Monday, 30 November 2009

Lecture, Competition, BCO, OU Courses, Martian Life? STEREO‏

Hi all,

1. DECEMBER 2: IAA FREE PUBLIC LECTURE, BELFAST: The next lecture of the Irish Astronomical Association's season will be given by Dr Pedro Lacerda of QUB.
His talk is entitled "The Small Bodies of the Outer Solar System" and will describe some of the intruguing objects and mysteries of that region, such as the comets, the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt Objects, TNOs, Plutinos, etc. It's on WEDNESDAY 2 DECEMBER, 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. IYA 2009 FREE TO ENTER COMPETITION: Deadline Extended: Due to a late surge of interest, the closing date for this competition has been given one FINAL extension - to 15 December 2009. Great Prizes available for all categories and age groups Full details on

3. Blackrock Castle Observatory: Cosmic Christmas Launch & Flood Relief Benefit: First Fridays at the Castle, December 4th.
Blackrock Castle Observatory is launching Cosmic Christmas in association with RSVP Red Sandstone Varied Productions at the popular First Fridays at the Castle event on Friday December 4th at 6pm. All proceeds on the night are donated to the Cork St.Vincent de Paul flood relief efforts.
Come and enjoy Cosmic Christmas activities for visitors of all ages!

* Star crafting workshops on the half hour with fun astronomy facts from Frances. Make your own Christmas star for the tree at home! Parents welcome with younger children.
* Meet Steve Roche from the Deise Astronomy Club who will talk about his journey with Astro-photography and give tips for Christmas telescope purchases. (Deise Astronomy Club).
* The award-winning interactive astronomy exhibit Cosmos at the Castle is open until 9.30pm and free to the public.
* Join us in the Courtyard for a look through the Observatory’s telescopes while helping a great cause. Meet Santa and his cosmic crew whose comet has landed on Blackrock Castle Observatory!!

Visit Santa on his Christmas Comet from Dec 4th to Sunday Jan 3rd.
* Children's astro gift bag and photograph
* Easy grow cosmic seeds for small hands to tend their own life forms
* "Santa's Christmas Comet" Family Shows
* Traditional Christmas Market
* Transmit your letter to Santa through the radio telescope to the North Pole
* Design your own Christmas Star workshops
* Castle Bar and Trattoria serving delicious food
* Festive Carol singing
* Evening Stargazing guided by astronomers
* Observatory gift vouchers and telescope advice

The Cosmic Christmas Experience includes a 30 minute workshop, Santa visit and exhibit admission.
Family Ticket (2 adults 2 children) €40.00
Adult and Child €20.00

Be entertained, educated and mesmerized at Blackrock Castle Observatory.
Contact us.Phone: +353-(0)21-4357917; Restaurant: +353-(0)21-4357911.
Fax: +353-(0)21-4357924; Email:; Web:

4. Open University Observing Course.
Thanks to Arnold Stewart for the following information:
The Observing Course is a bit expensive at £745 (£835 for those in the south) but I gather that it’s well worth it. There’s comments from others who’ve done it that you can see via (which gives full details of the course) but on the internal OU forum relating to it the students that have just finished it have even more glowing reports about it.
However, if anyone wants to go on it they will need to do it either in 2010 or 2011 as it’s being dropped after that due to financial problems that the OU are experiencing. It’s probably still possible to enrol for the 2010 presentation of it (held in March/April or September), enrolments for the 2011 presentation open mid-October 2010. In theory you should do the astronomy course ( and/or the planetary science course ( before it (both £360 or £795 for those in the south) but I imagine that a lot of people in the IAA would have more than enough knowledge about matters astronomical already; if not, enrolments for those are open to mid-December with the courses starting February 2010 (and November 2010 as well for the planetary science one).

Compelling new data that chemical and fossil evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars was carried to Earth in a Martian meteorite is being elevated to a higher plane by the same NASA team which made the initial discovery 13 years ago. See:

I have a personal interest, as I was lucky enough to actually handle and examine the famous Allen Hills Martian meteorite 'ALH 84001' during a private visit to Prof Monica Grady and her world-famous meteorite collection at the Natural History Museum in London a few years ago. And I didn't even have to wear gloves! It's kind of scary to think that I may have held a piece of primitive Martian life in my own hands. (Of course, the case is still very far from being proved, and many scientists are still sceptical.)

6. STEREO Workshop: Advance notice: The solar research group at Trinity College Dublin is glad to invite the UK solar and heliospheric community to the 21st STEREO Science Working Group (SWG) to be held in Dublin, Ireland. This will be part of a series of STEREO meetings during the week of March 22-26, 2010. As part of this week of STEREO science we will also be hosting individual meetings for each instrument onboard STEREO.

We strongly encourage the Irish solar and heliospheric community to attend and present their STEREO science results. We also encourage a strong degree of participation by PhD students and young scientists to present their STEREO related results as oral presentations. As part of the meeting we intend to hold a tutorial session on STEREO data analysis software. This is a great opportunity to pose questions on STEREO data, discuss your projects and needs with the STEREO team, and help strengthen the mission as the spacecraft separate from Earth and we look forward to a new solar cycle. Details of the meeting are available on

The website contains information on travel, local hotels and transport, and meeting details and will be updated regularly. There may be a small conference fee payable on arrival to cover some expenses. This will kept as low as possible so as to encourage maximum attendance. Registration is via the meeting website and the local organising committee greatly appreciate early registration.

Hope to see everyone in Dublin, James McAteer, STEREO Scientist, Trinity College Dublin.

LOC: James McAteer (chair), Peter Gallagher, Shane Maloney (website), Jason Byrne, David Long.


Clear Skies,

Terry Moseley


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