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From Ireland's First Astrofest

Midlands Astronomy Club has been hosting its annual star party since 1992. It has been fortunate to be one of only three clubs in Ireland that host an annual astronomical star party. Shannonside Astronomy Club (formerly Limerick Astronomical Society) began the first star party called the Whirlpool Star Party in Birr every September/October since 1986. Then, in 1992, the Irish Astronomical Society in conjunction with MAC (then known as Tullamore Astronomical Society), created the Irish Astrofest held each March/April. Galway Astronomy Club created the Connaught (Galway) Star Party in 2003, and is hosted in January.

In 1995, the IAS withdrew from organising the event through an unforseen circumstance, and MAC took on the responsibility on its own. Later, the Irish Astrofest was changed to COSMOS in 1998, the same year that MAC unveiled its own Rainsberry Observatory.

The idea behind such star parties in Ireland was to create a fun event that promotes both the hosting club in question, and astronomy in Ireland in general. For all the clubs involved, this helps keep the hobby alive, and the clubs successful.

Over the years, distinguished guests with whom MAC has had the priveledge of having as guest speakers include Dr. Neil Bone of Astronomy Now magazine fame, Dr. Susan McKenna-Lawlor, Dr. John Mason (BAA), Prof. John Zarnecki (ESA), Mr. Terry Moseley, Massimo Teodorani from Italy, Russian Cosmonauts Dr. Alex Martjnor and Alex Volkov, Mr. Bill Dumpleton (Director of Dunsink Observatory), Armagh Observatory directors Mart de Groot and Bill Napier, Armagh Planetarium Director Ian Griffin and Mark Bailey, and among many other well renowned speakers. Further down is a list of previous star parties.

 

Past MAC/TAS Star Parties

ASTROFEST '92 (IN CONJUNCTION WITH IAS)
Dr. Ian Griffin, Armagh Planetarium - "A New Look At The Galaxy"
Mr. Tony O'Hanlon, Shannonside Astronomy Club - "The Milky Way In Colour"
Prof. Patrick Waymann, Dunsink - "Gravity In Modern Astronomy"
Dr. John Mason, British Astronomical Association - ??
Mr. John Flannery, Irish Astronomical Society - "Naked Eye Astronomy"

 

ASTROFEST '93 (IN CONJUNCTION WITH IAS)
Mr. Andy McCrea, Irish Astronomical Association - "COBE Results"
Mr. Liam Smyth, Irish Astronomical Society - "Astro Hardware-More Price Than Sense"
Mr. Mike Murphy, Shannonside Astronomy Club - "Astrophotography"
Dr. Neil Bone, Astronomy Now Magazine - "The Aurora-Sun Earth Interaction"
Mr. Sean McKenna, Midlands Astronomy Club (TAS) - "Radio Astronomy"
Dr. Mart De Groot, Armagh Observatory - "Superstar Of The Southern Skies"
Prof. Tom Ray, Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies - "Was The Hubble Space Telescope A Disaster?"

 

ASTROFEST '94 (IN CONJUNCTION WITH IAS)
Mr. Sean Robbins, Midlands Astronomy Club (TAS) - "Galileo"
Mr. John Flannery, Irish Astronomical Society - "Telescope Workshop"
Mr. Terry Mosely, Irish Astronomical Association - "Jupiter Impacts 1994"
Mr. Donncha O'Driscoll, Irish Astronomical Society - "Riddle Of The Spheres"
Mr. Peter O'Connell, Cork - ???
Mr. John Flynn, Armagh Planetarium - "Spaceship Earth"

 

ASTROFEST '95 (BECOMES A MAC-ONLY EVENT ONWARDS)
Dr. Ian Elliott, Dunsink - "The Beginning of Time"
Mr. Bob Campbell, Midlands Astronomy Club (TAS) - "Telescope Designs & Construction"
Mr. Terry Moseley, Irish Astronomical Association - "Meteor Photography"
Mr. Phil Samways, Irish Astronomical Association - "Image Processing in Astronomy"
Prof. Susan McKenna-Lawlor, NUI Maynooth - "Missions To Mars"

 

ASTROFEST '96
Details coming soon.

 

ASTROFEST '97
Mr. Mike Murphy,Shannonside Astronomy Club - "Dirty Snowballs"
Prof. Tony O'Farrell, NUI Maynooth - "Astronomy And Megalithic Tombs"
Mr. Denis Fitzgerald - "Climatology"
Mr. Niall O'Byrne, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space - "Emerging Space Market"
Mr. John O'Neil, Irish Astronomical Society - "Supernovae In Other Galaxies"
Mr. Bill Napier, Armagh Observatory - "Space Time & Quantised Redshift"
Mr. Terry Mosely, Irish Astronomical Association - "Aids To Practical Observing"
Mr. Sean Reynolds, Midlands Astronomy Club (TAS) - "Gaia"

 

COSMOS '98 (1st Under New Name)
Mr. Sean Robbins, Midlands Astronomy Club (TAS) - "ESA"
Mr. Gerry Maloney, Midlands Astronomy Club (TAS) - "D.I.Y. Astronomy"
Mr. John O'Neil, Irish Astronomical Society - "Eclipse Chasing"
Mr. John Flynn, Armagh Observatory - "Cosmology For Beginners"
Mr. John Flannery, Irish Astronomical Society - "The International Space Station"
Mr. Pat O'Neil, Irish Astronomical Society - "Astrophotography"
Prof. Andy Shearer, NUI Galway - "Pulsars Old & New"
Mr. David Bell,Shannonside Astronomy Club - "Universe - Fit For Life?"

 

COSMOS '99
Mr. Sean Robbins, Midlands Astronomy Club (TAS) - "Mars Survey"
Mr. John Nooney - "CCD Imaging"
Mr. Bill Dumpleton, Dunsink Observatory - "Observing At Dunsink"
Prof. Eric Finch, Trinity College Dublin - "Physics By Powers Of 10"
Mr. Mark Bailey, Armagh Observatory - "Threats From Space"
Mr. Michael Tubridy, Birr & London - "Rebuilding The Leviathon"
Rev. Grattan Bannister, Cork - "Quasars"
Dr. Andy Shearer, NUI Galway - "The Universe"

 

COSMOS 2000
Prof. Hugh Reid, Glasgow Institute of Technology - "Lasers: Swiss Army Knives"
Mr. Frank Prendergast - "Astronomy In Prehistoric Ireland"
Prof. Paul Calloran, NUI Cork - "Observing With KECK"
Dr. Niall Smith, Cork Institute of Technology - "Robotic Telescopes"
Prof. Tom Ray, Trinity College Dublin - "What Lies Between Us And The Stars"
Mr. Denis Fitzgerald - "Climates in 20th And 21st Centuries"
Prof. Evert Meurs, Dunsink Observatory - "Expanding Views Of The Universe"
Mr. Terry Mosely, Irish Astronomical Association - "Streakers In The Sky"
Prof. Susan McKenna-Lawlor, NUI Maynooth - "Space Projecst"

 

COSMOS '01
Prof. Mike Byrne, CAAS - "The Great baloon Fire"
Dr. Ian Elliott - "Cosmis Explosions"
Richard ?? - ?? & ESA
Prof. Mike Redfern, NUI Galway - "Size Of The Universe"
Prof. Turlough Donnes, Dublin City University - "Gamma Ray Burst"
Russian Cosmonauts Dr. Alex Martjnor and Cosmonaut Alex Volkov

 

COSMOS '02
Mr. Brian Harvey - "Asia In Space"
Dr. Ian Sanders, Trinity College Dublin - "Origins Of Meteorites"
Dr. Eugene McGovern - "Geomatics"
Dr. Eric Finch, Trinity College Dublin - "Counting The Weak And Feeble"
Mr. John O'Neil, Irish Astronomical Society - "The Hawaiin Eclipse"
Dr. Brian O'Donnell - "Enterprise Ireland and The ESA"

 

COSMOS '03
Dr. Lynn Moran, University College Dublin - "Gamma Ray Bursts"
Dr. Dan McCarthy, Trinity College Dublin - "Records of Astronomical Observations in the Irish Annals"
Mr. Eamonn Ansbro, Kingsland Observatory - "Search for Extraterrestrial Visitation"
Dr. Ian Morrison, Jodrell Bank - "Jodrell Bank Looks To A Bright Future"
Mr. John Flannery, South Dublin Astronomical Society - "Charting The Cosmos"
Dr. Brian O'Halloran, Dunsink - "Observations of Wolf-Rayet Stars and Starburst Galaxies"

 

COSMOS '04
Mr. David McCann, Midlands Astronomy Club (TAS) - "Cassini At Saturn"
Prof. Paul Mohr - "Planet Earth's Galactic Predicament"
Dr. Tony O'Farrell, NUI Maynooth - "Chaos In The Solar System"
Dr. Creidhe O'Sullivan, NUI Maynooth - "Probing The Early Universe"
Mr. Bart Busshots, Astro 2, Maynooth - "Virtual Telescopes In Education"
This year also saw the introducion of a Table Quiz in the programme

 

COSMOS '05
Ms. Grainne Kirwan, Midlands Astronomy Club (TAS) - "Psychology For Space Farers"
Prof. Ian Sanders, Trinity College Dublin - "Origins of the Solar System found in Meteorites"
Mr. Frank Concannon, Midlands Astronomy Club (TAS) - "The Markree Observatory & Its Catalogue"
Mr. Terry Moseley, Irish Astronomical Association - "Chasing The Moons Shadow"
Prof. Peter Coxon, Trinity College Dublin - "Longterm Astronomical Influences on the Irish Climate & Landscape"
Dr. Neil Trappe, NUI Maynooth - "Submillimeter Astronomy"

 

COSMOS '06
Dr. Neil Bone, Astronomy Now Magazine - "The Northern Lights: How, When, and Why"
Mr. Anthony Murphy, Mythical Ireland - "Newgrange & Precession: Ancient Astronomical Masterplan?"
Mr. Michael O'Connell, Midlands Astronomy Club (TAS) - "Construction of a Backyard Observatory"
Dr. Massimo Teodorani, Italy - "Standard & Non-standard SETI Research"
Mr. Ash McFadden, Inishowen Planetarium - "Comets in the Classroom"
Mrs. Catherine Ansbro, Kingsland Observatory - "Science: On a collision course with the real world"

 

COSMOS '07
Mr. Seanie Morris, Midlands Astronomy Club (TAS) - "Cosmic Dust: Is that all we are?"
Mr. David Grennan, South Dublin Astronomy Society & Astronomy Ireland - "Digital Astrophotography"
Mr. Tony O'Hanlon, Shannonside Astronomy Club - "Carbon Stars: Cool Stellar Dudes"
Mr. Tom Bonner, Cork Astronomy Club - "From Under the Shadow of Newton"
Prof. Niall ÓMurchadha, NUI Cork - "Searching for Gravitational Waves"
Mr. Sean McKenna, Midlands Astronomy Club (TAS) - "Amateur Radio Astronomy in action"
Mrs. Deirdre Kelleghan, Irish Astronomical Society - "Sketching from the Eyepiece"

 

COSMOS '08
Mr. John Lally, Midlands Astronomy Club (TAS) - "Countdown: Some interesting Facts & Figures in the Universe"
Mr. Trevor O'Donoghue, Kerry Astronomy Club - "Transient Lunar Phenomenae"
Dr. David Asher, Armagh Observatory - "A hundred years since the last Tunguska, how long till the next?"
Dr. Miruna Popescu, Armagh Observatory - "The Solar Wind: From the Sun to Ireland"
Prof John Zarnecki, Open University UK - "Touchdown on Titan"
Mr. Pat O'Neill, Irish Astronomical Association - "Astronomical Measures"
Mr. Albert White, South Dublin Astronomy Society - "Pulsars and the Parkes Telescope"

 

COSMOS '09
Mr. Bob Campbell, Midlands Astronomy Club (TAS) - "Then & Now: A Brief History of TAS"
Ms. Amanda Ryan, Dublin City University - "Gravitational Lensing, Microlensing and Planet Detection"
Mr. Robert Hill, Northern Ireland Space Office at Armagh Planetarium - "Using the latest 3D Technology in Astronomy and Science Education"
Mr. Kieran Rooney, Northern Ireland Amateur Astronomy Society - "The Dark Art of CCD Imaging"
Prof. Denis O'Sullivan, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies - "The Apollo Missions and Ireland's First Space Experiments - and What Happened After"
Mr. Michael O'Connell, Midlands Astronomy Club (TAS) - "Meteors and Meteorites"
Br. Guy Consolmagno, Vatican Observatory - "Are Asteroids Fluffy?"

 

COSMOS '10
Mr. Declan Molloy, Midlands Astronomy Club - "The Fermi Paradox"
Dr. Stephen Smartt, Queen's University Belfast - "Supernovae - the Hunt for Exploding Stars"
Mr. Peter Household, Cork Astronomy Club - "Is the universe a machine for producing life?"
Prof. Norman McMillan, Carlow Institute of Technology - "The Irish Astronomical Network of the 19th Century: The Golden Age of Irish Astronomy"
Mr. Steven Roche, Deise Astronomy Club - "Astrophotography - My Journey"
Dr. Brian O'Halloran, Astrophysics Group, Imperial College London - "The Herschel Space Observatory: The First Results"
Mr. Seanie Morris, Midlands Astronomy Club - "What was it REALLY like on Apollo 11?"

 

COSMOS '11
Mr. John Lally, Midlands Astronomy Club - "Exoplanets: The Hunt for Alien Worlds"
Mr. David Keenahan, Teacher's Coordinator, Institute of Physics - "See the Light... Feel the Force"
Mr. Geert Barensten, Armagh Observatory & the IMO - "Where did our Solar System form?"
Mr. John O'Neill, Irish Astronomical Society - "Stellae Novae - Out from the depths"
Mr. Mike Simms, National Museums Northern Ireland - "To Here From Eternity: The story of the Bovedy, Crumlin and Leighlinbridge Meteorites"
Mr. Eric Stenzel, Irish Rocketry Society - "Rockets in Ireland: The Sky's the Limit... for now"
Perikles Ramos, Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies - "CERN - A New Look"

 

COSMOS '12
Mr. Laurence Rigney, Midlands Astronomy Club - "Intelligent Life in the Universe"
Mr. Girvan McKay, Midlands Astronomy Club - "Return To Vostok"
Mr. Thierry Legault, French Astrophotographer and ISS Transit Hunter - "In Pursuit of Space Ships"
Mr. Eamon Ansbro, Kingsland Observatory, Roscommon - "Surveying for Edgeworth Kuiper Belt Objects from Ireland"
Mr. Dermot Gannon, Midlands Astronomy Club - "Buran: The Russian Space Shuttle"
Mr. Apostolos Christou, Armagh Observatory - "Stargazing On Mars"
Mr. Kevin Berwick, Dublin - "Choosing A Telescope"

 

COSMOS '13
Prof. Ian Morison, Hon. Prof. Joddrel Bank - "Black Holes - no need to be afraid!" & "The Story of Jodrell Bank"
Mr. Albert White, South Dublin AS and ILPAC - “Searching for Earth-sized planets with NASA's Kepler Space Telescope."
Dr. Sara Beck, AAVSO, Boston, USA - "Variable Stars: Fun and Science"
Mr. Declan Molloy, Midlands Astronomy Club - "Earth and Other Odd Matters"
Mr. Simon Todd, Renowned Astrophotographer - “Digital Astrophotography Tips and Tricks"
Mr. Dave McDonald, IFAS Chairperson and Asteroid Hunter - "Celtic Rock - A Voyage Of Discovery"
Mr. Simon Jeffrey, Research Astronomer, Armagh Observatory - "Inside The Stars"

 

COSMOS '14
Mr. Declan Molloy, Midlands Astronomy Club - "Strange Universe"
Mr. John McKeon, Irish Astronomer & Astrophotographer - "Planetary Astrophotography - Tips and Tricks"
Dr. Xavier Pellicer, Quaternary Geologist at the Geological Survey of Ireland - "Eskers in the Irish Midlands: Analogs for Ridge-like Features on Mars"
Mrs. Mary Mulvihill, Award winning Science Author and Broadcaster, Ingenious Ireland - "The Ingenious Irish: The Great Irish Ideas and Inventions that Changed the World"
Mr. Will Gater, UK Astronomer and Science Writer - "Alien Worlds: The Extraordinary Inhabitants of the Milky Way"
Mr. William Bean, Irish Astronomer & Blogger - "Astronomy: Beyond the Backyard"
Dr. Eamon O'Gorman, School of Physics at Trinity College Dublin - "The Biggest and Baddest Stars at Radio Wavelengths"
Mr. Gearóid O'Brien, Irish Writer - "Midlands Astronomers of Note"
Mr. Michael O'Connell, Midlands Astronomy Club - "The Antikythera Mechanism"

 

COSMOS '15
Mr. Emmett Mordaunt, Midlands Astronomy Club - "Death From Space"
Dr. Brian Harvey, Spaceflight Writer and Broadcaster - "China In Space"
Ms. Deirdre Kelleghan, St. Cronan's Stargazers - Rocket Making Workshop (In tandem with the morning programme)
Prof. John Zarnecki, Director, International Space Science Institute, Switzerland - "Happy Landings"
Dr. Kate Russo, Author, Psychologist and Eclipse Chaser - "Life as an Eclipse Chaser"
Mr. Steve Richards, Author, Astronomer and Astrophotographer - "Making Every Photon Count"
Mr. Nick Howes, Astronomer and Freelance Science Writer - “The Greatest Scope on Earth"
Mr. Keith Geary, Astronomer and Astrophotographer - "Astrophotography - Why We Do It"
This year included a visit to Birr Castle and Telescope

 

COSMOS 25 (25th Anniversary Edition)
Mr. Declan Molloy, Midlands Astronomy Club - “Moons of the Solar System”
Dr. Linda Spilker, NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory - “Discoveries in the Saturn System”
Dr. Mark Bailey, Director of Armagh Observatory - “Small Solar System Bodies: Origins and Impacts Through Time”
Mr. Damian Peach, Internationally-renowned Astrophotographer - “High Resolution Astrophotography”
Dr. Tom Spilker, NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory - “Where Now: Future Space Mission Possibilities”
Mr. Emmet Mordaunt, Midlands Astronomy Club - “LOFAR: Birr's 21st Century Role”
This year included a visit to Birr Castle and Telescope

 

COSMOS '17
See details here.