Rhapsody in Blue – Saturn / Moon Occultation
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On the evening of May 22nd 2007 the beautiful blue sky was host to a first quarter moon. The evening was to bring me one of the most visually rich observations in my drawing odyssey . When I set up my dob I really wasn’t expecting to  catch a glimpse of Saturn in a daylight sky. The software gave me an idea of where the planet was, I scanned the area in the hope of finding it. My task was to see Saturn before it went behind the unlit quarter of the moon. In my first look there it was, the white ringed planet, one billion miles away in space. Saturn was there in my eye, embedded softly in the azure sky moving swiftly toward  the invisible limb of the moon.  Nothing could have prepared me for that  revelation, it was a totally different experience to seeing Saturn in a dark night sky. My drawing paper was hastily endowed in blue … Continue reading

Naked Eye Orion sketched from Ireland
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Recently I have spent some time in the west of Ireland . It’s been stormy , with icy rain and sideways on hailstones battering the landscape. The winds have been epic in this wild place where the ancient potato drills shout evidence of our ancestors ribs bursting the Earth , still hungry after all these years. Most evenings I have stepped outside to look up at the night sky while listening to the Atlantic roar its salty roar at stars too far away to listen. Occasionally the clarity of the sky has been impressive but short-lived. However on the evening of March 23rd on opening the door I was met with what I can only describe as a crisis sky. Every familiar constellation was buried in the galaxy. It is sometimes said that there are more stars in the night sky than grains of sand on all the worlds beaches, that sky was the epiphany of that statement. I sat … Continue reading

Eratosthenes Drawing Drama plus an Experiment opportunity for schools all over the planet
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On that cold evening back in 2007 Eratosthenes looked powerful in its position emerging into the suns warm rays. Rupes Recta was also inviting and Plato almost called me again. Even drenched in sunlight Plato’s steel grey floor carried those unmistakable flame shaped shadows. Eratosthenes is a truly dramatic crater, a sweeping mountain chain whips away from it in a visual series, of broken, deep shadows. Montes Appeninus is cut and chopped first by Mons Wolf, and then by Mons Ampere. Next in line, Christian Huygens name is lent to Mons Huygens named in honour of the discoverer of Saturn’s largest moon Titan . This high mountain (164,000ft) is a billion miles away from those primal methane or ethane seas discovered by the Cassini Huygens mission on one of its routine flybys. Mons Bradley and Mons Hadley cradle the Apollo 15 lunar landing area from 1971. A mission that put wheels on the moon for the first time. This wonderfully … Continue reading

When is a week not a week ? When its Science Week 2016 of course !
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Science Week 2016 was the 21st iteration of this infectious annual event . My involvement has been ongoing since 2007. A multitude of varied engagements are supported and promoted by Science Foundation Ireland. The aim is to stimulate interest in a broad range of sciences. Science Week makes the often complex world of science totally digestible to every person who embraces it. The programs are targeted towards school children and their teachers plus the public at large. Science Week touches almost everyone in this country via TV, Radio, Social media, publications and apps. Nationwide road shows, workshops and talks go directly to schools,libraries and other centres. The magic and wonder of many sciences shared with tremendous enthusiasm and smiles by a host of participants. This year my offerings were two drawing workshops Deadly Moons and Marvellous Mars plus a special Constellation session for local cub scouts. The workshops were attended by 800 children in 10 venues over 11 days in … Continue reading

Space the final Frontier – World Space Week 2016
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“Space: the final frontier. ” The opening line of the famous quote from Star Trek, the missions aim ” to boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone before. ” During Spaceweek 2016 I had the opportunity to take 360 children and their teachers on an exploration of moons in our solar system and the very topical planet Mars . Through listening and drawing they experienced a small awakening to the robotic images which are unveiling the beauty of other worlds, increasing our understanding with every single pixel. My workshop Deadly Moons now includes the stunning New Horizons image of Charon Pluto’s largest moon. The children loved the Star Wars names on its craters . They enjoyed linking Charon’s features to familiar books and movies. The workshop also showcases the incredable images of Saturn’s moons taken by the Cassini Spacecraft. In order to make my workshop Marvellous Mars extra interesting for the groups I made a model of Mars … Continue reading

Deadly Moons
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“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin My workshop Deadly Moons has been presented on hundreds of occasions by myself to thousands of Irish school children. Its title has its roots in the expression ‘that’s deadly’ an Irish street speak way of saying something is ‘Amazing’. The bones of Deadly Moons are built from a range of robotic space images coupled with some of my lunar sketches. From time to time I update the presentation to include images from Cassini,(MRO) Mars Reconnaissance Obiter and of course New Horizons. I realised early on in my outreach efforts that most children and in fact most adults were totally unaware that other moons existed. In general people are not able to recognise moon phases or point out any features on our moon. Considering our moon is in the sky for the entirety of all our lives,this is another issue that needs … Continue reading

Stars Wonderful Stars at Wexford Town Library Ireland
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On a dull and drizzle splashed day in Wexford, children came to the local library to learn about our magnificent star. They were taking part in a new initiative run by Libraries Ireland , a national reading plan for children in the Summer months. The idea is that the children read at least six books and collect small encouraging rewards along the way culminating with an awards event at the end. ‘Summer Stars’ is the name of this year’s programme and of course my workshop, ‘Stars Wonderful Stars’ was a perfect fit. My workshops always begin with an explanation of what we will try to do and how we will go about our efforts . Stressing the importance of our star in everyday life is paramount in my initial presentation. Making sure the children understand the very special existence of our Earth in relation to the Sun is central. Pointing out the fact that we do not have to wear … Continue reading