IAS Banner

How to Tell the Time!

David Malone

by Dr David Malone (Maynooth University)

Monday, 24th February 2020 (at 20:00).
Venue: Ely House, 8 Ely Place, Dublin 2. All welcome, free event.

Time and its measurement can be taken for granted. However, knowing the date and time is a question that is tightly tied up with astronomy, combined with some history, politics and a bit of physics. At its February meeting the Irish Astronomical Society presents this free public talk by Dr. David Malone who will give a fascinating summary of how the calendar and clock we have today has changed from ancient times and been influenced by everything from emperors, popes and even Brexit.

Dr Malone is currently a member of Maynooth University's Hamilton Institute and its Department of Mathematics & Statistics.



Sky-High 2020

skyhigh 2020

Our yearly almanac Sky-High 2020 is now available. It is now in its 28th year.

Sky-High has articles on upcoming events regarding Planets, Asteroids, Comets, Meteors, Eclipses and Variable Stars. It has a detailed Diary tailored for Irish Observers. It includes a handy table of sunset and twilight times as well as Moon phases. It also features a number of guest articles.

Please see more details, that includes information in obtaining a copy.

Please note that paid-up IAS members have been mailed a free copy. Sky-High 2019 has been added to the free Archive.



Betelgeuse fading

The famous red-giant star Betelgeuse, in Orion, is now faint. It was still about mag +1.5 in early February 2020. This is the faintest since the 1920s.

Mira is still an easy object

The Long Period Variable star Omicron Ceti (proper name Mira) has now (early February 2020) declined a little, to 5th magnitude. It is very conveniently placed for observation in the early evening sky.

The mean period of variation is 332 days and when at minimum it is usually 10th magnitude.


Members observe Total Solar Eclipse of 9 March 2016 from Indonesia

solar eclipse

Angela O'Connell reports:

A view of totality from the MS Volendam, on the starboard bow, mid-ship. We were located in the Makassar Strait between the islands of Borneo and Sulawesi, about 1½ degrees south of the equator. The sea was surprisingly calm and the ship was steady allowing those of us with tripods to relax and concentrate on the spectacle which lasted 2 min 46 sec approximately. Photo (at left) taken 08:34 (local time), 9th March 2016 with Lumix GM5 on automatic night scene setting.


solar eclipse

Terry Moseley reports:

The solar corona during totality. Photo taken 08:36 (local time), 9th March 2016 with Canon Power Shot with x42 zoom.

The next total solar eclipse occurs in August 2017, only touching land in USA.



Total Lunar Eclipse of 28 September 2015 was well seen by most

lunar eclipse

We were treated to a fine total lunar eclipse.

The photo of the eclipse was taken by J. O'Neill, at 02.21 UT, with a 106 mm refractor at f/8. This was 10 min after the start of totality.

The next total lunar eclipse visible from Ireland occurs in July 2018.

Members please report any observations, drawings or photographs to our Director of Observations, Liam Smyth for inclusion in the next issue of Orbit.



Comet Lovejoy 2014 Q2 near Polaris

In late May 2015, the comet passed about 1° from the pole star Polaris. Remarkably, it was still visible (as of 23 May) in binoculars, at just below mag 8. It was an excellent time to image the comet with a fixed camera, as trailing would be slight.

The photo (below) of the comet is by John O'Neill and was taken on 9-10 January 2015 (cropped; 200 mm camera lens). The drawing of 19 January 2015 is by Deirdre Kelleghan, with details appended.

Please report any observations, drawings or photographs to our Director of Observations, Liam Smyth.

comet lovejoy

comet lovejoy


What's on?

2020 Mon 24 Feb, IAS Talk, Ely House.

2020 Sun 22 Mar, IAS Talk, Phoenix Park.

Please see EVENTS/opposite for more details and further events.

If you would like to attend Dunsink Observatory Public Open Nights that are supported by the IAS, you can find more details at Dunsink Observatory.



Visit our Facebook page:



Application form: Join Here

Copyright © I.A.S., Authors & Imagers. Webmasters: John O'Neill & Sara Beck.