Sunday, 29 March 2020

Coronavirus, Teaser, Online skyguide, Comet Atlas brightens, Venus in Pleiades, ISS, Belelgeuse brightens, more


Hi all,

 

1. IAA PUBLIC MEETINGS CANCELLED until further notice.

Because of the Covid-19 virus outbreak, the next lecture meeting has been cancelled. The AGM which was scheduled for April 15 has been postponed: a new date will be notified as soon as the situation becomes clearer: it may not be possible to hold it until September. Observing sessions at Delamont have also been cancelled until further notice.

   Remember – Stay Safe: keep your distance, and wash your hands regularly!

 

2.  Terry's Teaser.

To pass the time in your self-isolation or quarantine, here's something to occupy your mind.

   Anyone who has been to an IAA lecture will know that among the introductory items is 'Terry's Teaser' – a little astronomical puzzle, usually connected with the topic of the lecture, presented as a challenge to the audience. The first correct answer is rewarded with a prize of astronomical proportions – a Mars or a Milky Way bar. The answers require some thought; they're not simply factual, such as "What's the largest moon of Saturn?", and they won't easily be solved by a simple Google search.

   So here are two to start you off – a simple one, and a really challenging one. No prizes for obvious reasons (except maybe at my discretion, if someone excels…), but the first few correct answers will get an honourable mention in the next bulletin.

A. Fairly Simple; . Which of the following constellation names is the odd one out, and why?

Canis Minor, Leo Minor, Ursa Minor?

B. Challenging: What links the Latin word for heat, an English surveyor, a mountain in Greece, a Scottish physicist, and a simple type of eyepiece?

 

3. What's happening in the sky? An online version of the introductory talk which the IAA has at the start of the regular meetings is now available. see https://youtu.be/Vi5x_7mRTCk Thanks to IAA webmaster Paul Evans for this.

 

4 COMET ATLAS IS BRIGHTENING FASTER THAN EXPECTED: Get ready for another nice comet. Comet ATLAS (C2019 Y4) is plunging toward the sun and, if it doesn't break up first, it could become one of the brightest comets in years. Amateurs are already getting fantastic images as the comet brightens even faster than expected. You can get its position from heavens-above.com.

See https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8135827/Newly-discovered-comet-Atlas-shine-bright-MOON.html  and

https://www.msn.com/en-ie/news/techandscience/newfound-comet-atlas-is-getting-really-bright-really-fast/ar-BB11vpNP?li=BBr5MK2

 

5. Venus moves to Pleiades. You can't miss brilliant Venus in the SW to W evening twilight. On Mar 28 it will feature in a nice triangle with the crescent Moon and the Pleiades. It draws ever closer to the Seven Sisters over the following days. The highlight comes on the evening of 3 April, when it passes through the S edge of the cluster, crossing just on the inner side of the 'dogleg' of stars leading to HIP 17776 (mag 5.4). The closest pass to a binocular star is about 1' 32" from HL 18, mag 7.0, at about 22.45 BST.

   We won't see Venus as close to the Pleiades again until 3 April 2028, when it will pass just under 2' from 23 Tau, mag 4.2; one of the 'Seven'. There will be an even more central pass on 4 April 2036, but this will happen while the sky is still bright in Ireland; by the start of twilight, Venus will be exiting the cluster. However, mark your diaries for 4 April 2044 when it will pass almost through the centre of the cluster in a dark sky that evening!

   (Yes, there is an almost exact 8-year repetition of this event, because 8 Earth years is almost exactly equal to 13 Venusian years. So every 8 years we see Venus in almost exactly the same part of the sky. Conversely, any Venusian able to see through its thick clouds would see the Earth in almost exactly the same place in their sky every 13 Venusian years.)

 

6. ISS  started a series of evening passes on 20 March. You can sometimes watch it pass close to Venus, or the Pleiades. Full details for your location, and lots of other astronomy information, on the excellent free site www.heavens-above.com

 

7. BETELGEUSE continues to brighten. Betelgeuse reached a minimum magnitude of about mag 1.6, and is now slowly brightening again: it's about 1.2 at the moment.

   Watch it for as long as you can – into early April, at a stretch - to see how much it brightens again. You can compare it with Procyon (mag 0.4), Aldebaran (mag 0.87, but slightly variable itself),  Pollux (mag 1.16), Castor (mag 1.58), Bellatrix (mag 1.64). Only do it when Betelgeuse is at least 30 degrees above the horizon, and choose comparison stars at about the same altitude as it.

 

8. Asteroid Day, 30 June.

Asteroid Day was co-founded by astrophysicist and famed musician Dr. Brian May of  QUEEN; Apollo 9 Astronaut Rusty Schweickart; Filmmaker Grig Richters; and B612 President Danica Remy, to promote awareness and provide knowledge to the general public about the importance of asteroids in our solar system history, and the role they play in our solar system today. Events are scheduled leading up to 30 June, the date of the largest asteroid impact of Earth in recorded history (Tunguska).

 

9. International Astronomical Youth Camp in Spain, 12 July – 1 August
The International Astronomical Youth Camp (IAYC) is a three-week long summer camp aiming to promote knowledge of astronomy and related sciences in a unique international atmosphere. The IAYC is an experience unlike any other; a place for unforgettable memories and lifelong friendships. During the camp, 65 young and enthusiastic participants from all corners of the world gather in a remote location in Spain to observe and learn about some of the most spectacular skies on this Earth. Applications for the 2020 camp are being accepted until 5 April 2020.
   International Astronomical Youth Camp, 12 July-1 August 2020;  Baños de Montemayor, Spain
More information and application are here: 
www.iayc.org

 

10. National Astronomy Week, 14 – 22 November.

 National Astronomy Week (NAW) will be held in the UK from Saturday 14 November to Sunday 22 November, to celebrate the close approach of Mars. Amateur and professional astronomers will be holding observing events during the week. Seen through a telescope magnifying about 100 times, Mars will appear as a pale orange disc, with its markings clearly visible, at a distance of 80 million km.

    Although Mars is at its closest to Earth a month earlier, by November it is well up in the sky during the early evening, allowing younger schoolchildren an opportunity to get a good view of the planet. It will not be as close again until 2033.  As well as Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon will be on show during National Astronomy Week. Details of observing events will be posted on the NAW website.

 

11. Death of Al Worden. Sad news: Al was the CM pilot on Apollo 15. I was lucky enough to have dinner with him at the Kennedy Space Centre just over a year ago. A great and lovely man.

 

12. INTERESTING WEBLINKS (Disclaimer - Use of material herein from various sources does not imply approval or otherwise of the opinions, political or otherwise, of those sources).  NB: If the title in the weblink does not indicate the subject matter, I give a brief simple intro before the link. I may also comment about the link afterwards.

 

ASTROPHYSICS

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/techandscience/there-are-infinite-rings-of-light-around-black-holes-heres-how-we-could-see-them/ar-BB11pbRE?ocid=spartandhp

  https://newatlas.com/space/hubble-space-telescope-stars-nebula/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=2a75a50b6a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_20_09_17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-2a75a50b6a-92786061  Nice feature, but Oh dear! - "...nearby in astrological terms". Astrological??? Wash your mouths out with soapy water!

   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8146523/Milky-Way-extends-1-9-MILLION-light-years-thanks-dark-matter.html

  High rate of star formation in 3 nearby interstellar gas clouds https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200323101350.htm

  Strange pulsating white dwarf in a binary system https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200316141447.htm

   https://newatlas.com/physics/chandra-x-ray-evidence-theory-everything/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=0cbd821123-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_23_09_39&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-0cbd821123-92786061

  Search for Dark Matter in MW comes up empty https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200326144404.htm but see this for a contrary view https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/physicists-brawl-over-new-dark-matter-claim?utm_campaign=news_daily_2020-03-26&et_rid=415711678&et_cid=3261898  

   Slime mould models the universe's largest structures https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200326124124.htm   

ALMA + a gravitational lens show effects of BH jets in a very distant galaxy https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200327113755.htm

 

COSMOLOGY

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/techandscience/this-galaxy-cluster-may-have-just-dealt-a-major-blow-to-string-theory/ar-BB11smyh?ocid=spartandhp

   Holographic cosmological model and thermodynamics on the horizon of the universe    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200326101354.htm

  Hubble Bubble may settle the question of the rate of the expansion of the universe https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200320192753.htm

 

EARTH & MOON

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8135975/Geologists-diamond-bearing-rock-fragment-ancient-continent.html

   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-7733203/Extra-terrestrial-impacts-shaped-Earth-3-2-billion-years-ago-study-finds.html

   https://newatlas.com/environment/3d-nasa-map-methane-atmosphere/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=1857025a68-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_24_09_18&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-1857025a68-92786061

 

EXOPLANETS

Strange orbits of Tatooine planetary discs https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200319103209.htm

 

IMAGES

Forming massive stars in the Tarantula Nebula https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200318104425.htm

 

SOLAR SYSTEM

https://www.msn.com/en-ie/news/indepth/remember-when-japan-blasted-an-asteroid-heres-what-we-learned/ar-BB11Brtf?ocid=spartandhp

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/techandscience/old-gas-blob-from-uranus-found-in-vintage-voyager-2-data/ar-BB11K8if?ocid=spartandhp

 

SPACE

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8133229/Coronavirus-deals-blow-NASAs-2024-return-moon-plan.html

   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8132441/NASA-SpaceX-crewed-mission-space-set-despite-growing-fears-coronavirus.html

   https://newatlas.com/space/nasa-public-help-improve-rassor-moon-mining-robot/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=2a75a50b6a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_20_09_17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-2a75a50b6a-92786061

  https://newatlas.com/space/nasa-installs-mars-rover-sampling-arm/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=2a75a50b6a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_20_09_17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-2a75a50b6a-92786061

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8156011/Astronauts-going-Mars-increased-risk-deafness-balance-problems.html

   https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/techandscience/nasa-tasks-spacex-with-sending-cargo-and-supplies-to-future-lunar-space-station/ar-BB11OMcy?ocid=spartandhp

 TELESCOPES, EQUIPMENT, TECHNIQUES

 

New deformable precision mirrors to improve sensitivity of GW detectors https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200318143639.htm

Model Earths plus super telescopes will aid search for exolife https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200326144450.htm

 

13. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION. This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA. http://documents.irishastro.org.uk/iaamembership.doc
If you are a UK taxpayer, please tick the 'gift-aid' box, as that enables us to reclaim the standard rate of tax on your subscription, at no cost to you. You can also make a donation via Paypal if you wish: just click on the 'Donate' button. See also
https://irishastro.org/  

 

The Irish Astronomical Association is registered with The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland NIC 105858

 

DISCLAIMER: Any views expressed herein are mine, and do not necessarily represent those of the IAA.

Clear skies,

Terry Moseley


Friday, 20 March 2020

Meetings cancelled, Early equinox, Bright comet coming. satellite sky pollution, Astro stamps, Venus ISS, Betelgeuse

Hi all,

 

1. IAA PUBLIC MEETINGS CANCELLED until further notice.

Because of the Covid-19 virus outbreak, the next lecture meeting has been cancelled. The AGM which was scheduled for April 15 has been postponed: a new date will be notified as soon as the situation becomes clearer: it may not be possible to hold it until September. Observing sessions at Delamont have also been cancelled until further notice.

 

2. Dark Sky observing event, Cavan Burren Park centre, 20 March, Unfortunately this event has now also been cancelled because of Covid-19. It's hoped to re-arrange it some time in the future.

 

3. EQUINOX Mar 20 at 03h 49. This is the earliest N. Spring equinox for 124 years. The Sun will cross the celestial equator going Northwards  in its apparent annual journey round the sky on Mar 20 at 03h 49 This will mark the start of N. Hemisphere spring, and S Hemisphere autumn. "Equinox" means that 'day will be equal to night', but of course that's only approximately true. That's because 'sunrise' is defined as the moment when the upper limb of the Sun first appears above the E horizon, and 'sunset' as when its upper limb disappears below the W horizon, rather than the centre of the Sun in each case.

   Further, atmospheric refraction actually makes the Sun appear elevated by about half a degree from its true position, so that it appears to have fully risen while it is actually still totally below the horizon. Conversely, the refraction effect makes it still appears to be above the W horizon when it has actually set. These effects combine to make apparent day about 20 minutes longer than the time when the Sun appears to be below our horizon.

   Finally, at least one online website used to state that at the equinoxes, no matter where you are on the Earth, 'the Sun rises exactly due East and sets exactly due West'.  This of course is not true, especially at our latitudes. The first and most obvious point is that the Sun is moving either N or S at the equinoxes, so if it rises due E, by definition it cannot set due W which will be about 12h later! However, this effect would be very small, amounting to about 11 arcminutes.

 However, at our latitudes the Sun rises and sets at a considerable angle to the horizon, and the effect of refraction makes the Sun appear about 0.6º higher than it actually is, which makes sunrise appear earlier, and sunset later, than if we had no atmosphere. And because of the angle of the ecliptic to the horizon, for us that makes the Sun rise North of due East, and set North of due West, at the equinoxes. Further, sunrise and sunset apply to the upper edge, or limb, of the Sun, which exaggerates the effect. Combined, these effects shift the spring rising point by about 1.25 degrees Northwards. That's about 2.5 solar diameters, so it is significant. Not that much, but enough to make it wrong to use the term "exactly".

   I'm glad to say that after several years of me haranguing them, one website has indeed accepted my points, and changed their definition!

 

4. COSMOS STAR PARTY, Athlone, (3-5 April) POSTPONED.  Unfortunately this has had to be postponed because of Covid-19 risks. It may be possible to hold it sometime later I'll keep you informed.

 

4. COMET ATLAS IS BRIGHTENING FASTER THAN EXPECTED: Get ready for another nice comet. Comet ATLAS (C2019 Y4) is plunging toward the sun and, if it doesn't break up first, it could become one of the brightest comets in years. Amateurs are already getting fantastic images as the comet brightens even faster than expected. You can get its position from heavens-above.com

 

5. The Impact of Satellite Constellations on Astronomy: IAU press release

https://www.iau.org/news/pressreleases/detail/iau2001/

 

6. Astronomy Stamps. A new set of stamps has been issued in the UK, with the theme Visions Of The Universe, marking the 200th anniversary of the RAS. You can buy various sets, or buy them singly.

 

7. Venus. You can't miss brilliant Venus in the SW evening twilight. Watch as it moves ever higher out of the bright twilight over the next few weeks as it approaches its pass through the Pleiades on 3 April.

 

8. ISS  will start a new series of evening passes on 20 March. Full details for your location, and lots of other astronomy information, on the excellent free site www.heavens-above.com

 

9. BETELGEUSE continues to brighten. Betelgeuse reached a minimum magnitude of about mag 1.6, and is now slowly brightening again: it's about 1.2 at the moment. There are two theories for the unusually deep minimum; firstly that it was caused by the minima of at least two separate cycles coinciding round about Feb 22, or that it was due to the shedding of dust from its outer layers, which has now thinned out and become more transparent.

   Watch it for as long as you can – into early April, at a stretch - to see how much it brightens again. You can compare it with Procyon (mag 0.4), Aldebaran (mag 0.87, but slightly variable itself),  Pollux (mag 1.16), Castor (mag 1.58), Bellatrix (mag 1.64). Only do it when Betelgeuse is at least 30 degrees above the horizon, and choose comparison stars at about the same altitude as it.

 

10. Asteroid Day, 30 June.

Asteroid Day was co-founded by astrophysicist and famed musician Dr. Brian May of  QUEEN; Apollo 9 Astronaut Rusty Schweickart; Filmmaker Grig Richters; and B612 President Danica Remy, to promote awareness and provide knowledge to the general public about the importance of asteroids in our solar system history, and the role they play in our solar system today. Events are scheduled leading up to 30 June, the date of the largest asteroid impact of Earth in recorded history (Tunguska).

 

11. International Astronomical Youth Camp in Spain, 12 July – 1 August
The International Astronomical Youth Camp (IAYC) is a three-week long summer camp aiming to promote knowledge of astronomy and related sciences in a unique international atmosphere. The IAYC is an experience unlike any other; a place for unforgettable memories and lifelong friendships. During the camp, 65 young and enthusiastic participants from all corners of the world gather in a remote location in Spain to observe and learn about some of the most spectacular skies on this Earth. Applications for the 2020 camp are being accepted until 5 April 2020.
   International Astronomical Youth Camp, 12 July-1 August 2020;  Baños de Montemayor, Spain
More information and application are here: 
www.iayc.org

 

12. National Astronomy Week, 14 – 22 November.

 National Astronomy Week (NAW) will be held in the UK from Saturday 14 November to Sunday 22 November, to celebrate the close approach of Mars. Amateur and professional astronomers will be holding observing events during the week. Seen through a telescope magnifying about 100 times, Mars will appear as a pale orange disc, with its markings clearly visible, at a distance of 80 million km.

    Although Mars is at its closest to Earth a month earlier, by November it is well up in the sky during the early evening, allowing younger schoolchildren an opportunity to get a good view of the planet. It will not be as close again until 2033.  As well as Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon will be on show during National Astronomy Week. Details of observing events will be posted on the NAW website.

 

13. Death of Al Worden. Sad news: Al was the CM pilot on Apollo 15. I was lucky enough to have dinner with him at the Kennedy Space Centre just over a year ago. A great and lovely man.

 

14. INTERESTING WEBLINKS (Disclaimer - Use of material herein from various sources does not imply approval or otherwise of the opinions, political or otherwise, of those sources).  NB: If the title in the weblink does not indicate the subject matter, I give a brief simple intro before the link. I may also comment about the link afterwards.

 

ASTROPHYSICS

Turbulent convection in stellar interiors https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200309130029.htm

Odd star pulsates on one side only https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200309130013.htm

EHT produces razor-sharp images of Black Hole https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200318143757.htm

 

EARTH & MOON

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8104801/Energy-renewables-cheaper-coal-says-report.html  Thank you, Sun.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-7733203/Extra-terrestrial-impacts-shaped-Earth-3-2-billion-years-ago-study-finds.html

  https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8095923/Ancient-human-settlement-obliterated-COMET-exploding-Earths-atmosphere-12-800-years-ago.html  Good video on Hera / Dart mission!

   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8099431/World-way-track-meeting-climate-change-targets-warns-report.html 

   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8110881/Under-Lucky-Stars-petitions-against-SpaceXs-plans-send-Starlink-satellites-orbit.html

   New theory of origin of Earth's magnetic field. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200315102257.htm

 

IMAGES

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8126843/Hubble-captures-spectacular-image-bright-pink-star-forming-cloud.html The Zoom-in is incredible – be sure to watch it!

From the Moon to the Multuiverse – amazing size comparison video https://youtu.be/GoW8Tf7hTGA

 

SOLAR SYSTEM

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8118431/Scientists-untangle-mystery-ice-forms-Mercury-surface-temperatures-750-degrees.html and

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200313155329.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29

 

SPACE

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/european-mars-rover-delayed-until-2022?utm_campaign=news_daily_2020-03-12&et_rid=415711678&et_cid=3243108

   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8101781/NASA-astronauts-head-ISS-aboard-SpaceXs-Crew-Dragon-early-MAY.html Some poor proof-reading here. "…will not position…" should read "… will not only position…". A few others too, but that's the worst.

   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8096279/Elon-Musk-fears-die-makes-Mars-SpaceXs-lack-progress.html I'm sure Mars won't mind!

   Remembering Alexei Leonov: the first spacewalker, who nearly didn't get back https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/in-depth/the-first-spacewalk-could-have-ended-in-tragedy-for-alexei-leonov-heres-what-went-wrong/ar-BB11o4mW?ocid=spartandhp

  https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8130317/Russia-send-spacecraft-MOON-time-45-years.html

   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8110881/Under-Lucky-Stars-petitions-against-SpaceXs-plans-send-Starlink-satellites-orbit.html

   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8104451/Mars-rover-mission-delayed-two-years.html

   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8132441/NASA-SpaceX-crewed-mission-space-set-despite-growing-fears-coronavirus.html

 

TELESCOPES, EQUIPMENT, TECHNIQUES

EHT produces razor-sharp images of Black Hole https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200318143757.htm

   New telescope design could give unprecedented detail over a wider field https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200318143748.htm 

 

15. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION. This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA. http://documents.irishastro.org.uk/iaamembership.doc
If you are a UK taxpayer, please tick the 'gift-aid' box, as that enables us to reclaim the standard rate of tax on your subscription, at no cost to you. You can also make a donation via Paypal if you wish: just click on the 'Donate' button. See also
https://irishastro.org/  

 

The Irish Astronomical Association is registered with The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland NIC 105858

 

DISCLAIMER: Any views expressed herein are mine, and do not necessarily represent those of the IAA.

Clear skies,

Terry Moseley


 

Friday, 13 March 2020

Cancellations, Cavan/Burren event goes ahead, Globe at Night, Eratosthenes experiment, Starlink satellites effects, Astronomy stamps, more

Hi all,

 

 

1. IAA PUBLIC MEETINGS CANCELLED until further notice.

Because of the Covid-19 virus outbreak, the next two lecture meetings have been cancelled. The AGM which was scheduled for April 15 has been postponed: a new date will be notified as soon as the situation becomes clearer: it may not be possible to hold it until September. Observing sessions at Delamont have also been cancelled until further notice.

 

2. Dark Sky observing event, Cavan Burren Park centre, 20 March, 7.30 p.m. I've been asked to run another one of these events, in a very dark sky location, near Blacklion, just across the border from Belcoo. At the moment, this is still going ahead, but obviously the situation is being kept under review. Details at www.cavanburrenpark.ie

 

3. COSMOS STAR PARTY, Athlone, (3-5 April) POSTPONED.  Unfortunately this has had to be postponed because of the Covid-19 risks. It may be possible to hold it sometime in the autumn. I'll keep you informed.

 

4. Globe At Night campaign for Pi Day (March 14)

https://www.globeatnight.org/

 

5. Eratosthenes Experiment

The Eratosthenes Experiment is holding a worldwide experiment to calculate the circumference of the Earth on 20 March 2020. Schools are welcome to join the experiment and submit your data to the Eratosthenes Experiment. The experiment can be performed in collaboration with another school at the same longitude. Registration takes place between 10 March 2020 (12:00 CET) and 16 March 2020 (12:00 CET).

For schools in Ireland, other schools at the same longitude can be found in NW Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Mauretania, Mali, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Liberia.. Schools on the Ards Peninsula are also on roughly the same longitude as St Helena in the S. Atlantic – that would give a nice long baseline, and they speak English!

Find out more: http://eratosthenes.ea.gr/

 

6. The Impact of Satellite Constellations on Astronomy: IAU press release

https://www.iau.org/news/pressreleases/detail/iau2001/

 

7. Astronomy Stamps. A new set of stamps has been issued in the UK, with the theme Visions Of The Universe, marking the 200th anniversary of the RAS. Various sets are available, or you can just buy them singly.

 

8. Venus. You can't miss brilliant Venus in the SW twilight these evenings. Watch is it moves ever higher out of the bright twilight over the next few months as it approaches its rendezvous with the Pleiades on 3 April.

 

9. ISS The International Space Station will start a new series of evening passes on 20 March. Full details for your location, and lots of other astronomy information, on the excellent free site www.heavens-above.com

 

10. BETELGEUSE continues to brighten again.

   As my observations indicated in late February, Betelgeuse reached a minimum magnitude of about mag 1.6, and is now slowly brightening again: it's about 1.3 at the moment. There are two theories for the unusually deep minimum; firstly that it was caused by the minima of at least two separate cycles coinciding round about Feb 22. Another theory is that it was due to the shedding of dust from its outer atmosphere, which has now thinned out enough for it to become more transparent.

   Watch it for as long as you can – into early April, at a stretch - to see how much it brightens again. You can compare it with Procyon (mag 0.4), Aldebaran (mag 0.87, but slightly variable itself),  Pollux (mag 1.16), Castor (mag 1.58), Bellatrix (mag 1.64). Only do it when Betelgeuse is at least 30 degrees above the horizon, and choose comparison stars at about the same altitude as it.

 

11. Asteroid Day, 30 June.

Asteroid Day was co-founded by astrophysicist and famed musician Dr. Brian May of the rock group QUEEN; Apollo 9 Astronaut Rusty Schweickart; Filmmaker Grig Richters; and B612 President Danica Remy, to promote awareness and provide knowledge to the general public about the importance of asteroids in our solar system history, and the role they play in our solar system today. Events are scheduled leading up to 30 June, the date of the largest asteroid impact of Earth in recorded history (Tunguska).

 

12. International Astronomical Youth Camp in Spain, 12 July – 1 August
The International Astronomical Youth Camp (IAYC) is a three-week long summer camp aiming to promote knowledge of astronomy and related sciences in a unique international atmosphere. The IAYC is an experience unlike any other; a place for unforgettable memories and lifelong friendships. During the camp, 65 young and enthusiastic participants from all corners of the world gather in a remote location in Spain to observe and learn about some of the most spectacular skies on this Earth. Applications for the 2020 camp are being accepted until 5 April 2020.
   International Astronomical Youth Camp, 12 July-1 August 2020;  Baños de Montemayor, Spain
More information and application are here: 
www.iayc.org

 

13. National Astronomy Week, 14 – 22 November.

 National Astronomy Week (NAW) will be held in the UK from Saturday 14 November to Sunday 22 November, to celebrate the close approach of Mars. Amateur and professional astronomers will be holding observing events during the week. Seen through a telescope magnifying about 100 times, Mars will appear as a pale orange disc, with its markings clearly visible, at a distance of 80 million km.

    Although Mars is at its closest to Earth a month earlier, by November it is well up in the sky during the early evening, allowing younger schoolchildren an opportunity to get a good view of the planet. It will not be as close again until 2033.

    As well as Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon will be on show during National Astronomy Week. Details of observing events will be posted on the NAW website.

 

14. INTERESTING WEBLINKS (Disclaimer - Use of material herein from various sources does not imply approval or otherwise of the opinions, political or otherwise, of those sources).  NB: If the title in the weblink does not indicate the subject matter, I give a brief simple intro before the link. I may also comment about the link afterwards.

 

ASTROPHYSICS

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8084041/Betelgeuse-little-bit-dusty-wont-going-supernovae-anytime-soon.html

   https://newatlas.com/space/teardrop-shaped-star-pulsates-one-side-hd74423/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=534949f63e-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_10_09_07&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-534949f63e-92786061 Interesting. But why is the Red Dwarf not also teardrop-shaped?

   Star-forming galaxies likely primary energy source of Lyman-alpha radiation emitted from gigantic hydrogen gas blobs. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200309165242.htm

   Strange matter findings in neutron stars https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200309130036.htm (I'd never even heard of a 'hypertriton'!

New telescope pinpoints rare binary brown dwarf https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200309130057.htm

   There's something strange about Polaris https://www.livescience.com/north-star-cepheid-mystery.html?utm_source=Selligent&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=9160&utm_content=LVS_newsletter+&utm_term=3473357&m_i=RD%2BR30oBFc8wPDf473GojfT%2BsRBZgKfHOLiCSV19YY8dAiq4qLf4boMP%2BRF79Zxu90lA%2BVWjU3Nd4RizPBJpTUWfKV_1HKlFTUJeslkRR6

 

COSMOLOGY

Dark Matter may be d-star hexaquarks in the form of Bose-Einstein Condensates https://www.livescience.com/hexaquarks-could-explain-dark-matter.html?utm_source=Selligent&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=9160&utm_content=LVS_newsletter+&utm_term=3473357&m_i=QtSxnBqc2OyTDNGN9swhjQHQwJtO9HMpctmsDG6fbfsDVIHVXzG38UvUJAftFLePK8PPvwHx8U96s2ogXIvYORFAefZL8JtzwzB3vlSQQZ (Don't worry – that's not as frightening as it sounds – those are all already known to exist!)

    Slimy solution to the growth of the cosmic web https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200310124708.htm

   The Axion, if it exists, could solve 3 fundamental problems of the universe https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200310114721.htm

 

EARTH & MOON

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8078159/SpaceX-Starlink-hamper-astronomers-ability-spot-dangerous-asteroids.html

Ancient shell shows days were 30 mts shorter for the dinosaurs https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200309135410.htm

   https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/ancient-human-settlement-was-destroyed-by-comet-12800-years-ago/ar-BB110J3S?ocid=spartandhp

Earth & Moon have different sorts of oxygen https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200310164742.htm

 

EXOLIFE

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8078901/Organic-molecules-discovered-NASA-Curiosity-rover-consistent-alien-life.html and

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200305002826.htm

 

EXOPLANETS

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/techandscience/this-gas-giant-exoplanet-has-water-rich-clouds-heres-why-it-thrills-astronomers/ar-BB10Wvuz?ocid=spartandhp

   Exoplanet has iron rain! https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200311121832.htm this means that the planet is slowly being turned over: eventually the whole planet will have been evaporated from the hot side and deposited on the cooler side, if it survives long enough. A bit like turning over your compost heap from bin 1 to bin 2!

 

SOLAR SYSTEM

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8076291/NASA-Curiosity-rover-creates-stunning-panorama-home-Mars.html

   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8079849/Mars-2020-rover-christened-Perseverance-NASA-let-public-choose-contest.html

   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8080883/Researchers-working-NASA-create-self-sustaining-human-colony-Mars.html

Temperature gradient safety zone stopped Titan from falling into Saturn https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200309110250.htm

   DES finds hundreds of dwarf planets beyond Neptune https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200311161853.htm

 

SPACE

https://www.msn.com/en-ie/news/techandscience/nasa-slaps-boeing-with-61-corrective-actions-after-starliner-failure/ar-BB10UDDK?ocid=spartandhp

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8084657/Elon-Musk-says-SpaceX-plans-build-reusable-rocket-ship-72-HOURS-colonizing-Mars.html  You know, it will be no fun at all if they get a Corona virus outbreak on one of these transport ships, let alone on Mars itself. Let's look after Earth, rather than exporting our problems to Mars. Research yes, but colonising? – not for centuries at the earliest.

   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8079307/Lettuces-grown-ISS-nutritious-grown-Earth.html

   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8080641/SpaceX-announces-partnership-send-tourists-ISS.html

   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8078159/SpaceX-Starlink-hamper-astronomers-ability-spot-dangerous-asteroids.html

   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8080883/Researchers-working-NASA-create-self-sustaining-human-colony-Mars.html

 

 

15. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION. This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA. http://documents.irishastro.org.uk/iaamembership.doc
If you are a UK taxpayer, please tick the 'gift-aid' box, as that enables us to reclaim the standard rate of tax on your subscription, at no cost to you. You can also make a donation via Paypal if you wish: just click on the 'Donate' button. See also
https://irishastro.org/  

 

The Irish Astronomical Association is registered with The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland NIC 105858

 

DISCLAIMER: Any views expressed herein are mine, and do not necessarily represent those of the IAA.

                                                                                                                             

Clear skies,

Terry Moseley



Virus-free. www.avast.com