1. WINTER SOLSTICE WEBCAST FROM NEWGRANGE, BRU NA BOINNE:
The Irish Node of IYA2009 and the Office of Public Works in Ireland are inviting you to join us in watching a live webcast of the winter solstice sunrise on December 21st from the megalithic passage tomb of Newgrange, in County Meath, Ireland.
I mentioned in a previous message that the Year of Astronomy begins in January 2009. I want to advise you of an offer from the Society of Popular Astronomy to launch the year by giving away astronomical telescopes to schools completely free of charge. The telescope comes with a CD of instructions for use. The idea is to encourage schools to develop an interest in astronomy and to engage young people in discovering the wonders of exploring the night sky. To receive a telescope, each school has to download and complete an application form from the SPA web site www.popastro.com/moonwatch/schools3.php and send it with a submission of not more than 500 words about how the telescope will be used to promote astronomy in the school and community. This has been arranged through the good offices of Robert Hill of NI Space Office at the Armagh Planetarium. Robert has also put together some suggestions for the submission to help the drafting of the form. I have included these below. As you will see from the web site, telescopes are given on a first come first served basis, however we have been assured that any post primary school or special school with a post primary department that applies from NI has a very good chance of receiving a telescope, provided application is made within the next week to ten days. We intend to mark the event with a launch in the New Year so I would be grateful if you would process your application rapidly and send it to the address in the web site and copy it to me by post or email as the Advisers in the Boards will coordinate the distribution along with Robert and the Planetarium staff. I am also investigating the possibility of some training sessions for the use of the telescope. You will note that one of the conditions for acceptance is to link with a local astronomer. Armagh Planetarium has agreed to act as the local resource with support from astronomers at the Observatory in this instance. Give the contact as www.armaghplanet.com and your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any queries please contact me. I strongly recommend that you take advantage of this opportunity to acquire a fully functional astronomical telescope.
Adviser Science & Technology
Project Possibilities for 500 Word Outline
Curriculum: link to Key Stage 3. Underneath the stars and Is there life out there..? thematic units
· Start or enhance astronomy club activities
· Sign up to the free Astrogazers Ireland astronomy schools network in Northern Ireland run by Armagh Planetarium and encourage joint school activities (plus get lots of other free astronomy and space related material throughout the year!)
· Use the telescope to encourage and mentor local primary school (feeder) schools
· Propose a project for the BT Young Scientist and Technology exhibition
· Propose a project for the Seagate Young Innovators exhibition
· School display on astronomy
Register with all Ireland astronomy schools competition 2009
3. Faulkes Telescopes Universe Challenge
One of the highlights of IYA2009-Ireland will be a schools competition, open to all schools in the island of Ireland, using the Faulkes Telescopes – either to obtain new data, or using data from the Faulkes archive. There will be a very exciting prize for the school students their teacher, and also their mentor. Details are given below.
We must come clean at once – we cannot run this important competition without the help and commitment of the professional astronomical community in Ireland, postgrads, postdocs and staff members, to act as mentors to the school groups. Hence this appeal.
Dúshlán na Cruinne le Faulkes
1. The Challenge is for groups of 2-3 school students, aided by their school teacher, at transition year or the equivalent in the North of Ireland, from the whole of the island of Ireland, as part of the celebration of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 in Ireland.
2. The purpose of the Challenge is to promote the study of science (specifically astronomical science) at third level by exposing groups of school students to the lasting satisfaction and fascination of conducting an original research project – including, of course, the times when things do not go well, but which necessitate sticking with the project and ultimately add to its satisfaction.
3. A crucial part of the appeal of the Dúshlán to school students will be the involvement of a mentor - postgrads, postdocs and staff members from Universities and Research Institutes in Ireland – hopefully providing them with an attractive role model. The level of involvement of the mentors will depend upon the number of school groups and the number of mentors – this will be decided at the end of January. Mentors may be asked to work with one or several groups. The level of involvement of mentors must be uniform for all groups and all mentors. The mentor associated with the group which best rises to the Challenge (i.e. the winning group!) will be invited to accept the prize also.
4. The research projects, including data collection, analysis, interpretation and presentation are to be conducted over a period up to approximately six months from February 2009.
5. Data are to be collected using either new observations by the Faulkes Telescopes (http://faulkes-telescope.com/) or from the Faulkes Telescopes data archive. The Faulkes Telescopes are situated in Hawaii and Australia and so can be operated during the normal working day in Ireland. Access to the Faulkes Telescopes for the purposes of the Dúshlán, subject to scheduling by the Faulkes Observatory is guaranteed to all entrant groups.
6. Dúshlán na Cruinne le Faulkes will be offici