Friday, 26 September 2008

IAA Lecture, Taikonauts, WSP, ISS + ATV, Astrocast, ASGI, Star Stories, RIA

Hi all,

1. IAA PUBLIC LECTURE: Wednesday 1 October, 7.30 p.m. The next IAA public
lecture will be by our very own redoubtable & inimitable Dr Andy McCrea.
Entitled "Chasing the Darkest Skies in America and the Lowell Observatory",
it will describe Andy's latest astronomical adventures on the other side of
the Atlantic. It will be held as usual in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics
Building, Queen's University Belfast. Admission is free, including light
refreshments, and all are welcome.

2. CHINA LAUNCHES 3-Man spacecraft: China's Shenzhou 7 spacecraft carrying
a 3-man crew lifted off today from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center and
is now in Earth orbit. During the planned 3-day mission, the Chinese
astronauts or 'taikonauts', will launch a small satellite and conduct their
country's first space walk. As they orbit Earth, Shenzhou 7 and the body of
the rocket that launched it will be visible to the naked eye from many parts
of the globe, but probably not from Ireland. Sighting reports and updates
will be posted on

3. WHIRLPOOL STAR PARTY: Ireland's favourite and longest running Star Party
will be held THIS W/E (26-28 September), at Dooley's Hotel, in Birr, Co
Offaly. Birr Castle is home to the famous Leviathan, which was for 70 years
the largest telescope in the world, and the charge for the Star Party covers
admission to the Castle Demesne to see the Science Centre and the restored

The W/E starts with a reception in the hotel on Friday evening, followed
by lectures on the Saturday and Sunday, dinner (optional) on Saturday night,
and observing in the Castle Demesne on Friday and/or Saturday nights if it's

It's always good craic, with excellent talks, so book your accommodation
if you haven't already done so.

Details on:

4. I.S.S. + ATV Visible in Evening Skies: The International Space Station is
undergoing another series of evening passes over Ireland/UK from now until
October 8th. On board are 3 astronauts Sergei Volkov, Oleg Kononenko, Greg
Chamitoff. When the I.S.S. makes a favourable high pass it can be the
brightest starlike object in the sky (after Venus, and sometimes equalling

Also currently visible in the evening skies over Ireland is the recently
discarded ATV, or Jules Verne Transfer Vehicle, which has been detached from
the ISS and is being brought down for a planned re-entry over the Pacific
Ocean. It can get as bright as the brightest stars apart from Sirius, so
it's well worth looking out for. Some passes will be visible from Birr
during the WSP.

Details of both ISS and the ATV are on the excellent, free,

5. WORLD ASTROCAST: Please note that the next 'World AstroCast' has as
usual, a "Live" broadcast. Our very special speaker on Sat 4th October at
20-00hrs UT is Prof Pamela L. Gay of the southern Illinois University, and
Astronomycast fame. Her presentation is entitled "The Origins of the
Universe". In this talk she will address the Big Bang and how we know it
happened. She will travel through three lines of evidence, following from
Olbers paradox, through helium abundances, up through the microwave
The webinar is available on the following URL:
Please pass this on to everyone you know who is interested in Astronomy.
Because it's live you will have the opportunity to ask Dr Gay questions
after the presentation. A unique experience. To avoid disappointment please
check out your audio and PC settings at least 24hrs prior to the
transmission by clicking on the above URL and listening to the previous
speakers pre recorded presentations.

6. ASGI MEETING, UCC, CORK. The Autumn meeting of the Astronomical Science
Group of Ireland will take place in University College Cork, on Thursday
afternoon 2nd and all day Friday 3rd of October.

This is a meeting for professional astronomers, and the talks are
therefore at an advanced level, but members of the Irish Astronomical
Association (and other bodies affiliated to the ASGI) are free to attend if
they wish.

It will be held in the Brookfield Health Sciences Centre on College Road,
close to the main campus. Admission is free. There may be a chance to see
the beautifully restored telescopes in the Crawford Observatory on the main
campus, and if you get a chance you should also see the award-winning
Blackrock Castle Observatory at Blackrock a few miles from the city centre.

Details of the ASGI meeting are at:

If you intend to go, please contact Dr Paul Callanan or
Dr Denise Gabuzda (, or Prof Niall O'Murchadha
( to give them an idea of numbers.

7. STAR STORIES: launches new educational production, Star
Stories., the official website of the Nobel Foundation,
announces the launch of Star
<> Stories, a
new educational multimedia production for high school and undergraduate
students that shows how Nobel Prizes awarded for advances in cosmology and
astrophysics have helped to bring us closer to the stars. Star Stories
explains the life and death of stars using a multimedia approach that
incorporates images, animation, video and text. In this interactive
production, you can discover:

* An interactive Universe, which allows you to explore the different
stages in the lifecycle of stars, and the stories behind them. For instance,
discover the biggest explosions in the Universe, what would happen if you
fell into a black hole, and where you can find diamonds bigger than the
* Information and stories behind the Nobel Prizes awarded for
breakthroughs in our understanding of the stars. Discover stories such as
how a boat trip helped to uncover what happens to a massive star when it
runs out of fuel, and why it took 25 years to capture the most elusive
particles in the Universe;
* An interactive timeline that allows you to see and access the key
papers that contributed to each Nobel Prize breakthrough in star research —
such as breakthroughs that helped us to see the beginning of time, how stars
shine, and why we are all made from stars;
* Image and video galleries that capture the vastness of the stars and
interviews with Nobel Laureates discussing their discoveries;
* An introductory overview article that links all the Nobel Prize
breakthroughs in stars, from their conception in the primordial gas and dust
to their explosive deaths.
* By looking at the advancement of space research through the popular
appeal of the Nobel Prizes, Star Stories aims to be a useful addition to the
educational toolkit for high school and undergraduate students who wish take
a trip through the Universe and learn about our origins from stardust.

Read more about the Educational Outreach Program
<> and our productions. Please let
us know your opinion of what you find on Star Stories and
<> , or any suggestions for how we might improve our
Educational Outreach Program. Merci Olsson, Marketing and Communications

8. RIA PUBLIC LECTURE, 16 October: The 2008 Hamilton Lecture, organised by
the Royal Irish Academy, will be given by Professor Lisa Randall of Harvard
University. Entitled "Warped passages: Unravelling the mysteries of the
Universe's Hidden Dimensions", it will be held in the Burke Lecture Theatre,
TCD, Dublin at 7.30 p.m. More details are on:
<> Admission is free, but by
ticket only, so book early on

BTW, I'm still getting replies to my 'teaser' question about the equinox in
the last E/M, so the final result, and the answer, will be in the next
mailing. Many replies so far, but only one has got it all correct, or very
nearly so! Can you do better? You've got until Monday....

Clear skies,

Terry Moseley.

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