Saturday, 29 October 2011

Lectures, Close miss, Astronaut, BCO, Spacelab, Galileo, MSL, Meteors, ISS, Jup.

Hi all,
1. IAA LECTURE, 2 November:  The Astronomical Association's next public lecture will be given by Dr Phil Marshall of the Department of Astrophysics, Oxford University.  He is a Royal Society Research Fellow, specialising in public outreach, especially on gravitational lensing and observational cosmology.
   His talk is entitled "Cosmic Telescopes: Focussing and observing with gravitational lenses"
   Gravitational Lenses are a very powerful tool for studying the most distant objects in the universe, and best of all, they are provided by Mother Nature, free of charge! But first you have to find them, and know how to interpret the images. This promises to be a fascinating lecture, revealing the latest findings on the early and most distant parts of our universe.
  (This lecture is being arranged with assistance from the Astrophysics Department at QUB, for which we are very grateful.)
   The lecture is on WEDNESDAY 02 November, at 7.30 p.m., in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast. ADMISSION IS FREE, as always, and includes light refreshments. Everyone is welcome! Full details of the rest of the programme are on the website:  
2.  The following IAA lecture on Nov 16 will be by well-known space expert and author Brian Harvey: Title "Future Missions to the Moon and Mars". Brian's lectures are an absolute mine of the latest very authoritative information, and very well presented, so don't miss this.
The lecture is on WEDNESDAY 16 November, at 7.30 p.m., in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast. ADMISSION IS FREE, as always, and includes light refreshments. Everyone is welcome! Full details of the rest of the programme are on the website:  
3: CLOSE ASTEROID FLYBY. Near Earth Object (NEO) 2005 YU55 will make a relatively close flyby of Earth on Nov 8, passing closer to us than the Moon. At closest approach it will be at 85% of the average distance to the Moon, about 203,000 miles, or 327,000km. At a relatively large 400m diameter, this is one of the biggest asteroids to come this close for quite a while. Observation of 2005 YU55 will not be an easy task in Ireland, because of the relatively low object brightness, the very fast movement (>500arcsecs/min) and the low altitude.
   On the following evening the situation is much better. But the +12mag asteroid will still be moving at about 50 arcsecs/min. Astrometry with a video camera and GPS time insertion would be an option. Video evaluation could be done with Tangra software. For the following nights 2005 YU55 remains as a good object for CCD imaging.
   A page with video animation of 2011 fly by, orbit diagram and data is available here:
   You can see in the orbit diagram and in the video animation why the asteroid is not observable during approach to Earth but remains observable long after the fly by. A link to an image sequence from the last Earth fly by in April 2010 can be found also there.

4. NASA ASTRONAUT GREG JOHNSON to visit LIMERICK. Greg will be on Campus in the University of Limerick on Tuesday 15th November.  Anyone interested in attending his show at 2pm in the Jean Monnet Lecture should let organiser Bernie Quilligan know asap as seats need to be booked: They normally advertise such events in the papers but given the high demand they will not be doing that this year.
5. EVENTS at Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork: see for more details
6. Spacelab: It is with great pleasure that we invite you to participate in YouTube Space Lab. (from Robert Hill, of NISO at Armagh)
   YouTube Space Lab combines an exciting platform for informative space-related videos with a competition for 14 - 18 year olds from around the world to send a science experiment to space. The winning experiment will be carried out on the International Space Station and live streamed on YouTube. Winning teams will have the chance to win some other amazing prizes too. Through the wonder of space, and the power of YouTube, we hope to inspire and educate kids around the world about science. Globally recognised partners who share our vision, such as Lenovo and Space Adventures in cooperation with NASA, JAXA, and ESA, are helping us make YouTube Space Lab a reality.
   A global panel of distinguished experts and scientists, including Professor Stephen Hawking, will help choose the winning experiments. Find out more about the competition on the YouTube Space Lab channel.
   We want to ensure that students all over the world have the opportunity to compete in this exciting competition, and we want your help in letting them know about it. Please help us in communicating the announcement of YouTube Space Lab to your educational networks as widely as possible. There's much more information about the competition online on the channel and there is also a site especially for teachers to help on how to approach getting students involved in YouTube Space Lab. Thank you for your help in making the world's largest, most global and inclusive space competition a huge success!
The YouTube Space Lab Team
P.S. Please feel free to forward this to educators or educator networks you know!
7. GALILEO COMPETITION FOR CHILDREN: The Galileo Drawing Competition is an amazing chance to have a Galileo Programme Satellite named after you and launched into Space!
   The Galileo Project is Europe's own dedicated GPS system, and will consist of a network of satellites, each costing about a billion euro! Belgium and Bulgaria have already held their competitions, and two satellites have already been named 'Thijs' and 'Natalia', after children in those counties.
   To enter the competition you will need to create a picture that represents 'Space and Aeronautics'. This includes things like stars, rockets, planets and satellites. What else can you think of that is in Space?
   You can create your picture using any drawing, painting, or colouring technique that you like. You can use all sorts of materials like paints, felt tips, pencils, glue, glitter. The main thing is that you use a big dollop of imagination!
   You then upload your picture at the website below. You can do this by scanning your picture or by taking a digital photo. Your parents, teachers, or local library may be able to help you do this. You can only enter one picture so make sure you chose your favourite one.
  You must upload your picture before 15th November 2011. A National Jury Panel will then select a winning picture. The winner will be invited to an Award Ceremony where they will be presented with a certificate and a trophy, to keep, that represents the satellite that will be named after them.
   If you live in the United Kingdom or Ireland and were born in either 2000, 2001 or 2002, then you can enter the competition. There are separate competitions for each country, so select the appropriate one from the website, which has all the information you need: Good luck!

8. MARS SCIENCE LABORATORY TALKS: Kevin Nolan, very well-known in Irish astronomy circles, will be giving a new talk titled "Mars Science Laboratory: In search of Origins" to celebrate the Science Week Theme of "The chemistry of life" and the launch of MSL-Curiosity the week after (On November 25th). Kevin is the Irish Representative of The Planetary Society, and is the author of an excellent book on Mars; "Mars, A Cosmic Stepping Stone", published by Springer. (See the great reviews at

   He will be giving the same talk three times - in Dublin (Mansion House on Monday Nov 14th), Galway (NUI Galway on Nov 16th) and Blackrock Castle Observatory (Friday November 18th).
   Kevin adds: "On a related note, I have just launched the new Planetary Society Ireland web site at
   It's quite basic now but is being used to promote the talk at I've also created a new twitter account @planetarie and will be tweeting in selected areas of TPS News, Space News and Policy issues, Mars Exploration and Irish Astronomy matters. While I have few followers just now, Forfas-DSE, BCO and are retweeting my tweets and these, along with other mechanisms such as the talks in November and an intended blog ( for 2012) I hope to build a following. I will always be delighted to tweet any IAA news that you need further circulation on (as and when I develop a following!!)."

9. METEORS: A. The annual Taurid Meteor shower will peak on 5 November. These meteors appear to come from near Aldebaran, and while rates are not high, the meteors are slow and graceful, and there is usually a fair proportion of brighter meteors.

B: The annual Leonid Meteor shower will peak on 17 November. Rates are not expected to be high this year.

10: ISS: the International Space Station is currently making evening passes over Ireland. See for details for your own location.

11. JUPITER at OPPOSITION: Giant planet Jupiter will be at opposition (closest to Earth for the year) on 29 October. This is the best time to view it with a telescope. And even good binoculars will show the four large Galilean Moons orbiting the planet in their stately dance. Even a moderate telescope will also show the main dark belts and bright zones, and the famous Great Red Spot, a giant storm, larger than planet Earth, which has been raging in Jupiter's atmosphere for hundreds of years.

12. TWITTER: the IAA now has a twitter account. twitter@IaaAstro

13. 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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