1. COMET HOLMES: On the way back from the IYA meeting (more on this later), and the AI lecture, in Dublin, Miruna Popescu & I stopped at a dark site North of Newry in a lovely clear transparent sky, for a look at P/Holmes. Amazing! It was easily visible to the unaided eye, a huge elongated misty patch - almost like the Small Magellanic Cloud, but not so big or bright. But it was both brighter & bigger that the Double Cluster in Perseus - about a magnitude brighter, I would say, and much bigger than the Moon. In my 10x50 binocs (£11.99 from Lidl, and very good images!) it was an amazing, almost surreal, sight! We also saw a nice early Geminid, magnitude -1, low down in the North below UMa, though the car windscreen.
2. IAA LECTURE: The next public lecture hosted by the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION will be on Wed 12 December, at 7.30 p.m., by Dr Lorraine Hanlon of UCD. The title is "Observing Gamma-Ray Bursts and their Afterglows", and promises to be yet another fascinating talk by one of the leading researchers in this field. VENUE: The Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, main campus, Queen's University, Belfast. Admission free, and all are welcome.
Since it's the last meeting before Xmas, seasonal refreshments will be provided free, as usual by the one & only Derwen. Don't miss.....