Last meeting of the Spring Season - East Antrim Astronomical Society, May 2003

The meeting of  took place on Monday May 12th. (Second Monday), in the Thompson Primary School, Ballyrobert, Co. Antrim, starting at 8pm..   The guest speaker was Mr John O’Neil from the Irish Astronomical Society, Dublin

The title of his lecture was, “Great Comets of the 20th. Century”.

John O' Neill is pictured below on the left receiving thanks for his talk from the newly re-elected chairman of EAAS John McConnell:

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During the last century, several ‘great’ comets graced our skies, some of them like Bennett’s Comet in April 1970, and of course who could forget Hale-Bopp in 1997, will live long in the memories of those who saw them.  However, there were a few other great comets as well.  There was the Great Daylight Comet of 1910, and Halley’s Comet in the same year, Comet Arend-Roland in 1957, Comet West in 1976 and Hyakutake in 1996.  Mr O’Neill’s lecture will look at all of them in turn, and describe some of the characteristics of these unique visitors from outer regions of the solar system. 

John O’Neill’s interest in astronomy dates back, like many of his generation, to the Apollo Moon Landings.  After spending quite a few years studying the sky with binoculars, he purchased in 1980 the obligatory 6-inch reflector. 

During those years, the skies were still reasonably dark as seen from a suburban location, and his love of the deep sky matured during the 1980’s.  A highlight of that decade was a trip to the Canary Islands to view Halley’s Comet during its 1986 return.  He has followed many comets during the years, but most were rather faint.  Then in 1997, Comet Hale-Bopp appeared which he photographed on every clear night for many weeks!  He has also developed an interest in Variable Stars, runs the Society’s Variable Stars Observers Group, and is the first Irish Member of the A.A.V.S.O.

Starting in 1991 he became interested in Eclipse Chasing around the world, which would take him to the tropical island of Hawaii in that year, and the Australian outback last December, in all, seeing six Total Solar Eclipses.  He has spent many years on the committee of the Irish Astronomical Society, occupying the positions of Secretary and then President.   Currently he is Vice-Chairman of I.F.A.S. (Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies).

Also at the meeting some happy news was announced, EAAS members Lucinda and Barry announced their marriage this summer.

As this is the first time that two members of the Society have planned to get married, and so its somewhat unique, we decided to present the happy couple with a specially engraved Tyrone Crystal Bowl to mark the occasion. The presentation was done by Society Spokesperson, Walter Martin. 

Seen below EAAS members wish them well and present the gift as a special surprise for them:

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L-R Mrs. Eileen Morrison, Barry Graham, Lucinda McConnell and John McConnell

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L-R Lucinda and Barry being presented with their gift by Walter Martin.


For further information contact the EAAS Chairman.