Tuesday 17th: IAA Events at Lough Neagh Discovery Centre:
Armagh Observatory and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) together with An Creagan and the Omagh and Cookstown District Councils are hosting a day of FREE Stargazing LIVE activities at An Creagan and the nearby Beaghmore Stone Circles. This is a unique megalithic site and the best Darksky site in Northern Ireland.
Following a series of Universe Awareness (EU-UNAWE) astronomy and science-based activities for local KS2 school children at An Creagan, in the afternoon there will be an opportunity, weather permitting, to visit the Beaghmore Stone Circles and learn more about the stones from Living History players and a professional archaeologist. This element of the FREE Stargazing LIVE event will take place from approximately 3.30pm to 5.00pm. Participants will watch the Sun going down and observe the bright planets Venus and Jupiter, both visible in the southern sky, as well as the first stars to appear after sunset. See http://star.arm.ac.uk/publicevents/2012/stargazing/
Further information about this Stargazing LIVE event will be available from the Observatory website. Meanwhile, anyone wishing to participate in either the afternoon or evening events is requested to obtain their FREE ticket(s) by telephoning or sending an e-mail to: Mrs Aileen McKee at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh; Tel: 028-3752-2928; e-mail: email@example.com.
10.00-10.15 Official Opening
10.15-11.15 Carl O' Beirnes: Irish Astrophotography
11.15-12.15 Brian Harvey M.A.: Future Missions to the Moon and Mars
12.30-14.00 Midday break and Workshop by Jan Kotek on celestial maps
14.00-15.00 Dr. Niall Smith: Refurbishing derelict castles and defunct dishes – frugal innovation with real scientific impact
15.30-16.30 Dr. Ronan Mc Nulty: Faster than light Particles and the latest results from CERN
16.30-17.00 Raffle and closing session
21.00 Observing in Brigit's Garden http://www.brigitsgarden.ie/
6. CHINA AND INDIA TO BUILD WORLD's LARGEST TELESCOPE: Hot on the heels of the announcement of the next step towards the building of the 40-meter E-ELT (see previous bulletin), China and India are catapulting to the forefront of astronomy research with their decision to join as partners in a Hawaii telescope that will be the world's largest when it's built later this decade. China and India will pay a share of the construction cost - expected to top $1 billion - for the Thirty Meter Telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea volcano. They will also have a share of the observation time. It's the first advanced telescope in which either nation has been a partner. The Thirty Meter Telescope's segmented primary mirror, which will be nearly 100 feet across, will give it nine times the light-collecting area of the largest optical telescopes in use today. Its images will also be three times sharper.
The telescope, known as TMT, will be able to observe planets that orbit stars other than the sun and enable astronomers to watch new planets and stars being formed. It should also help scientists see some 13 billion light years away for a glimpse into the early years of the universe. If completed on time, it will be by far the world's largest until the E-ELT is completed, planned for a few years later.
7. SCIENTISTS CREATE THE SURFACE OF A STAR ON EARTH: The 'Z Machine' at the University of Texas, Austin, was built to simulate nuclear weapon detonations, but now devotes around 15 per cent of its time to experiments such as the star simulation, reports Inside Science. The machine produces huge amounts of energy - enough to melt diamonds. The machine can output power equivalent to 80 times Earth's total consumption. It has generated temperatures of 3.7 billion Kelvins, the highest ever created by humankind, including the centre of hydrogen bomb explosions. It also routinely generates electrical power equivalent to 80 times Earth's total power output. In the 'white dwarf' experiment, researchers simulated the 'spectrum' of a white dwarf's surface by firing 26 million amps of electricity through tungsten wires, which vaporises them, releasing X-rays. When the X-rays hit a container of hydrogen gas, it ionises and reaches a temperature of around 10,000 degrees centigrade, to recreate the conditions on the surface of a star.
8. DARK MATTER IN UNIVERSE MAPPED: 'Dark matter' is a theoretical - and controversial - substance which is undetectable by telescopes on earth, but thought by some scientists to account for up to three quarters of the mass of the whole universe. But scientists have mapped it for the first time, detecting dark matter by the 'ripples' it causes in space and time. Scientists studied 10 million galaxies in four regions of the sky using a 340 megapixel camera in Hawaii, looking for dark matter by the distortion of light from galaxies behind it - the gravity from dark matter 'bends' the light on its journey to us.The result is a map of dark matter on a huge scale - a tract of space measuring a billion light years. The international project involved studying images collected over a period of five years by the Canada-France Hawaii Telescope on Mauna Kea mountain in Hawaii.Galaxies included in the survey were typically six billion light years away. They emitted their light when the universe was six billion years old, roughly half the age it is today.
9. ISS: the International Space Station is now in a series of morning passes. See www.heavens-above.com for details of this, and other bright satellites, Iridium Flares etc, for your own location.