Dunsink Lane, Castleknock, Dublin 15, D15 XR2R dunsink@dias.ie

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.

This event, in its 4th year, is run by volunteers from DIAS, the Irish Astronomical Society (IAS), Blackrock Castle Observatory (BCO) and the Dublin Cycling Campaign. Part of the Festival of Curiosity, the MoonCycle echoes the culture of Dunsink, to open the sky up to the general public.

Cyclists at Dunsink Obs learning about the South Refractor. PHOTO: Mark Stedman
Pawel Zosik off his bike and observing the moon at Dunsink Obs. using one of the IAS telescopes. PHOTO: Mark Stedman

The evening’s events began with people arriving and visiting the South Dome where Sam Green (DIAS) and Robin Moore (IAS) were showing visitors the Grubb Telescope, which is 150 years old this year. Members of the IAS had their telescopes set up in front of Dunsink Observatory, showing members of the public how to use the telescopes. Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn were all visible together with a Half Moon.

Dr. Jonathan Mackey showing IAS astrophotography images. (Credit: Qi Qi Kennedy)

The visitors were guided to the Meridian Room for some inspiring astronomy talks. Clair McSweeney (BCO) welcomed everyone and introduced Dr. Jonathan Mackey (DIAS). Dr. Mackey told the audience about DIAS, Dunsink Observatory and the work he does along with his PhD students. A particular highlight of his talk was when he showed images from the IAS astrophotography exhibition which was featured in the Botanic Gardens. The audience was very impressed by these stunning images.

Dr. Niall Smith talking about Moon Cycle Events. (Credit: Qi Qi Kennedy)

Following this talk, Dr. Niall Smith (CIT, BCO) talked to the visitors about different theories relating to the formation of the Moon. He discussed the benefits of humans mining asteroids but also about the need to defend the Earth from asteroid impacts. He explained how the water which allows life on Earth came from the asteroids that helped to create the Moon. He showed how the Moon was very important for human evolution and how important it will be for the future of humankind.

The Moon cyclists arrived at Dunsink and were greeted with poetry from Richie Brennan and Iggy McGovern. The IAS members continued to help members of the public use their telescopes. Sam Green gave history talks in the South Dome. Back in the Meridian Room, Cal Folger Day played music about the moon phases. At midnight the cyclists departed Dunsink returning to town by the Phoenix Park after an action-packed evening of cycling and astronomy!

Cyclist departing Dunsink Observatory after a night of summer stargazing. PHOTO: Mark Stedman

Reported by Qi Qi Kennedy.