The Christmas Star & Apollo

Filed Under Science & Astronomy on December 17, 2008 | 2 Comments

It’s become sort of a tradition that each year I give the Christmas lecture for Astro2 (The Astronomy & Physics Society of NUI Maynooth). Each year I give a talk on the Christmas Star and each year I change it up a bit and focus more on different aspects. I really changed the talk up quite a bit this year and got quite a bit deeper in the biblical end of things than I had before. I enjoyed giving the talk this evening, and the audience seemed to enjoy it too which is always nice!

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Another Irish Asteroid!

Filed Under Science & Astronomy on October 29, 2008 | 4 Comments

They’re coming thick and fast now! It’s only a few weeks ago that I happily blogged about my friend Dave McDonald becoming only the second person ever to discover an Asteroid from Irish soil. Well, another of the shining lights of Ireland’s amateur astronomical community (and another Dave as it happens) has discovered the third ever astroid from Irish soil! Dave is a very active amateur who’s involved with both Astronomy Ireland and the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies. Dave, if you’re reading this, congrats!

If you’ve ever wondered just how much of a needle in a hay-stack an asteroid is check out the observations of the asteroid on Dave’s website, the animation in particular rams home the point!

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I’m absolutely delighted to be able to say that a local amateur Astronomer and friend of mine, Dave McDonald, has discovered an Asteroid. This is not just a big deal for him, it’s a big deal for Ireland. This is only the second ever asteroid discovered here, and the first since 18 something (about 160 years ago). Dave is one of the leading lights in the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies and was rightly voted Astronomer of the Year last year by the IFAS members. Guess he’s a shoe-in for this year too 😉

Dave is the perfect example of an amateur astronomer doing real science. His setup is in many ways quite modest, but he has it tuned to perfection and has really nailed it’s operation. Dave is getting more out of his gear than anyone else I know. The asteroid he discovered was an insanely dim magnitude 19. This is also not Dave’s first success, last year he made the official confirmation observation of a supernova. I don’t know of any other sciences where amateurs can contribute so much real scientific work in this day and age.

You can find out more about Dave at his website,

If you’re reading this Dave, I offer my heart-felt congratulations, I knew all your hard work and dedication would eventually pay off and you’d strike gold one of these days!

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