1. IAA PERSEID BBQ: Delamont Country Park.
The Irish Astronomical Association will hold a Perseid Observing Night + BBQ, at Delamont Country Park, near Killyleagh, Co Down, on the evening of Wed 12 August, from 7.30 p.m till late. It's actually going to be more of a 'Fry-up' than BBQ, to save on the clearing up later! The usual rules apply - bring your own food, drink, plates, cutlery, glasses, mugs etc, and if you have a small portable cooker (gas or liquid fuel), bring it too. There are picnic tables to cook and sit and eat at, but you should bring a lounger (or groundsheet + rug & sleeping bag), and warm clothes etc for Perseid observing (See last email, and below for an update on the Perseids)
COMPETITION just for fun - there is a challenge to see who captures the first Perseid of the night on camera. On film or digital. President's decision is final in case of any disputes! Prize still to be decided.
WEATHER: If the weather is dubious, please check the IAA website (www.irishastro.org) at 18.00h on the 12th to make sure it's going ahead.
ADMITTANCE: It's free admission, but the barrier will not open to admit you after 9 p.m. so BE SURE TO BE THERE BEFORE 9.p.m. You can exit anytime.
DIRECTIONS: Delamont CP is clearly signposted, on the A22 between Killyleagh and Downpatrick.
2. IYA 2009 at CARNFUNNOCK COUNTRY PARK, SATURDAY 15 AUGUST. The next Irish Astronomical Association event for IYA 2009 will be a 'Solar Day' at Carnfunnock Country Park, Drains Bay, North of Larne in Co Antrim (Well signposted on the A2). It will run from 2 p.m. to about 5 p.m. We will have special solar telescopes showing the Sun safely in various wavelengths (if the sky is clear), plus shows in a mobile planetarium, plus a talk by Derek Heatly, now counting down the months and days for his first flight into space, plus an exhibition, telescopes & binoculars etc. Normal admission rates apply, with no extra charge for the planetarium shows. IAA Members bringing telescopes for the event get in free.
3. IYA 2009 at MOUNT STEWART NT, SUNDAY 16 AUGUST. The next day, the Irish Astronomical Association will run another event for IYA 2009. Another 'Solar Day', combined with a Rocket Launching Competition run by Armagh Planetarium, at Mount Stewart NT House & Gardens, which is well signposted on the A20, just South of Greyabbey. It will run from 2 p.m. to about 5 p.m. We will have special solar telescopes showing the Sun safely in various wavelengths (if the sky is clear), plus shows in a mobile planetarium, plus a talk by Derek Heatly, now counting down the months and days for his first flight into space, plus an exhibition, telescopes & binoculars etc. Normal admission rates apply, with no extra charge for the planetarium shows. IAA Members bringing telescopes for the event get in free.
4. August 7 - Cosmos vs Canvas: Tensions Between Art and Science in Astronomy Images - by Jayanne English. Taking place in the Science Gallery, TCD.
Dr Jayanne English will present a talk in the Science Gallery, TCD, on August 7th. The talk is called Cosmos versus Canvas: Tensions between Art and Science in Astronomy Images, and explores how we perceive astronomical images as science or art – especially when they have been highly processed. More details on the talk can be found at http://www.science.ie/EN/index.cfm/section/events/page/eventPage/event_key/414
5. 10 August, Public Lecture "Mad About Meteorites"
A Mars rock, the rarest type of rock in the world, will make a star appearance at AI's August Public Lecture, as will a piece of the Moon brought back by the Apollo astronauts.
Both objects will be under tight security as they are extremely valuable. The Mars meteorite alone is estimated to be worth over €25,000 - that's MORE than its weight in gold!
Dr Matthew Parkes will talk about how meteorites can give us the opportunity to investigate the origins of the Solar System and how it was formed. He will explain how particularly unusual meteorites arrive on Earth, and will show guests one such meteorite - a Mars meteorite! Finally, Dr Parkes will describe the consequences to Earth and humanity should a very large object strike our home planet.
The lecture will take place in Trinity College Dublin (Fitzgerald Building) at 8pm.
6. TELESCOPE FREE OR FOR NOMINAL PRICE: Brian Noonan of the Irish Astronomical Society wants to dispose of an 8.5-inch f/6 telescope he co-built in 1970, which is available FREE or for a nominal cost to anyone interested.
The telescope is on a fork-mount with a worm gear drive (not motorised) and the mirror has been recently re-aluminised. The telescope is currently in County Cavan with the mirror removed and in alternate temporary storage there.
If you are interested then the telescope MUST be collected by this weekend (August 8/9) or the school where it currently is will dispose of it (their ultimatum!) The mirror is in safekeeping with a former teacher so that will survive (the mirror would not be available this weekend, but in about a fortnight's time.)
Anyone seriously interested in acquiring this historic instrument (octagonal wooden tube styled along the lines of Herschel's telescopes) should contact Brian Noonan on 086-1976673 in the next day or two for more detailed information.
Brian's teacher friend also has a 4-inch Vixen achromat refractor on a Polaris mount with a Sky Sensor drive for sale (price €500 to €600 for this newer instrument).
7. PERSEIDS UPDATE: POSSIBLE PERSEID METEOR OUTBURST: There is a possibility we may pass through a ribbon of meteoric material on the morning of August 12th, leading to higher numbers of fainter meteors. According to NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, a filament of comet dust has drifted across Earth's path and when Earth passes through it, sometime between 0800 and 0900 UT (09.00 to 10.00 BST) on August 12th, the Perseid meteor rate could surge to twice its normal value. This is after daylight in Ireland, but it would still be worth checking just before dawn on the 12th in case the timing is wrong, or the activity has a wider spread than predicted. Check http://spaceweather.com for details and observing tips.
8. JOCELYN BELL BURNELL COMPETITION: The University of Ulster and Armagh Planetarium are running a competition to celebrate the achievements of Jocelyn Bell Burnell from Co Armagh. The competition is open to all people aged 14 - 19 in the island of Ireland. For more details see the poster at: http://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B4Kok-AsJblKMzgwMTYzZGMtOTMyMS00MzRiLTk4YjktZTg0NDZkZTdiZjFm&hl=en
9. PUBLIC LECTURES BY LEO ENRIGHT ON LIGHT POLLUTION: As part of the 9th European Symposium for the Protection of the Night Sky to be held in Armagh in September there will be a free public lecture held in Dublin on Wednesday 16th September at 7pm.
PUBLIC LECTURE BY LEO ENRIGHT, Wednesday 16th September 2009, 7pm
Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2.
Leo Enright, a broadcaster on Space Exploration and Science, explores the history of Ireland’s sometimes tenuous connection with luminosity – while naming and shaming some modern big wicks. He will focus on the importance of continuing public access to dark skies, especially during the present ‘Golden Age’ of astronomy, whilst noting that historically Ireland has sometimes been defined by the absence of light – as why else would the Romans have called it Hibernia?
The public lecture is being given as part of the 9th European Symposium for the Protection of the Night Sky that takes place from 17 – 19 September 2009 in the Market Place Theatre, Armagh. More info: http://www.lightpollution2009.eu/
The lecture is hosted by the Royal Irish Academy and while admission is free places are limited so if you plan on attending please book your tickets through the RIA shop http://shop.ria.ie/shop/ . A poster for this event is available to download from http://www.ria.ie/mailings/Dark%20Skies%20lecture/web%20flier.pdf
10. ECLIPSE OF EPSILON AURIGAE.
This amazing star, which has the longest known period of any eclipsing variable (9892 days, or over 27 years), will start its next eclipse on 11 August. It is also one of the brightest stars known, with a luminosity about 200,000 times that of the Sun! But the whole event takes place over such a long timescale that the eclipse won't be complete until Dec 19, i.e. that's when the total phase starts. The eclipse will last until 13 May 2011!
Epsilon, which is the most Northerly of the triangle of stars making up 'The Kids' beside Capella, and the closest to Capella, is normally magnitude 2.9 or 3.0, but fades to 3.8 during the eclipse. The eclipse is thought to be caused, not by another star as in the case of Algol (Beta Persei), but by a huge opaque disc of dust and gas orbiting the companion star. Even more interesting is that there is a short period of brightening during the middle of the eclipse! This is thought to be due to a hole in the centre of the occulting disc.
The eclipse can be monitored visually just by comparing the brightness of Epsilon with other nearby stars such as Eta, the second star in the triangle, i.e. second closest to Capella (magnitude 3.2).
Other nearby comparison stars are Iota Aurigae, (2.7), Theta Aurigae (magnitude 2.62 - 2.70), Delta Aurigae (3.73), Nu Persei (3.77), Nu Aurigae (3.97), Xi Persei (4.00-4.06) and 58 Persei (magnitude 4.25)
Do not use Zeta, the triangle star furthest from Capella, for magnitude comparison as it is also an eclipsing binary, although a more normal one, with a period of 972 days and a variation range of 3.6 to 4.0. However, since there are not many comparison stars of suitable magnitude nearby, you could use Zeta for visual comparison (NOT CCD), provided that you only do so when it is at normal brightness (3.6), which will apply EXCEPT during the period from about 1 to 20 Dec 2009.
Epsilon's fading from 2.9 to 3.8 will take place over the period from 11 August to 19 December (approximately: it is difficult to be precise with an event which takes place over such a long period), so you won't notice any variation visually from night to night, and brightness estimates on a weekly basis will suffice.
Accurate photoelectric or CCD measurements of the light variation will be scientifically valuable, and careful and accurate visual estimates will be useful too. Send them to the Variable Star Section of the BAA, or the AAVSO.