stargazer who knows where and when to look. Jan. 21: About 45 minutes after sunset, look low in the southwest sky for Venus and then look about 7 degrees to its right for a hairline crescent moon, less than 30 hours past New Moon. Venus is actually less bright than usual, but it still vastly outshines all other points of light in the heavens. Because of its relatively low altitude in the sky, the planet's appearance in a telescope isn't so good — it remains a shaky, tiny, just barely out-of-round dot of dazzling light that is blurry due to atmospheric turbulence. But Venus's altitude and telescopic appearance will improve greatly in the coming months. And at a 7 o'clock position and just 1 degree away degrees directly below the moon you'll also find our old friend Mercury, having faded but still visible in binoculars.
Mighty Jupiter is the other big draw this month. It rises in the eastern sky just after sunset and reaches overhead just after midnight. The giant planet is a delight in a small telescope with its swirling bands and clouds, and keen-eyed observers with good telescopes can see a rare transit of the shadows of three of the four largest Jovian moons across the dface of the Planet, more next month..
To see whats happenng in the Sky this January
Please click HERE for a copy of our Sky Report