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An Interview with John Flannery and Val Dunne of the Irish Astronomical Society

Interview with John Flannery and Val Dunne of the Irish Astronomical Society (IAS), our volunteering partners at DIAS Dunsink Observatory

A cyclist at the Moon Cycle observing the Moon through an IAS telescope. (Credit: Mark Stedman)

John Flannery and Val Dunne are members of the Irish Astronomical Society (IAS). Val is the Treasurer of the IAS and John is the Editor of “Orbit”, the quarterly magazine. Val and John recently volunteered at the annual Moon Cycle observing at Dunsink Observatory which ran from Dublin City out to DIAS Dunsink Observatory. I spoke with them in the Hamiltonian Room at the start of our Citizen Science Season which starts in September. (more…)

NEMETODE Meteor Citizen-Science Workshop Weekend

14th/15th September 2018 at DIAS Dunsink Observatory

Memebers of the NEMETODE Meteor Network at DIAS Dunsink Observatory. (Credit: John Flannery)

The Annual NEMETODE Meteor Workshop Weekend was held at DIAS Dunsink Observatory on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th of September 2018. The weekend consisted of a Public Open Night on Friday and an all day Workshop on Saturday. The NEMETODE (NEtwork for MEteor Triangulation and Orbit DEtection) Meteor Network detects meteors using CCTV cameras and when two different cameras detect the same meteor, mathematics can be used to determine the meteor’s path.  Dunsink joined the network in 2016 thanks to a grant from SFI, and we are delighted to contribute to this citizen-science initiative. (more…)

The Night Sky Over Ireland

Mark Langtry (left) public outreach officer from Science Gallery Dublin, Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and Ray Butler (right) astronomer from NUI Galway with the Grubb Telescope in the South Dome. (Credit: Qi Qi Kennedy)

The Night Sky Over Ireland was an event held at DIAS Dunsink Observatory in partnership with Science Gallery Dublin (TCD) on Saturday the 1st September 2018 to a full to capacity Meridian Room. Science Gallery Dublin (TCD) was created in 2008 and focuses on where science and art collide. This nonprofit gallery has held 43 exhibitions. Similarly to Dunsink Observatory, the Science Gallery Dublin promotes Citizen Science. (more…)

Irish Heritage Week 2018

A guest blog by Qi Qi Kennedy (DCU).


The Moon photographed using Dunsink Observatory’s modern refractor telescope during Heritage Week. (Credit: Sam Green)

During Irish National Heritage Week (18th – 26th August 2018), DIAS Dunsink Observatory (D15 XR2R) held two Public Open Nights on the Tuesday and Wednesday.  National Heritage Week is organised by the Heritage Council of Ireland and aims to build our awareness of our Irish Heritage so as to encourage conservation and preservation of our wonderful history.  Dunsink Observatory events included talks, stargazing and learning about the stars, planets and the history of Dunsink Observatory itself. (more…)

Interview with Dr. Niall Smith of Blackrock Castle Observatory

An interview with Dr. Niall Smith of BCO and CIT.
A guest blog by Qi Qi Kennedy (DCU).

Dr. Niall Smith talking about different theories relating to the formation of the Moon (Credit: Qi Qi Kennedy)

I spoke to Dr. Niall Smith before his talk at the Moon Cycle event in DIAS Dunsink Observatory. He is Head of Research at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and also Head of the Blackrock Castle Observatory (BCO). He has a long history with Dunsink Observatory stemming from when he volunteered at Open Nights as a teenager. (more…)

Viewing the Total Lunar Eclipse 2018

A guest blog by Qi Qi Kennedy (DCU) about the Lunar Eclipse of 2018.

Lunar Eclipse seen from California in 2014. Image Credit: NASA Ames Research Center/Brian Day

Over a hundred people visited DIAS Dunsink Observatory in spite of a thick blanket of cloud on Friday 27th July, the evening of the Total Lunar Eclipse. Total Lunar Eclipses happen when the Moon passes through the shadow of the Earth when the Sun, Earth and Moon are aligned linearly. This was the longest Total Lunar Eclipse of the 21st Century, unfortunately not visible from these shores (Ireland). The Blood Moon occurs because the Earth’s Atmosphere scatters blue light much more strongly than red light, stopping much of the blue light from reaching the Moon.  The atmosphere also refracts (bends) the light that then shines onto the Moon, giving it a reddish-orange colour. (more…)

Moon Cycle to DIAS Dunsink Observatory

The Moon Cycle, part of the Festival of Curiosity, on the19th of July 2018.
A guest blog by Qi Qi Kennedy (DCU).

Cyclists arrive to Dunsink Observatory to enjoy a night of summer stargazing. PHOTO: Mark Stedman

Cyclists travelled by moonlight out from town and along the Royal Canal to DIAS Dunsink Observatory. The path they travelled was used by astronomers travelling to and from Trinity College when Dunsink Observatory was attached to Trinity College in centuries past. Nowadays Dunsink Observatory is part of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS). The cyclists passed Broom Bridge where Hamilton, who lived and worked at Dunsink, scratched his quaternions back in 1843. (more…)

Total Lunar Eclipse July 27th 2018

Total Lunar Eclipse – July 27th 2018
Guest Blog by John Flannery of the Irish Astronomical Society

Visitors to Dunsink Obs. observing the moon using one of the IAS telescopes. PHOTO: Mark Stedman

The evening of Friday, July 27th, sees the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century visible over a wide area of the Earth. From Ireland totality is already in progress at moonrise (9:22pm from Dublin) and with the sky still relatively twilit, it may initially be a challenge see the reddened lunar disk. The Moon will rise towards the southeast so a low horizon is a prerequisite to see it, and is only about 5° up (just under a fist-width) when totality ends at 10:13pm. Following that the Earth’s shadow will slide off the Moon’s face over the next hour or so as we see the latter partial stages of the eclipse play out. Binoculars will enhance the view — especially if the Moon is an indistinct orb as it rises. (more…)

Dunsink Observatory becomes Ireland’s first European site of historical significance

Prof. Luke Drury; Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD; Prof. Vincent Cunnane, Chairman of DIAS; Dr. Eucharia Meehan, CEO of DIAS; Prof. Rüdiger Voss, President of the European Physical Society; and Mayor of Fingal Anthony Lavin at the Plaque unveiling.

DIAS Dunsink Observatory sealed its status as one of Ireland’s most important scientific sites on the 23rd of June 2018 when it was recognised by the European Physical Society as a “site of historical significance”. Dunsink joins other famous historical sites such as Einstein’s house in Bern and Marie Curie’s laboratory in Paris, in recognition of the tremendous contributions to physics and mathematics made by Sir William Rowan Hamilton. A plaque commemorating this designation was unveiled by Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, Minister of State for Higher Education and Rüdiger Voss, President of the European Physical Society.
(more…)

The Farthest Q&A

Interview with Emer Reynolds, director of “The Farthest“, the story of the Voyager Mission

A guest article by Sarah Joyce, Transition Year Student 2017 and Young Scientific Reporter at DIAS Dunsink Observatory.

15th December 2017


“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives; on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”   Carl Sagan

As I write this, I am listening to a playlist of songs, pieces and recordings which are on a record  that’s currently over 13 billion miles away from the Sun. There’s works by Mozart, Beethoven, Louis Armstrong, Chuck Berry, and even a chant by the Navajo Indians. The playlist, of course, is that of the Golden Record, a time capsule of music, spoken greetings, and messages from Earth, and the only two copies of which are aboard the spacecrafts Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. (more…)