Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Trinity College . . .

Breakfast in Dublin.
August 19, 2014 -- We were up late this morning after the long day we spent yesterday in transit from Dublin to Birr and back. It was nice to sleep late, but it also meant that we'd spend the day in Dublin. There is a lot of the city we haven't seen, so we weren't too disappointed. We made our way out of the guesthouse and down to the local "wash and fold" laundry about 5 minutes down the road.

Science Gallery, Dublin
Soon, we were in our favorite joint for breakfast. I've had the "Irish Vegie Breakfast" for the last couple of days. It's delicious. After breakfast, our plan was to take a double-deck tour-bus for a look in and around Dublin. As we walked toward the bus a "tourist information booth" caught our eye -- so we stopped for some ideas about the day. As usual, I asked the question about "science centers, planetariums or observatories". As it happens, there was a Science Gallery just a short walk across the River Liffey. We set out enjoying the sun and relatively warm weather.

Joe McCauley Trinity College
I noticed, on the map, that the Science Gallery  is on the property of Trinity College. Having heard of that institution more than once,  I thought it'd be fun to walk the grounds of the College. We entered the Science Center and found that it is not only free, but the theme was an interesting "weather, climate change and science and their effect on the economy." One of the "docents" was a student in the Physics Department at Trinity College, so I asked him about telescopes. "Yes, Indeed" was his reply. "Just head over the Fitzgerald Building and ask around. There's one on the roof". After our visit to the Science Gallery, we took his advice.

Yours Truly and the 14" SCT
at Trinity College, Dublin.
The Fitzgerald Building is just around the corner from the Science Gallery, so we found it in short order. As we entered the building it looked deserted, but poking around a bit we found Ken Concannon in his office. After an explanation of our goal to "see the telescope", we were taken to Joe McCauley's office and introduced. Joe is an "experimental officer" at the college and was more than willing to spend the necessary time taking us through the William H.S. Monck Observatory. The observatory consists of a Meade 14" SCT on a pier and housed in a 10-foot dome.

Joe, Linda and I spent the better part of an hour discussing a variety of subjects related to the "present day" study of the universe. Coincidently, the College has an installation of radio telescopes on the grounds of Birr Castle. Since we had just been there the day before, it was interesting to hear about their work in the radio spectrum. We had a chance to tour a couple of the college's "labs" and learned about some of the scientific breakthroughs members of the faculty have made in years past.

Upon leaving, the Physics Department, Joe recommended we stop by the "Book of Kells" just across campus. The "book", created in about 800 C.E., is an illuminated manuscript in Latin containing the first 4 books of the New Testament. We arrived at the library to find a long LONG line of people waiting to see the book, so we decided to forego an actual look at the bible. After-all, we were "there" -- right?!!

As we left the campus and walked back into the center of town, we felt privileged to have had such an enjoyable and interesting afternoon with Joe McCauley at Trinity College.  Every now and then, the chain of events works out just perfectly.

Today was one of those days!!