Friday, 30 October 2009

Lectures, Sky Guide, Asteroid Impact, Flight Test, New Sunspot, Most distant GRB

Hi all,

1. NOV 4: IAA FREE PUBLIC LECTURE, BELFAST: The next lecture of the Irish Astronomical Association's new season will be given by well-known space author and lecturer Brian Harvey.

His talk is entitled "The Chinese Space Programme". Will they launch their own 'Space Station'? Will they land men and/or women on the Moon before the Americans do so again? It's on WEDNESDAY 4 NOVEMBER, 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! Full details of the rest of the programme are on the website:

2. RIA LECTURE IN DUBLIN AND BELFAST. The Royal Irish Academy has organised two lectures by former president of the RAS Prof Sir Michael Rowan Robinson, entitled "The cosmology of Distant and Dusty Galaxies". These will be held in DUBLIN in the RIA in Dawson St at 6.00 on 2 November, and in BELFAST at 6.00 on 3 November in the O'Connor Lecture Theatre, University of Ulster, Belfast campus, York St. Admission is free, but by ticket only, from, although for the Belfast lecture at least you would probably be OK just turning up in time and asking for a ticket.

3. Blackrock Castle Observatory: November newsletter. There is limited availibility for Halloween's Movie by Moonlight and children's midterm workshops 'Planets of our Solar System'. The Vampire Ball is sold out. We are pleased to introduce a new theatrical programme from RSVP - History in Action. We hope you can enjoy some of the exciting events on offer! Regards and Clear Skies from all at Blackrock Castle Observatory. Please see for the online version

4. MAC LECTURE: Tuesday November 3rd. Mr. Seanie Morris, MAC Secretary, will present a talk entitled "Is that the Moon? How did that get there?" It will take place in the Presbyterian Church, High Street, Tullamore at 8:00pm. All things scientific and astronomical will be explored. All are welcome and admission is €2,.00.

5. FREE SKY GUIDE: John Flannery writes: "I'm pleased to report that the sky guide for 2010 is now available for you to download. This is your FREE 36-page guide to what's up in the skies over Ireland for the year ahead. The monthly notes in this year's booklet have been changed to a much handier calendar format which you can stick up somewhere as a reminder of what is happening in the current month. More comprehensive detail about astronomical phenomena can be found in the other pages. Feel free to get in touch if you would like to know more about a particular event or if you spot errors that need to be corrected. Enjoy!

I will be adding a second file soon which will contain the daily rise and set times for the Sun, Moon, and major planets, along with their solar elongation, brightness, and other ephemerides. I'll update everyone as soon as that is available.

Sky Guide 2010 is hosted on the file sharing web site Mediafire and can be downloaded by pasting the link below into your web browser. Click on the sky_guide_2010.pdf file name in Mediafire and then the "Click here to download" on the left-hand side of the next displayed page. A pop-up might appear but hopefully I'll soon get the file hosted on another web site which will be astronomy-related.

6. ASTEROID IMPACT/EXPLOSION: A 10-metre wide near-Earth asteroid impacted the atmosphere and exploded over Indonesia archepeligo in early October. The event received very little coverage in the Western press but astronomers have analysed details gathered from eye-witnesses and local media coverage. Scientists estimate that the explosion was two or three times more powerful than the WW 2 atom bombs. More details are at

7. ARES 1 FLIGHT TEST. The flight-test of Nasa's new Ares rocket (this one is Ares I-X) took place successfully today, October 28th. See It reached a height of 40 kilometres and carried numerous instruments to measure many aspects of this newly developed rocket. The test was crucial for the next stage of the Constellation programme which is part of Nasa's goal to develop a rocket and crew vehicle for future spaceflight. The programme is under scrutiny however because of its expense and may even be cancelled at a future date. Nasa recently released a report that recommends closer cooperation with private space ventures in developing vehicles for low-Earth orbit operations. Read more about Ares X-I at

8. BIG NEW SUNSPOT: The sun is showing signs of life. Sunspot 1029 emerged over the weekend, and it is crackling with B- and C-class solar flares. The active region's magnetic polarity identifies it as a member of new Solar Cycle 24. If its growth continues apace, sunspot 1029 could soon become the biggest sunspot of 2009. Check for animations and updates.

9. MOST DISTANT OBJECT EVER OBSERVED: Astronomers have just reported observation of the most distant object and event ever seen - a Gamma Ray Burst, at a distance of 13.1 billion Light Years. Detected by the SWIFT satellite, the event took place only 600 million years after the estimated date of the Big Bang, and the gamma rays from it have been travelling for the last 13.1 billion years to reach Earth!

Clear Skies,

Terry Moseley


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