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Saturday 23 September 2017

Stargazer over the moon at latest stellar discovery

Lynne Kelleher

An amateur astronomer was over the moon yesterday after discovering a "demon" star from his homemade observatory in his back garden.

Following the spectacular discovery of a supernova by an astronomer in Raheny, north Dublin, earlier in the month, Dave McDonald, from Kildare, has found an eclipsing star.

The 46-year-old from Celbridge, who has also discovered two asteroids in the last two years, stumbled upon the twin-like stars while training his telescope on an asteroid in the early hours of Sunday morning.

"I was looking at the brightness of an asteroid and this star popped out at me," he said.

"I had started on my telescope at 9pm last Saturday evening and finished up at about 5am on Sunday.

"I looked at this star. It was like 'Hey, Presto!' I saw there was a big change in its brightness.

"I checked to see if the star had been discovered before over the past two days and got the official confirmation in yesterday.

Exciting

"It is very exciting. My name will go down forevermore as the discoverer of this star in reputable journals," he said.

The star went unnoticed by the world's astronomers as it is a companion to another star and eclipses it every so often.

The chairman of Astronomy Ireland, David Moore, said this is the latest discovery to put Ireland on the astronomy map.

"Yet again, Irish amateur astronomers have proved that they are capable of keeping in step with the world's best."

Irish Independent

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