Monday, 19 November 2007

Leonids mini-peak, geology prog, Space Q, 3 Lectures


Hi all,

1. EXTRA LEONIDS PEAK: The Leonids 'traditional' maximum last night was clouded out for most observers in Ireland. But Dr David Asher at Armagh Observatory has alerted me to an extra - 'mini-peak' tonight, which might give ZHR rates of over 60 per hour. Don't get too excited, because it is forecast to occur at 23.05, when the radiant is barely above the NE horizon for observers in the NE of Ireland, and even lower for those in the West and South. So observed rates will be much lower than the theoretical maximum, which is quoted for the radiant being in the zenith.

   Further, the meteors are expected to be quite faint, which means that you will have to observe from a really dark site to see them properly.

   The accuracy of this forecast is stated to be 'high', which means that the timing is unlikely to be in error by more than about 15 minutes either way. The enhanced activity will decline fairly quickly after maximum, with ZHR rates down to about 30 about 2 hours after maximum. However, it might be worth having a look from about 11 or 11.30 p.m. onwards, if only out of curiosity, and to check the accuracy of the forecast. Observers in NE Ireland have the best chance, if you can get to a really dark site.  

   Further details can be found on from the Armagh Observatory website:

New series 1/5. Volcano.
Dr lain Stewart investigates the powerful natural forces that have shaped the world over billions of years. Beginning his quest with volcanos, he abseils into a lava lake and then explores the underwater caverns created by the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. He also explains the positive role played by the greenhouse effect many millennia ago in ending the last ice age.
Director/Producer Paul Olding
Signed repeat on Wednesday at 1.50am on BBC1 (5) (AD) 7399

BLURB: (Edited for brevity) Dr Iain Stewart - senior lecturer in geology at the University of Plymouth - has already tackled Journeys from the Centre of the Earth and Journeys into the Ring of Fire, but his new five-part series, Earth: the Power of the Planet, attempts to tell the whole story.
"Other programmes have shown the grandeur of the planet," says Stewart, "but I wanted to show how Earth works: how complicated it is, how all the bits interconnect and how it came to be a planet that supports life."
Helped by some of the same techniques and cameramen that took our breath away during Planet Earth, Stewart looks at the forces that have shaped the planet - volcanos, oceans, the atmosphere and ice - and, in the final programme, concludes that Earth has nothing to fear from man.
"Earth was here billions of years before us; it's withstood a lot worse than we can throw at it. If we do mess things up this time, it won't be the planet that's in trouble. It won't be life that's in trouble. Life will carry on, the cockroaches will carry on. We're the ones who'll be in trouble!" Danny Scott

  REVIEW: (Edited for brevity) In this whopper of a series Stewart has pulled off the near-impossible: made a gripping, dramatic, inspiring programme about rocks. It's also about the origins of life on Earth and the forces that moulded our planet. It's big-picture stuff, with soaring shots of mountain ranges and lava lakes but also the odd 3-D diagram, too, to show how, say, subduction volcanos work (more interesting than it sounds),
Volcanos are the heroes of tonight's programme and the story is of how the heat trapped inside the Earth when it formed four-and-a-half billion years ago has played a vital role ever since. It's a fascinating story, told in a way that might just persuade older children to watch, too.  David Butcher.

    BOOK OFFER: RT DIRECT: To order Earth: the Power of the Planet in hardback for just £12 (normally £20) incl. free p&p, call 0844 848 9799, quoting reference RTD191.

3.  Space Expectations Study: "Maybe you could help us distribute a questionnaire which will try to ascertain the expectations of the public, particularly youth, regarding space. We have set up a special web site and we ask that people simply complete the questionnaire.
   The letter below may be of use. Thanks and regards, David Raitt"

October 30, 2007

"We ask for your help in shaping the future agenda for space as we stand at the dawn of a new century. This fiftieth year of orbiting spacecraft celebrates the best of human endeavours in space with achievements in global weather monitoring, navigation, stunning leaps in science and a permanent human presence in space. The International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) would like to involve the members of your organization in a voluntary web-based public survey to assess societal expectations of space. This could lead to space programs that are not only supported by the public but generate and maintain interest throughout society. This study, sponsored by the IAA would:

· determine the depth of understanding and backing of the public for space activities

· describe society’s expectations of space programs; and,

· ascertain how society could become more involved in the space arena

The next step would be to merge these three thrusts so that space projects could be positioned to fulfil public expectations, maintain their interest and excitement, and supported (both financially and intellectually) by the public.

Methodology: A public survey to be distributed though various national and international networks and organizations (including space agencies) to diverse groups including: high schools and universities; art, cultural and heritage organizations; as well as the public at large. For the public response, students would be encouraged to have their parents also respond to the survey. This would give the study team several sets of inputs from different age groups from around the world.

We should like to solicit your assistance in helping the IAA formulate the future through recognition of the positive impacts of space activities upon society. Please distribute the attached invitation throughout your organization. Information to assist you is shown on the website,, along with brief descriptions of the IAA. We appreciate your contribution to this effort.

Sincerely yours,

Peter A. Swan, Ph.D.

Study Lead, Space Expectations

International Academy of Astronautics

                           “My Space Expectations”
Please  assist  the  International  Academy  of Astronautics in assessing the status of the space arena with respect to your expectations.  The approach is simple:

                   Go to:
                Fill in the survey   ---   Enjoy the feedback
               Invite your family and friends to participate.
Participate in the Celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of Spaceflight!"

(I'll forgive them for pinching the "IAA" initials from the Irish Astronomical Association! Just.)

4.  Next IAS Public Lecture will be "Galileo, Galileo, Who was Galileo?", by Deirdre Kelleghan, in Dunsink Observatory, Castleknock, Dublin on Monday November 19th, at 8 p.m. Admission Free."

5. PUBLIC LECTURE: 27 November. 6.0 for 6.30 p.m.
"Through the Eyes of the Hubble Space Telescope" by Dr Robin Catchpole (Institute of Astronomy - Cambridge). The talk will include technology involved in the Hubble Space Telescope as well as the abilities of the telescope as such.
Venue:      University of Ulster at Belfast (also known as the Arts College)
(see website: for further details and a map.) Admission free, all welcome

6. The next public lecture by the "Real IAA" will be on Wednesday 28 October, 7.30 p.m. sharp, Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, main campus, Queen's University Belfast. Kevin Berwick will speak on "Astronomical Tourism". Admission free, including light refreshments. Free parking in the main QUB campus after 5.30 p.m. See for details and a map of the venue.

Clear skies,

Terry Moseley

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