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Stars come out in force for Burren party

A large crowd is expected for the Burren Starparty that is taking place this Saturday around Ballyvaughan.A FORMER NASA scientist will be among those keeping a close eye on the skies over north Clare this weekend. Over the years, Ireland’s premier astronomy gathering has been the Whirlpool Star Party, which was usually held in Offaly, but this year the venue will be Clare and it has been renamed the Burren Starparty.
The event is organised by the Shannonside Astronomy Club, in conjunction with Shannon Development, and takes place this Saturday. It is set to be a one-day and one night astronomy extravaganza.
There will be public astronomical lectures, a telescope workshop and a night sky presentation in preparation for an evening observation session. The Burren is extremely suitable for this, as it has so little light pollution, ensuring some of the darkest skies in Europe.
The location for the event will be the Burren Coast Hotel in Ballyvaughan and it will be split into two sections; morning/afternoon and evening/night time. Weather permitting, night-time viewing will be based at the car park of the Poulnabrone Dolmen.
Proceedings will begin at 10am and there are three guest speakers, former NASA scientist and astronomy author Charles Wood; highly regarded popular science writer Piers Bizony from the UK and Irish scientist Kevin Nolan.
The talks are aimed at the general public and an interest in astronomy is all that’s needed to enjoy them. There will also be a telescope Q&A workshop, examining the different types of amateur scopes and binoculars on the market. This would provide a great opportunity for anyone thinking of buying their first telescope to get advice from veterans.
Following a break, the evening session will commence at 8pm. All events are weather dependent.
At Caherconnell Stone Fort in Carron participants will be given a quick tour of what is expected to be seen in the night sky. This will be done using the latest astronomical software projected onto a large screen.
At around 8.45pm the focus will be on the moon, Jupiter and a star cluster, using the club’s two telescopes and large binoculars. This will provide a chance for the general public to view them in impressive detail, provided the sky isn’t too overcast.
Should the weather not be suitable, club treasurer and observing director, Dave Lillis, will give a talk on his trip to Russia in 2008, where he viewed a total solar eclipse.
For more details on the event, log on to www.shannonsideastronomyclub.com/sac_burren_starparty.htm.

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