Is There Life On Mars?

Daev has to make do with the naked eye.

Wednesday August 27th, 21:30:
After dark, a craic team of Blather astronomers, warmongers and eroticists made their way to the Phoenix Park. Our destination was the Papal Phallus – where, in 1979, the pope played christianity’s greatest hits to a capacity crowd. Robbie Williams attempted to top this recently. I’m not sure how the attendance compared.
Tonight, Mars was close to earth. Closer than it will ever be again, in our lifetimes. This is going on for a few weeks… cloud cover allowing. So there’s still a chance to appease the gods. Our team was inaccurately briefed. We were expected to encounter David Moore and a smattering of Astronomy Ireland types with a small phalanx of telescopes. Instead, we found traffic jams, and creative parking. Dumped the horseless, and stumbled through the dark towards the papal pudenda upon which the staff of christ is erected.
Fuck, there were people everywhere. Crowd loomed from the dark. There were hundreds of mars-gazers, all queued up in an unorderly line, waiting for their eyeful. I’ve heard it said that, per capita, Ireland has more astronomy fans than other nation… but hundreds of people standing in line in the dark in the Phoenix Park on a Wednesday night? Possibly not the first anxious night-time queue the Feeno has seen… but that’s mere speculative gibberish on my part.
So much for our eyeful. We skipped the crowds and patient teams of astronomers, and stumbled up onto the mound of JPII. In the half-light, caught snatches of conversations, over-precious children discussing their future scientific careers with fathers more given to the worship of Mammon than Mars. Clutching cans of beer, a shower of boyos haphazardly discussing life on the Red Planet.
We looked to the east over the city, where the Red Planet was climbing above the Guinness Brewery, and closer still, the Magazine Fort and the woods along the Kyber Pass. Dogs trotted around our feet. I thought I recognised faces in the gloom, listened to see if I knew voices. From nowhere, one the boyos magicked a pie-balled pony, and led it around the crowded hillock. It really just added to the weird sensation. All of these people wandering around in good humour, in the dark… I began to feel like I had partaken in psychedelics. Or that perhaps I should have.
The red planet was orange near the horizon, but moved in an arc out over the Dublin mountains, becoming more yellow. We had to make do with the naked eye. I despise queuing at the best of times, and I didn’t fancy joining hundreds of people for a 10 second gaze. Maybe I should have waited, or invested in a telescope. I tried to find someone to mug for their optics, but my chivalry held me back.
Astronomy Ireland reckoned on 500 people present, I would have assumed more like 1000 standing around in the murk.
After locating the BlatherMobile, we slunk downhill to the Liffey, having disappointed the God of War.
Thursday, August 29th, just before 18:00:
I’m stuck, in traffic. At Newlands Cross. Normally, I don’t do traffic, but today it was a necessary evil. I’m listening to the radio, The Last Word, on Today FM. David Moore, of Astronomy Ireland is on. Apparently, after we left the Fionn Uisce park, many people saw a greenish fireball to the west, probably a meteor. Astronomy Ireland had already received some 500 reports, and reckoned that if had become a meteorite, then it would have possible come down around Kerry or Clare. More if we know about it.

Chief Bottle Washer at Blather
Writer, photographer, environmental campaigner and "known troublemaker" Dave Walsh is the founder of, described both as "possibly the most arrogant and depraved website to be found either side of the majestic Shannon River", and "the nicest website circulating in Ireland". Half Irishman, half-bicycle. He lives in southern Irish city of Barcelona.