Friday, 29 July 2011

Earth's sister, Rockets, Lecture, ISS, TV, Perseids, IAA Solar Day, BCO, ASGI

Hi all,
1. Planet Earth has a 'Little Sister'.
A tiny asteroid has been discovered which runs ahead of Earth in our yearly orbit around the Sun. This makes Earth the fourth planet in the solar system that is known to share its orbit with an asteroid. The details are reported in the latest issue of Nature. The object, called 2010 TK7, was discovered last year by Nasa's Wise satellite. It was then observed with a telescope in Hawaii in April, determining its orbit with enough precision to show it was a Trojan.

If Earth and the asteroid, which measures only about 300 metres across, were travelling around a clock face, with the Sun in the middle, the asteroid runs about two numbers ahead. However, the asteroid sometimes goes so far ahead that it is on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth. Spotting a small asteroid in Earth's orbit is difficult from the ground because the potential locations are generally in the daytime sky. Wise, which operates in the infrared, was not so badly hampered by this effect.

The discovery was made by Martin Connors, of Athabasca University in Alberta, and colleagues. Asteroids that share an orbit with a planet are called Trojans. We have already found a few for Mars and Neptune and nearly 5,000 for Jupiter.

Donald K Yeomans, manager of Nasa's Near-Earth Object Programme Office, said that most astronomers suspected Earth had Trojans, adding: "I would guess there are others."

2. So you want to be a ROCKET SCIENTIST?

Have you ever wondered how to build a solid fuel space rocket?  Have you ever wanted to witness a rocket launch?  If the answer is yes, then Armagh Planetarium is the place to be on the 30th and 31st of July 2011 as we blastoff into a fun-filled weekend of rockets.

Rocket Man Andy Willis is looking to recruit some space engineers in his Rocket Workshop to construct some real rockets ready to be delivered to the launch pad.  Are you ready to be his apprentice?

Take part in the countdown and watch as the rocket is launched up into the air, carrying its very own satellite.  Perhaps even try and guess the height that the rocket travelled!

You will also discover the latest design in Japanese space planes, participate in some water rocket launching and even be trained up on how to make paper planes.

If you are up for the challenge, step up to the launch pad and give us a call on 028 37 523689 to book your place.  The rocket workshop is FREE, but places are limited and filling up fast.  Workshops will blastoff at 11am and 2pm sharp each day.

On this weekend the Planetarium will have their summer programme of Digital Theatre shows on offer.  Here you can relax and experience our planet and beyond and view the cosmos as never seen before.  Check out our website for show trailers and times.  Pre-booking for a theatre show is essential and normal admission fees apply.



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 second lecture in the series, entitled "Killer Asteroids" will be given 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 lecture will be held on Wednesday 3rd August.

The talk will take place in the Larmor Lecture Theatre in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Queen's. Attendance is free of charge, but seats must be booked either by phone at 028 9097 3202, or by visiting the website and registering there.

These talks have been organised by the Astrophysics Research Centre at QUB, in association with the Irish Astronomical Association.


4. The ISS will begin another series of morning passes over Ireland at the end of July: details as always are on

5. EXCELLENT TV PROGRAMME: "Journey to the Edge of the Universe" on More4, Saturday 31 July, 10pm - 00.05. (per Derek Heatly - thanks)

6. PERSEIDS. The annual Perseid meteor shower will reach maximum on the night of 12-13 August, with the peak predicted for 04h on the 13th. The IAA will be holding a 'Perseid Party' on the evening of the 12th, at Delamont Country Park, south of Killinchy on the A22 to Downpatrick, commencing about 8 p.m. with a Fry-up / BBQ. Obviously such an event is weather dependent, so check the IAA website beforehand to see if it will be going ahead. Unfortunately the Moon will be full on the 13th, so only the brighter meteors are likely to be seen that night. However, the Perseid shower is active from the end of July to about the 20th of August, with low rates to start with, building up gradually to the peak on the 13th, then gradually dropping away again. So look out for Perseids any time from the end of this month, especially before the Moon gets too bright. The radiant is near the famous 'Double Cluster', which lies roughly midway between Perseus and Cassiopeia.

7. IAA SOLAR DAY at WWT, CASTLE ESPIE, 14 August, 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. The Irish Astronomical Association will be running another of its ever-popular 'Solar Days' at the WWT at Castle Espie, near Comber, Co Down. Now that Solar activity is steadily increasing, we can expect to see lots of detail on the Sun's disk if there's any clear sky. We will have a selection of solar telescopes, each fitted with specialised safe astronomical filters, to see it in visible light, and in the wavelengths of Calcium and H-Alpha. There should be sunspots and huge prominences, each many times bigger than planet Earth. We will also have the usual display of astronomical and space items, posters, etc, and a mobile planetarium, so come along even if it's cloudy. More details on 

8. BCO EVENTS in AUGUST: Limited availability left for Space Camp 2011. Plus a chance to WIN a coveted place for one lucky space cadet.

Students from 8 to 12 years are invited to join us for our 4th annual Space Camp to use science and engineering to explore the universe. There are very limited places available in the August camp, especially for the morning options, so get in there quick if your kids are looking to learn about the universe, alien life and how to build and launch their own rockets.


We're Eco Warriors at BCO and use as much recycled products in our workshops as possible - and we need a lot for Space Camp. We're offering one lucky kid the chance to win their place at this year's Space Camp just by bringing us in things that you will already have at home for recycling. Cost €95 per child. Members & second child discount.

See: for more details of this and other events.

9. The Astronomical Science Group of Ireland (ASGI) autumn meeting will be held in Armagh Observatory on Monday September 5th 2011.  The programme will consist of oral presentations and posters from the astronomical community. This is the first call for contributions. Please submit your name and presentation or poster title (specifying which) to Neil Trappe. Email:

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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