Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Lecture, ISS + Space Shuttle


Hi all,


The next IAA public lecture will be on Wed 26 November, at 7.30 p.m., in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast. It will be given by Dave Grennan, & is entitled "Adventures in Digital Astrophotography". Dave is an expert in this field, and recently hit the astronomical headlines when he photographically discovered only the third asteroid ever to be discovered from Ireland (The second having been discovered by Dave McDonald only a few weeks previously, and the first having been found in 1848 - 160 years ago!). Dave will include an account of how he made his discovery in the lecture.

   Admission is free, and all are welcome, including light refreshments.

2. International Space Station + STS 126, Endeavour.

The ISS, with the Space Shuttle Endeavour currently docked with it, is making a series of evening passes over Ireland. Details of passes for your own location are available on the excellent, free, website Since the Shuttle is attached to the ISS, it may appear even brighter than usual. If you have a telescope with the appropriate tracking facility you can enter the orbital parameters and try to view it as it speeds across the sky at over 17,000 mph. If you are lucky, you may be able to make out the Shuttle attached to the main part of the ISS. It's better to look for it on a pass in late twilight rather than total darkness, since the brightness & contrast will be more favourable then.

Clear skies,

Terry Moseley

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

IAA Telescope event, possible Leonid outburst, Robinson Lecture


Hi all,

1. "EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT TELESCOPES" The next IAA Meeting will be on Nov 12: It will be a 'Hands-On Telescopes' evening, covering all practical aspects of choosing & using telescopes & binoculars.

We'll have a large selection of telescopes and binoculars on display, covering all the popular types used by amateur astronomers. We'll be giving advice on choosing and using both telescopes and binoculars, with some practical demonstrations.

   TELESCOPE TROUBLE-SHOOTING. And if you have a telescope of your own and are having any problems with it, or just feel that you're not getting the best from it, bring it along (if it's portable), and we'll try to help you with it.

   NEVER USED YOUR TELESCOPE? And if you are one of those people who buy, or are given, a telescope, and you have taken it out of the box, looked at the instructions, and thought 'I'll have a go at assembling it some other time' but have never actually done so, bring it along & we'll do our best to show you how!

   TELESCOPE or BINOCULARS or ACCESSORIES FOR SALE? Bring it/them along, if portable, and you might get a buyer - if the price is right!

      Wednesday November 12, 7.30 p.m., Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast. Admission free, including light refreshments, and all are welcome."

2. POSSIBLE LEONID OUTBURST: There is a chance of a minor outburst of Leonid meteors on the evening of 16-17 November, centred on 01.32 on 17 November, with a ZHR of around 100. (The ZHR is the Zenithal Hourly Rate: the rate which would be seen by an experienced observer, with the radiant in the zenith, in VERY dark skies. Actual observed rates would be much lower).

  This is based on a prediction that the Earth will encounter the edge of the trail of particles emitted during the 1466 perihelion of the parent comet, (55P/Tempel-Tuttle) at 01.32 on 17 November. That was 16 periodic revolutions ago, so it's quite hard to be definite, but past predictions have been remarkably accurate. Indeed, the actual predictions indicated a ZHR of around 1000, but this was toned down to 100 to be on the safe side! The enhanced activity might last for about 6 hours altogether, centred on that time, although that also is very far from a firm prediction. The radiant will be fairly well up in the East at the relevant time, so even though the view will be spoiled by a brightish waning moon, it will be worth having a look.

   There is a prediction for another lesser outburst from a trail from the 1932 passage of the comet, but it is predicted to occur at 21.38 on Nov 18, well before the radiant rises in Ireland. The radiant is located in the 'Sickle of Leo'.


3. 2008 ROBINSON LECTURE: The ninth Robinson Lecture will be held on Thursday 20th November 2008 in The Armagh City Hotel, 2 Friary Road, Armagh.
The Lecture will be delivered by Professor Peter W.J.L. Brand FRSE, of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh.  The lecture will begin at 8.00 pm and is scheduled to end at 9.00 pm, followed by light refreshments.
       The Armagh Observatory Robinson Lecture is a public lecture held biennially in honour of the Founder of the Armagh Observatory, Archbishop Richard Robinson (1708--1794).
    The title of Professor Brand's lecture is: GOD AND THE UNIVERSE
Attendance at the 2008 Robinson Lecture is free, but if you would like to attend the Lecture, please contact the Armagh Observatory in order to obtain tickets.
   Please write, telephone or send an e-mail to: Mrs Aileen McKee, Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG; Tel: 028-3752-2928; Fax: 028-3752-7174; e-mail:  For more information, see

Clear Skies,

Terry Moseley

Monday, 3 November 2008

Mars book by Kevin Nolan, IAA Meeting, IAA Lecture Programme


Hi all,

1. A notable new book on Mars by Kevin Nolan from Dublin, "Mars - A Cosmic Stepping Stone" has just been published. Many of you will know Kevin, as he has been the Irish Representative for The Planetary Society for many years, and has given lectures to many amateur astronomy groups throughout Ireland. In fact, he is booked to give one on this very subject to the Irish Astronomical Association on 4 March.

It has been published by Praxis/Copernicus Books of New York, and is a very good quality production. I haven't read it all yet, but am very impressed but what I have seen so far!

Kevin writes: "The book provides an insight into Humanity’s legacy with the planet Mars and examines how Mars may soon play a critical role in uncovering the origin of life on Earth and its cosmic abundance; with important consequences for humanity. With chapters examining the origin and universal context for life, our chequered history of engagement with Mars, current and imminent far-reaching programs for Mars and their results, and their political consequences and impact on planetary biological protection; this book is a comprehensive work on the subject.

My motivation for writing this book stems from responses to public lectures and articles about Mars exploration, where many remain unconvinced by the value of such exploration. This book strives to correct this by revealing the scientific and sociological relevance of such endeavours. And, while the book was thoroughly researched, refereed and provides in-depth and up-to-date science of Mars exploration, it also informs about the many critical issues beyond the core science.

I believe the book to be relevant to a wide readership, most importantly for the general public young and old, but also for educators, media experts, artists, writers, science communicators, entrepreneurs and policy makers considering issues of space exploration; and of course science enthusiasts, undergraduates and graduates and astronomers and scientists seeking a succinct overview."

The production seems to be of the good quality one would expect from this publisher, and Kevin writes with an easy but authoritative style. The coverage is extremely comprehensive, and includes some of the very latest data from the various spacecraft at or on Mars. It's very well illustrated, with 53 colour and 112 monochrome plates, and has a comprehensive index.

“Mars – A Cosmic Stepping Stone” is now available at these (and other) outlets:

Amazon; Books-A-Million; Barnes&Noble; Blackwells; WHSmithEasons;; the_book_depository_; Harvardubookstore; Woodys-books; BUYALLBOOKS

   The official web site for the book is:

    The Table of Contents, Extracts, and the Index can all be viewed on-line at; while a description of the book can be found on

Congratulations to Kevin on this excellent piece of work!

2. The next IAA Meeting will be on Nov 12: It will be a 'Hands-On Telescopes' evening, covering all practical aspects of choosing & using telescopes & binoculars.

3.  There is a mistake in the IAA Programme Card: the lecture by Gerry Doyle should be on December 10, instead of December 12.

Clear Skies,

Terry Moseley