Saturday, 4 June 2011

Supernova in Whirlpool Galaxy, Irish Space Science, Reminders

Hi all,
1. BREAKING NEWS - Bright Supernova in M51, Whirlpool Galaxy.
Information received today from Prof Stephen Smartt, QUB. A French amateur astronomer has discovered a supernova in one of the outer spiral arms of M51. It was around thirteenth-fourteenth magnitude at discovery, and is probably still on the rise, so could get brighter still. We don't know the progenitor star yet, but it's thought to be a Type 2 SN. The 'Whirlpool', was of course the first galaxy to have its spiral structure discovered, by the Third Earl of Rosse, using the great Leviathan telescope in Birr, Co offaly. Have a look if you can - an image is on the following link:
2. IRISH SPACE SCIENCE:  Kevin Nolan sent me the following information and link - it's well worth a look, with quite a few well-known faces appearing!
"Check out this documentary about space science in the RoI on Youtube (link below) - I'm in it but had no hand in its production. It was made in 2007, just released this week,  and is a little dated and alas does not look at NI; nevertheless provides a reasonable overview of where RoI is (and is not) in relation to space science in particular. It was made for TV but scheduling issues means the producer decided to post to Youtube directly instead and it's quite well made (it's about 24 minutes long)."
(The following are just reminders from my last bulletin)
3. Public Lecture, ARMAGH OBSERVATORY:  Monday 6th June, 11:30 am, Armagh Observatory Library.
"Unravelling Starlight: William Huggins and the Crucial Role of Thomas Romney Robinson in the Rise of Astrophysics", by Barbara Becker (University of California, Irvine, USA).
For full details see:
   Admission to the lecture is by ticket only, owing to space limitations. For your free ticket to the lecture, please contact Mrs Aileen McKee at the Armagh Observatory, Tel. 028-3752-2928; Fax: 028-3752-7174; or e-mail:
4. TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE MOON: There will be a Total Lunar Eclipse on 15 June. The eclipse begins before the Moon rises from Ireland, and in fact totality will end shortly after it rises over most of the country, whereas the far North and West won't even see any totality - it will just have ended as the Moon rises from there.
   The Moon will be rising almost due SE over most of the country, so look there as the sun sets (almost directly opposite the setting Sun).
   If it's clear, you'll see the Moon rising as a very pale red disc unless the sky is hazy, in which case you may not see it at all until it gets a bit higher and brighter. Then as totality ends you'll see the Earth's shadow gradually pass off the disc, and the moon will gradually get brighter and resume its more normal appearance.
   The Irish Astronomical Association (IAA) will be holding an 'Eclipse-watch' and BBQ at the car park at Scrabo, just outside Newtownards, Co Down. This should give a spectacular view of the Moon rising over Strangford Lough. The Moon rises from there at 21.54 BST, so be there from about 8.0 if you want to join in the BBQ (bring ALL your own stuff!), or from about 9.30 if you just want to set up a telescope or camera for the eclipse itself. Admission free to all. Obviously this event is weather-dependent, so check the IAA website that day to see if it's going ahead.
5. IAA PUBLIC EVENT AT GLENAVY, Saturday 18 June. The Irish Astronomical Association will be running a public astronomy day at Glenavy, Co Antrim on Saturday 18 June, at the request of the Glenavy Development Commission. We will have a Stardome mobile planetarium, and lots of telescopes and binoculars and meteorites on display, and will be doing solar observing if it's clear. This event will run from 11.00 to 16.00. Full details will be on the IAA website
6. Solarfest, Dunsink, 18 June. IFAS, in conjunction with Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) are organising a one-day event in Dublin to celebrate solar astronomy. Solarfest 2011 will take place at Dunsink Observatory, Dublin. We are very grateful to DIAS for supporting the event and entry is FREE. Speakers so far confirmed include:
John Flannery (SDAS): "The Story of Sunspots"
Dr. Ian Elliott: "Solar Activity and our Climate"
Steve Roche (Deise): Solar Photography Workshop
Trinity College Dublin will also be providing speakers at the event - details TBC shortly.
Weather permitting, we will have solar observing also. A tour of the facility will also take place for those who haven't seen the observatory and the 12" Grubb refractor.
   Spaces are limited to 60 seats. Applications for tickets must be sent to by June 5th.
Tickets are on a first come first served basis. Please state in the e-mail how many tickets you would like. After this date, seats will be opened up to members of the public.

7. IAA MIDSUMMER BBQ, Saturday 25 June: 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 may also have a quiz and or/other competitions.
  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.

Have an astronomically good summer at Blackrock Castle Observatory's popular Annual Space Camp where kids 8 - 12 to use science and engineering to explore the universe. Find out about life as an astronaut, the solar system and the search for alien life. For full details of this, and the rest of the BCO programme, see:
9. Space workshops for teachers
Science teachers in Ireland may be interested in a free workshop being run by the European Space Agency in the Netherlands this July. The deadline for applications is 5 June 2011 - find out more about the workshops at
   And the European Space Education Resource Office Ireland is offering places for primary school teachers on five-day professional development courses in Cork and Armagh this summer. Check out the SERO courses at E
10. 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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