Friday, 24 June 2011

IAA BBQ update, NEO, DIAS Lecture, Dave's asteroid, Aurora Trip

Hi all,
1. IAA MIDSUMMER BBQ, Saturday 25 June, 14.00 - 18.00:
The Irish Astronomical Association's annual midsummer BBQ will be returning to one of its most popular locations this year - the beautiful grounds of Armagh Observatory.
   There will be a tour of the Observatory, which we hope will include the new 'State of the Art' robotic telescope, and the world-famous Human Orrery, and the fascinating Astropark and 'Hill of Infinity'. We will also have a quiz and or/other competitions.
Activities will commence around 2.p.m
 We will aim to eat around 4 p.m., and finish about 6 p.m.
 We will have at least one large gazebo to provide shelter if necessary.
   Admission is free to all IAA members and guests, but bring all your own food and drink, and eating items (cutlery, plates, glasses (preferably plastic), BBQ tongs etc if you have them) and folding chairs or waterproof rugs. We will provide the actual BBQs for cooking.
   Please let me know by 24 June if you are planning to attend, so we will have some idea of numbers.
   If the weather looks like being really bad, check the IAA website in advance to see if it will be going ahead or not.

2. NEO ASTEROID FLYBY: Newly-discovered asteroid 2011 MD will pass only 12,000 kilometres (7,500 miles) above Earth's surface on Monday, June 27th. That is just under one Earth diameter away, and well below the orbits of geostationary satellites! This is an example of what are classed as Near Earth Objects (NEO), which pose possible impact hazards to Earth.
   NASA analysts say there is no chance the space rock will strike Earth. Nevertheless, the encounter is so close that Earth's gravity will sharply perturb the asteroid's trajectory.
Its closest approach will be at 13:26 UTC on June 27 (daylight in Ireland, unfortunately). Updated information on 2011 MD's ephemeris, physical parameters and an orbit diagram and close-approach data is at;orb=1 

   2011 MD was found on Tuesday, June 22, by LINEAR, a pair of robotic telescopes in New Mexico that scan the skies for Near Earth Asteroids. Asteroid 2011 MD is currently estimated to be between 9 to 45 meters (10 to 50 yards) wide. Dr. Emily Baldwin, of Astronomy Now magazine, said there is no danger of the asteroid hitting Earth, and even if it did enter the atmosphere, an asteroid this size would "mostly burn up in a brilliant fireball, possibly scattering a few meteorites." Read more on the story at

  Details at Also see:
3.  "The Dark Side of the Universe" TUESDAY 5 JULY. Statutory Public Lecture of The DIAS School Of Cosmic Physics. The 2011 Statutory Public Lecture of the School of Cosmic Physics will take place in Room B004, University College Dublin, on Tuesday July 5th at 6:30pm. NB. - Note, that is a correction from the previous alert, in which the wrong date information was given to me.
 Room B004 is located in the Computer Science and Informatics building in University College Dublin, Belfield Dublin 4. All are welcome/Admission is Free.
   The Lecture entitled "The Dark Side of the Universe" will be given by
Prof. Malcolm Longair, Emeritus Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy, Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge.

All are welcome and admission is free, but advance registration is essential as tickets are required for this event. The tickets can be booked through but the link to actually request tickets isn't available yet. Click the "Building 14" link on the lecture notice page for a map of UCD.

"The Dark Side of the Universe"
Black holes, dark matter and dark energy are among the most important ingredients of our Universe, but don't emit light and are therefore invisible. Former Astronomer Royal Malcolm Longair will describe why we're confident that all three exist, and discuss their importance for fundamental physics. The talk will be profusely illustrated with recent results from a wide range of Earth-based and space telescopes, simulations and movies.
4. Dave McDonald's first asteroid now numbered

(Adapted from Dave Grennan's post on IFAS). Dave McDonald's first asteroid discovery has now been numbered by the Minor Planet Center of the IAU. Dave discovered asteroid 2008 TM9 back in October of 2008.  It was big news at the time. Dave even made the front pages of the newspapers (which he graciously agreed to share with Ms. B. Spears and Ms. A. Jolie)

   As the orbit has now been determined to sufficient accuracy, 2008TM9 is now the numbered asteroid (281507) 2008 TM9.  Dave can now lay claim to the discovery of one of three numbered asteroids discovered from these shores, and of course at the time of discovery it was the first asteroid to be discovered from Ireland in over 160 years.

   The numbering of this asteroid is a great tribute to the wonderful work Dave carries out in both his observatory and also as President of IFAS.  And he's not a bad bloke either ;-)

   Anyway I'm sure you will join with me in extending heartiest congratulations to Dave on this latest development.  As the discoverer of 281507, Dave will now be afforded the honour of naming this minor planet.  I'm sure he already has some good ideas in this regard. 



The following information may be of interest to readers. As there are several attachments to the original, I will forward it separately to all. For further information, contact Ann Relph of Ulster Travel (who organised the recent eclipse trip to China): Ulster Travel Ltd, 2 Church Street, Dungannon, Co Tyrone, BT71 6AB, E:

"As solar activity continues to climb there has been a great increase in strong auroras, with almost nightly shows in the auroral zone. Ulster Travel has organized a special auroral viewing expedition which will put you directly under the auroral oval in Tromso, Norway during late October this year.  

The group will be led by Terence Murtagh, who is an expert aurora photographer.  Recently, he spent seven months filming the Aurora for the world's first high resolution, three sixty degree all dome movie "Experience the Aurora" which is currently being shown in digital theatres around the world.

Terence will take you to some of most accessible viewing locations and be on hand to provide advice and assistance with photographic techniques. He will also make available a Canon EOS 5D Mk II camera for you to capture the aurora should you not want to carry a camera and tripod on the trip. The period chosen in October is during the dark of the Moon and weather permitting, you will be in an excellent position to witness one of nature's most spectacular events.

The Raddisson Blu Hotel is one of the best in Tromso. Its central location makes it perfect for exploring the town and the Tromso environs. It is also only 15 minutes away from some good auroral viewing locations.

Full details, including booking forms, are on the attachments to the original email which I will forward separately."

6. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION is now even easier: This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA.  See also
Clear skies,
Terry Moseley


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