Meteor Expert to Speak at NUI Galway

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

On Friday, 4 March, Dr Mathew Parkes, Natural History Museum Dublin, will present a public talk entitled Meteorites and Famous Irish Falls at NUI Galway. Hosted by the NUI Galway Centre of Astronomy and the Galway Astronomy Club, this free event will take place at 8pm in the Dillon Theatre, NUI Galway, accompanied by a display of meteorites from the Irish collection of the Natural History Museum. Meteorites are natural objects from outer space that survived their impact on Earth and can be very large or very small. When they enter the Earth's atmosphere, impact pressure causes them to heat up forming a fireball or meteor. Meteorites recovered after being observed as they transited the atmosphere or impacted the Earth are called falls. At the event, members of the public will also get a rare chance to examine recently purchased rock fragments from Mars or the Moon, and others that have landed on Irish soil including the two which smashed through the roof of an RUC barracks in Northern Ireland in 1969, one that fell in Carlow in 1999 and the famous Limerick Meteorite of 1815. Professor Markus Woerner of the Galway Astronomy Club said: "Co-operation between professional and amateur astronomers in Galway and Ireland provides the general public with exciting 'hands-on' experience of the most recent research at the forefront of international research in Astronomy and Geophysics. Dr Parkes' lecture will prove it to everyone. Those in doubt will still be able to touch the objects made of material from which our Solar System is made." Dr Parkes is responsible for the Earth Science collections at the Natural History Museum. He is a contributor to the Geological Survey of Ireland and founder member of the Mining Heritage Trust of Ireland. Dr Parkes has a long interest in exploring old mine sites as well as rocks originating in the Solar System. Speaking about the upcoming lecture, Dr Andrew Shearer, Director of the Centre of Astronomy at NUI Galway, said: "The Centre for Astronomy is delighted to host this public lecture. Meteorites give us a unique insight into the type of material which made up the early solar system. From this we can understand how our planet evolved and importantly they can give clues as to how planets around other stars can evolve." For more information contact Professor Markus Woerner at markus.worner@nuigalway.ie or 091 553353, or Dr Andy Shearer at andy.shearer@nuigalway.ie or 091 493114.
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