Telescopes, their history, development and the future


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Telescopes, their history, development and the future

1609, saw the new-fangled ‘telescope’ turned towards the sky for the first time. Galileo Galilei, the famous Italian astronomer, made a host of wonderful discoveries. He found that the Moon was mountainous, the Sun spotty and that Jupiter had orbiting satellites. His observation of the moon-like phases of Venus proved that the Earth was orbiting the Sun and not vice versa.

Throughout the following 400 years telescopes have changed greatly. Hand-held instruments have been replaced by huge engineering giants. Refracting lenses have given way to massive reflecting Pyrex mirrors. Observatories in the centres of cities have been closed down and the astronomers have moved to distant mountain tops. The naked eye has been replaced by the chips we use in digital cameras.

Every fifty years or so, over the last 400 years, the size of the biggest telescope on Earth has doubled, and we have not stopped yet.

Prof David W. Hughes University of Sheffield

BSc (Birmingham), D Phil (Oxford), FRAS, F Inst P, C Phys, FRSA

For the 42 years, Hughes had lectured in physics and astronomy at the University of Sheffield, and researched into comets, asteroids, meteors, meteorites and cosmic dust, and their origin, evolution and impact with Earth. He also researched into the origin of the solar system, and the history of astronomy and astrophysics and published over 200 research papers as well as books on the Solar System, the Moon, the Universe and the Star of Bethlehem.

Hughes has lectured extensively to the general public, astronomical societies and cruise audiences and has given many talks on radio and TV. He has also helped run eclipse expeditions to the UK, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Libya. He has been actively involved in space research especially the GIOTTO mission to Comet Halley. He has also chaired committees investigating the teaching of astronomy and physics in Europe. He has been a Vice President of both the Royal Astronomical Society and the British Astronomical Association.

In 1990 asteroid 4205 was named David Hughes to honour his contribution to minor body research, and the popularization and teaching of solar system astronomy.

The Life and Work of Robert Boyle
Demonstrations, performed by Boyle and Hooke 350 years ago to illustrate fundamental phenomena of physics and also to promote support for science will be recreated in this presentation by Eoin Gill of Waterford IT’s Calmast.

Robert Boyle (1627 – 1691) was born in Waterford and was arguably Ireland’s most influential scientist. Renowned for Boyle’s Law and known as the “father of chemistry”, Boyle lived in an age bridging medieval philosophy and modern science and although he pursued transmutation ofelements he wrested the modern science of chemistry from alchemy. He is most remembered today for his work on gases – Boyle’s Law is a staple part of introductory science courses. In 1659, 350 years ago this year, he started his famous vacuum pump experiments. He was important also as a founder of the Royal Society where his performances of the vacuum pump experiments were most popular and also most influential in building support for the fledgling society.

Gill has performed these demonstrations to young people in the Ireland and throughout Europe and through these demonstrations celebrates one of Ireland’s and science’s most famous sons. In addition to illustrating basic physical phenomena he is also able to tell the story of the development of modern science. This year he has been awarded an RDS Science Live Bursary for a show aimed at senior cycle students.

Calmast-WIT
Calmast is Waterford Institute of Technology's Centre for the Advancement of Learning of Maths, Science and Technology. The centre now attracts over 12,000 participants annually in it programmes in the region.

Calmast is unique in that it promotes all areas of STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths - and while most of the participants are primary and secondary schools the audience spans from pre-school to senior citizen groups!

Calmast also makes a significant contribution overall to Ireland's efforts to become a "Smart Economy" instigating and coordinating Maths Week Ireland and participating in the annual BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition and supporting and participating with many other groups and projects nationally such as the Institute of Physics.

The centre runs four major STEM festivals in the region – Maths Week, Science Week, Engineering Week and the Bealtaine Festival of Outdoor Science: celebrating our living Earth. In addition the centre runs many other activities such as science summer camps and has established teachers’ courses including a masters degree in primary science teaching.

The impact of this work is to be seen in the increasing numbers studying science and engineering at WIT over the last few years.

The centre has won many awards including Waterford Crystal Gal Greine Award for Science Communication, The EU Descartes Award for Science Communication and the Engineers Ireland Science, Engineering and Technology Awareness Award.

From Walton to the LHC
This seminar will feature a brief overview of the forthcoming

experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s most

powerful particle accelerator. The relevance of the work of Ernest

Walton, Ireland’s Nobel laureate in physics, will be explained.

Experiments that will search for physics beyond the Standard Model will

also be discussed.

Cormac O’Raifeartaigh WIT
Cormac lectures in mathematics and physics at Waterford

Institute of Technology. He has a PhD in physics from Trinity College

Dublin and is a frequent participant in scientific debates in the Irish

media. He writes regularly on science in newspapers and magazines and

is the author of the well-known science blog ANTIMATTER.
SciCast Video Making Workshop

Video is more accessible now than it’s ever been: ask any teenager with a mobile phone and a YouTube account. SciCast is an ongoing, national effort to extract educational value – and, it must be said, a certain amount of fun – from the energy and excitement surrounding web video.

This hands-on workshop will introduce the project, offer advice about equipment and practical issues, and provide direct experience of SciCast’s unusually direct approach to making films. That is: we’ll push a demonstration into your hands, give you a camera, and tell you to get on with it. But don’t worry – we’ll help you out if you get stuck.

So far, SciCast has collected more than three hundred films from schools, families, and professional scientists, shared free of charge through the project website, www.planet-scicast.com. They can be used to introduce lesson topics, as a source of inspiration for activities and demonstrations, or simply for entertainment. The best films each year are celebrated in a glittering awards ceremony, held this year at the famous Royal Institution in London.

Help us build the world’s most entertaining science resource site, by pointing your students in the right direction, then letting their imaginations loose. This workshop should give you the experience and confidence to see what happens next. 

Jonathan Sanderson

Following a physics degree, Jonathan fell into science television rather by accident. He subsequently wrote and produced series for the BBC and ITV, as well as Scope for RTÉ and the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures for Five. 

He’s now a freelance science media consultant, working for the likes of the research councils and the Beacons for Public Engagement in the UK, the Wellcome Trust, and various universities and science visitor centres. His major project for the last three years has been Planet SciCast, which he runs for a consortium led by NESTA and the Institute of Physics, and – in Ireland – Forfás. 


Astronomy Software for Schools Workshop
Robert Hill is the Director of the Northern Ireland Space Office, based at the Armagh Planetarium. He has spearheaded the campaign to bring astronomy and space science topics to teachers and pupils through the newly revised curriculum in the province. He is currently co-ordinating the creation of thematic units with regional government and the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment to align the latest astronomy and space related resources to accredited and integrated education.
In his previous post as Business Manager and Science Communicator for Armagh Planetarium, he designed and created the acclaimed ‘From Earth to the Heavens’ exhibition and has worked with several other science centres to help in the realisation of exciting and stimulating European space related exhibitions. During this period he also became the Faulkes Robotic Telescope Project schools co-ordinator in Ireland and helped bring this resource (in collaboration with the British Council) to several other regions including Portugal and Russia. He founded the Astrogazers Ireland Astronomy schools network, working with teachers to gain confidence in using astronomy resources for the classroom.
Robert is a member of many European and Global wide working groups and panels including author of Astronet Panel E ‘Education, Outreach and Recruitment’ elements ‘Relationships with industry’ and ‘Planetaria and Museums’. He was also part of the team evaluating the European Southern Observatory public outreach and educational material. He is a member of the International Astronomical Union Executive Committee Working Group for International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA09) and the Irish Secretariat for IYA09. He was a member of the UNESCO Space Education Team travelling to Tanzania and Nigeria.
Robert is also currently an educational consultant with the UK Yorkshire based Space Connections group, and part of the original UK team tasked with the possibility of creating a European Space Education Resource Office structure in Northern Ireland and throughout the UK.
His present duties include liaison with the local government in Northern Ireland to explore the possibility of using astronomy and space science as a key skills developer for adults returning to education and project management and coordination of the Yorkshire Planetarium refurbishment. He is committed to encouraging regional industry and business to recognise the potential offered by engagement with the space industry through the global space agencies, either as partners involved in development of resources, or training to create a human resource capability able to compete effectively in the global markets to the highest specifications and technology
Leaving Cert Physics papers 2009 Review Discussion
David Keenahan-IoPI Teachers Network Coordinator
This session will take place after the official Close of Frontiers of Physics . This is to facilitate teachers who have travel connections to make.

This years papers will be reviewed in light of the published markings schemes. Teachers comments made here and at other meetings will form the basis of a report that will be submitted to the State Examinations Commission (SEC) by IoPI Eduction Group

The organising Committee would like to thank the following organisations who helped to make Frontiers of Physics 09 possible:
Institute of Physics in Ireland Education Group

Department of Computing, Mathematics and Physics WIT
The Second Level Support Service-Physics Section

CALMAST

Science4Schools

The International Year of Astronomy in Ireland

Discover Science and Engineering

PharmaChemical Ireland

Ag Services Group

Orchid Communications Ltd

SciFest

The Irish Times

Astronomy Irelan

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