NIAAS Launch Night A Great Success PDF Print E-mail

The Northern Ireland Amateur Astronomy Society got off to a great start last night at Ballyclare High School. Almost 50 people turned up on a very cold night to join in the launch of the new society and also the beginning of the International Year of Astronomy. We were pleased to welcome some distinguished guests and great friends of the society, Prof. Mark Bailey, Dr David Asher and Dr Miruna Popescu from Armagh Observatory, as well as Pat O'Neill, president of the Irish Astronomical Association. Our special guest and speaker was Dave McDonald, along with his wife Fiona.

We also welcomed the first new member of the new society, Darrin, who came along with his wife.
The evening started off with coffee and sticky buns, before Miruna, who is the Irish co-ordinator for IYA2009, gave us a short talk about IYA and the planned events for the year.

She particularly mentioned the events taking place in Dublin over the rest of this week, details of which can be found on the forum. She also showed us a poster promoting a competition being run in conjunction with IYA, the first prize of which is a trip to see the great telescopes in Chile. Well worth entering.

Dave then gave us a very entertaining and amusing talk about his discovery of asteroid 2008 TM9 last year. The highlights included some very funny newspaper headlines printed at the time "Irishman discovers asteroid" (Dave is a scouser). He also talked about the solar system in general, focusing on the Oort Cloud and Kuiper belt. The talk was followed by a lively question and answer session. In recognition of his outstanding achievement, and as a general Thank You and momento, Mark Stronge presented Dave with an inscribed paperweight. Dave also accepted a paperweight on behalf of Dave Grennan, in recognition of his own asteroid discovery. A remarkable achievement by both guys.

After the speakers had finished, Mia, accompanied by Eamonn on guitar, gave us her rendition of "The Galaxy Song", which went down very well with the audience. This was followed by more coffee and sticky buns, as the members and guests had a good old chat.


Many thanks to both the members and guests for making this event such a memorable occasion, and to all on the committee for their hard work organising the evening.

Report By: Stevie Beasant
Photos By: Eamonn Keyes