A New Observatory for Northern Ireland PDF Print E-mail
Congratulations To Kieran Rooney!

Following on from his successfull workshop at Monday night's NIAAS meeting, Kieran has had some great news. Here is a press release from Dave McDonald:

Kieran Rooney, of the Northern Ireland Amateur Astronomy Society (NIAAS), was smitten by the astronomy bug when he was a child. After graduating from University, he worked in the mineral exploration industry and ended up in Mozambique. On returning home to County Down and dark skies, he began imaging the night sky and sharing his results. He is renowned for these wonderful images taken from his observatory but he recently became interested in asteroids - dark, cold, rocky objects that orbit the sun and are remnants from the birth of the Solar System.

Kieran observed a number of asteroids over a few weeks and accurately determined their positions in the heavens. This isn't as easy as it sounds and requires skill, patience and clear skies but the data is very important in determining the orbits of the asteroids. On the odd occasion an asteroid may come close to the earth and these are the objects we need to know about.
It is rare that asteroids collide with the earth and even when they do, they usually burn up harmlessly high in our atmosphere. They can be a spectacular sight - a fireball streaking across the sky, sometimes with smoke trails and if seen at night, they can be very colourful.

Kieran submitted his data to the Minor Planet Center (MPC), a section of the International Astronomical Union. The results we accurate enough for them to designate his observatory with a formal code in February. His observatory is now known as J16 - An Carraig Observatory.

There are four amateur observatories in the South: J41 Raheny (Dublin), J61 Brownstown (Meath), J62 Kingsland ( Roscommon) and J65 Celbridge (Kildare) but this is the first amateur observatory in Northern Ireland and is second only after Armagh Observatory (a professional facility).

It is a proud moment for Kieran and for amateur astronomers across Ireland - especially since 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy.

More details:


Here's was Kieran had to say about it:
I owe a big thanks to Dave McDonald and Dave Grennan for their support and help during the process. I was delighted to get an e mail at 5 pm today from Gareth at MPC confirming that a code had been assigned. I honestly think Dave McDonald was as happy at the news as when he discovered his very own asteroid. Well maybe not quite.
We had been chatting that all the J codes had been used up and that I might get a K code but they still had a few unassigned J codes. I will have to ring up and complain..............NOT.

I also got home tonight to be greeted by my wife and the conversation went

"I believe congratulations are in order"
"Who told you!"
"Mia came out with a bottle of Champagne. Whats an observatory code?"

May I just say, writing this type of article is becoming quite common! Give a talk at the NIAAS and some very good news comes along shortly afterwards!
Philip Matchett


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