1. I'd like to wish you all the very best of the Season's Greetings, and a very Happy and Successful New Year.
2. PARTIAL LUNAR ECLIPSE: The last day of the Noughties will be marked by a partial eclipse of the Moon. But don't get too excited, as it's only a small partial, with a mere 8-9% of the Southern edge of the Moon entering into the Northern edge of the Earth's shadow, or Umbra.
The barely noticeable penumbral phases will start at 17.15, and the umbral phase begins at 18.52. Maximum eclipse occurs 19h 22m 41s. The umbral phase ends at 19.53, and the Moon will leave the penumbra at 21.30.
N.B. In spite of what you might have read in an email from another source, the shadowed portion of the Moon will not appear "black", let alone "absolutely black"!
In fact, even during mid eclipse, the shadowed portion of the Moon will not appear very dark at all - it is most likely to be a reddish or orangey grey. This is because the Earth's atmosphere refracts or bends an appreciable amount of sunlight onto the eclipsed portion of the Moon. In fact, even during the very deepest and longest of Total Lunar Eclipses, the Moon does not disappear completely, because of this refraction effect.
3. IAA NEW YEAR PARTY: The Galaxy's social event of the year will take place on Saturday 2 January, with the highlight being the special private showing of "Star Trek 2009" in the Tudor Private Cinema, Comber.
Thanks once again to George Brannan, for making all the arrangements.
We will meet first for eats in McBrides, in The Square, Comber, at 6 p.m., then move on to the Tudor Cinema, Drumhirk Road, just outside Comber on the A22 Comber to Killyleagh Road, at 7.30 p.m. More details with full directions later.
Book now at the amazingly good value of £12 for adults, £6 for children, which includes the meal at McBrides, plus the film, plus at the cinema you can warm up with my famous hot punch and mulled wine, reputedly the best in this arm of the galaxy. Soft drinks + tea & coffee also available, all included in the price!
The film will be followed by the usual quiz, with the usual amazing selection of prizes for almost everybody! And yes, the quiz is free to enter too!
Book now by sending a sterling cheque, payable to the IAA, to Mr Pat O'Neill, 55 Cranmore Park, Belfast BT9 6JG.
NB: If you wish to have your name removed from this mailing list, please just email me back saying so.
Best wishes to all for 2010 - the first year of the ??? I'll be calling the next decade the 'Teenies', even though the first year with that appellation will be 2013. Or has anyone a better name for the years 2010 - 2012?