COSMOS 2018: The Weekend's Programme

Here is this year's programme. Remember, times, speakers and topics are subject to changes beyond our control and at short notice!


Friday April 13th

Friday evening is an informal affair as members of Midlands Astronomy Club and the COSMOS Star Party committee get the venue ready. The weekend's exhibits, vendors, registration desk and more are available from 7:30pm onwards.

20:00hrs LECTURE - "An Alien ate my lunch"

Declan Molloy, Midlands Astronomy Club

A sideways look at the whole question of extraterrestrial intelligence. Looking at the story of intelligence and its evolution on Earth. We consider how many clever aliens can there be out there. As part of our journey we look at higher mammals on Earth and we will even spare a thought for the ever irritating Crow. We will look at our own human evolution and perhaps speculate on what the causes were for the human minds "Big Bang". The talk will be for all ages, light, engaging and hopefully brain food - if brain food is a healthy, yet light snack!

21:30hrs - Astronomy/Observing or Time Out

Travelling from afar to join us this weekend? Still want to look to the heavens through a telescope? Weather permitting there will be astronomy observing (location to be determined but on this night may be from the adjoining carpark) or the chance for you to simply unwind.


Saturday April 14th

This is the most action-packed day of the weekend. Lectures, bottle rocket launches, dinner, table quiz and more, Saturday at COSMOS is sure to delight all visitors.

09:30hrs - Registration Desk and exhibits are open.

10:15hrs - Official Opening by Midlands Astronomy Club's Chairperson, Mr. Emmet Mordaunt.

10:30hrs LECTURE - "Shaping of Bright Gas Nebulae by Massive Stars"

Dr. Jonathan Mackey, Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies

Most of the bright gas nebulae that can be seen with small telescopes are lit up by UV radiation from massive stars at their centres (e.g. Orion, Eagle, and Rosette Nebulae). The immense outward force of the radiation and winds from these stars also shapes the nebula. Jonathan will talk about how we can learn more by looking at these nebulae in many different wavelengths of light and through different filters. He will also show some computer simulations we've done that model the winds and radiation to try to understand the physical processes at work.

11:40hrs - Refreshments break

12:00hrs LECTURE - "Our Sun: Friend Or Foe"

Mr. Terry Moseley, Irish Astronomical Association

The Sun is both the most familiar object in our sky, and in some ways one of the most mysterious. It's also both a life giver, and a potential life damager, and it will eventually be a life-destroyer. In this talk Terry will describe in general terms what we know about the Sun, the benefits we get from it, and the real and potential hazards of living so close to an active star.

13:15hrs - Lunch time!

Lunch is provided to COSMOS attendees at an extra cost, and a lunch ticket can be purchased from the Registrations Officer at the registration desk.

14:00hrs - Bottle Rocket Launches

Make your own Bottle Rocket before the weekend, bring it along and take part in one of the most fun parts of the weekend! Click Here for very important guidelines on the kind of bottles that will work best.

14:45hrs LECTURE - Big Data, Big Universe

Mr. Kevin Nolan, Space Writer & Author.

This talk will look at how the rise of astronomical Big Data and Artificial Intelligence analysis techniques will impact on astronomical discovery in the coming decades through projects such as GAIA, LSST and SKA.

16:00hrs - Quick break

16:15hrs LECTURE - "Galileo: Hero or Heretic?"

Mr. Emmet Mordaunt, Midlands Astronomy Club

Details will be added here soon

17:30hrs - Raffle followed by break-up for the evening

At this time, the Annual General Meeting of the assembly of the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies will take place.


20:00hrs - Annual Cosmic Dinner

To join us you need to buy a dinner ticket, which are available at the Registration Desk. Please be back at the hotel reception area by 19:30hrs, whereupon you will be escorted to your seat. Tables are arranged in groups of 4, as these will also be the teams for the After Dinner Cosmic Quiz.

21:30hrs - Cosmic Table Quiz

Even if you are not partaking in the Cosmic Dinner, you are still most welcome to join in the table quiz for the coveted COSMOS trophies. Please make sure you let our Registration Officer know at the registration desk that you plan on joining in the quiz.

22:30hrs - Astronomy/Observing

Usually hosted off-site at a dedicated location outside of Athlone Town. Bring your own telescope or look through the ones there. Please enquire at the registration desk on the day to find out the location. Need a lift or directions? Not a problem, just let us know!


Sunday April 15th

Sunday at COSMOS is quite a relaxed affair, as sometimes there can be tired heads trying to stay awake in the audience if there was a really good observing session the night before! The Sunday programme still hosts some excellent speakers and topics.

10:30hrs - Registration Desk and Exhibits Open

11:00hrs LECTURE - "Einstein, Hawking and the Big Bang"

Mr. Cormac O’Raifeartaigh, Waterford Institute of Technology

This talk will present a brief history of modern cosmology, from the first static models of the cosmos to the discovery of the expanding universe, from the debate between ‘Big Bang’ and ‘steady-state’ cosmologies to today’s Λ-CDM model of the universe. We consider in particular the pioneering contributions of theoreticians such as Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, and the interplay of theory and experiment over one hundred years of cosmology.

12:30hrs - Refreshments break

13:00hrs LECTURE - "The Newgrange Lightbox Decoded"

Mr. Michael Gibbons

In the 1960s and early 1970s Newgrange was extensively reconstructed/remodelled by Professor O’Kelly and the OPW. Although the public record of the work has remained extremely limited, the reconstructed Newgrange nevertheless became a global heritage icon. Notably, the “light-box”/roof-box and its apparent connection with the winter solstice, coming as it did just after the publication of “Stonehenge Decoded,” became an anchor point in the world of Archaeo-Astronomy as well as Irish identity in an increasingly secular world. Controversial from the outset, Irish Heritage Bodies and senior archaeologists continue publicly to treat the reconstruction as broadly authentic while Palle Eriksen, a leading Danish archaeological went so far as to refer to the mound’s transformed white quartz façade as a “fake” which should be re-reconstructed. In this independent study, available stratigraphic, archival and photographic evidence will be used to reconsider the authenticity of Newgrange and its Lightbox.

14:15hrs - Musings and Final Address