ay Astronomy Club
75 Coogan Park
Tel. 091 528347
Connacht Star Party
Westwood House Hotel on N59 Galway-Clifden Rd
The question “Are we Alone in the Universe” is a timeless question that has been asked by astronomers over the centuries. Our current knowledge of Planet formation and the evolution of Life come from our own solar system. Yesterday the Huygens Space probe visited Titan, the moon of the planet Saturn for the first time. This enigmatic and large moon has a Nitrogen rich atmosphere similar to that of the Earth. Titan’s composition resembles that of our planet as it was 4 million years ago. Since 1995 over 140 distant planets have been discovered orbiting stars similar to our sun in our Galaxy. These so-called “Extra Solar Planets” are very different to the planets of our Solar System and the questions surrounding these planets are at the forefront of astrophysics today. At the Connacht Star Party on January 29th these questions will be addressed.
1.Proffessor Barrie Jones: “Planets and Life outside the Solar System”
He is a leading scientist from the Open University UK whose academic interests include the orbits of extra solar planets and the detection of extraterrestrial life. His talk will briefly look at Mars, Titan and Europa, the frozen moon of Jupiter and then move on to the many planets recently discovered. Barrie will address whether any habitable may be out there and if so how could we tell if they are inhabited? Also could there be any intelligent life on these planets and if so again how could we find out?
2. Dr.Francisco Diego “A Universe for Life”
Dr Diego is a senior research fellow at University College London and well-known expert in Astronomy, Astrophysics & Atmospheric physics, Dr. Diego appears regularly on TV and radio and lectures to specialist and popular audiences on aspects of astronomy and astrophysics. He is the President of the Association for Astronomy Education (AAE) promoting public education in astronomy and supporting the teaching of astronomy to students at all levels. His talk will describe main events in the history of our universe along the ultimate time line, all the way from a handful of fundamental building blocks to amazingly complex and recent structures, able to show consciousness, awareness and wonder.
3. Dr. Ray Butler “Ancient Extra-Solar Planets - Where are They?”
Dr. Ray Butler is a lecturer in the Physics Department, NUI Galway, where he develops and presents material for the BSc Physics & Astronomy degree course. He is active in the Astronomy/Applied Imaging research cluster and the Computational Astrophysics Laboratory. His talk will ask why do extra-solar planets seem to be much rarer in certain systems of stars, such as globular star clusters, than in the solar neighbourhood? Did they never form? Or rather were they torn free in gravitational encounters, after their formation? He will describe how by using a new imaging technology astronomers at NUI Galway hope to obtain significant results for the existence or not of planets in these star clusters.
4 Dr Andy Mc Crea MBE “The Only Minor Planet Discovered from Ireland”
Dr Andy Mc Crea is President of the Irish Astronomical Association in Belfast. His will speak about the Markree Castle Observatory near Sligo. Edward Joshua Cooper established the Observatory in the 1830s and for a period was the site of the largest refracting telescope in the world. The Observatory was active over a period of several decades and produced a set of detailed ecliptic star charts, recorded observations of planets and comets and was the site of the discovery of the ninth minor planet Metis.
Professor Mike Redfern from the Physics Dept will be giving everyone a full length preview a 20 minute film produced in conjuntion with Leo Enright on the Astronomy & Physics course at NUI Galway, which is to be shown on RTE at a later date.
Afterwards he will give us a demonstration of the workings of the brand new 16 inch German Schmit Cassagrain Telescope at the College observatory just installed this summer, this observatory has two domes including a small Radio Telescope aswell. hopefully we have clear skies again this year.
There will be an Astronomy Quiz later in the Hotel, this will test yer knowledge,For anyone staying over that night an astronomy workshop (TBA) is being organised to take place the following morning.
Hope to see some of ye there?