Thursday, 9 September 2010

IAA Lecture, IMO Conference, Dunsink talk, BSP, Moon, WSP, Amazing conjunction

Hi all,
1. The opening IAA Lecture of the new season will be on Wed 22 September, in the Bell Lecture Theatre, QUB, It will be given by Prof Alan Fitzsimmons of the Astrophysics Department at QUB. I hope to be able to confirm the title soon. See
2. IMO Conference: The virtually final programme of talks and posters for the International Meteor Conference on Sep 16 - 19 at Armagh is now available at It is a busy but exciting schedule with nearly 60 contributions.
    Would all IAA members who intend to go to any part of this event please email me back right away for details of VERY favourable special attendance rates!

3. DUNSINK LECTURE: The Formation of Molecular Clouds in our Galaxy. By Prof Michael Burton, School of Physics, University of New South Wales, Australia.
Friday 17th September 2010 @ 20.00, Dunsink Observatory, Castleknock, Dublin.
Molecular clouds beget stars, almost as soon as molecular clouds are formed.  But what begets molecular clouds?  This remains an unobserved phenomenon, for the newly formed hydrogen molecules do not display any observational tracer which might indicate where and how this occurs.
   Yet it is a critical process that determines the rate of star formation in the Galaxy.  The process of molecular cloud formation needs to inferred through trace species in the interstellar medium, largely involving the element carbon. This emits in molecular, atomic
and ionized forms, through spectral lines produced in the millimetre, sub-millimetre and THz wavebands.  These, in turn, need to be mapped at high resolution across a spiral arm of the Galaxy in order to discern where cloud formation is occurring.  Such an ambitious undertaking is now possible, using the 22-m Mopra mm-wave telescope at Coonabarabran in Australia, the 4-m NANTEN2 sub-mm telescope on the 5,000m Atacama plateau in Chile, and the 0.8-m Stratospheric Terahertz Observatory (STO) - a THz telescope to be launched on a long duration balloon from McMurdo in Antarctica.  We describe this unique combination of facilities and the progress towards bringing them together, for a launch of the STO in 2012.
   Plus viewing through the 12-inch South refractor telescope (if clear).
MORE DETAILS from: Hilary O'Donnell/Sullivan, Astrophysics and Astronomy Section,
School of Cosmic Physics, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 31 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2, Ireland, Tel + 353-1-662 13 33, Fax + 353-1-524 23 02, E-mail:
   Dunsink Observatory (Dias): Castleknock, Dublin 15 - tel + 353-1-6621333.
4. Burren Star Party - Shannonside Astronomy Club (SAC) will host their second Burren Star Party on Saturday Sep 11 at the Burren Coastal Hotel in Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare. See
5. Sep 18: International Observe the Moon night - The IAA will hold an observing session at Seapark just outside Holywood, Co Down, on the Bangor side. Access via Seapark Road. See for details.
Other clubs may be doing something similar. See
6. Whirlpool Star Party - Final details are almost ready for Ireland's longest running star party, on the weekend of October 8th to 10th in Dooley's Hotel, Birr, Co Offaly. Watch this space.
7. AMAZING CONJUNCTION AHEAD!  Mark your diaries now, for the best planetary conjunction any of us are EVER likely to see, happening on this date in a few years time!
   We will see ALL FIVE naked-eye planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) PLUS a lovely crescent moon, all close together in the evening sky just after sunset! It will be an amazing and beautiful sight. How close? - all within 10 degrees! Closest conjunction will be on the night of 8-9 September. But it's not all good news for us in Ireland. Because of the angle of the ecliptic to the horizon in September, they will all be very low down in the W sky from here. But they will be nicely visible from more southerly latitudes, such as the Canaries. So plan your holiday there now.
    Did I say a few years? - Well, it's just 30 years from now, in 2040. But it's no harm to be forewarned. I hope to see it myself, from somewhere warm & sunny. You read it here first!

Clear Skies,
Terry Moseley


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