COSMOS 2017: The Weekend's Programme

Here is this year's programme. Remember, times, speakers and topics are subject to changes beyond our control and at short notice!


Friday March 31st

Friday evening is an informal affair as members of Midlands Astronomy Club and the COSMOS Star Party committee get the venue ready. The weekend's exhibits, vendors, registration desk and more are available from 7:30pm onwards.

20:00hrs LECTURE & WORKSHOP - Make and Launch A Rocket!

Seanie Morris, Midlands Astronomy Club

This session is aimed primarily for kids but anyone can take part! All the materials are supplied as rockets are made, Newton's 2nd Law of Motion is demonstrated, and the rockets then get to fly in the room! Special admission price of €3 per person, all materials are provided with extra to take home and continue the fun at your own pace!

Seanie Morris has been a member of Midlands Astronomy Club since he was 11 years old. He gave his first major lecture in Ireland at the Whirlpool Star Party in 1992, aged just 13 years old. Seanie presents astronomy lectures to other astronomy clubs, interest groups and schools all over Ireland for many years. He was invited to Starmus 2014 in Tenerife as a member of the press, getting to personally meet the likes of Prof. Stephen Hawking, Robert Wilson, Charlie Duke (Apollo 16), Brian May and more, and event he say was one he thought would never have happened to him.

21:30hrs - Astronomy/Observing or Time Out

Travelling from afar to join us this weekend? Still want to look to the heavens through a telescope? Weather permitting there will be astronomy observing (location to be determined but on this night may be from the adjoining carpark) or the chance for you to simply unwind.


Saturday April 1st

This is no fools day as it is the most action-packed day of the weekend. Lectures, bottle rocket launches, dinner, table quiz and more, Saturday at COSMOS is sure to delight all visitors.

09:30hrs - Registration Desk and exhibits are open.

10:15hrs - Official Opening by Midlands Astronomy Club's Chairperson, Mr. Emmet Mordaunt.

10:30hrs LECTURE - Soviet Lunar Exploration

Dr. Brian Harvey, Space Writer, Author and Broadcaster.

This is Brian's second visit to COSMOS in recent years. He is a renowned writer and broadcaster on many subjects, but his primary interests lie in the Chinese and Russian space explorartion programmes. In 2011, marking the 50th anniversary of manned spaceflight, he opened the UK Yuri Gagarin exhibition in Edinburgh, organized by the Princess Dashkova Centre of the University of Edinburgh. Brian's work has been published in wellknown magazines such as Astronomy Now, Space Quarterly, Space Policy, the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Zenit and Quest. He has broadcast on the BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4, BBC Northern Ireland and RTÉ. He has contributed to films by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Mir), Danish and Australian television (the H-II Japanese rocket), subsequently shown on the Discovery channel. He is a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society.

11:40hrs - Refreshments break

12:00hrs LECTURE - Cosmic Pursuits

Prof. Nigel Henbest, Astronomer, Writer and Science Populariser

Nigel joins us from the UK and may be well known to those who follow the BBC's science programmes. As a freelance science writer he has written 40 books and over 1,000 articles on astronomy and space and these have been translated into 27 languages, many of them in collaboration with Heather Couper. Nigel was born in Manchester and educated in Northern Ireland and at Leicester University, where he studied physics, chemistry and astronomy. He did postgraduate research at the University of Cambridge before becoming a freelance science writer.

13:15hrs - Lunch time!

Lunch is provided to COSMOS attendees at an extra cost, and a lunch ticket can be purchased from the Registrations Officer at the registration desk.

14:00hrs - Bottle Rocket Launches

Make your own Bottle Rocket before the weekend, bring it along and take part in one of the most fun parts of the weekend!

14:45hrs LECTURE - Radio and Video Observations of Meteors

Mr. Michael O'Connell, Amateur Astronomer and Meteor Watcher

Michael is a former Chairperson of Midlands Astronomy Club and the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies. A well known amateur astronomer in Ireland, one of his long-standing passions has been astrophotography. In recent years he merged a close relationship between cameras and meteors, twinning with other similar observers in Wales, England and France on tracking meteors and bollides (fireballs).

16:00hrs - Refreshments break

16:20hrs LECTURE - Building a Low Frequency Array Radio Telescope in Ireland

Mr. Joe McCauley, School of Physics at Trinity College Dublin

We will have more about Joe here soon!

17:30hrs - Raffle followed by break-up for the evening

At this time, the Annual General Meeting of the assembly of the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies will take place.


20:00hrs - Annual Cosmic Dinner

To join us you need to buy a dinner ticket, which are available at the Registration Desk. Please be back at the hotel reception area by 19:30hrs, whereupon you will be escorted to your seat. Tables are arranged in groups of 4, as these will also be the teams for the After Dinner Cosmic Quiz.

21:30hrs - Cosmic Table Quiz

Even if you are not partaking in the Cosmic Dinner, you are still most welcome to join in the table quiz for the coveted COSMOS trophies. Please make sure you let our Registration Officer know at the registration desk that you plan on joining in the quiz.


22:30hrs - Astronomy/Observing

Usually hosted off-site at a dedicated location outside of Athlone Town. Bring your own telescope or look through the ones there. Please enquire at the registration desk on the day to find out the location. Need a lift or directions? Not a problem, just let us know!


Sunday April 2nd 2017

Sunday at COSMOS is quite a relaxed affair, as sometimes there can be tired heads trying to stay awake in the audience if there was a really good observing session the night before! The Sunday programme still hosts some excellent speakers and topics.

10:00hrs - Registration Desk and Exhibits Open

10:30hrs LECTURE - Solar Activity: Space Weather and Disaster Prediction

Mr. Ivan Merrick, Solar Astronomer, Midlands Astronomy Club

Ivan has been a regular stalwart of COSMOS as a casual visitor, but recently his in-depth knowledge and interest in space weather prompted Midlands Astronomy Club to ask if he would consider being a guest lecture - and here he is!

12:00hrs LECTURE - Where on Earth is Mars?

Dr. Mary Bourke, Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Insitute

We will have more about Mary here soon!

13:15hrs - Lunch time!

Lunch is provided to COSMOS attendees at an extra cost, and a lunch ticket can be purchased from the Registrations Officer at the registration desk.

14:30hrs LECTURE - The Wonderful World of Meteorites

Mr. Stephen Corcoran, K-Tec Telescopes

Stephen is actually a vendor with K-Tec Telescopes, one of COSMOS's main sponsors. Stephen will talk about meteorites in how they are formed, how they reach Earth, and the many varieties on display that you can see and touch during his presentation. Lunar and Martian samples included!

15:45hrs - Musings and Final Address