Friday, 12 August 2011

IAA Perseid party, Solar day, TV Programmes, ASGI, Dublin lecture, ISS

Hi all,
(Not long back from a week in SW Kerry - fabulous dark skies in St Finian's Bay! We also went to Skellig Michael - it would be the darkest sky of anywhere in Ireland, but you're not allowed to stay overnight. Also, you wouldn't want to trip over your telescope tripod on top of the rock! We saw a few nice early Perseids without really trying. I had hoped to try to spot Vesta with the unaided eye again, but forgot to bring the star charts with me!)
1. IAA PERSEIDS PARTY. 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. The best technique is to find an observing spot where the Moon is hidden behind a building or tree etc, so that it isn't in your field of view at all.

However, the Perseid shower is active from now to about the 20th of August, with rates building up gradually to the peak on the 13th, then gradually dropping away again. So look out for Perseids any time from now to about Aug 19-20. A few days after the maximum there will be a short period of darkness before moonrise. The radiant is near the famous 'Double Cluster', which lies roughly midway between Perseus and Cassiopeia.

2. 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 


A. The Sky at Night: Sir Patrick Moore will discuss the asteroid 4 Vesta, recently visited for the first time by the Dawn spacecraft. This episode will be broadcast on: August 11th, 7:30 pm - BBC Four; August 12th, 2:00 am - BBC Four; August 13th, 12:00 pm - BBC Two (except Northern Ireland); August 14th, 12:35 am - BBC Four

B. Horizon: On the new generation of telescopes on Monday 15 Aug, BBC2 at 9:00,

4. 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: .This is a professional level meeting, but members of organisations affiliated to ASGI, such as the Irish Astronomical Association, are welcome to attend. However, note that most of the presentations require 3rd level maths and physics for full understanding.



Discover an astronomy chart done 1300 years ago by a Chinese Astronomer. Dr. Jean-Marc Bonnet-Bidaud will present his work on Chinese Star Charts on the 6th and 7th of September 2011 at the Alliance Francaise and at Dunsink Observatory (DIAS)
   Jean-Marc Bonnet-Bidaud is an astrophysicist at the Astrophysical Department of the French Atomic Energy Commission (C.E.A.), a specialist in high energy astrophysics and in the study of highly condensed stars in the Galaxy (white dwarfs, neutrons stars and black holes). He is involved in several international collaborations to search, locate and study new sources of X-rays and gamma-rays in the Galaxy by means of space astronomy. He is currently taking part in scientific programs, using the European satellites XMM (X-ray Multiple mirror Mission, XMM) and INTEGRAL (International Gamma-ray Astrophysics Laboratory).
   Jean-Marc Bonnet-Bidaud has also a deep interest in the history and popularisation of astronomy. He is at present the scientific adviser of the French astronomy magazine "Ciel et Espace". He has published numerous articles in different magazines and newspapers and was also the author of different television programs.
   He is currently carrying out research works on the roots of astronomy in Africa and China. After publishing results concerning the rate of star explosions in the Galaxy and the colour change of the star Sirius deduced from historical Chinese reports, he is now involved in a systematic study of the oldest Chinese Star Charts to evaluate their scientific content.

1. Presentation at the Alliance Francaise of Kildare Street  Dublin 2, Tuesday 6th September at 6.30 pm (18.30 hrs). NB! Presentation will be in French. Film "Dunhuang star charts" in English. Q&A in French and English

2. Presentation at DUNSINK OBSERVATORY (DIAS) Castleknock, Dublin 15, Wednesday 7th September at 8 pm (20.00 hrs). A 40/45 min lecture in English with Q&A + a 12-15 min Break, with some refreshments for informal discussion. +  A visit to the South Dome and the Grubb Telescope. +  With possible observations of the night sky through the Grubb Telescope and others if the weather is kind on that evening

Contact Details for the Event to be held in Dunsink Observatory: For your e-ticket request please e-mail on or before Monday 22nd August 2011 (17.00 hrs)

Please head the request for your e-ticket/s "Chinese Star Charts" by Jean-Marc Bonnet-Bidaud Dunsink Obs 7th Sept 2011, and state the number of tickets that you require. DIAS has a minimum age limit of 12 years of age for an evening event such as this.
   More details if required from: Hilary O'Donnell/Sullivan, Astrophysics and 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 Mobile number 00 353 (0) 87 629 49 66

6. ISS: The International Space Station is just ending a series of morning passes over Ireland, and will almost immediately start a series of evening passes, on August 13/14. Full free details for any location anywhere in the world fom


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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