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


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