1. Just a final reminder: IAA New Year Party & Film: Through the good efforts of Robert Hill of NISO, we have indeed been able to secure the first private viewing in Europe of the superb film "Shadow of the Moon" for our New Year Party on Saturday 5 January, at the Tudor Cinema, Drumhirk Road, Comber, Co Down! The film will not be officially released on DVD here until February, but Robert has special contacts..... Admission details as before: £10 per person, including excellent food & liquid refreshments, both alcoholic and otherwise. Also a great fun quiz with lots of prizes, and great craic for all. Be there 7.30 for 8.0 for this special preview, and a great evening.
NB: YOU MUST BOOK & PREPAY by 2 JANUARY: Cheques payable to the IAA (Sterling only please) - send to John Hall, 3 Vaddegan Avenue, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, BT36 7SP.
A. Coming from the Greater Belfast area: follow signs for the A22 to Comber, proceed along the bypass (missing the town) to the roundabout, then turn right, still on the A22, towards Killyleagh and Downpatrick. Just 1 mile past the end of the 30mph speed limit zone in Comber, turn right into DRUMHIRK ROAD. After about 1/3 mile, look out for a row of cottages on the right, opposite which there is some 'ranch-style' fencing, with an entry to a laneway. There will be an IAA sign at this junction. Proceed along that laneway to the end where you will find the cinema and car park.
B. Coming from Downpatrick direction: proceed along A22 towards Comber, and look out for Drumhirk Road on your left, just 1 mile before you reach the edge of Comber.
C. Coming from the West or South: either go though Belfast and proceed as at A above, or turn off the M1 at Lisburn, taking the A49, then in a short distance turn left onto the B6, and then left again onto the B178, following signs for Carryduff and Comber. In Carryduff turn left, then right, following the B178 for Comber. Just before you reach Comber you join the A21: follow this into Comber, then follow signs for the A22 to Killyleagh and Downpatrick as at A above.
PARK AS NEATLY AS POSSIBLE PLEASE! We need to get as many cars in as possible.
2. The Quadrantid Meteors are due to peak on 4 January at 06.00, with a predicted maximum rate in very dark skies, with the radiant high up, of about 100 meteors per hour. These conditions are never quite obtained in Ireland, as the radiant never gets much above 50 degrees altitude before dawn interferes. But conditions are quite good this year, with maximum predicted for when the radiant is highest in a dark sky, and the Moon will be only a thin faint waning crescent. The radiant lies in the now defunct constellation of the Quadrant, and it lies roughly halfway between the end of the 'Plough' or 'Big Dipper', and the head of Draco. It will be low down in the NNW as darkness falls on the night of 3-4 January, dips below the Pole (it's circumpolar, so it never sets) at about 9 p.m., and then starts to rise higher in the NE as the night progresses, until dawn.
Quadrantid meteors tend to be blue or yellow, although you will only see colour in the brighter members of the shower. They also tend to be rather slow in comparison with some other showers, so they are easier to record photographically.
Watches any time from midnight on 3-4 January should produce good observed rates if the sky is clear and dark.
3. The ISS is now starting a series of morning passes over Ireland, so you might see it if you are up very late (or early) watching the Quadrantids. Details of passes can be found on www.heavens-above.com.
Good Luck - and Happy New Year, once again.