Popular astronomy festival returns to Galway next week

Popular astronomy festival returns to Galway next week


AstroFest, Galway Astronomy Club’s annual festival of all things astronomy, will return next week after a three year hiatus.

The festival will take place in the Menlo Park Hotel on Saturday January 28, and promises a packed programme of talks, along with trade displays, photographic displays, and a lunchtime workshop with Tom O’Donoghue, one of Ireland’s best known astrophotographers.

Registration will open at 9.15am on the January 28, and will run all day.

On January 27, the evening before AstroFest, Galway Astronomy Club will host a special screening of Contact, the 1997 film starring Jodie Foster as Dr Ellie Arroway, who after years of searching finds conclusive radio proof of extraterrestrial intelligence, which has been sending plans for a mysterious machine. The screening will take place in the Pálás Cinema at 9pm, and is a rare opportunity to see this classic film on the big screen.

The day-long festival on the Saturday will include talks on a wide variety of topics; these include ‘Cutting Edge Radio Astronomy in Ireland’ with Jeremy Rigney, ‘Is there Anybody Out There’ with Brian MacGabhann, ‘Ancient Irish Rock Art and Astronomy’ with Aoibheann Lambe, and ‘Detecting Exo-Earths with Future Telescopes’ with Nicholas Devaney.

Tuam native Tom O’Donoghue is well-known in the Irish astronomy community. One of Ireland’s leading astrophotographers, his work has won several awards. He has been featured in the BBC’s The Sky At Night, and in magazines such as Astronomy and Space, Astronomy Now, the French Astronomie Magazine, and Practical Astronomer. Those familiar with our AstroFest will have seen O’Donoghue’s images bring colour and the ‘wow’ factor to previous festivals. For more information see www.astrophotography.ie

The highlight of the day will be the Patrick Moore Memorial Lecture, ‘Artemis and Beyond: Where Past Meets Our Future’ with Shehnaz Soni, an aerospace engineer at NASA who will be speaking live from the US on the Artemis Project, an ambitious plan to return humans to the Moon and, ultimately, Mars. The festival dinner on Saturday evening will give attendees the opportunity to meet and chat informally.

The talks are geared toward a general audience, and will appeal to both scientists and laypeople. Children aged over 11 years who are interested in all things science and space are also welcome to attend.

Tickets for the festival are €30 for guests, and €20 for club members and students. Entry is free for children under 16. The festival dinner is €40, and can be booked online or on the door. The festival screening tickets are available from the Pálás Cinema, www.palas.ie/films

For full details visit www.galwayastronomyclub.ie/astrofest-2023 or find Galway Astronomy Club