Welcome to the Galway Astronomy Festival 2024.

This years festival takes place at the Menlo Park Hotel, Terryland, Galway.

Menlo Park Hotel

Festival Timetable 

09:00 – 10:00 – Registration

10:00 – 10:15 – Opening address

10:15 – 11:15 – Prof. Emeritus Andrew Shearer

11:15 – 12:15 – Zeldine O Brien

12:15 – 14:00 – Lunch & Workshop (12:30)

14:00 – 15:00 – Ben McKeon

15:00 – 16:00 – Mike Swan

16:00 – 16:30 – Tea/Coffee break/Raffle tickets on sale

16:30 – 17:30 – Gabriel Finneran

17:30 – 18:00 – Festival raffle and final discussions

19:30 –    – Festival evening dinner


Friday 26th Jan 8:30pm. – Festival screening of ‘THE HUNT FOR PLANET B’ – PÁLÁS Cinema

The Hunt for Planet B captures the human drama behind NASA’s high-stakes Webb Telescope which launched on December 25, 2021.

The film interweaves the creation of this massive machine – the most ambitious space observatory ever built – with the story of a pioneering group of female scientists on a quest to find life beyond our solar system.

What begins as a real-time scientific adventure turns into a deep meditation on our place in the universe. On the brink of seeing farther out than ever before, we find ourselves looking back at our own imperiled planet with new eyes.

You can book your movie ticket here:


Saturday 27th Jan. Trade Displays and Exhibition

Running alongside the day’s other events some of Ireland’s largest sellers of astronomical equipment will have their wares on display. The hall will also host stands providing information on Dark Sky festivals, displays of astrophotography, information stands and more.

Lecture Program – Sat 28th Jan


Mike Swan :

‘Uranography – A Personal Journey, from Pen & Ink to Computer Graphics’


Mike Swan worked as a Cartographer for the Ordnance Survey in the UK for over 25 years. He is a past Secretary and Treasurer of the Webb Deep-Sky Society, and has been making star maps for nearly 50 years. He was the ‘cartographic consultant’ for the 18th and 19th editions of Norton’s Star Atlas, and his many works include The Webb Star Atlas and the Atlas of Open Star Clusters. At present he is working on a Galactic Deep-Sky Atlas – a series of charts along the galactic plane that plot the extents and distribution of nebulae and clusters.


Ben McKeon:

Super-Resolution of Galaxy Survey Images using Machine Learning’


Ben McKeon is avid space geek currently researching adaptive optics at the University of Galway. He was fortunate enough to be introduced to the world of SETI when he took part in an internship with Breakthrough Listen and the Berkeley SETI Research Center. An active member of the University of Galway’s Astronomy Society, Ben always enjoys talking about the wonders of the night sky. When he not tinkering with his own telescope or designing a new one, Ben usually found running, reading or knee-deep in a pile of Lego.


Gabriel Finneran:

“EIRSAT-1: How Students Built Ireland’s First Satellite”


Gabriel first got involved in EIRSAT when he began his PhD studying supernovae and gamma-ray bursts three years ago. Since then he has been involved in testing the satellite, developing the operations procedures and now operating the satellite in space.

Zeldine O Brien:

“An Introduction to Space Law”


Zeldine O’Brien is a barrister at law. Following a LL.B from Trinity College Dublin, she was conferred with a Ph.D also from Trinity in the field of space law under the supevision of the late Dr Gernot Biehler. During her years of doctoral research, she was a participant in the European Space Agency’s student participation programme. She has published widely in the field of space law in Ireland, the Netherlands and the U.S.and has taught at Trinity’s Law School. She has also taught in Kosovo with the Irish Rule of Law International’s project there in coordination with the Kosovo Chamber of Advocates. In 2005, she won the Diederiks Verschoor Award from the International Institute of Space Law of which she is a member. She is also a member of the Society of Legal Scholars. She was called to the Bar of Ireland in 2009 and has been in practice since. Her research interests include space law and European and Irish space policy.


Prof Emeritus Andrew Shearer:

‘What we still don’t know : what should we know in 20 years’ time’


Professor Emeritus Andrew Shearer’s main interest is in studies of objects which change on short timescales – such as pulsars. He has made observations with most of the world’s major observatories. With others at NUIG he has developed instrumentation, GASP,  to study the optical polarisation from pulsars. For over twenty years Andy Shearer has been involved in a number of public engagement and outreach events. The main thrust of his work has been to bring astronomy (and Physics) to a much wider community.



Saturday 28th Jan. 1230 – 1330 Lunchtime Workshop


Brian MacGabhann:

‘Buying your first telescope (An introduction to different types of telescopes for beginners)’


Brian MacGabhann began amateur astronomy at the age of 14. He is the former education and outreach officer with Galway Astronomy Club, and later club chair. Brian helped organise the Galway Astronomy Festival for several years. He is the founder and resident lecturer with the Renmore History Society in Galway. He has lectured extensively to clubs and groups throughout Ireland, including giving lectures at Dunsink Observatory, and the Kerry and Mayo Dark Sky festivals and of course previously here at the Galway Astronomy Festival.

Saturday 27th Jan. 1930 –   – Festival Dinner

Why not finish off our busy festival with a relaxed and fun festival dinner where you can mingle with our guest speakers and fellow attendees and discuss what we hope will be a fantastic event.

Please note: All purchases on the day will be cash only.


Festival tickets can be purchased here:



Online registration for this event is closed