John Flannery at Solarfest

Lecture 7th January 2015 – John Flannery (IAS) – “The Sky by Eye – How to Rediscover the Soul of Astronomy”

Arthur C. Clarke once described the Universe as a device contrived for the perpetual astonishment of astronomers. Anyone can discover that sense of wonder. You just have to look up. It’s a common belief you need some form of optical equipment to witness those astonishing sights but that is not the case.

The Sky by Eye is a list that encourages people to observe the Universe with the unaided eye. It comprises 110 sky objects and phenomena ranging from the whimsical to challenging. Examples include studying the colours of the Moon, tracking a planet through its opposition loop, using a UHC filter to observe deep-sky objects with the unaided eye, observing the broad spectrum of atmospheric optics, and even building medieval astronomical instruments. 

The beauty of the Sky by Eye list is that you can delve deeper into areas such as meteor observing or revisit some aspects as your awareness grows. You may take a lifetime to tick off all the sights but the goal is to open your eyes to understanding and appreciating the rhythms of the sky, as well as build a foundation to enhance your enjoyment of astronomy. The list draws on the work of others including Joe Orman, Fred Schaaf, and Chet Raymo who all touch the soul of why we are naturalists of the night.

The lecture is free and open to all, including free refreshments. Venue: the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast, at 7.30 p.m.
Thanks to the Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB, for help in hosting these lectures.


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