Report of the Astronomy Day held on Saturday 7th June, 2003

The East Antrim Astronomical Society held an "Astro-Day" on Saturday June 7th from 10am until 4pm in the Thompson Primary School, Ballyrobert, Co. Antrim. Alderman Paul Girvan, the Mayor of Newtownabbey, officially opened the event with the Principal of the school receving a gift for allowing the use of the building and grounds.

Various events took place during the day including, lectures by EAAS Members, Mark & Nigel Stronge on "Astrophotography on a Budget", where they used their Meade 10" LX200 to demonstrate how they took their fantastic imagery of the moon and planets. Ryan Johnston & William Patterson presented a very informative video display entitled "The Space Shuttle". The EAAS, the Irish Astronomical Association, Mr Derek Heatly, North Down Telescopes, and Armagh Observatory also set up displays of photographs and equipment by members in a large marquee, while Mr Malin Starrett set up a Chladni Figures Experiment which intrigued everyone!

There was also "Face Painting" and a "Burger/Hotdog Stand" by the Boys Brigade of Ballylinney Presbyterian Church. Through the generous sponsorship of Newtownabbey Borough Council, we had a "Bouncy Castle" for the children and of course, the "Stardome Planetarium", always a major hit with everyone young and old! Various telescopes were set up in the playground for safe viewing of the Sun, and we were fortunate enough to have a big naked - eye spot group almost central on the disc.

Sunspot image taken on the Astro Day

We were delighted to have full houses for the "Stardome" shows, which were expertly presented by Mr Robert Hill from Armagh Planetarium, while also very popular was the Rocket Launching presented in her own inimitable style by Miss Julie Thompson, also from Armagh Planetarium, who as always at these occasions, went home drenched! Some of the rockets went so far that they actually travelled outside the perimeter fence and had to be retrieved by a prominent member of the IAA!

Mr Philip Baxter as well as setting up his LX90, also devised a competition where the prize was a huge bar of chocolate. The winner was a young lass of 8½ years old, and you should have seen the delight on her face.

All in all it was a fantastic day, and folk are already asking about the same event next year, so thanks to all who made it the success that it was.

Clear Skies

John McConnell EAAS Chairman, 17th June 2003