March 20th Partial Solar Eclipse
On Friday March 20, 2015 aTotal Eclipse of the Sun occured along a narrow path across the North Atlantic just making landfall over the Svalbard and the Faroe Islands, while a partial solar eclipse was visible most of Europe incuding Ireland where up to to 95% of the Solar disk was obscured by the Moon. There was a huge media interest in the event and our phones were ringing in the days to the lead up to it, the forecast to be a dull and damp day but Galwegians woke to bright and blue skies, perfect in anticipation of the deep partial Eclipse that took place. Over 500 people showed up at out observing event that took place opposite Toft Park on the Salthill promenade where safe solar viewing equipment was used, even though it was a partial eclipse most people were awe struck at the sight of the blue sky turning dark and the Sun turning into a smiley face, see some photo's of the event HERE
While 20 miles west of Galway City on the small Aran Island of Inishsheer over 50 people descended on the national school to view the event. That's roughly about 20% of the islands population.... According to the school Science teacher; Cormac Coyne who organised the event with special viewing glasses it was "Great to see such an interest in science especially for people so young, The fog actually added to the event where we could see the cresent of the Sun clearly". See some photo's HERE
It was the last total solar eclipse visible in Europe until the eclipse of August 12, 2026 that will be visible over the Iberian Peninsula, but will be followed in 2027 by another Spanish Total Eclipse with totality lasting up to 6 minutes in length, while in 2029 an annular eclipse lasting 7 minutes will also touch the peninsula.
April 13th Public Lecture: Unravelling Tycho's Supernova at the Highest Energies
In November 1572, a new star appeared in the constellation Cassiopeia that was much brighter than Venus and dimmed over several weeks. This event belongs among the more important specific observation events in the history of astronomy and was witnessed by sky watchers including the famous astronomer Danish astronomer; Tycho Brahe. Because it had been maintained since antiquity that the world beyond the Moon's orbit was eternally other observers held that the phenomenon was something in the terrestrial sphere below the Moon.
However this challenged the Aristotelian dogma of the unchangeability of the realm of stars and Tycho's findings implied it was at least farther away than the Moon and he also found the object did not change its position relative to the fixed stars over several months as all planets did in their periodic orbital motions, even the outer. This suggested it was not even a planet, but a fixed star in the stellar sphere beyond all the planets. In 1573 he published a small book entitled "De nova Stella" thereby coining the term nova for a "new" star. This discovery was decisive for his choice of astronomy as a profession. Tycho was strongly critical of those who dismissed the implications of the astronomical appearance, writing in the preface to De nova Stella "O crassa ingenia. O caecos coeli spectatores" ("Oh thick wits. Oh blind watchers of the sky").
Dr Mark Lang was part of a team that studied the Supernova remnant using the VERITAS Array a major ground-based gamma-ray observatory located at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in southern Arizona, USA. High-energy gamma rays are associated with exploding stars (supernovae), pulsars, quasars and black holes. They always imply the presence of exotic and extreme physical conditions - high magnetic and electric fields, shock waves and cataclysmic explosions. So for Mark and his team that studied the remnant these extreme conditions and exciting phenomena are very interesting to astrophysicists. See you at the Westwood House Hotel for this talk at startig 7.30pm and join us for a chat with Tea & Coffee afterwards.
Spectacular St Patrick's night Aurora
A very strong and vivid display of the Aurora surprised European sky watchers on evening of St. Patrick's Day with a spectacular display of the northern lights. For more than 9 hours this rare activity persisted and it was the strongest such storm of the current 11year solar cycle. The glow of aurora was seen around the world and even here in Ireland where it was visible from Donegal to Waterford and to places further a field like France and its Alpine regions. Curtains of light in the colours of pink, green, red and yellow were visible overhead in a dazzling display of nature's power. Photographers and amateur astronomers were out in force to capture this once in a decade display and two photos are included here, one by Conor Ledwith at Lough Corrib, while the second by Steve Hanley at Easkey Castle on the Sligo coast. See a movie by Steve HERE
Midlands Astronomy Club Star Party
Midlands Astronomy Club hosts its 24th annual COSMOS Star Party from April 17th to 19th at the 4 Star Shamrock Lodge Hotel, Athlone, County Westmeath. International and Irish-grown guest speakers include:
• Steve Richards
• John Zarnecki
• Kate Russo
• Nick Howes
• Emmett Mordaunt
• Keith Geary
• Deirdre Kelleghan.