Dunsink Lane, Dublin 15, D15 XR2R

Maths Week 2018

Sam Green (DIAS) observing the Moon through Dunsink Observatory’s modern refractor telescope during Maths Week. (Credit: Qi Qi Kennedy)

Maths Week 2018 was held from October 13th to 21st and during this week DIAS Dunsink Observatory held the Hamilton Walk and a Public Open Night.  The annual Hamilton walk was held on 16th October. Visitors walked from DIAS Dunsink Observatory through a field and down Scribblestown Lane, leading to Ashtown Village and Broombridge. Fiacre Ó Cairbre spoke about William Rowan Hamilton’s life and the quaternions he invented that are mentioned in Finnegans Wake. There was a great array of people of many different ages who enjoyed the autumn colours. Many friends of Dunsink from the Maths, Literary and Music world took part in the walk.

A Public Open Night during Maths Week was held on 17th October. The evening began with Sam Green, PhD Student (DIAS) showing visitors the Moon and Mars through Dunsink Observatory’s modern refractor telescope. Visitors were able to take astrophotographs of the Moon using their mobile phones. Then an evening of talks began in the Meridian Room, given by Maria Moutzouri, Ivan Colantoni, Mario Delucia and Eoin Baldwin of DIAS and Michael Moore of DCU.

Maria Moutzouri speaking about the history of Dunsink Observatory. (Credit: Qi Qi Kennedy)

Maria Moutzouri (PhD student at DIAS) began the evening with a history talk about Dunsink Observatory. Maria spoke about the beginnings of Dunsink Observatory, some of its famous directors including William Rowan Hamilton and Patrick Wayman. She spoke about the current outreach events that are held in Dunsink Observatory such as Solarfest and the Moon Cycle. Maria also spoke about current projects in Dunsink Observatory including the meteor detectors and a weather station.

Dr. Ivan Colantoni (DIAS) then gave a talk titled “How Do We Detect What We Can’t See?”. Ivan spoke about how the universe is mostly made up of dark energy and dark matter, and explained how the recent discovery of gravitational waves by LIGO will allow us to understand more about dark energy. He talked about the Large Hadron Collider and its long-awaited discovery of the famous Higgs Boson particle. Ivan stressed the need for more powerful detectors.

Mario Delucia, (PhD student at DIAS) then spoke about different detectors that are used in astronomy including a history of astronomical methods. Starting with our eyes, the most common detectors used, he described how sketches of the Whirlpool Galaxy were made by the 3rd Earl of Rosse based on what he saw through the Leviathan of Parsonstown.  He then spoke about the introduction of photographic plates being used with telescopes. Mario then spoke about CCDs and compared them to photographic plates.

Dr. Ivan Colantoni (left to right), Mario Delucia, Eoin Baldwin and Michael Moore pictured after their talk. (Credit: Qi Qi Kennedy)

Eoin Baldwin (PhD student at DIAS) then gave a talk about MKIDS (Microwave Kinetic Inductance DetectorS) that is the subject investigated by their research group. These cameras will be deployed on telescopes, eventually replacing CCDs. Eoin spoke about how MKIDS have a faster readout and are more sensitive than CCDs, and how this makes them better for studying pulsars and searching for exoplanets.

Michael Moore (final year student at DCU) then gave a talk about the Electromagnetic (EM) Spectrum. He spoke about the atmospheric effects on the EM Spectrum and how these effects are the reason for telescopes to go to space. He spoke about how we cannot see inside different features using optical astronomy as they are at a different end of the EM spectrum. Dr. Ivan Colantoni then summarised the talks and answered different interesting questions relating to the talks.

The visitors then learned about the Ceolostat and went to the South Dome where they used the Grubb Telescope to observe a binary star. Different volunteers from, the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS), the Irish Astronomical Society (IAS) and DCU were available throughout the evening to answer any questions that visitors had. Thank you to everyone for joining us during Maths Week. Keep an eye on our website and social media for upcoming events.

DIAS website:
Dunsink website:
Meteor information:
Weather monitoring:

Reported by our volunteer blogger Qi Qi Kennedy of DCU.