‘Donegal Dark Sky’ aiming to draw more young people to the breathtaking world of astrophotography, writes Conor Sharkey
The recent appearance of the Northern Lights has had more Irish people than ever looking to the heavens.
For some in the north west though stargazing is more than just an intermittent fad. For a small but growing society it is an all-out celestial passion.
Astrophotographer Treasa Giblin Frazer has been charting the night skies for years, capturing rarely seen images of our cosmos, constellations and comets.
Last week marked Ireland’s first ever Astronomy Week and the Lifford woman said it was the perfect time to get out and explore the solar system.
“I have been very lucky in my own astro journey by having numerous images of our night sky published in the BBC’s Sky at Night magazine and even in our very own Astronomy Ireland magazine. To top that one of my images was shortlisted in 2022 for the national astrophotographer competition ‘Reach for the Stars’.
“For me, the feeling I get when I photograph the night sky beats all other genres in photography on a technical level.
“It took me a long time to understand how to navigate and shoot so now is the time to share that knowledge and let other photographers and star gazers do the same to help pique the interest of the younger generation.”
Treasa said astrophotography and learning about the night sky was much more than just taking pictures. It was about “appreciating and helping to preserve Donegal’s dark sky areas” while also raising awareness of light polluted areas.
“Our Donegal Dark Sky page caters to all, from kids to seasoned photographers, and we have even joined in with Ireland’s very first Irish Astronomy Week which began on March 20 and ran until March 26. It was founded by Ronan Newman, a native of Claremorris, and the motto is ‘The Stars for Everyone’.
“So many clubs, groups and organisations came together from all over Ireland to hold events during the week.”
The Donegal Dark Sky page ran a virtual event ‘From Garden to Stars’ where families and photographers could have their own star parties at home by pointing out some constellations to their children.
They were also encouraged to do some arts and crafts based around the planets or take some images or notes of what they were able to see from their location and share to the page.
In preparation for Irish Astronomy Week Donegal Dark Sky members uploaded possible targets to the Facebook page to show what may be in view along with locations, times and information.
“It is a very exciting time in Donegal along with the rest of Ireland and plans for more events to be held next year are already afoot,” Treasa added.
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