Date: 20 October 2009 01:34:43 GMT+01:00
Subject: Correction, Orionids, Lectures, Galilean Nights, BCO, ISS
1. Correction: Sorry - I somehow gave out the wrong date for the IAS lecture at Dunsink. That lecture was tonight (19th), NOT on the 21st! Apologies to all, and to the IAS in particular. So to be clear, there will NOT be a lecture at Dunsink on 21 October.
2. ORIONID METEORS - ENHANCED ACTIVITY THIS WEEK?
(The following is adapted and edited from an E/M by Dr John Mason).
The Orionid meteor shower will be active throughout the coming week. One of two annual showers associated with Comet 1P/Halley the Orionids usually produce observed rates in excess of 10 meteors/hr around their maximum.
In the years 2006-2008, some observers reported higher-than-normal Orionid meteor rates, and there is chance that enhanced activity may be observed again this year. New Moon is on October 18, and First Quarter on October 26, so moonlight will not interfere this year.
Peter Jenniskens reports that the strong Orionid meteor shower activity may well repeat this year, according to M. Sato and J.-I. Watanabe. They ascribed the enhanced activity in the period 2006-2008 activity to dust trails of comet 1P/Halley that were formed by meteoroids ejected in the years -1400 and -11. The orbital evolution of the dust trails is affected by the 1:5 to 1:8 mean-motion resonances with Jupiter. This so-called "filament" component is expected to be in the Earth's path again around Oct. 18-24 in 2009, giving rise to a higher-than-normal Orionid-shower activity that is relatively rich in bright meteors. Thanks to the filamentary nature of the debris stream laid down by the parent comet, activity can vary markedly from one year to another: good rates can be experienced if Earth encounters a rich meteoroid filament, but at other times activity might seem disappointing.
Several sub-peaks are usually seen between October 20-22, and intervals of slightly increased activity can be found even as late as October 27-28. These meteoroids have a retrograde orbit around the Sun, meaning that they enter the upper atmosphere 'head on' at the high velocity of 66 km/sec, so Orionid meteors are very swift, and the brighter ones often leave behind brief persistent ionisation trains.
Having been laid down over numerous returns of 1P/Halley, the Orionid meteor stream is quite spread out, and this is reflected in the shower's diffuse (probably multiple) radiant. Orionid meteors emanate from a region of sky midway between Betelgeuse (Orion's eastern 'shoulder') and the second-magnitude star Gamma Geminorum. The radiant doesn't rise until 22h local time, and best rates are generally found in the early morning hours once it has gained somewhat in altitude.
Observations of the Orionid meteor shower should be made according to the standard methods of the BAA Meteor Section which are available on the Section's website at http://www.britastro.org/meteor
Please submit your observations to the BAA Meteor Section as soon as possible after you have made them, and at any rate within one month at the most. Observations should be sent to the Acting Director: Dr John Mason, 51 Orchard Way, Barnham, West Sussex PO22 0HX. Tel: 01243 814307. email docjohndircon.co.uk
3. Oct 21: IAA FREE PUBLIC LECTURE, BELFAST: The next lecture of the Irish Astronomical Association's new season will be given by Dr Carla Gil. Carla has done some pioneering research work with the world's most powerful telescope, the European Southern Observatory's VLT in Chile, specifically using it in Interferometer mode, when it can function with an effective aperture of 100 metres. Yes, that's one hundred metres! She is now a visiting ESO Research Fellow at Armagh Observatory.
Her talk is entitled "Observing with a 100-metre virtual telescope, the VLTI". It's on WEDNESDAY 21 OCTOBER, at 7.30 p.m., in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast. ADMISSION IS FREE, as always, and includes light refreshments. Everyone is welcome; particularly ladies - come along and see what women are doing at the leading edge of astronomical research: astronomy is not just a topic for men! Full details of the rest of the programme are on the website: www.irishastro.org
N.B. The Belfast Festival at Queen's is on that week, so come early if you want to get parked on the QUB site, or indeed anywhere in that area. There are no events at that time in QUB itself, but there's one at the Elmwood Hall which is not too far away, so parking spaces will soon fill up. I suggest you try to get there no later than 7.0.
4. Public Lecture, Armagh: "Why Are We Here?", 8.00 pm Thursday 22 October 2009
The Armagh Observatory and the Armagh Natural History and Philosophical Society are co-hosting a free public lecture on Thursday 22 October 2009 in the Rotunda Lecture Theatre, St. Patrick's Trian, Armagh. The Lecture will be delivered by Dr Martin Hendry of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Glasgow. The lecture will begin at 8.00 pm and is scheduled to end at 9.00 pm with questions, followed by tea and coffee.
The title and summary of the lecture are: "Why Are We Here?
Since the dawn of civilisation human cultures have sought to understand our place in the universe, asking "Big questions" about our cosmic origins. Modern cosmology provides some startling answers to these questions: not only is the universe expanding, but we believe the expansion to be accelerating -- driven by a mysterious "dark energy" that challenges our
ideas about gravity and the very nature of space and time. Moreover our runaway universe appears to be rather delicately balanced, in the sense that small changes in the laws of nature would result in a very different cosmos -- most likely unsuitable for life like us. What does all of this mean for our cosmic origins? Is our universe unique, or do we belong to a
"multiverse" -- a vast ensemble of universes, each with its own laws of nature? In his lecture, Dr Hendry will explore these, and other, questions posed by the latest cosmological discoveries, and discuss what implications they might have for the existence of life in the universe."
For free tickets to this public lecture, please contact Aileen McKee at the Armagh Observatory; Tel: 028-3752-2928; Fax: 028-3752-7174; e-mail: ambnarm.ac.uk.
5. IAA "GALILEAN NIGHTS" OBSERVING, Sat 24 October, Delamont Country Park, near Killyleagh, Co Down. See the attached poster for details of this event. If you are attending bring a 'scope or binocs if you can. It is of course subject to the weather and you will need to check the forum on the IAA website www.irishastro.org between 6.00 and 6.30pm that evening for confirmation that it is going ahead.
6. Blackrock Castle Observatory Events: BCO in Cork has an excellent series of ongoing events: See www.bco.ie.
Director Clair McSweeney also sent me this: "In addition, CIT / Blackrock Castle Observatory has taken on the role of communications point of contact within Ireland for ESON. ESON is the European Southern Observatory Outreach Network. http://www.eso.org/public/outreach/ This has a wide brief but entails being a link into any relevant amateur and professional body for ESON press and media releases and also hopefully to be the same for all and any such relevant bodies within Ireland back to ESON. The ESON brief is that such communications are ESO/ESON related.
Tom Bonner of Cork Astronomy Club and CIT, and I are looking to create communication links that would go directly between us and the Irish astronomy community. Our brief is to promote knowledge and awareness of ESON, pass on their releases and when appropriate act as the link for the Irish astronomy community back to ESON to raise the profile of events and activities that would be deemed relevant. Galilean Nights is a good example. See www.galileannights.org
BCO will officially launch Ireland ESON at Discovery, Cork’s interactive science exhibit, on Sat Nov 14. For more details see http://www.bco.ie/October_09_Newsletter.html"
7. ISS IN MORNINGS: The International Space Station is making a series of morning passes at the moment - see www.heavens-above.com Look out for it when it passes close to.....
8. BRILLIANT MORNING STAR VENUS: Venus is still the brightest object in the morning sky. It currently rises in morning twilight, preceded by much fainter Saturrn, and followed by Mercury, which is about midway in brightness between Saturn and Venus. But both Mercury and then Venus will soon move too close to the Sun to be seen, so look in the next few mornings before they go.
If you see the ISS pass nearby on a good bright pass, compare its brightness with Venus - from Belfast it will be noticeably fainter than Venus, more comparable with Jupiter which is visible earlier in the night. From Dublin it can be almost as bright as Venus. And from Cork, where it can pass nearly overhead, it can equal Venus in brightness!
9. IAA's Castle Espie Event a Great Success: A combination of good publicity and a clear sky resulted in a huge turnout at the IAA's IYA2009 Stargazing + Mobile Planetarium evening last Saturday. It was the largest turnout at any event they have had since the newly refurbished VC was opened, and all were delighted with the evening. Except maybe poor Andy McCrea, who had to do 4 planetarium starshows in quick succession! Thanks Andy. We got lovely telescopic views of giant planet Jupiter with its cloud belts and 4 bright Galilean moons, plus of course all the usual deepsky wonders. Thanks to all who helped.