Friday, 20 August 2010

Solar day Mt Stewart, IAA/QUB lecturex2, BSP, WSP, Armagh events, IMC, & More!‏

Hi all,

1. IAA Solar Day at Mount Stewart 22 AUGUST. The IAA will be holding another 'Solar Day', at 2 p.m. on Sunday 22 August at Mount Stewart, near Newtownards, Co Down. We'll again have the usual selection of solar telescopes, binoculars etc, to view the Sun in visible light, H-Alpha, etc. And we'll have the portable planetarium too, so even if it's cloudy, come along. Bring any solar observing equipment you may have. It's free admission if you bring a telescope or filtered binocs, otherwise normal admission charges apply. We will also have compressed air/water rocket launching, which is great fun, and quite instructive. See for an update.

2. IAA/QUB DOUBLE PUBLIC LECTURES AT QUB, 31 AUGUST. The Astrophysics and Planetary Science Department at QUB and the Irish Astronomical Association are jointly hosting a free double public lecture in the Larmor Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, QUB, Belfast. This event, arranged by Professor Stephen Smartt, has been planned to coincide with a major professional conference on Pan-STARRS, but that is open only to registered professional participants.
The double public lecture is free, but admission is by ticket only! These may be obtained from the IAA by emailing or, or alternately if you at Queen's they can be got from the Astrophysics and Planetary Science Department.
The two speakers are each world-renowned experts in their fields, and very good speakers, so this is a treat not to be missed!
Prof Carlos Frenk, FRS, Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology, University of Durham, will give a lecture entitled "From the Big Bang to the Universe of Galaxies", and Prof Chris Stubbs, Chair of the Department of Physics at Harvard University, will speak on "The Accelerating Universe: A Crisis for Fundamental Physics". Don't be intimidated by the titles - these lectures will be aimed at a non-specialist public audience.
The event will be from 7.15 to 9.00 p.m.
Remember, it's free, but admission by ticket only, so apply right now!
More details of the talks and speakers are on the IAA website: and on:

3. Armagh Observatory EVENTS:
A. European Heritage Open Day, Saturday 11 September 2010
The Observatory will open its doors to visitors on 11 September as part of the annual European Heritage Open Days events organized by the Environment and Heritage Service of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. Guided tours will be available at: 11:00, 12:00, 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00.
Booking is not essential but it would be helpful if those planning to attend could inform the Observatory beforehand. Contact details below
B. Robinson Lecture 2010 “Astrobiology: Implications of Life Beyond Earth”, 8.00 pm Thursday 18 November, in The Armagh City Hotel
The lecture will be given by Professor Chris Impey, Deputy Head of Department and University Distinguished Professor in charge of academic programmes in the Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona, USA. In these roles he runs the largest undergraduate-majors programme in astronomy in the USA and the second largest PhD programme. His research interests focus on observational cosmology, gravitational lensing and the evolution and structure of galaxies. In recent years he has pioneered curriculum development in astrobiology and is currently the PI on a major four-year grant from the Templeton Foundation that explores issues at the interface of science and religion.
The abstract is as follows:
"Either we are alone in the universe or not; either way, the implications are staggering. This talk considers the prospects for and implications of life beyond Earth. Biological adaptation to extreme conditions makes it very likely that variations on biology will be present on moons and planets around many of the billions of Sun-like stars in the Milky Way. The nearly 500 planets already found around other stars are forerunners of Earth-like planets that astronomers expect to be finding in the next few years. With exobiology still a blank slate, consideration will be given to potentially unusual forms of life."
Attendance at the Robinson Lecture is free, but please contact the Armagh Observatory in order to obtain tickets.
CONTACT: Write, telephone or e-mail to: Mrs Aileen McKee, Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG; Tel: 028-3752-2928; Fax: 028-3752-7174; E:

4. European week of Astronomy & Space science, Sep 6-10: See www.jenam2010.0rg

5. BURREN STAR PARTY, Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, Sep 11: This event is hosted by the Shannonside astronomy Club. See
For details about the venue, see:

6. MAJOR ASTRONOMY MEETING, RIA, DUBLIN Sep 23-24: This event, organised jointly by the Royal Irish Academy, the Astronomical Science Group of Ireland, and the RAS, is a major conference, at mainly professional level, but of interest to keen and knowledgeable amateurs. As well as the main conference, there's a public lecture on the evening of the 23rd. Admission is free, but by ticket only: see: for more details, and booking tickets for both the conference and the public lecture.

7. WHIRLPOOL STAR PARTY REVIVED, 8-10 October! Thanks to excellent work, mainly by Tony O'Hanlon & Mike Murphy, the famous Whirlpool Star Party is being revived this year. It's back in its original venue in Dooley's Hotel, in Birr, Co Offaly. As Ireland's longest running star party, many many astronomers in Ireland were sad to see that it did not take place last year, for reasons which I'm not going to go in to.
A full programme of excellent speakers is nearly complete, and full details will be available soon. So mark this W/E in your diaries now!

8. IMO CONFERENCE, ARMAGH: The latest programme for the International Meteor Organisation Conference at Armagh on 16-19 September is at: More details on special arrangements for IAA members soon. For details of the preliminary list of talks and posters see:

9. CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, the Space for Science: PROGRAMME
We host FREE open nights with astro-related activities for visitors of all ages on the first Friday of the month. 6-8pm: Explore the Universe from your Computer with BCO’s in-house astronomer who will facilitate family friendly workshops every half hour.
Photography Exhibition:
Explorers of the Universe. Until September 2nd
Explorers of the Universe, an exciting photography exhibition by acclaimed photographer Max Alexander is showing uniquely in Ireland at Blackrock Castle this summer. It celebrates careers of the talented scientists at the forefront of our understanding of the cosmos and celebrates a proud heritage in astronomy and space science.
For more information on these and future events at Blackrock Castle Observatory
call us 00 - 353 - 21- 4357917 or email

Prof Mark Bailey at Armagh Observatory has asked me to circulate the following information (and note the public vote and prize competition) concerning Robert Jarvis's short-listed
"around North" project. For further information, see:
See: more details, including how to vote, at: The closing
date for voting is midnight Sunday 12 September.

11. ISS PASSES, + JUPITER: The International Space Station will be making morning passes over Ireland for another few days, and then starts a series of evening passes on about 24 or 25 August (depending on where you are). With Jupiter now well up in the late evenings it's interesting to compare just how bright the ISS can be compared with the giant planet. And if you have a telescope, look at Jupiter itself - notice anything odd? One of the two major cloud belts, the South Equatorial Belt, has almost completely disappeared! It makes Jupiter look very 'lopsided'! It will reappear again, but when? - Keep watching over the next few months, and see!

12. Astro-wedding. Finally, well-known variable star observer John O'Neill has now morphed into a binary! Now securely orbiting his new bride (and fellow variable star astronomer) Sara Beck, the orbital capture took place at a wonderful wedding in Topsfield, near Boston, Massachusetts, on 7 August. Angela O'Connell & I were honoured to be able to be there, for a unique and memorable occasion. Pictures will be available soon!
John will be back in Ireland in September (unfortunately without his bride, on this occasion), and I'm sure many of you will get a chance to congratulate him at one or more of the events above.
We passed on the very generous contributions which many of you sent via us, and they both express their sincere thanks.

That's all folks! Phew!

Clear Skies,

Terry Moseley