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Public Lecture

“The Aurora Borealis in Irish History: From Superstition to the Digital Age”

By Ronan Newman

February 12th 2018
Physics Building Trinity College Dublin

About the Lecture

Most of us can only dream of seeing the Northern Lights with our own eyes. There's no light show in the world like it. No amount of modern shimmering screens, zapping lasers or spinning disco balls can match Mother Nature's sky show: The Northern Lights. Think the Aurora Borealis and you probably imagine setting your compass for spots like Norway , Canada or Greenland . In recent years the shimmering solar phenomena has been spotted frequently above the skies of Ireland . However it can be difficult to know whether or not it will be possible to see the aurora borealis until the night in question.

The talk will explore the Folklore, History and Science behind the Irish Aurora Borealis with some fleeting glimpse into the Irish archives from the likes of Met Eireann and several local newspapers. The talk will also give an insight into how to predict and photograph displays of the Aurora Borealis and a related summer nocturnal phenomena called Noctilucent Clouds.


About the Lecturer


Ronan Newman is an experienced amateur astronomer and a native of Claremorris, Co Mayo. Starting in his childhood he first became interested in rockets but quickly developed an interest in Astronomy. During the 1980's he recalls witnessing the spectacle of the Aurora Borealis several times from his parents back garden.

In later years he bought a Meade LX10 telescope and spent many nights trawling the heavens for star clusters, nebulae, galaxies and Comets.

He has been very active in Galway Astronomy club and was one of its founding members in 1998. He served on its committee continuously for 17 years in the roles of Secretary and Chairperson and was the main organiser of the annual Galway Astronomy Festival.

For the past fifteen years and as an amateur astronomer his passion has been chasing and documenting displays the Aurora Borealis from the West of Ireland and he now manages his own Face book page entitled “Irish Aurora Hunters Homepage” where in the past before the onset of Aurora Apps he frequently gave out Aurora alerts.

In 2012 he was awarded the title of “Irish Astronomer of the Year” by the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies. While in his spare time he enjoys giving talks to various clubs and organisations around the country to share his enthusiasm for astronomy as a whole and to get young people interested in this highly rewarding hobby.


After the lecture there will be a social reception in The Lombard and we encourage all of you to come along for a chat.
All are welcome to attend and free food will be kindly provided by The Lombard.

Keep up to date on our Facebook and Twitter sites - links on the left.

A prize draw will be held after the lecture.


Booking Information

Date Monday 12th February
Subject to change - please check back later
Time 8:00p.m.

Physics Bldg, Physics Department , Fitzgerald Building, Trinity College Dublin.
There is an entrance on Lincoln Place (not far from the Merrion Square end of TCD). If you get the DART or bus to Pearse St, or drive. Use the Science Gallery entrance on Pearse Street (near the corner with Westland Row) There are maps here:  Here

Parking: Mark Street , Marks Lane , Lombard St. East .

Free Parking on the above streets after 7pm
Click HERE for a building map of Trinity College campus
Click HERE for Map of area

Admission €10 (€5 Astronomy Ireland members and concessions)
Tickets where possible should be booked in advance. Tickets can also be purchased at the door on the night, please come along 15 minutes early to accommodate.

Book online below

Call 086 06 46 555 to book tickets over the phone using Debit/ Credit Card
Send a cheque/ PO/ Draft, made payable to Astronomy Ireland to PO BOX 2888, Dublin 5.


This lecture is also available to people nationwide on DVD.
To order a copy of the DVD simply:
Order by credit/ debit card online below OR
call 086 06 46 555
Alternatively post a Cheque or postal order to: Astronomy Ireland, PO. Box 2888, Dublin 5.
Cost: DVD's cost €10 each incl P&P (€5 Astronomy Ireland members)

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Acknowledgment: Astronomy Ireland would like to thank the TCD Astrophysics Research Group for hosting AI public lectures in Trinity College Dublin.

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