Friday, 1 July 2011

DIAS & QUB Lectures, Last Shuttle, BCO, Aurora Trip, Aphelion

Hi all,
1. DIAS Public Lecture, UCD, 5 July. "THE DARK SIDE OF THE UNIVERSE"
Please note that advance registration is now required for this lecture, which takes place on Tuesday July 5th at 6.30pm. Tickets for the lecture can be obtained from:
   This is the 2011 Statutory Public Lecture of the School of Cosmic Physics, and will be given by Professor Malcolm Longair, Emeritus Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge. 
  The lecture takes place in Room B004, Computer Science and Informatics building, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4.
  Admission is free. See

"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.

Astrophysics/Astronomy Section, School of Cosmic Physics, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 31 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2, Ireland. Telephone + 353-1-662 13 33, Fax              + 353-1-524 23 02, E-mail

2. Michael West Lecture Series in Astronomy Launched at Queens.
   This summer will see the first in a series of public lectures at Queen's University where the sky is not the limit. Everyone is invited to hear how astronomers discover monstrous black holes and dangerous asteroids, from international scientists who are leading the work.
   The Michael West Public Lectures in astronomy will be held each year to explain some of the latest and most exciting discoveries in the world of Astronomy. They are named after Dr. Michael West, who is supporting scientific research and public outreach in the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queens.
    Dr. Pedro Lacerda, the Michael West research Fellow in Astronomy, said
"A lot of people are interested in astronomy, which happens to be a major research topic at Queen's University Belfast. We want to give everyone the chance to learn about it from some of the best astronomers in the world."
    The first talk on "SuperMassive Black Holes" will be held on Friday 22nd July in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. It will be given by Professor Reinhard Genzel, Director of the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. Professor Genzel is an international expert on investigating black holes that weigh millions of times more than our Sun. In 2008 he won the prestigious Shaw Prize for establishing the existence of a huge Black Hole in the centre of our own Milky Way.
    The second talk on "Killer Asteroids" will be given on Wednesday 3rd August by Dr. Robert Jedicke from the University of Hawaii. Dr. Jedicke is a renowned asteroid hunter, and is leading the search for dangerous asteroids with the new PanSTARRS1 telescope in Hawaii. "This telescope in one of a kind, and is allowing us to discover everything from nearby asteroids to exploding stars in the most distant galaxies" said Professor Stephen Smartt, director of the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen's.
    Both talks will take place in the Larmor Lecture Theatre in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Queen's. Attendance at the talks is free of charge, but seats must be booked either by phone at 028 9097 3202, or by visiting the website Series and registering there.
    These talks have been organised by the Astrophysics Research Centre at QUB, in association with the Irish Astronomical Association.

Prof Alan Fitzsimmons                               Tel: +44 (0) 2890-973124
Dept. of Physics & Astronomy        Fax: +44 (0) 2890-973110
Queen's University Belfast         e-mail:
Belfast BT7 1NN                          WWW:
Northern Ireland

3. Final launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis. The end of NASA's Space Shuttle programme approaches on 8 July, when the window opens for the final launch of Atlantis from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The 12-day STS-135 mission will be the final journey of a Shuttle into space, carrying a crew of four astronauts and more than 3.5 tonnes of supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) and testing a robotic refuelling system.

STS-135 will be the 135th Shuttle flight, bringing the project to an end, more than 30 years after the first flight of Columbia in 1981. The astronauts on this final flight are Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim. Only 4 astronauts can be safely carried on this mission, in case the Shuttle is damaged, and they have to return in one of the much smaller Russian craft. See

4. BCO Events, Cork. Students from 8 to 12 years are invited to join us for our 4th annual Space Camp using science and engineering to explore the universe. There are still some places available, but with Cork 96FM's Nick Richards running a promotion to win a spot at Space Camp next week, we expect to fill up soon! Contact us at the Castle to book your place now. Cost €95 per child. Members & second child discount.
    Join us on daily 'behind the scenes' tours of the Castle's towers and dungeon where an animated guide will take you on a trip back through the colourful history of Blackrock, Cork or into the future of blazars, quasars and the BCO Planet Search Programme.
13.30 and 15.30 daily.

FREE July 1 (Monthly Event). First Fridays at the Castle is a monthly action packed open night with workshops, lectures and free admission to Cosmos at the Castle. July's first Friday is extra special as we honour the last ever space shuttle flight. Marking the end of an era with us are NASA astronaut Dan Tani in a video link & his Cork family Dan and Mary Egan. There will be shuttle goodies and music by Jim X Comet. Wow!


The following information may be of interest to readers. As there are several attachments to the original, I have already forwarded 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. APHELION: Finally, just as we are getting some reasonable weather again, it may be worth noting that the Earth will be at aphelion, its farthest distance from the Sun for the year, on July 4 at 14.53 (15.53 BST), at a distance of 1.0167 Astronomical Units. The reason we have our summer now, of course, is nothing to do with the distance, but because the N hemisphere of the Earth is turned towards the Sun by 23.5 degrees, at this time of year.

7. 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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