Wednesday, 28 March 2012

IAA at LNDC, IAA Lecture, COSMOS, EarthHour, ISS, GAM, Mars, Orionid meteors

Hi all,
1. IAA at Lough Neagh Discovery Centre, near Lurgan, on 30 March, evening:
This will be similar to other IAA events, except that there will be an optional supper first at the LNDC cafe - see details below. There will be a £15 admission charge for the whole event, including supper, or £5 for the later observing session only. We will of course have the Stardome, (loaned from Armagh Planetarium with thanks once again), with regular starshows, so there will be plenty of interest even if it's cloudy. N.B: The meal is now almost fully booked, so if you want to go for that, book now.
DETAILS: Friday 30th March: 6.30pm 'til late:
'Supper with the Stars':  Join the Irish Astronomical Association for a spectacular evening of stargazing and culinary delights at the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre.
   There will be star shows in a mobile planetarium commencing at 7.30pm, followed by celestial views of the First Quarter Moon, brilliant Venus ("the Evening Star"), and fascinating Jupiter with its four large Galilean moons, Mars, Saturn, plus a lot more! All this is of course weather dependent.
   There will also be an exhibition of the best photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and the best ground-based observatories plus some amazing ones by IAA members, a display of telescopes and binoculars, and some amazing meteorites.
£5 entry for stargazing experience.
£15 includes the stargazing and a two course meal (6.30pm, Loughside Café, LNDC).
Booking is essential for this event. Please contact the Interpretative team at the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre on 028 3831 1673 / 028 3832 1671 for further details and to book a place.
See also   
2.  IAA LECTURE, 4 April: (N.B. This is a change from what is in the programme card) The Astronomical Association's next public lecture will be given by John Flannery, of the SDAS: Title: "The Outer Limits: Exploring the Outer Solar System". WEDNESDAY 4 April, at 7.30 p.m., in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast Synopsis: "For thousands of years we only knew of the classical planets out as far as Saturn. That all changed in 1781 when William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus and at a stroke doubled the then-known size of the Solar System. Neptune soon joined the planet club while Pluto had a brief membership during the 20th century.
    Astronomers have found though that the outer solar system is a far more dynamic place than was originally thought with various classes of asteroid-sized bodies now catalogued, while Pluto itself is just one of a collection of similar sized objects. The talk will classify the members of the outer solar system, what research is currently taking place, speculate on future discoveries, and detail why Pluto was demoted from planet status."
3. COSMOS 2012: The Midlands Astronomy Club have finalised the programme for their very popular annual star party, at Annaharvey Farm, just outside Tullamore, Co Offaly, on the W/E of 13-15 April.  Speakers include:
- Thierry Legault, world-renowned French astrophotographer
- Girvan McKay, Midlands Astronomy Club
- Eamon Ansbro, Kingsland Observatory, Roscommon
- Kevin Berwick, Dublin
- Dermot Gannon, Midlands Astronomy Club
- Apostolos Christou, Armagh Observatory
- Lawrence Rigney, Midlands Astronomy Club
More details are available on the website
4.  Earth Hour 2012 March 31, 20:30 - 21:30. Switch off all unnecessary lights, see the sky, and save the planet! Take part in a global call to action to highlight concerns about climate change and the way we are wasting the world's limited resources
5. ISS The International Space Station started another series of morning passes on March 19. Details for your own location, and lots of other useful information such as Iridium Flares, are on the free site
6. Global Astronomy Month. There will be an international star party to promote peace during Global Astronomy Month in April.  "StarPeace" and "Astronomers Without Borders" have partnered for 30 days of StarPeace.  Simultaneous events, some with online interaction between clubs in different countries, will circle the globe through 10 segments of longitude.  Beginning in Oceania during the first three days of April, the event sweeps eastward to cover the world by month's end. If you are planning anything for this event, please let me know. For more information see
7. UNUSUAL CLOUDS ON MARS: What appear to be very high altitude clouds on Mars are puzzling astronomers. See the photos etc in this article:

8. JUPITER HELPS HALLEY'S COMET GIVE US MORE SPECTACULAR METEOR DISPLAYS. The dramatic appearance of Halley's comet in the night sky has been observed and recorded by astronomers since 240 BC. Now a study shows that the orbital influences of Jupiter on the comet and the debris it leaves in its wake are responsible for periodic outbursts of activity in the Orionid meteor showers, according to a paper presented by Aswin Sekhar of Armagh Observatory, at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester on Tuesday 27th March.

Halley's comet orbits the Sun every 75-76 years on average.  As its nucleus approaches the Sun, it heats up and releases gas and dust that form the spectacular tail.  This outgassing leaves a trail of debris around the orbit. When the Earth crosses Halley's path – twice per orbit – the dust particles burn up in the Earth's atmosphere and we see meteor showers: the Orionids in October and the Eta Aquariids in May. Previous research has suggested that Orionid meteoroids have at times fallen into 'resonances' with Jupiter's orbit – a numerical relationship that influences orbital behaviour. Sekhar's new study suggests that Halley itself has been in resonances with Jupiter in the past, which in turn would increase the chances of populating resonant meteoroids in the stream. The particles ejected during those times experience a tendency to clump together due to periodic effects from Jupiter.

"This resonant behaviour of meteoroids means that Halley's debris is not uniformly distributed along its orbital path. When the Earth encounters one of these clumps, it experiences a much more spectacular meteor shower than usual," said Sekhar.  Sekhar's work suggests that the unusual Orionid outburst observed in 1993 was due to 2:13 resonant meteoroids ejected from Halley around 240 BC.

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

10. BBC THINGS TO DO WEBSITE: See the forthcoming IAA events on  
11. 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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