Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Lectures, Eclipse, Planetarium Event, Seminars, ASGI


Hi all,

EVENT AT ARMAGH: The Director of Armagh Observatory, Professor Mark Bailey, has asked me to publicise this event:

1. Wed 20 February: A special "Meet the Astronomers at Armagh" event during the day: (see
   This event is free and open to all.  For tickets please contact Mrs Aileen McKee by e-mail at  or telephone the Observatory: 028-3752-2928. For general information see the website: .

2. Wed 20 February: IAA PUBLIC LECTURE:  7.30 p.m. Prof Chris Dainty, NUIG: "The prospect of Adaptive Optics for Small Telescopes". The Bell lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast.  Prof Dainty is one of the world's leading experts on adaptive optics, and we are delighted and honoured to have him lecture to us. Adaptive optics enable photos exceeding the quality of those of the Hubble Space Telescope to be taken by certain telescopes on Earth. Prof Dainty will describe how it will soon be possible to use this technique on the larger size of amateur telescopes - an amazing prospect. Don't miss this! Admission free, including light refreshments. All welcome.

   The IAA lecture programme is held in association with the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen's University Belfast. See:

3. TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE, 21 February, 03.26. That's Wednesday night / Thursday morning! This eclipse will be visible throughout Ireland, weather permitting.

   In a Total Lunar Eclipse the Full Moon passes into the shadow of the Earth and dims very considerably and changes colour, but usually remains faintly visible, lit by sunlight refracted through the Earth’s atmosphere. The atmosphere scatters blue light more than red, so that most of the light that reaches the lunar surface is red in colour. Observers will therefore see a Moon that may be anything from brick-coloured, through orange, rust-coloured, or even blood red. Sometimes it has a dark greyish hue, depending on atmospheric conditions.

In these islands the eclipse is visible at a rather unsociable hour! It begins at 00.35 when the Moon enters the penumbra, the lightest, outer part of the Earth’s shadow, and after 15 minutes or so you may notice the Moon start to take on a slight yellowish hue. At 01.42 the Moon starts to enter the dark core of the Earth’s shadow, the umbra. At 03.01 the Moon will be completely within the umbra – which marks the start of the ‘total’ phase of the eclipse, when any colour starts to become most noticeable. Mid-eclipse is at 03.26 and the total phase ends at 03.52. The Moon leaves the umbra at 05.09 and the eclipse ends when the Moon leaves the penumbra at 06.17.

   The Moon will pass well to the South of the centre of the Earth's shadow, so the S edge (actually the SSW edge) of the Moon will not appear so dark, as it will be closer to the edge of the shadow. Conversely, the NNE edge of the Moon will appear darkest.

   During the eclipse the Moon lies in the constellation of Leo. During mid-eclipse Regulus will lie to the upper right of the Moon and Saturn will lie to the left.

This eclipse should be a spectacular sight and the whole event can be observed without optical aid, although binoculars or a wide-field telescope will also give interesting views.

  If you get any good images send them to the IAA website:

4. IYPE LECTURES, 20 & 21 February: As part of 'International Year of Planet Earth', Prof. Richard Fortey  is giving lectures in Dublin and Belfast, as follows: "A History of Biodiversity - “A history of life on Earth”.

Dublin: Wednesday 20th February 2008 at 18:00, Trinity College Dublin (Burke Theatre), Belfast: Thursday 21st February 2008 at 19:00, W5, Odyssey Complex:

SYNOPSIS: The origins of life lie in the deep oceans and this lecture will trace the ups and downs of its evolution – the blossoming of biodiversity at various times and the catastrophic extinctions of life at others. It will also deal with some of the personalities involved in unravelling this fascinating story.

Richard Fortey is the successful author of books such as The Hidden Landscape; Life – An Unauthorised Biography; and The Earth: An Intimate History. Richard was the curator of Palaeontology at London’s celebrated Natural History Museum and President of the Geological Society of London on the occasion of its bicentenary (2007).   Free tickets for the Belfast event can be obtained by telephoning the Geological Survey (90388462). They can e-mail (or post) the tickets.  It should be a  fascinating talk.


   All members of the Irish Astronomical Association are invited to the following event:

"The year 2008 is an auspicious occasion for Armagh Planetarium as it marks our 40th Birthday! We would like to invite you to Armagh Planetarium on Saturday 8th March from 9:30 – 14:00  where you will be treated to a premiere of our new full-dome show, produced in collaboration with Evans & Sutherland-Spitz and Goto.  It will be special preview of "Mars Invaders" Armagh's first full-dome production show, which is not available for general view until the IPS meeting in Chicago in summer 2008.  We will also have short presentations from our special guests.  They include Prof Carl Murray from Queen Mary College London who is involved in the Cassini probe, Dr. Mike McKay from ESOC Germany who is ESA's flight controller.  Also Terence Murtagh who is involved with Evans and Sutherland and their Digistar 3 projection system and Dr. Mark Doherty from ESRIN in Italy who is an Earth Observation scientist.
   This is a great opportunity to hear experts talking about their field and is not to be missed!
   Other local astronomy groups are being invited so if you wish to attend we need to know asap as its a first come served basis.  If you are interested please give your name to Naomi at or by calling 3751 2939. Thanks, Naomi Francey.

6. ASGI: The spring ASGI meeting will be a 1-day meeting to be held at Armagh on Friday March 14 (10 am - 4pm).  There will be contributed talks varying from dust and jets in galaxies, to ISM studies and starless cores, to pre-main sequence and evolved stars.
   There will also be an invited talk by Prof. Janet Drew (University of Hertfordshire). She will present the recent initial data release of the INT H-alpha survey of the galactic plane IPHAS - which can now be used by
the community. IPHAS will map the structure of our Milky Way and assist in finding many many new young and evolved stars, exotic objects (like PNe, LBVs, symbiotics), as well as extremely red objects.

N.B.: This is a professional level meeting, and probably too advanced for the average amateur. However, members of the Irish Astronomical Association, and other affiliated societies, can attend if they wish, but please let the organisers know so they can gauge numbers. Email Jorick Vink at, or Aileen McKee at, or ring 028-3752-2928.

7. PROFESSIONAL SEMINARS: If you are interested you should regularly check "local" seminar pages: For the Dublin area there appears to be a general listing: In future all Dublin institutes may advertise their seminars there.
For the Belfast area/QUB:

BTW, I know that some of you are still getting multiple copies of these - apologies: I'm still trying to remove duplicate names!

Clear Skies

Terry Moseley

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