Midlands Astronomy Club enters its 30th year

Some of the 230-strong in attendance on the morning of March 20 to view the partial solar eclipse from MAC’s Athlone observing site

Some of the 230-strong in attendance on the morning of March 20 to view the partial solar eclipse from MAC’s Athlone observing site

What could you call one of the best years a local astronomical club had in recent times? A ‘cosmic’ year? A ‘galactic’ year? How about just another great year?

Midlands Astronomy Club (MAC ) certainly feels like it has maintained its status as one of Ireland’s most active and successful local and regional astronomy clubs. One of 14 listed amateur astronomy clubs in Ireland, MAC has been promoting astronomy, science and allied subjects throughout the Irish Midlands since 1986.

This year is promising to be a big one for the club for a number of reasons. Seanie Morris, MAC secretary since 2004 and the sitting chairperson of the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies for the past three years, explains why: “MAC is in its 30th continuous year. Started by a group of friends who wanted to learn more from each other and get together to use each other’s telescopes for observing, the feeling of a friendly and welcoming group has been maintained ever since. With COSMOS 25 taking place in April, the MAC committee want to make 2016 a little extra special.”

COSMOS 25 will be the 25th time that MAC’s annual COSMOS Star Party will take place. An internationally-recognised event since 1992, it is a weekend-long meeting welcoming people of all astronomical interests to hear lectures by internationally renowned guest speakers, take part in amateur rocket launches, look through telescopes at the wonders of the night sky, browse astro buy and sell stalls and view exhibits.

Guest lecturers in the past have included astronauts, mission scientists, university lecturers, astrophotographers, and even the Vatican’s own astronomer. “Each year COSMOS has been held, there has always been the challenge to outdo the previous year,” Morris says. “In the end, it’s not supposed to be a competition among ourselves in MAC to be better than the previous year’s event, but to have a COSMOS Star Party event that can equal and complement the previous year.”

COSMOS 25 will take place on the weekend of April 15 to 17 in the four-star Shamrock Lodge Hotel in Athlone. The Midlands Astronomy Club is holding its upcoming AGM on Tuesday, January 19, and is inviting anybody with an interest to get involved.

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