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September 2012 – A Fiery Night at Dunsink Observatory

As one of very few science events during Dublin Culture Night 2012, the open night at Dunsink Observatory proved convincingly that astronomy is also part of Dublin’s culture. Favoured by clear skies, more than 700 visitors came out to Dunsink on Friday 21st September to look through the 12 inch Grubb telescope and listen to talks by astronomers Andrew Taylor, Aleks Scholz, Paul Dawson (DIAS) and Turlough Downes and Masha Chernyakova (DCU/DIAS).

 

The highlight of the evening was the sighting of a ‘meteor procession’ at 11pm – a group of about a dozen very bright fireballs moving rapidly from the eastern to the western horizon. This extremely rare astronomical event was witnessed from many locations in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It was most likely caused by an Earth-grazing meteor or, less probable, by debris from a man-made satellite.

 

Only a handful of similar events have been recorded in the past centuries. For more information on this meteor procession and the very few previous ones recorded see:

http://sattrackcam.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/more-on-21-september-2012-fireball-why.html

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2010/06/the-forensic-astronomer-donald-olson.html

DIAS is very grateful to the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies, the Irish Centre for High-End Computing and Met Eireann who all collaborated in making culture night in Dunsink such a great success.