Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Fireball, Aliens at BCO, Memorial Service, Lectures, AGM, Lidl Binocs


Hi all,

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1. Brilliant Fireball: A very bright fireball was seen widely over Ireland, and even as far away as Liverpool, at about 00.30 on Sunday morning, 4 April. John McConnell saw it from Maghaberry, Co Antrim, and a woman saw it from her home in Newry, Co Down. The Liverpool observer reports that the fireball appeared at 30 - 40 degrees altitude in the western sky at 00:33 UT on 2009 April 05.

And here's part of John's McConnell's report: 

"(I saw it) early Sunday morning at 00:32 BST.  I was talking to a friend on the phone and had just sat down to finish a cup of coffee when I saw what appeared to be the lights of an aircraft. Aircraft with lights on are common being so close to Belfast International Airport when they are making their final approach. This idea faded somewhat when the object dropped with a steep angle almost due south and burned out behind the neighbouring houses. Some smaller bits were seen to break off on the way down. It appeared to come from the eastern side of Leo but I didn't actually see its full path. It did not appear to have any tail but was vivid green in colour and about half the size of the gibbous moon, so it was very bright. From my vantage point it appeared to drop out over the Mournes, but took about five seconds to come down.

    If you saw it, please send in as many details as possible; i.e. time, brightness relative to the Moon, speed of motion, duration, direction it was moving, direction you were facing, direction when first seen and last seen, approximate altitude when first seen and last seen, and particularly if you can relate the path to any bright stars. Also, were you indoors or out, did you hear anything, did you see any bits drop off it, did you see a tail or trail behind it? etc. And we also need your location at the time, as accurately as possible

   Lots of reports have been received, but we need many more in order to calculate the exact path and work out where any meteorite may have landed.

   Even if you can't give all those details, tell us anything you can remember - every little helps.

2. Alien Evolution
Location: Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork. Date: April 6 - April 19 2009 from 11 am.
   The Alien Evolution workshop takes a fun look at how aliens might have evolved on very different planets. Spend a morning making aliens over the Easter break at Blackrock Castle Observatory. Just drop in any day from next Monday April 6 to Sunday April 19 from 11am for the one and a half hour workshops. Price €5.00 per child. Suitable for children aged 6-10. Younger children are welcome if accompanied by a parent.

3. Memorial Service for Tao Kiang: There will be a secular memorial service in the
Unitarian Church St Stephen's Green, Dublin at 11.00am on Thursday, 9 April.

4: IAA AGM + IYA2009 Lecture. The Irish Astronomical association AGM will be held at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday 15 April, in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, main campus, QUB. This will be followed by a special lecture on IYA 2009, by none other than the great Galileo himself. Well, actually, it might be Prof Mike Redfern from NUI Galway, who's the official Irish Representative, or 'SPOC' for IYA2009. He has been seen in a strange outfit, masquerading as the great Italian astronomer!

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.

   More details on

5. LIDL Binoculars special offer, from Thursday 9 April: No, I don't have shares in the company! But these Bresser binoculars, which are basically a clone of the better known Meade models, are remarkable value for money. The 10x50s are ideal for astronomy, with good quality BAK4 prisms, and fully coated (but not fully multicoated) lenses. They also have a reasonable field of view. They are not really 'Top Quality', and wouldn't compare with Leica, Zeiss, Pentax, Nikon, Fujinon etc, but the latter cost about 10 to 50 times more! I would rate them as 'Good' but not as high as 'Very Good', nor 'Excellent'.

   The 10x25's are really too small for serious astronomical observing (although they are better than nothing). However, they are very light and compact, and you can take them anywhere with you in a pocket or handbag or light backpack - very useful when you spot that mysterious object in the sky which you might be about to report as a UFO, when a quick look through the binocs reveals that it's a weather balloon or whatever. Or indeed that it really is an Alien Spaceship! (Well, surely we're due a visit by one sometime soon?).

    These prices are in £ in N.I., - I'm not sure what the € price is in ROI - sometimes they are much better value on one side of the border than the other!

Bresser Binoculars, 10 x 50
50mm objective for extra clear image, BAK4 prisms with clear contrast-rich image and particularly high resolution, Objective Ø: 50mm, Magnification: 10x, Size: 165 x 205 x 65mm, Weight: 780g, Field of vision: 114m/1000m, LE eyepieces with twist-up cups (rotatable, ideal for spectacle wearers, Fully coated lens for especially clear images, Includes: practical nylon bag with carrying strap and belt loop, wide binocular strap, Price per pair

More product details


Bresser Binoculars, 10 x 25
Objective Ø: 25mm, Magnification: 10x, Optical system: roof prism, Field of view: 96m/1000m, Size: 112 x 110 x 33mm, Weight: 214g, Fully coated, Price per pair

More product details


Clear Skies,

Terry Moseley


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