Friday, 22 May 2009

IYA2009 at Castle Archdale, ISS, Solarfest


Hi all,

1. Irish Astronomical Association: IYA 2009 Event at Castle Archdale, Co Fermanagh, Sat 23 May:

The IAA's next event for IYA 2009 will be at Castle Archdale Country Park, near Irvinestown, on Sat 23 May. This is a fabulous location, with very dark skies, and an excellent venue for the indoor parts of the event. It starts at 15.00, with solar observing if clear, an exhibition of telescopes and binoculars.

    A highlight will be the amazing "From The Earth To The Universe Exhibition" featuring the very best astronomical photos ever taken, in high quality A0 size. There will talks on astronomy and the night sky, and shows in a mobile planetarium. This will continue into the evening, together with night sky observing that evening, if the sky is clear. Get your last good views of Saturn as the amazing and beautiful rings turn almost edge-on to Earth - your last chance to see them like this for almost 30 years!

   There is no extra charge for admission, and all are welcome.

2. ISS PASSES CONTINUE: The International Space Station continues its series of evening passes over Irish Skies until about 24 May. It's now much brighter than before, with the additional modules recently added. The actual brightness varies from one pass to another, and also depends on where you are in Ireland - from the North coast it just exceeds magnitude -2 at its best, but from South Cork and Kerry, where it can pass almost overhead, it can almost rival Venus in brightness. Details for your location, together with details of many other bright satellites, Iridium Flares etc, are on There's a good pass this evening just before 10 p.m., (exact time depending on your location).

3. Solarfest 2009:  "IFAS in conjunction with Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS) are organising a one-day event in Dublin to discuss solar astronomy. The event is called Solarfest 2009 and will take place on Saturday 20th June 2009 at Dunsink Observatory. We are very grateful for the support of DIAS for sponsoring the event and attendance is FREE. Speakers confirmed so far are Deirdre Kelleghan (IFAS), Sally Russell (RAS), Miruna Popescu (Armagh Observatory, Kevin Smith (Practical Astronomer contributor), Nick Howes (Astronomy Now contributor) and myself, Michael O'Connell (MAC). Weather permitting, we will also have solar observing sessions. A more detailed programme of the event will be available in due course. Spaces are strictly limited to 60 seats so if anyone is interested in attending this event, I would appreciate if they could drop me an e-mail asap so that we can reserve a seat for them. I would like to thank Deirdre Kelleghan for her assistance in co-organising this event with me.
Regards & thanks, Michael O'Connell, IFAS Chair."

Clear Skies,

Terry Moseley

Friday, 8 May 2009

Correction, Lectures, Solarfest, TCD Symp, The Sun, Photos, NASA, BCO, DIAS


Hi all,

A Bumper Issue! As always, if you want to be removed from this email list, or know anyone who would like to be added to it, just let me know.

1. EMAIL ADDRESS CORRECTION: Sorry, there was a minor but crucial error in the email address for the new Irish Astronomical Association President, Philip Baxter: it should be

    I also forgot to convey thanks to the outgoing IAA President, Pat O'Neill, for his 3 years service and steady hand on the tiller, but he has not escaped completely, as he takes over from John Hall as treasurer and Membership Secretary. All new subscriptions (and renewals), made payable to the Irish Astronomical Association, should be sent to him at 55 Cranmore Park, Belfast, BT9 6JG. See: for details.

2. A. I. Lecture:  Irish Man Puts Down Roots in Space

NASA scientist, Dr. Anthony Heijenga, who is Irish by birth, will deliver Astronomy Ireland's Summer Public Lecture, discussing his ground breaking research in space involving the Irish Shamrock plant. The Shamrock is a key element in Dr. Heijenga's research which will pave the way for long-term residency in outer space. Dr. Heijenga's ability to grow the Irish Shamrock in space will have an enormous impact on the success of such long term human presence, which will require sustainable plant growth and the generation of clean, breathable air.

   Dr. Heijenga has conducted experiments on satellites, space shuttles, MIR and the ISS and in May 1996 the first specimens of the Irish Shamrock plant were grown in space. Dr. Heijenga and his experiments are a credit to international space research, and also make a notable contribution to Irish scientific research.

The lecture takes place at 8pm this Monday, May 11 in the Physics Building, Trinity College Dublin. Tickets are 7euro (non-members) or 5euro (members and concessions).

3. Trinity Symposium, Tuesday 12th May 2009.
From a Bang to a Whimper: Celebrating Differing Views of the Universe.
Venue: Schrödinger Theatre, Fitzgerald Building, 10.00am - 5.00pm, Free
10:00am: "Of Telescopes and a Moon Landing – Two Important Anniversaries".
Dr. Brian Espey, School of Physics, TCD
11.00am: Coffee plus WHS Monck Observatory Visit
11.30am: "Poetry Reading: Heavens Above! The Poetry of Space" (followed by Q+A)
Dr. Maurice Riordan, Imperial College London and Sheffield Hallam University. Prof. Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, School of English, Trinity College Dublin, Mr. Noel Duffy
1.00pm: Lunch break
2.00pm: "Exploding Stars: What Supernovae Tell Us about the Universe", Prof. Stephen Smartt, Queen’s University Belfast
3.00pm: WHS Monck Observatory Visit
3.30pm: Coffee
4:00 – 5.00pm: "You Cannot Change the Laws of Physics: Physics in SciFi TV/Movies"
Prof. Francis Keenan, Queen’s University Belfast.

4. SDAS MEETING POSTPONED: It has been necessary to defer the May meeting until Thursday, May 14th. This is their last lecture before the Summer break. The talk on the night is “How to use your eyes” and will explore the physiology of the eye, the eye and astronomy, and will speculate on how we could adapt our eyes specifically for astronomy. As usual, the venue is Gonzaga College, Ranelagh, Dublin 6 at 8pm.

5. SOLARFEST at DUNSINK:  IFAS in conjunction with Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS) are organising a one-day event in Dublin to discuss solar astronomy. The event is called Solarfest 2009 and will take place on Saturday 20th June 2009 at Dunsink Observatory. We are very grateful for the support of DIAS for sponsoring the event and attendance is FREE. Speakers confirmed so far are Deirdre Kelleghan (IFAS), Sally Russell (RAS), Miruna Popescu (Armagh Observatory), Kevin Smith (Practical Astronomer Magazine), Nick Howes (Astronomy Now Magazine) and Michael O'Connell (MAC). Weather permitting, we will have solar observing sessions also. Spaces are limited to 60 seats so if you are interested in attending let Deirdre Kelleghan know as soon as possible ( ).

6. THE SUN AWAKES?  NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft is monitoring an active region hidden behind the sun's eastern limb.  On May 5th, it produced an impressive coronal mass ejection (CME) and a burst of radio emissions signalling the passage of a shock wave through the sun's outer atmosphere.  Activity continued on May 6th, with at least two more eruptions.  The blast site is not yet visible from Earth, but the sun is turning the region toward us for a better view.  Is a new-cycle sunspot in the offing? Readers with solar telescopes could see it emerge as early as May 7th or 8th.  Visit for images, movies and updates.

7. Autographed Photos of Jim Irwin. Derek Heatly, the IAA's prospective 'Ulsternaut', has a few dozen 8x10 colour photos of the famous flag-saluting picture of Apollo astronaut Jim Irwin on the Moon. Each is about 20 years old, and has this inscription printed on it: ''His love from the moon.'' But his signature beside it is genuine; by looking at the back you can see where the ink has dried out. I'm bringing some down to the IAA's IYA2009 Event at Castle Archdale, hoping to get £20 each, which is very fair. For postal enquiries, it would be £22 incl. recorded delivery. This is for his local cancer charity, so please support this good cause & get a nice souvenir into the bargain. Contact Derek on:


   The White House has ordered a complete outside review of NASA's manned space programme, including plans to return astronauts to the moon. NASA has already spent 6.9 billion dollars (£4.5bn) on its plan to return to the moon.

   White House science adviser John Holdren said a new independent panel will look at the design of new spacecraft to replace the space shuttle.

   Reporting by August, the panel will also examine the five-year gap between the shuttle and the new moon vehicles when NASA would have to rely on the Russians for space travel.

   The review team will be headed by former Lockheed Martin chief executive Norman Augustine.

9. Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork ( are running a Space Camp in July for 7 to 12 year olds. More details at

10. DIAS Vacancies: Software Developers for the Mid-Infrared Instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope
    Two contract posts are currently available as part of a US/European team to develop software for the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI). MIRI will be flown on the James Webb Space Telescope (NASA and ESA's planned successor to the Hubble Space Telescope), which is due for launch in 2013. It is essential that applicants have a PhD in Astrophysics or a related subject. They should also have relevant experience with astronomical data processing and knowledge of C++ and a scripting language, such as Python, are advantageous. Successful
applicants may expect to carry out their own astronomical research programme in addition to their MIRI workload. Initial contracts will be for a two-year period. Applications, to include a CV, publication list, a short description of research interests, and the contact details of two referees should be sent, ideally as a single PDF file by e-mail to
<> (with a cc to <>) quoting "MIRI Software Developers" in the subject field, to arrive on or before 31 May 2009. The positions will remain open until filled and are available from mid-2009.
     The Institute is an equal opportunity employer. Included Benefits: The fellowship is offered subject to the general Irish public service regulations and employment legislation (e.g. regarding maternity leave, holiday entitlements, etc.) and includes generous pension provision. Deadline for application is 31st May 2009.
   Further Details are available at

Clear Skies,

Terry Moseley

Sunday, 3 May 2009

New IAA Council, IAS President, IYA events, GRB Record, Jobs


Hi all,

1. NEW IAA COUNCIL:  At the recent Irish Astronomical Association AGM, a new Council was elected, as follows:

President: Philip Baxter:

Vice Presidents: George Brannan, Pat O'Neill

Secretary: Danny Collins

Treasurer/Membership Secretary: Pat O'Neill

Members: Robert Campbell, David Collins, Ken Doyle, Paul Evans (Webmaster), Dr Andy McCrea (Editor of Stardust), Terry Moseley (P.R.).

Ex Officio Members: Prof Mark Bailey (Director, Armagh Observatory), Robert Hill (NISO), Dr Tom Mason (Director, Armagh Planetarium), Prof Stephen Smartt (Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB).

Our thanks to John Hall for a long and distinguished stint as Treasurer and Membership Secretary, and to Robert Cobain for his spell as Webmaster.

Welcome to Paul Evans, who is jumping in at the deep end as Webmaster from the outset!


2. New IAS President: Michael Murphy, I have no info about the rest of the new IAS council.
3. IYA Talks in Dublin: Upcoming talks in association with  Dublin City Libraries  Bealtaine 09 Festival - Deirdre Kelleghan All free events

May 5th 2009 Coolock Library 6:30pm - Introduction to Astronomy in Ireland

Coolock Library, Barryscourt Road, Dublin 17, Tel. 847 7781, E.
May 6th 2009 Dolphins Barn Library 6:30pm.  Introduction to Astronomy in Ireland
Dolphin’s Barn Library, Parnell Road, Dublin 12 T. 454 0681, E

May 12th 2009 Ballymun Library 6:30 pm.   Introduction to Astronomy in Ireland
Ballymun Library, Main St., Ballymun, Dublin 1 T. 842 1890, E.

In association with the National Gallery of Ireland Merrion Square Dublin
National Drawing Day  3:00 pm Dunsink Observatory Castleknock  Deadly Moons art/astronomy workshop

In association with The National Museum of Ireland Kildare Street Dublin
May 24th 2009  My Museum Event 3pm - 4pm. 2009 is International Year of Astronomy! Deirdre Kelleghan looks at the ten most unusual moons in the solar system - then vote & draw your favourite moon! No Booking required. Age 7–12


April 28, 2009: NASA's Swift satellite and an international team of astronomers have found a gamma-ray burst from a star that died when the universe was only 630 million years old--less than five per cent of its present age. The event, dubbed GRB 090423, is the most distant cosmic explosion ever seen.

Swift quickly pinpointed the explosion, allowing telescopes on Earth to target the burst before its afterglow faded away. Astronomers working in Chile and the Canary Islands independently measured the explosion's redshift. It was 8.2, smashing the previous record of 6.7 set by an explosion in September 2008. A redshift of 8.2 corresponds to a distance of 13.035 billion light years.

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"We're seeing the demise of a star -- and probably the birth of a black hole -- in one of the universe's earliest stellar generations," says Derek Fox at Pennsylvania State University.

"The incredible distance to this burst exceeded our greatest expectations -- it was a true blast from the past," says Swift lead scientist Neil Gehrels at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

5 PDRA POSITION, QUB: Research Fellow in Astrochemistry and Exoplanet Atmospheres

Ref. 09/100895: School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen's University Belfast. Applications are invited for a 3-year Post Doctoral Research Fellowship position to work under the supervision of Professor T J Millar in the development of chemical and physical models of exoplanet atmospheres. The post is located within the 

Astrophysics Research Centre (ARC) of the School of Mathematics and Physics. ARC is one of the founders of the WASP Project and operates and maintains 

the SuperWASP facility on La Palma. The Molecular Astrophysics and Exoplanet Groups within ARC are well supported by STFC and other bodies. In total, the groups comprise of 5 academic staff, 4 research staff and a number of PhD students.

Applicants must have a PhD in a relevant subject either awarded or submitted by the time of taking up the post. Experience of modelling techniques used in molecular astrophysics or in exoplanet atmospheres is essential.  All candidates must demonstrate a reasonable number of high quality, refereed publications commensurate with stage of career. 

Informal enquiries can be directed to Prof. Alan Fitzsimmons (email:

 An application pack for the post, containing further details of the essential and desirable criteria, as well as instructions on how to submit an application, is available from our website:

 Salary: 29,704-34,435 pounds per annum (including contribution points).

 Closing date: 4.00 pm, Friday 5 June 2009  

6.PhD Position at Trinity College Dublin, beginning September 2009. 

A fully funded postgraduate position working with Dr. Graham Harper in the field of stellar astrophysics is available in the Stellar Astrophysics Group at Trinity College Dublin, beginning
September 2009. The aim of the research programme will be to study mass loss from red giant stars, which is one of the great unsolved problems
in stellar astrophysics. Although magnetic fields have been invoked in the mass loss process, a more detailed examination
of their influence is required, and this will performed using a combination of pre-existing data and new radio observations
with ALMA ad the EVLA, together with semi-empirical analysis and radiative transfer techniques.

A good degree in Physics or Astrophysics is required, and previous experience in data analysis/computational techniques
is desirable.

Applications should be sent by email to:
  Dr. Graham Harper, email: The position will be kept open until a suitable applicant is found.

Information on the research group can be obtained in the first instance from:, or directly from:     Dr. Brian Espey, email:
or Dr. Graham Harper, email: Graham.Harper@Colorado.EDU

Brian Espey, Senior Lecturer, School of Physics, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland
Room number: SNIAM 1.04, Ph: +353-1-896-2680 / Fax: +353-1-671-1759

Clear Skies,

Terry Moseley