January 3rd I held an almost impromptu star party for the new astronomy group attached to St Conan’s National School in Bray Co Wicklow. The group is so new it has not got a name yet so for the moment we will call it St Conan’s Young Astronomers. About 50 children and adults arrived at the green Sans Souci Wood, a very cold evening for stargazing.
On offer the sky had a very close conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus plus the Galilean moons in the same view. Jupiter and Uranus will not be this close again till 2024 .The magnificent winter constellation Orion the hunter rising over Sans Souci House was impressive even in the slight haze. The star forming cloud M42 in the sword of the Orion was a prime target. Several other messier objects and constellations got a run out.
Parents and children lined up to see the largest planet in our solar system shine and show off in the sky over Bray. As part of the experience I encouraged some of the children to draw Orion and its nebula after they had seen it in the large binoculars. Four of the boys did a great job on the sketches Sean Stanley, Kevin Morley, Sam Ferrie and Tony Jackson. We were joined by several enthusiastic neighbours and friends all braved the cold to learn a little appreciation for the night sky.
Partial Solar Eclipse South Beach Greystones Co Wicklow
January 4th a fantastic sunrise greeted the families and individuals who turned up at the beach at 08:30 hours. The solar disc was already partially eclipsed as it rose over the sea in-between thin gray cloud slivers. Some of the St Cronan’s boys arrived with their parents to see this phenomenon.
Random dog walkers were delighted to be taken by surprise and handed special eclipse glasses
to view the event. Smiles all around beamed from the golden sun splashed faces. The attendees sported trendy eclipse glasses provided to me by NASA Goddard. There were hollers and woops!!! of delight from both kids and adults (including me) as the moon appeared to slide over the left hand side of the rising sun.
The colours created by the sun seemed to warm the winter and bring joy with every passing minute to our motley gathering by the sea.