(Just back from a 9-day holiday in Jordan (including a visit to the amazing site of Petra, and some fabulous views of Venus in the desert skies), hence the slight temporary disruption to service....)
1. IAA PUBLIC LECTURE, 18 March: Dr Henry Joy McCracken: "Going Back 8 Billion Years: Surveying the Largest Structures in the Universe". Although a local man, Dr McCracken is now a leading astrophysicist at the Paris Observatory.
Wednesday 18 March, at 7.30 p.m. in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, main campus, QUB.
Admission is free, including light refreshments, and all are welcome.
Free parking is available on the main campus, beside the lecture theatre, in the evenings - entrance via University Square.
The IAA gratefully acknowledges the support of the Astrophysics and Planetary Science Division of the Department of Physics, QUB, in sponsoring these lectures.
2. GLOBE AT NIGHT: The global citizen-science campaign on light pollution, known as GLOBE at Night (http://www.globe.gov/GaN), started on Monday, March 16th and runs through Saturday, March 28.
People around the world are invited to participate in GLOBE at Night, which is part of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) "Dark Skies Awareness" Cornerstone Project. IYA2009, as you know, is a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture, marking the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo Galilei.
For more information, and to learn how to make and report measurements, see www.globe.gov/GaN
To make a measurement, you must wait for astronomical twilight (approximately 20.30 in the UK this week) for the sky to be properly dark, look in a south westerly direction and look for three bright stars close together in a straight line. If you can spot it, you've found Orion's belt.
Go to http://www.globe.gov/GaN/observe_finder.html for further tips.
For more information about dark skies, go to www.darkskiesawareness.org.
3. ISS EVENING PASSES: The International Space Station which recently had a close miss with a piece of space debris, will be visible in our evening skies from March 18. The largest spacecraft ever built, it is currently hosting the Space Shuttle Discovery which was launched on March 15th, on a construction mission to complete the power grid of the international space station. This 125th shuttle mission will deliver and install the final segment of the station's truss backbone and unfurl two giant solar wings.
Details of visibility for your location can be had on the free site www.heavens-above.com
4. Lecture in Birr Castle
David Block, The South African author of "Star Watch" will give a short lecture in Birr Castle on Saturday 21 March at 2:30pm, to mark the launch of his new book "Shrouds of the Night". It is lavishly illustrated and includes some of the work of Birr Castle. Autographed copies of the book will be available at Birr. Admission is free but places are limited, so book your place now at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Blackrock Castle Observatory Events for IYA 2009: For details of the latest programme see www.bco.ie