Amateur astronomer Mike Foylan became interested in Astronomy at the age of 5, receiving his first telescope as a gift from his father at the age of ten. Since then he has become a keen amateur astronomer establishing in 2010, Cherryvalley Observatory based in the small village of Rathmolyon in rural Co Meath, Ireland. The observatory was awarded a recognised observatory code (I83) by the IAU (International Astronomical Union) and MPC (Minor Planet Centre) in 2011.
Its work primarily focuses on astrometry (position measuring) and photometry (light measurements) of minor planets (asteroids). He is also a member of the British Astronomical Association, Meath Astronomy Group and has affiliations with Kingsland Observatory based near Boyle County Roscommon Ireland which carries out primarily solar system studies and developing instrumented technologies for SETV research (Search for Extraterrestrial Visitation).
Cherryvalley observatory is also affiliated to NEMETODE (Network for Meteor Triangulation and Orbit Determination) which undertakes research into the nature of meteors using off-the-shelf equipment, a joint venture among amateur and professional astronomers across the UK and Ireland.
Cherryvalley observatory has a number of authored and co-authored peer reviewed papers published in the Minor Planet Bulletin, Journal of the British Astronomical Association and the WGN, the Journal of the International Meteor Organisation (IMO) in collaboration with colleagues and friends from the UK, USA, Italy and Ireland.
The Observatory’s main instrument is an 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (SCT) fitted with an SBIG-STL 1301E CCD Camera and Optec robotic focuser with photometric filters on a modified Celestron CG5-GT EQ mount.
In his spare time he help’s out as a volunteer citizen scientist at Dunsink Observatory Dublin, now part of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies as part of their programme of meetings, workshops, and public outreach.
With the advent of better hardware and software technologies available for amateur astronomers Mike will demonstrate how the amateur astronomer can utilise such technologies to perform valuable scientific work using modest equipment from ones back garden using examples from Cherryvalley Observatory’s work on Meteors and Minor Planets and how such amateur backyard work can lead to new (if accidental) discoveries!