The Winter is-a-comin'! Little by little the nights are already closing in, what! I hear you say - its only the end of August! Remember, yes we're not even through Autumn but this is Ireland where we fear such things. Losing even a few minutes of precious daylight will be the main topic of conversation replacing the weather, imagine! Lets try and look at it from another angle. On the occasion when there's a cloudless sky, the winter sky at night is a place ripe for exploration. You don't have to be a Galileo or a Patrick Moore to enjoy those constellations, meteor showers and planets. Kick those winter blues, let the stars become your muse (that's bloody awful isn't it!). A friend of mine has a fairly serious astronomy telescope but a pair of binoculars or the naked eye will also do nicely.
Some years ago, not just one but two comets were clearly visible in Irish skies, one was named Hiataki (possibly spelt completely wrong) and the other was Hale-Bopp. These were spectacular, one I recall had a fiery tail that was breath-taking. Yet so many people out and about missed these beauties or were two busy power walking and gossiping about local goings on to notice this once in a lifetime sight on view for free. 'For Gods Sake just look up!' I felt like shouting but didn't, instead some of us went out on the beach in the freezing cold armed with telescopes and binoculars as the power walkers went swish-swashing by thinking 'are these perverts looking in my windows? are they a new age cult?'
A great website for info on all aspects of astronomy and space is run by Astronomy Ireland