Cosmic dangers to be explored at this weekend’s Galway Astronomy Festival

Comets, meteors, solar storms, and other phenomena that pose a danger to our planet will be explored at the annual Galway Astronomy Festival, which takes place in the Westwood Hotel this Saturday.

Organised by Galway Astronomy Club, the theme for this year’s festival is ‘Beyond Earth: dangers from the cosmos’, featuring an eventful day of workshops, trade and information stalls, and talks by internationally acclaimed speakers.

The keynote lecture takes place on Saturday afternoon. The talk, ‘The Chelyabinsk Impact: Lessons learned’ by Belfast based astrophysicist Professor Alan Fitzsimmons, will explore what we have learned from the 2013 meteor impact in Chelyabinsk, Russia. This is a free lecture and all are welcome.

Other talks taking place on the day include Nick James on ‘40 Years of Meteor Photography’; Dr Paul Moran on ‘The Crab Pulsar: Physics at its most extreme’; Dr Kenneth Smith on ‘Data from the World’s Largest Operational Digital Camera’; and Dr Eamonn Scullion on ‘The Sun and Super Solar Flares’.

The festival will also feature special lunchtime workshops on building a home meteor detection station, led by Michael O’Connell; and the dark art of solar photography with Samuel Blyen.

The Galway Astronomy festival will take place from 9.15am on Saturday in the Westwood Hotel. Tickets for the full day cost €25 for individuals (€15 for members ), with concessions available for families.

The conference will end at approximately 5pm and will be followed by a visit to NUI Galway observatory.

The festival dinner will take place at 7pm, with guest speaker and will be followed by a table quiz. Tickets for this event are €30 and all are welcome.

Ahead of the festival, a free stargazing event will take place at 9pm tomorrow — weather permitting — in Brigit’s Garden. Again, all are welcome to attend.

Now in its 13th year, the festival has become one of the most popular events in the Irish astronomical calendar, where amateurs and professionals meet to enjoy exchanging information, successful stargazing, and mutual support.

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