1. Lidl 10x50 Binocs. From Monday 19 May Lidl will again be selling the Bresser 10x50 binocs for £14.99 in UK/NI. I don't know the price in ROI, but usually it's comparable. I have a pair of these and am very happy with them as a second pair which I keep in the car at all times. They are not 'Five Star', but they are probably 'Four Star', and are very good value at that price. They have BAK4 prisms (the best), and fully coated lenses. The field of view is quoted as 114m at 1000m, which equals 6.5 degrees, which is OK. They have central focussing, with individual eye adjustment. They also have a tripod attachment point at the front of the centre focus bar, They come with a strap and a light carry case. They are basically a 'clone' of the equivalent Meade model, which is a good guarantee of quality, and they have a 5-year guarantee.…
2. Volunteers for IYA 2009. I'm sure you all know that the UN General Assembly has designated 2009 as "International Year of Astronomy" to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first telescopic observations of the sky. It's also the 40th anniversary of the first Moon landing.
There will be a world-wide series of astronomy events, aimed at bringing astronomy to all. Contact your local astronomy club to see what they are planning.
The Irish Astronomical Association in particular is planning a wide variety of events, right across the country. We are looking for volunteers in all areas who would be prepared to help out at, for example, observing afternoons+ evenings. The plan is for an afternoon event focussing on the Sun, with night sky observing that same evening, with other activities if it's cloudy. These will obviously concentrate in the early spring and autumn, when darkness falls fairly early.
3. Microsoft astronomy: Microsoft research has released the beta version of the Worldwide telescope. just in case you have not seen it, please link to http://www.worldwidetelescope.org/ for the download.
Quoting the Blurb from the web site:
"WorldWide Telescope is a rich visualization environment that functions as a virtual telescope, bringing together imagery from the best ground- and space-based telescopes to enable seamless exploration of the universe.
Choose from a growing number of guided tours of the sky by astronomers and educators from some of the most famous observatories and planetariums in the country. You can pause a tour at any time and explore on your own. Or you can stop and research a deep sky object with the multiple information sources available. When you're ready, rejoin the tour where you left off.
WorldWide Telescope, created with Microsoft Corp.'s high-performance Visual Experience Engine, enables seamless panning and zooming around the night sky, planets and image environments. View the sky from multiple wavelengths: See the X-ray view of the sky and zoom into bright radiation clouds, and then cross-fade into the visible light view and discover the cloud remnants of a supernova explosion from 1,000 years ago. Switch to the Hydrogen-Alpha view to see the distribution and illumination of massive primordial hydrogen cloud structures lit up by the high-energy radiation coming from nearby stars in the Milky Way.
These are just two of many different ways to reveal the hidden structures in the universe with the WorldWide Telescope. Pan and zoom from aerial views of the moon and selected planets, and see their precise positions in the sky from any location on Earth, at any time in the past or future. The WorldWide Telescope is a single rich application portal that blends terabytes of images, data and stories from multiple sources over the Internet into a media-rich, immersive experience. Space explorers of all ages will feel empowered to navigate and understand the universe with the WorldWide Telescope's simple yet powerful user interface."
4. For Sale: Meade Lightbridge 12" Dobsonian f/5. In excellent condition with extras. Details as per Telescope House website- www.telescopehouse.com. Extras included: Astrozap shroud; all collimation and locking screws replaced with Bob's Knobs; wheeled base for moving; blackened struts; handles for lifting.
Buyer collects. Price – First £450. Contact - Philip Baxter 07999811066 or e-mail Philip_baxter@excite.com
5. ESA Astronauts wanted: From Monday 19 May ESA, the European Space Agency, will commence the search for new prospective astronauts. Both Ireland & the UK are members of ESA, so any UK or Irish citizen can apply. You need an appropriate science degree or pilot experience, and have to be within certain age limits, and healthy. See the ESA website for details.
6. COMET PHOTOS WANTED: From Dr Mike Simms: The Ulster Museum is putting together a whole load of new displays. Included will be a section on meteorites and the early history of the Earth and Solar System. I also want to briefly mention comets as a possible source of organic molecules and water for the early Earth. A picture of Hale-Bopp would be nice to include. There are thousands available on the internet but it would be nice to use an image (fully acknowledged of course) by someone in the IAA. It would need to be fairly high resolution but then, most of you starmen seem to have pretty fancy cameras these days! Could you send out a call to any IAA members to send me any good images of Hale-Bopp (probably best to use that one as it is the one most people will remember seeing) that they would like us to consider. All the best, Mike". Contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org