Participation in the European Southern Observatory

We the undersigned call on the government to facilitate Irish participation in the European Southern Observatory in advance of it’s commissioning , in 2020, one of the most remarkable scientific instruments the world has ever known.

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July 19
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  • Jul 22, 2017

    For Bloom!

  • Jul 20, 2017

    Dublin charted by astronomer!

    (This story is over 2,000 years old.)

    The astronomy of Claudius Ptolemy’s ‘Mathematical Compilation’, (Μαθηματικη Συνταξις) synthesized, in the second century BCE, some five hundred years’ effort to account for the observed motions of the stars, sun, and planets on the assumption that their proper motions were uniform and circular and that the earth lay immobile at the centre of the rotating universe.

    Ptolemy’s grand system, which was known later to Arabic and Latin readers as the Almagest, had neither successor nor rival for 1400 years until the publication of Nicholas Copernicus’ De revolutionibus orbium coelestium , published in 1543, ten years after the birth of Adam Loftus, who would be the first Provost of Trinity College Dublin.

    Ptolemy believed that the heavenly bodies’ circular motions were caused by their being attached to unseen revolving solid spheres. For example, an epicycle would be the “equator” of a spinning sphere lodged in the space between two spherical shells surrounding the Earth. He discovered that if he represented the motions of the Sun, the Moon, and the five known planets with spheres, he could nest them inside one another with no empty space left over and in such a manner that the solar and lunar distances agreed with his calculations. (His estimate of the Moon’s distance was roughly correct, but his figure for the solar distance was only about a twentieth of the correct value.) The largest sphere, known as the celestial sphere, contained the stars and, at a distance of 20,000 times the Earth’s radius, formed the limit of Ptolemy’s universe.

    As well as mapping the heavens, Ptolemy also produce the first map of Ireland and the first cartographic reference to Dublin.

    Claudius Ptolemy, astronomer, mathematician, and geographer, lived from around 87 to 150 A.D. He spent much of his life in Alexandria (Egypt), but it seems that he originally came from Greece.

    He played a key part in laying out history and cartography as we know it. It was Ptolemy who realized the earth was round, who corrected the Greeks’ geocentric view of the universe (that the earth was at the center of everything, and rationalized the motions of the planets) prevalent in his time.

    Historians believe it is likely that that the Tralee-born monk and navigator St. Brendan (circa 484 – 577) very likely used Ptolemy’s maps and navigational aids in the course of his epic sea-going adventures.

    Ptolemy’s Roman era “map” looks much like today’s Ireland, save a few discrepancies. His map is consistent with some intimate Mediterranean knowledge of Ireland, its peoples, coastal features and principal places. He called Ireland “Iouerníā,” which is thought to mean “abundant land” and from which derive the Irish names Ériu and Éire.

    The ancient Irish settlement Eblana on the map is modern day Dublin.

  • Katherine EburyUnited Kingdom, Doncaster

    Jul 20, 2017

    As someone who has worked on James Joyce and astronomy, I am proud to associate Ireland with achievement in both the arts and sciences. I support this petition.

  • Kate okeeffeIreland, Clare

    Jul 20, 2017




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