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Astronomy

Starstruck: The importance of amateur astronomy

The Independent
18 October 2010

As first finds go, it's not a bad one. The "biggest thing ever to be discovered in Irish astronomy" was stumbled upon by Dave Grennan during an evening spent sitting in his garden shed.

The 2010IK, as it was subsequently christened, is a supernova -- a stellar explosion so powerful that it destroys not only the star itself but all nearby suns and planets. This one wasn't, in fact, a child of 2010 but of some 300 million years ago. What Grennan spotted was the blast's light as it finally reached Earth; the time lag was a product of the distance the light had to travel. The 2010IK was the first supernova spotted from within Ireland, but what above all makes the revelation special is that Grennan, of Raheny, north Dublin, is not a professional astronomer. He's a 39-year-old software developer.

Astronomy, it appears, is particularly well suited to the layperson, and the history of the amateur astronomer is not undistinguished.

Full story from The Independent