Image by Bernard Kelleghan
What's going on in this picture? Look at it; we are on the pavement with a huge big telescope.
We are surrounded by light pollution from street lamps, houses, and a beach front glitzy fun fair.
We had several telescopes that evening set up to share the night sky on International Sidewalk Astronomy Night. The atmosphere was drenched in yellow lights, spot lights, headlights and town lights. Why would we do this? What is the point?
We were of course not seeing the celestial delights on offer at their best in these suburban conditions. It was difficult to see constellations below 30 degrees as the stars were barely
visible lurking in the murky orange haze where man made light diffuses and cloaks
many distant beauties.
We do sidewalk astronomy to bring a little awe and wonder to people who rarely look up.
We delight in showing our moon and any visible planets to our wide eyed attendees. It was great to show the wonderful planet Saturn rising above Bray head, it made everyone who viewed it smile from ear to ear.Our moons craters were the subject of many sidewalk conversations. Theophilus on the terminator was in very deep shadow but its central mountain was peeping through the blackness toward our suns warming light.Several constellations many light years above the town were pointed out to our visitors. M 45 looked terrific so close to the lunar limb, an image to remember unique to the evening.
Saturn was in competition with a strong light beaming up from the fun fair rides. As it lit up the sky it crisscrossed the plain of the ecliptic and from time to time obliterated our Saturnian jewel. For the majority of the attendees it was their first time to see this gas giant in a telescope, a view they will never forget.Many also had their first close up look at the moon, and had personal jaw dropping moments and WOW's of delight. One small boy said the moon was the best thing he had ever seen. Teddy bears were brought out to see the sky and several
" jack the lads " arrived and verbalized their amazement saying things like **** sake , the moon is ****ing awesome , never saw dat before , me Da would love it , how far is dat away ? :-)
The youngest person viewing that evening was 5 years old, the oldest person viewing was 89 ,old both young and old were first time viewers and went home with big smiles on their faces. Sidewalk astronomy educates and surprises, sidewalk astronomy sprinkles joy and knowledge at the same time.Sidewalk astronomy helps people to look up more often, and connect for themselves with the night sky. Perhaps in sharing the sky with people we can ignite a continuing dance between humanity, our planet in space and the journey we are all on together for our lifetimes.
One People One Sky the motto of Global Astronomy Month - Spread a little joy on a sidewalk near you during April, be part of a worldwide movement to share whatever you know about the sky with others. Irish Astronomical Society and South Dublin Astronomical Society took part in International Sidewalk Astronomy Night on March 20th
Many thanks to The Bray People Newspaper for giveing the event a full page with photographs
on the following Wednesday.
Next Sidewalk events in April are
On the 24 April between 20.00 and 22.00 in Athy Community College. This event is being run by Midlands Astronomy Club, Kildare . Contact Declan Molloy firstname.lastname@example.org